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Daily Reads: Trump’s Budget Plunders Government Agencies; Travel Ban Rebuked in Court, Again

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Trump's Budget Plunders Agencies; Travel Ban in Court, Again

Copies of Donald Trump's fiscal 2018 budget request, America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again, sit on display for sale at the Government Printing Office (GPO) library in Washington, DC (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Trump’s budget –> President Donald Trump released his preliminary discretionary budget this morning and, as expected, the wrecking crew is in full effect. Washington Post reporters Kim Soffen and Denise Lu summarized it thusly: “massive cuts to the arts, science and the poor.”

The proposal cuts the EPA and the State Department the most — by nearly a third — but also cuts the discretionary budgets of the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Service by roughly a fifth. It eliminates funding for 19 agencies, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Chemical Safety Board. (See more charts and lists.)

The budget falls in line with the goal of “deconstruction of the administrative state,” outlined by Steve Bannon at a conservative gathering last month. There are few major departments that won’t see cuts.

The roughly $58 billion removed from other agencies will go toward a 9 percent increase in military spending, “school choice” programs that direct resources away from public schools and, of course, “building the wall.”

Politico reports that White House Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney defended the cuts on Morning Joe earlier today saying the administration could no longer ask “coal miners in West Virginia and single moms in Detroit” to pay for programs that don’t help them, such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He told MSNBC that the budget team listened to Trump’s campaign promises and “turned his words, his policies into numbers. So folks who voted for the president are getting exactly what they voted for.”

The budget will have to pass Congress.

Sharp rebuke –> Travel ban 2.0 was put on hold by a federal judge in Hawaii. The ruling found that the executive order putting in the ban in place “likely violates a constitutional prohibition against religious discrimination,” Dara Lind reports for Vox. It’s a charge that Trump’s administration will have a hard time defending, given that the president campaigned on the promise of banning Muslims.

Europe’s advancing right wing takes a pause –> “It was supposed to be the kick-off of Europe’s year of populism,” The Economist writes. But, “…it did not happen.” In the Dutch election yesterday, the party headed by far-right Islamaphobe Geert Wilders gained seats in Parliament, but did not win a decisive portion of the votes. However, “voters, who turned out in record numbers, nonetheless rewarded right and center-right parties that had co-opted parts of his hard-line message, including that of the incumbent prime minister, Mark Rutte,” Alissa Rubin reports for The New York Times. But another winner in yesterday’s Dutch elections was the GreenLeft party, a liberal populist party fronted by the country’s youngest party leader ever, Jon Henley reports for The Guardian.

More pressure on the poor –> Immediately after being sworn in, Trump’s head of Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, sent a letter to governors announcing a new vision of health care for the poor — one that would be substantially more punitive, Andrea Germanos writes for Common Dreams. A February article by The Atlantic’s Vann Newkirk outlines her plans.

Child care for the rich –> “About 70 percent of benefits go to families with at least $100,000 and 25 percent of benefits go to families with at least $200,000,” the Tax Policy Center (a collaboration between the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institute) warns of Trump’s still-in-development childcare plan. The Nation’s Michelle Chen reports.

Dropping the charade –> At The Intercept, David Dayen writes about the selection this week of yet another Goldman Sachs veteran, Jim Donovan, to become the No. 2 person at the Treasury Department.

“The ubiquity of Goldman Sachs veterans across numerous presidencies throughout history, both Republican and Democratic, has been well documented. But Donald Trump sold himself as something different, an economic nationalist determined to rankle Wall Street. He even ran campaign ads savaging bankers like Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein for their role in a ‘global power structure.’ That populist smokescreen is long gone now.”

What’s going on here? –> A Chinese American businesswoman, Angela Chen, recently purchased a $15.8 million apartment in one of Donald Trump’s buildings, raising eyebrows. Now, Russ Choma and Andy Kroll report, “further investigation by Mother Jones has unearthed a new element to the story: Chen has ties to important members of the Chinese ruling elite and to an organization considered a front group for Chinese military intelligence.”

Remedial reading assignment –> Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) is sending EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt some background reading on climate change after he asserted last week that humans’ role in it is still unclear. The materials include the US Global Change Research Program’s Climate Literacy Guide, Tom DiChristopher reports for CNBC — “an educational tool for all ages.”

Curious whale meet-ups –> Humpback whales are “organizing,” Sara Chodosh writes for Popular Science. And no one knows why. On Twitter, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight shares a theory in verse: “Roses are red / Oceans are blue / These humpback whales / Are plotting a coup.”

Daily Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Theresa Riley.



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