Category Archives: Budgets

Trump and GOP Congress leave our elections vulnerable to Russian attack, Democrats offer a plan to secure our elections

Following the announcement on Friday that 13 Russians and an American citizen have been indicted for their role in foreign interference in the 2016 election, our Twitter-troll-in chief responded like a defendant demonstrating Consciousness of Guilt:

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Trump has posted a series of tweets over the weekend asserting his innocence and attempting to cast blame on others for the Russian attack on the 2016 election. But Trump has not responded as any American president would, whose solemn duty it is to protect the nation at war with a hostile adversary. Trump has not been critical of his pal Vladimir Putin, nor condemned the Russian interference in the 2016 election, nor kicked Russian diplomats out of the country, nor imposed the sanctions mandated by Congress that he has so far refused to impose. He has done nothing to hold Russia accountable for its actions.

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Gov. Ducey fails to lead on renewal of Prop. 301 education sales tax

Democratic lawmakers last year introduced legislation to extend and expand Prop. 301, the education sales tax set to expire in 2021 unless renewed, but Republican leadership never granted it a public hearing or vote. I posted about Prop. 301 earlier this year. Pass HB 2158 to permanently extend Prop. 301 education funding (excerpts):

The education sales tax, which voters passed in 2000 as Proposition 301, is set to expire in mid-2021.

State Rep. Doug Coleman told The Arizona Republic that House Bill 2158 would essentially “get rid of the cliff” surrounding Prop. 301.

Prop. 301 is a 0.6 cent per dollar education-funding sales tax. Its future has been a point of contention and concern among education and business advocates and state leaders. The money funds things such as teacher salaries and classroom expenses.

The sales tax — and the hundreds of millions of school-funding dollars that come with it — will be gone unless voters approve an extension of the tax in the 2018 or 2020 election or two-thirds of the state’s 90-member Legislature pass legislation to maintain the funding.

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Magical thinking Monday from delusional Don

The White House will release two documents on Monday: its much-ballyhooed infrastructure plan and its 2018 budget. Readers should file both documents under the genre of “science fiction.” The White House’s week of magical thinking.

The Washington Post reports, Trump’s big infrastructure plan has a lot of detail on everything but how to pay for it:

President Trump is poised to unveil a long-awaited plan Monday that aims to stimulate $1.5 trillion in new spending on the country’s ailing infrastructure over the coming decade, but many lawmakers in both parties say the president isn’t providing a viable way to pay for his initiative.

A year in the making, the proposal is an attempt to fulfill a marquee campaign promise and would rely heavily on states, localities and the private sector to cover the costs of new roads, bridges, waterways and other public works projects.

The plan calls for investing $200 billion in federal money over the coming decade to entice other levels of government and the private sector to raise their spending on infrastructure by more than $1 trillion to hit the administration’s goal of $1.5 trillion in new funding over 10 years. It also seeks to dramatically reduce the time required to obtain environmental permits for such projects.

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After Aqua Buddha shutdown, Congress passes bipartisan CR spending bill; Senate to take up DACA next week

You may have missed it overnight while you were sleeping, but we had the second government shutdown in history under one-party control of the government, this time due to the antics of Senator Aqua Buddha, Rand Paul (R-KY).

Aqua Buddha used the arcane rules of the Senate that allow a single senator to hold up business in the chamber to inveigh against the GOP embracing deficit spending (after he voted for the GOP tax bill in December that guaranteed deficit such spending). The dumbest shutdown ever:

Incensed that a bipartisan budget deal would balloon the national debt, Paul delayed a roll call on a long-term budget agreement until after the midnight deadline to fund the government.

That set in motion a shutdown that ultimately lasted just over six hours — even though Paul’s protest didn’t change a single word of the document, and he knew it wouldn’t from the very beginning.

“When Rand Paul pulls a stunt like this, it easy to understand why it’s difficult to be Rand Paul’s next door neighbor,” Rep. Charlie Dent told Politico. “The whole delay and filibuster exercise on the budget agreement is utterly pointless.” (The congressman was referring to an incident last year in which Paul’s neighbor Rene Boucher attacked Paul, breaking multiple ribs, in a landscaping dispute).

After Aqua Buddha’s publicity stunt finally ended, the Senate moved to pass the bipartisan budget deal. The House followed suit early this morning. Congress votes to end government shutdown:

The Senate passed the measure on a 71-28 vote shortly before 2 a.m.

The House vote, around 5:30 a.m., was 240-186. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) had urged her members to oppose the bill over the GOP’s failure to resolve the standoff over 700,000 Dreamers, but her efforts ultimately fell short. Seventy-three Democrats ended up backing the bipartisan package, which came after months of closed-door talks.

The defeat was a bitter one for Pelosi and other top Democrats, who have sought for months to tie a resolution of the fight over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to the budget caps negotiations.

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Donald Trump wants to throw himself a military parade in honor of ‘Dear Leader’

You may recall that the Washington Post in an interview with Donald Trump reported on January 18, 2017, How Donald Trump came up with ‘Make America Great Again’:

All of which raises the questions: How can greatness be measured and sensed? What does it even mean?

“Being a great president has to do with a lot of things, but one of them is being a great cheerleader for the country,” Trump said. “And we’re going to show the people as we build up our military, we’re going to display our military.

“That military may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military,” he added.

The same day, the Huffington Post reported, Trump Sought Military Equipment For Inauguration, Granted 20-Plane Flyover:

During the preparation for Friday’s transfer-of-power, a member of Trump’s transition team floated the idea of including tanks and missile launchers in the inaugural parade, a source involved in inaugural planning told The Huffington Post. “They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” the source said, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang, typically seen as an aggressive display of muscle-flexing.

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Russian military parade before the Tomb of Lenin in Moscow

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North Korean military parade in Pyongyang

The military, which traditionally works closely with the presidential inaugural committee, shot down the request, the source said. Their reason was twofold. Some were concerned about the optics of having tanks and missile launchers rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. But they also worried that the tanks, which often weigh over 100,000 pounds, would destroy the roads.

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(Update) A budget deal, but can it pass? Demand a DACA vote in the House

In an eleventh hour deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to fund the government and set spending levels for defense and nondefense programs over the next two years. Senate leaders agree to two-year budget deal:

The legislation would avert a government shutdown on Friday, when federal funding is due to expire, and boost defense and nondefense programs.

It also lifts the debt ceiling to March 2019 [which was to have been the next manufactured crisis for GOP hostage taking in a few weeks.]

The deal is backed by McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and will almost certainly be cleared as part of a stopgap funding measure by the Senate before a Feb. 8 deadline to prevent a shutdown.

It is not entirely sure the package will win enough support to pass the House, however.

As anticipated, GOP fiscal hawks revolt against Senate budget deal:

House conservatives on Wednesday revolted against a massive bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling and bust spending caps, complaining that the GOP could no longer lay claim to being the party of fiscal responsibility.

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The swift backlash from fiscal hawks means that Ryan and his leadership team will need dozens of Democratic votes to help get the caps-and-funding deal through the lower chamber to avert a government shutdown set for midnight Friday.

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