The President’s Budget Unveiled

Tuesday, February 13, 2018Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 9.52.31 AM

Good Tuesday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • President Trump sent Congress a $4.4 trillion budget with steep cuts in domestic programs and entitlements, including Medicare. The plan includes large increases for the military.

  • Mr. Trump’s $200 billion infrastructure plan recasts the federal government as a minority stakeholder in the nation’s new infrastructure projects.

  • The good news for Mr. Trump: He has set a modern White House record. The bad news: It’s for the high staff turnover in his tumultuous administration.

  • The furor over spousal abuse allegations that forced the resignation of Rob Porter last week has continued to expose fissures within the White House.

  • The artists for the newly commissioned Smithsonian portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama addressed the politics of race in subtly savvy ways, our art critic writes.
— The First Draft Team

Big Republican Advantages Are Eroding in the Race for House Control

By NATE COHN
The Democratic advantage on the generic congressional ballot has slipped over the last few weeks. But Republicans have gradually lost advantages of their own.
Slowly but surely, the considerable structural advantages — like incumbency, geography and gerrymandering — that give the Republicans a chance to survive a so-called wave election are fading, giving Democrats a clearer path to a House majority in November.
The Republicans still retain formidable advantages, enough to win the House while losing the popular vote by a wide margin. But their edge has shrunk considerably over the last few months, and even more over the last few years.
Read more »
Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of the United States Pacific Command, is expected to become ambassador to Australia.

Trump Taps Harry Harris, Known for Being Tough on China, as Australia Envoy

By JACQUELINE WILLIAMS

Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., the commander of the United States Pacific Command, is a vocal critic of China’s military expansion in the region.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has approved plans from six states states where the governor refused to sign on.

As DeVos Approves Education Plans, She Finds Skeptics in G.O.P. Governors

By ERICA L. GREEN

Several governors, mostly Republicans, have declined to sign their own states’ plans for implementing a new federal education law intended to devolve control to the states.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson’s planned five-nation tour of the Middle East looks to be the most challenging trip of his tenure.

Tillerson’s Mideast Trip Was Already Daunting. Then Israel and Iran Collided.

By GARDINER HARRIS AND MARGARET COKER

Israel’s strikes in Syrian territory give even greater urgency to a top priority: managing the aftermath of the expected final defeat of the Islamic State in Syria.

President Trump’s budget proposal would increase military spending by $195 billion over the next two years.

What’s in the White House Budget Request?

By THE NEW YORK TIMES

Largely a political statement, the $4.4 trillion budget request includes a host of cuts across domestic programs while increasing the deficit over the next decade.

After 15 months, Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, still has only an interim security clearance.

Accusations Against Aide Renew Attention on White House Security Clearances

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR AND MATTHEW ROSENBERG

More than a year after joining the White House as a senior adviser, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is among those without a permanent security clearance.

An Obama-era rule would have limited the flaring of natural gas, as seen here at an oil well near Watford City, N.D.

Trump Administration Targets Obama-Era Effort to Limit Methane

By LISA FRIEDMAN

The rule, dating from President Barack Obama’s final days in office, survived a Senate vote in 2017 but now faces formal repeal.

The White House had already taken action to impose tariffs on imported washing machines before President Trump raised the possibility of a “reciprocal tax” on trading partners.

Trump Threatens New Trade Penalties, but It Could Be a Hard Bargain

By ANA SWANSON

The president said the United States would announce a “reciprocal tax” on unfair trading partners, but one White House adviser said nothing had been formalized.

Here Are the Places That Struggle to Meet the Rules on Safe Drinking Water

By BRAD PLUMER AND NADJA POPOVICH

Since 1982, between 3 and 10 percent of water systems in the United States have been in violation of federal health standards each year. Rural areas are especially struggling.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
Brian Riedl in National Review:
“Republican lawmakers have spent years promising deficit reduction, spending restraint, and entitlement reform. Despite winning full control of Congress and the White House, the cuts have not come.”
Any talk of fiscal responsibility from Republicans, argues Mr. Riedl, is just “empty rhetoric.” He blames his party’s bipartisan deal to raise spending by $300 billion over the next two years on “precisely the kind of inside-the-Beltway, big-government deal-making” that President Trump was voted in to eliminate. How are we to account for Republicans’ reversing course on the deficit? Part of the reason might have to do with Mr. Trump’s election. The other part, he argues, might have to do with the party’s routine “bluff on spending reform.” Read more »
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From the Left
Jordan Weissmann in Slate:
“The White House released its official budget proposal today. I’m not going to waste my time reading it, and neither should you.”
Mr. Weissmann suggests that his readers ignore the budget proposed by the Trump administration. After all, he writes, the president already signed a spending bill that raised the government’s budget by $300 billion. This means that the White House’s budget revealed on Monday is “completely irrelevant to any real-world decision making.” Read more »
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