Skip to main content
Washington Post May 26, 2017
26 May 2017

Washington Post May 26, 2017

Trump’s Budget … Magical Assumptions … All I Got Was A Lousy T-Shirt … CBO Score …. LBJ – 50 Years Ago … NATO … All in the Family … Bannon is Back … and other news of the week.

Happy beginning of the Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start to summer.


Joyce Rubenstein
Capstone National Partners


“All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks on innocent people, but this attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice -deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.”
– Prime Minister Theresa May



TRUMP’S BUDGET IS HERE Politico “Remember that a budget is a blueprint of spending priorities … and is unlikely to ever get a vote in either chamber. WashPo “The budget claims it balances the budget over a decade without touching Social Security and Medicare, while spending more on national security, the border, infrastructure and more. How? The budget would eviscerate aid to the poor, and it makes preposterous assumptions about future growth. In other words — a cruelty wrapped in a lie. Director of OMB, Mulvaney on Monday acknowledged it’s a “fair point” that Congress will ignore the proposal.”

Mulvaney, defending the budget made a frank admission: [he] said he was “honestly surprised” he could balance the budget. HOW IS HE DOING IT? By making magical assumptions. Mulvaney said the annual growth the Obama administration and Congressional Budget Office forecast was “pessimistic.” A better word might be “responsible,” but the Trump administration realized what Mulvaney called an “ugly truth”: “You can never balance the budget at 1.9% growth. And so — voila! — the Trump administration assumes 3% growth for the next decade, a level not seen in decades. Assuming that faster growth, Mulvaney said, makes Social Security and Medicare “healthier,” even if “it does not solve their long-term deficiencies.” Magical assumptions make budgets magically balance.

BUDGET AFFECTS EVERY PART OF THE BUDGET NYTs Government programs from Medicaid to the National Institutes of Health would be cut substantially under the budget proposed by the White House.Here are some of the changes over 10 years, compared with projected spending under current law, according to a NYTs analysis (Cuts – Click Here for Detail) :

  • $627 billion cut to Medicaid*
  • $194 billion cut to food stamps
  • $87 billion cut to National Institutes of Health
  • $45 billion cut to State Department operations
  • $28 billion cut to refugee programs
  • $18 billion cut to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • $2 billion cut to food safety and inspection
  • (one other cut, FBI: – $2.2 Billion … hmmm)

ALL I GOT WAS A LOUSY T-SHIRT Politico “Donald Trump, whose populist message and promises to help American workers propelled him to the White House, issue[d] a budget proposal on Tuesday that instead takes aim at the social safety net on which many of his supporters rely. Rather than breaking with Washington precedent, Trump’s spending blueprint follows established conservative orthodoxy, cutting taxes on the wealthy, boosting defense spending and taking a hatchet to programs for the poor and disabled. … At the end of the decade, the U.S. would spend nearly twice the amount on military spending as other domestic programs. Domestic discretionary spending would be capped to $429 billion per year, below 2004 levels, while military spending soars to $722 billion.”

DEFENSE MorningD President Donald Trump has laid out his fiscal 2018 budget request, calling for $668 billion in defense spending, coming in $22 billion above current levels. The document lays out $479 billion for non-defense programs, which amounts to $57 billion less than current spending. The White House has proposed slashing funding for all federal departments besides DoD, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security.


GOP HEALTH PLAN NPR “(According to the nonpartisan CBO) the revised Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will leave 23 million more people uninsured in 2026 than if that act, also known as Obamacare, were to remain in place. The GOP bill would also reduce the deficit by $119 billion over 10 years. … The agency reports that the bill could destabilize individual insurance markets in some states, leaving unhealthy Americans unable to buy insurance.

The $119 billion deficit reduction represents a decline from previous versions. When the CBO first scored the AHCA, it said the plan would save $337 billion over 10 years. Later revisions reduced those savings to $150 billion. By far the biggest savings would come from Medicaid, which serves low-income Americans. That program would face $834 billion in cuts. Cutbacks in subsidies for individual health insurance would likewise help cut $276 billion. But those are offset in large part by bigger costs, including the repeal of many of Obamacare’s taxes. Excellent Analysis of CBO Report.


50 YEARS AGO DYSFUNCTIONAL CONGRESS FIRED The Atlantic “In 1964, May 23, while speaking at the University of Michigan, President Lyndon B. Johnson outlined his goals for the Great Society—an ambitious set of domestic programs that included education and immigration reforms, as well as the Voting Rights Act and the National Endowment for the Arts. In January 2015, Julian E. Zelizer explained how Johnson, Congress, and voters made it happen:

“In the years leading up to … the passage of the Great Society … there was a huge chorus of critics who decried the inaction of Congress. … Then everything changed. In the 1964 elections, Johnson defeated right-wing Republican Barry Goldwater in the biggest landslide since 1936. Voters elected huge liberal majorities in Congress, rejecting Goldwater’s brand of right-wing conservatism. … As a result of the election, Johnson had all the votes that he needed to move forward with his bills. “There were so many Democrats,” Illinois Republican Donald Rumsfeld said, “that they had to sit on the Republican side of the aisle.”

Congress passed Medicare and Medicaid, federal aid to elementary and higher education, Voting Rights, environmental regulation, and much more. Opponents of liberal reform realized that they would be beat. “Suddenly, after years of deadlock,” Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale recalled, “the floodgates burst open.”
Read Entire Article.


‘HELLO IT’S ME’ TO NATO theSKimm For the first time, Trump met with leaders from NATO – the 28-country alliance formed during the Cold War. Politico “He came, he saw, he harangued. … U.S. President Donald Trump capped his first official visit to Brussels with a commanding – and meandering – speech at NATO’s new headquarters, in which he berated allies for not spending enough on defense, insisted that even NATO’s goal of increasing annual military expenditures to 2 percent of GDP was insufficient and provocatively declared that some allies ‘owed’ arrears for years of lagging contributions. SKIPS COMMON DEFENSE PLEDGE Trump’s remarks were also notable for what he did not say: to the consternation of some allies, Trump once again did not explicitly endorse NATO’s common defense principle – that an attack on one is an attack on all. “On a tense day when Mr. Trump brought the ‘America first’ themes of his presidential campaign to the very heart of Europe, he left European leaders visibly unsettled, with some openly lamenting divisions with the United States on trade, climate and the best way to confront Russia.” PUSHY PUSHY “Watch President Trump push the prime minister of Montenegro aside to get to the front of a group of leaders. Click here DEATH GRIP? … President Trump, who had called Marine Le Pen the “strongest” candidate in the French election, met the new French President, Emmanuel Macron, in Brussels and told him: “You were my guy.” WashPo “The two presidents … shook hands for an extended period of time. Each president gripped the other’s hand with considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white and their jaws clenching and faces tightening.”

IN THE YOU CAN”T MAKE THIS UP DEPARTMENT Of the many millionaires and billionaires in Donald Trump’s inner circle, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stands out for his consistently convincing impression of a 19th-century robber baron. … Since entering politics, however, he has found new and creative ways to remain painfully out of touch, as he did Monday morning on CNBC, when he suggested that U.S. protesters could learn a thing or two from the Saudis. Saudi Arabia, he noted with satisfaction, had managed to prevent any protesters from disrupting Trump’s trip to Riyadh, CNBC anchor Becky Quick tried to save Ross from himself, by hinting at the fact that protesting is a crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, but Ross still doubled down.”

ALL IN THE FAMILY Axios “Surprising no one in the West Wing, Jared Kushner was named yesterday as the “current White House official” who was reported last week to be “a significant person of interest” in the Russia investigation” WashPo “Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow, is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians.WHY IT MATTERS: Jared has his hands in everything. So even the best case scenario is bad: This is a terrific, distracting time suck at the very top of the White House.”

MEET THE REAL JARED KUSHNER … he’s a lot tougher than he looks. Politico Magazine Cover Story.


STEVE BANNON IS BACK Axios “The crises engulfing the White House have produced a sudden resurgence of power and purpose for Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who had seen his clout wane as the Jivanka faction gained sway. Nine sources in the West Wing and within Trump’s close orbit tell Axios that the Russia scandals are Bannon’s shot at redemption. He’s being described as a “wartime consigliere” relishing a fight against the “deep state,” media, Democrats and investigators.

  • Why it matters: The once-omnipotent Bannon had been on rocky footing lately — Trump has vented about him to a number of people. But the war-room team being built to respond to the crises is a joint effort led by Jared Kushner, Bannon (who declined to comment for this story) and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
  • The senior staff that had been out for each other is now united by a common enemy.
  • The new mission fits Bannon’s skills and passions: Cunning at misdirection and deflection, he played a key role during the tensest moments of the campaign, deploying scorched-earth tactics against Hillary Clinton.
  • The planned war room is not conceived as replacing current staff, but rather adding “experienced veterans from the campaign trail who recognize the gravity of the situation.”

VEERING ACROSS THE DOUBLE-YELLOW DO NO CROSS LINES Politico “The Latest Must Read Revelation from Monday … In March, President Trump asked the nation’s top intelligence officials to tell the public there was no evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s request came after then-FBI Director James B. Comey told Congress that the FBI was investigating potential collusion between Trump and Russia, an investigation that has now risen to Trump’s inner circle. [Reporter Ellen Nakashima] reports that the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and the head of the National Security Agency, Mike Rogers, both refused to comply with the president’s request, which they both deemed to be inappropriate.

This news, of course, follows a series of other revelations that have raised questions about how Trump has handled the fact his campaign is under investigation by the FBI: 1. WashPo reported Friday that a senior White House official close to the president is being investigated by FBI agents related to possible Trump-Russia collusion (we now know that that is Jared); 2. The NYTs reported on Friday that Trump told Russian officials that firing former FBI director James B. Comey relieved “great pressure” on him. Trump also called Comey a “nut job.” 3. Reports surfaced last week that Comey said in a memo that Trump asked him to lay off a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. 4. The Justice Department has appointed a special counsel with wide latitude to investigate all of this. 5. Also on Monday evening, The Post reports that Trump is looking into lawyering up to help him navigate the various investigations by the FBI, the special counsel and Congress.”

Russia may have successfully recruited Trump campaign Aides
“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. … [By the time he stepped down as CIA director on Jan. 20, he added] ‘I had unresolved questions in my mind about whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons, involved in the campaign or not, to work on their behalf, again, either in a witting or unwitting fashion.’
– Former CIA Director Brennan told lawmakers. (Politico)


A NEW AUMF? Politico “As President Donald Trump increasingly flexes the might of the military he now controls, the Senate is reviving efforts to claw back some of that authority from the White House. “Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) are joining forces to reintroduce an Authorization of the Use of Military Force against the Islamic State and other terror groups, aiming to assert more congressional power over the post-9/11 war on terror. Elsewhere in the Capitol, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) are unveiling legislation Thursday that would halt a small portion of offensive weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in what Trump’s White House has touted as a $110 billion deal.”


BIG SKY APOLOGY In Montana, Republican U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte, charged on election-eve with assaulting a reporter, wins (50.2% to 44.1%), then apologizes. NYTs “Gianforte apologized to the Guardian reporter, Ben Jacobs, by name, acknowledged he ‘made a mistake … You deserve a congressman who stays out of the limelight and just gets the job done.'” (FYI, much of the vote had been cast before election day, so it’s impossible to gauge the impact of Gianforte’s run-in with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs..) WELCOME TO WASHINGTON MR. GIANFORTE Politico “The Capitol has hundreds of reporters roaming around daily. Cameras are running at all times. Recorders are thrust into lawmakers face all day. We have practically unfettered access to everywhere besides the House floor and your private office. Expect to get a lot of questions on this on the days to come.”

ALL EYES SHIFT TO GEORGIA Politico “After an intense focus on Montana in the run-up to Thursday’s vote, much of the attention is now likely to shift back to Georgia, where Democrat Jon Ossoff is looking to pick off the seat formerly held by now-HHS Secretary Tom Price in a June 20 special election against Republican Karen Handel. It’s already the most expensive House race in history. Democrats need a win to prove momentum is on their side and to ensure that the party’s energized base doesn’t become demoralized. Republicans need a win to calm the nerves of incumbents worried about their chances in the midterm elections and make the case that Trump isn’t the anchor many political pros believe him to be.” SNAPSHOT Roll Call “A new poll shows Democrat Jon Ossoff with a 7-point lead against Republican Karen Handel. SurveyUSA poll conducted for Atlanta TV station WXIA, Ossoff leads with 51% to Handel’s 44%. Six percent of respondents were undecided and the margin of error was 4.3%.


SUPREMES TO NORTH CAROLINA – IT’S UNCONSTITUTIONAL Politico “The Supreme Court ruled Monday that two NC congressional districts were drawn unconstitutionally, affirming a previous district court decision against the state’s redistricting and leaving in place a remedial congressional map drawn for the 2016 elections, pending an additional gerrymandering case. The ruling centered on two Democratic-held districts and found that Republican state legislators, in drawing the congressional map earlier this decade, ‘packed’ African-American voters into those districts to dilute the power of their votes in other congressional seats. … “While this Supreme Court ruling will not result in additional changes to the North Carolina congressional map, there is another case pending before the Supreme Court, suing North Carolina legislators over the remedial map that was draw in 2015. This suit accuses the Republican legislators of gerrymandering based on partisanship, a new legal tack that Democrats are pushing in several court cases around the country. … Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor joined Kagan in the majority alongside Clarence Thomas – an unusual majority combination.” HELL HAS FROZEN OVER @charlescwcooke: “Unusual, but makes sense as Thomas’s view is that all racial-based gerrymandering-inc. in VRA- is unconstitutional.”


ONTO THE SUPREME COURT! Politico “Donald Trump’s administration is pledging a Supreme Court showdown over his travel ban after a federal appeals ruled that the ban ‘drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.’ … The Supreme Court is almost certain to step into the case over the presidential executive order issued by Trump that seeks to temporarily cut off visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. … The case pits the president’s significant authority over immigration against what the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said was a policy that purported to be about national security but was intended to target Muslims. Parties generally have 90 days to appeal to the Supreme Court, but if the administration waits until late August to ask the court to step in, the justices probably would not vote on whether to hear the case until October and arguments probably wouldn’t take place until February 2018 at the earliest. … Administration lawyers could instead seek the justices’ approval to put the travel policy in place on an emergency basis, even as the court weighs what to do with the larger dispute.”

Related Posts

The Washington Report – April 10, 2015

This week's Washington Report! To sign up for the direct email, click here.   BACK...

Washington Report September 16, 2016

The Washington Report is back. And so is Congress (briefly...very briefly). Top of the list...

Washington Report May 11, 2017

Whew, never a dull moment is an understatement. An extraordinary week. All Things James Comey...