In this file:
· USA Today: The 62 agencies and programs Trump wants to eliminate
… proposed budget takes a cleaver to domestic programs, with many agencies taking percentage spending cuts in the double digits… for dozens of smaller agencies and programs, the cut is 100%...
· Farm Groups Ask Appropriators for More Funding in 2018 Farm Bill
The American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union and other farm groups are asking both the Congressional Budget Office and Appropriations Committee members for more funding in the 2018 farm bill...
· Senate Ag Committee leaders react to Trump Budget
The Ranking member of the Senate Ag Committee says now is not the time to cut funding for agriculture programs…
· Associated Press: With friends like these: Trump struggles to win GOP
… Republicans have emerged as one of the biggest obstacles to Trump's young administration, imperiling his early efforts to pass his agenda and make good on some of his biggest campaign promises…
· Cal Thomas: Putting Big Government On A Diet
An historic opportunity
· Charles Krauthammer: The real world of Obamacare repeal
… People hated Obamacare for its highhandedness, incompetence and cost. At the same time, its crafters took great care to create new beneficiaries and new expectations. Which makes repeal very complicated…
· President Trump no longer safe in White House: Former Secret Service agent
… according to former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, who once guarded presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama…
The 62 agencies and programs Trump wants to eliminate
Gregory Korte , USA TODAY
March 16, 2017
WASHINGTON — President Trump's proposed budget takes a cleaver to domestic programs, with many agencies taking percentage spending cuts in the double digits.
But for dozens of smaller agencies and programs, the cut is 100%.
Community development block grants. The Weatherization Assistance Program. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The National Endowment for the Arts. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. All would be axed if Congress adopts Trump's budget.
Also proposed for elimination are lesser-known bureaucracies like the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education Program, the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program and the Inter-American Foundation.
Many of those programs have constituencies in states and cities across the country — and their champions in Congress. "The president's beholden to nobody but the people who elected him, and yes, I understand that every lawmaker over there has pet projects," said Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney. "That's the nature of the beast."
He said not every program would disappear overnight. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which now receives $485 million a year, might still get some federal funding in 2018, for example. "It might take a while to unwind that relationship. It’s just the nature of contracts," Mulvaney said.
Trump's budget says hundreds of programs and agencies would be eliminated — with more than 50 in the Environmental Protection Agency. But his first budget proposal identified 62 specifically. The list:
Department of Agriculture
Water and Wastewater loan and grant program ($498 million): "Rural communities can be served by private sector financing or other federal investments in rural water infrastructure, such as the Environmental Protection Agency's State Revolving Funds," the budget says.
McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program ($202 million): Trump's budget says the program — a sort of Third World school lunch project — "lacks evidence that it is being effectively implemented to reduce food insecurity."
Department of Commerce ...
Department of Education ...
Department of Energy ...
Department of Health and Human Services ...
Department of Housing and Urban Development ...
Department of the Interior ...
Department of Justice ...
Department of Labor ...
Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development ...
Department of Transportation ...
Department of the Treasury ...
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ...
National Aeronautics and Space Administration ...
Independent agencies and commissions ...
much more detail
Farm Groups Ask Appropriators for More Funding in 2018 Farm Bill
Radio 570 WNAX (SD)
Mar 20, 2017
The American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union and other farm groups are asking both the Congressional Budget Office and Appropriations Committee members for more funding in the 2018 farm bill. Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap says there are so many essential programs in the farm bill that need additional support.
He says because the ag economy is depressed, having adequate farm bill funding is critical.
Paap says previous farm bills have taken their share of cuts and to ask for even more reductions doesn’t make sense with state of the farm economy...
more, including audio
Senate Ag Committee leaders react to Trump Budget
By Nicole Heslip, Brownfield
March 17, 2017
The Ranking member of the Senate Ag Committee says now is not the time to cut funding for agriculture programs.
Debbie Stabenow of Michigan says she’s concerned by many of the reductions in the Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal including a 21 percent cut in USDA funding. “I know that we’re at a point where farmers are having a tough time with prices going down and this would be devastating to Michigan farmers if at 21 percent cut is in fact implemented.”
Stabenow says she plans to oppose cuts to the USDA and the elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and instead, continue to work in a bipartisan way to strengthen support for agriculture and rural communities...
more, including audio
With friends like these: Trump struggles to win GOP
By Lisa Lerer, Associated Press
Mar. 18, 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans have a lot to say about their new president.
Donald Trump's proposed budget is "draconian, careless and counterproductive." The health care plan is a bailout that won't pass. And his administration's suggestion that former President Barack Obama used London's spy agency for surveillance is simply "inexplicable."
With friends like these, who needs Democrats?
Less than two months in, Republicans have emerged as one of the biggest obstacles to Trump's young administration, imperiling his early efforts to pass his agenda and make good on some of his biggest campaign promises.
Trump's embrace of a House GOP plan to overhaul the country's health system faces deep opposition from across the party, as does his push to get U.S. taxpayers to pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Republicans largely rejected his thin, 53-page first budget, joking that there's a "fat chance for skinny budget" on Capitol Hill. And his tax reform and infrastructure plans have yet to gain any real traction in Congress.
Trump insisted on Friday that he is leading a party that is coalescing behind him.
"I think we have a very unified party. I think actually more unified than even the election," he said at a White House news conference with German leader Angela Merkel. "You see when they talk about me, I seem to be very popular, at least this week within the party."
Long a divisive political figure, Trump entered office with historically low approval ratings and a popular vote loss of nearly 3 million. Still, he claimed a sweeping mandate when he arrived in Washington, fiercely pushing back on any suggestion that he won with less than a historic margin and moving quickly on a series of controversial executive orders.
Now, his administration has reached the limits of what it can achieve without Congress, leaving Trump struggling to lead his party on Capitol Hill — starting with the health care bill.
After years of campaign promises to repeal and replace "Obamacare," the bill presents the first major test of whether Trump and Republican leaders can marshal a fractious GOP caucus behind a major legislative initiative. GOP leaders fear that failure could chip away at Trump's already thin political capital, dooming future efforts on tax reform and infrastructure.
Trump's early missteps have overshadowed one of the administration's smoothest-sailing moves — the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. Confirmation hearings begin Monday.
"A president only has so much political capital to expend and so much moral authority as well, and so any time your credibility takes a hit I think in many ways it weakens the officeholder," said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., who had described the surveillance claims as "inexplicable."
The furor over Trump's unproven claim that Obama wiretapped his New York skyscraper prompted Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma to suggest Trump owes his predecessor an apology.
Republicans almost immediately balked at Trump's budget, with Kentucky Rep. Hal Rogers uttering the "draconian" complaint and others questioning why Trump's core supporters took a hit.
"Rural America stepped up to the plate behind the president in his last election, and we're wholeheartedly behind him. We need to make sure that rural America at least gets its fair share," said Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala.
Trump is hardly the first president to clash with members of his own party. Few congressional Democrats felt a personal connection to Obama, who came under criticism for his hands-off approach to Congress, and his lack of interest in schmoozing with lawmakers or using the trappings of his office to woo them.
While Trump has hosted Republicans for bowling, pizza and other White House events, he's been hampered by his inexperience with governing and his distance from establishment GOP politics. A businessman, Trump has never lined up lawmakers behind a bill, crafted a political coalition or passed a budget — nor have many of his closest aides.
During his campaign, he embraced a populist platform, rejecting traditional conservative positions on issues like trade and cutting costly mandatory programs like Social Security.
Many congressional Republicans, from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on down, were slow to embrace Trump's candidacy, and some of those concerns linger...
Putting Big Government On A Diet
An historic opportunity
by Cal Thomas, Tribune Content Agency, LLC
via CalThomas.com - 3/14/2017
“No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!” — Ronald Reagan
President Trump presents his first budget to Congress today (Thursday). It is, as The Washington Post points out, “historic” because if adopted it would be the biggest contraction in the federal government since the end of World War II. Predictably, a Post story focuses on the number of federal workers it estimates could lose their jobs, rather than on whether those jobs and the programs associated with them are necessary.
The biggest drivers of debt remain entitlement programs and true to his campaign promise, the president is not touching those, at least for now. His challenge will be to ask Congress to eliminate failed programs, because too many members rely on campaign contributions from lobbyists with an interest in maintaining the status quo.
Some federal agencies have long practiced a policy of telling employees to find ways to spend leftover money at the end of a fiscal year for fear their budgets might be reduced. The practice is a contributing factor to government’s seemingly unstoppable growth.
While most proposals for cutting the size and cost of government tinker with spending at the edges while ignoring the main drivers of debt, a beginning can be made. If Republicans start with failed programs and present them as failures that waste taxpayer money, the public might come to trust them when it comes to the bigger things.
Patrick Louis Knudsen, a consultant and visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C., has authored a plan he says can save $42 billion just by eliminating bad government programs and initiating spending reductions in others that may still serve necessary functions.
Knudsen’s recommendations, made in 2013, do not take into account projected savings from changes in Obamacare, but they are a good beginning. Many programs could be managed as well, or better and at lower costs, by the private sector.
The U.S. government, notes Knudsen, contributes money to many international organizations, which could easily be financed by private capital, if anyone is interested in them. These include the International Coffee Organization, The International Copper Study Group, The International Cotton Advisory Committee, the International Grains Council, and my personal favorite, the International Lead and Zinc Study Group.
There are 18 Energy Department programs Knudsen says could be turned over to the private sector.
Familiar targets include privatizing Amtrak and eliminating all subsidies for the Public Broadcasting Service, which once served a valuable cultural purpose, but is, today, in an age of multiple TV choices, as outdated as a VHS tape.
Space precludes naming more programs that could be cut, but visit heritage.org and search for Knudsen’s report which lists them all.
Cutting the size and cost of government is doable if the reductions are properly and skillfully presented to the public. Predictably, Democrats will howl about starving children because they always do, even when Republican proposals merely target the rate of spending increases without ever getting to real cuts.
Is there enough of our Puritan DNA left to eliminate waste? We’re about to find out. If a government headed by Republicans can’t, or won’t, live up to their philosophy of smaller government and more personal freedom, why do we need them? If unnecessary spending and needed entitlement reforms are not accomplished by Republicans, the spending will continue and the debt will grow until the inevitable economic collapse.
The real world of Obamacare repeal
By Charles Krauthammer, Opinion, The Washington Post
March 16, 2017
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, but for governments it’s not that easy. Once something is given — say, health insurance coverage to 20 million Americans — you take it away at your peril. This is true for any government benefit, but especially for health care. There’s a reason not one Western democracy with some system of national health care has ever abolished it.
The genius of the left is to keep enlarging the entitlement state by creating new giveaways that are politically impossible to repeal. For 20 years, Republicans railed against the New Deal. Yet, when they came back into office in 1953, Eisenhower didn’t just keep Social Security, he expanded it.
People hated Obamacare for its highhandedness, incompetence and cost. At the same time, its crafters took great care to create new beneficiaries and new expectations. Which makes repeal very complicated.
The Congressional Budget Office projects that, under House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Obamacare replacement bill, 24 million will lose insurance within 10 years, 14 million after the first year.
Granted, the number is highly suspect. CBO projects 18 million covered by the Obamacare exchanges in 2018. But the number today is about 10 million. That means the CBO estimate of those losing coverage is already about 8 million too high.
Nonetheless, there will be losers. And their stories will be plastered wall to wall across the media as sure as night follows day.
That scares GOP moderates. And yet the main resistance to Ryan comes from conservative members complaining that the bill is not ideologically pure enough. They mock it as Obamacare Lite.
For example, Ryan wants to ease the pain by phasing out Medicaid expansion through 2020. The conservative Republican Study Committee wants it done next year. This is crazy. For the sake of two years’ savings, why would you risk a political crash landing?
Moreover, the idea that you can eradicate Obamacare root and branch is fanciful. For all its catastrophic flaws, Obamacare changed expectations. Does any Republican propose returning to a time when you can be denied health insurance because of a preexisting condition?
It’s not just Donald Trump who ran on retaining this new, yes, entitlement. Everyone did. But it’s very problematic. If people know that they can sign up for insurance after they get sick, the very idea of insurance is undermined. People won’t sign up when healthy, and the insurance companies will go broke.
So what do you do? Obamacare imposed a monetary fine if you didn’t sign up, for which the Ryan bill substitutes another mechanism, less heavy-handed but still government-mandated.
The purists who insist upon entirely escaping the heavy hand of government are dreaming. The best you can hope for is to make it less intrusive and more rational, as in the Ryan plan’s block-granting Medicaid.
Or instituting a more realistic age-rating system. Older patients use six times as much health care as their younger counterparts, yet Obamacare decreed, entirely arbitrarily, that the former could be charged insurance premiums no more than three times that of the latter. The GOP bill changes the ratio from 3-to-1 to 5-to-1.
Premiums better reflecting risk constitute a major restoration of rationality. (It’s how life insurance works.) Under Obamacare, the young were unwilling to be swindled and refused to sign up. Without their support, the whole system is thus headed into a death spiral of looming insolvency.
Rationality, however, has a price. The CBO has already predicted a massive increase in premiums for 60-year-olds. That’s the headline.
There is no free lunch. GOP hard-liners must accept that Americans have become accustomed to some new health-care benefits, just as moderates have to brace themselves for stories about the inevitable losers in any reform. That’s the political price for fulfilling the seven-year promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare.
Unless, of course, you go the full Machiavelli and throw it all back on the Democrats. How? Republicans could forget about meeting the arcane requirements of “reconciliation” legislation (which requires only 51 votes in the Senate) and send the Senate a replacement bill loaded up with everything conservative — including tort reform and insurance competition across state lines. That would require 60 Senate votes. Let the Democrats filibuster it to death — and take the blame when repeal-and-replace fails and Obamacare carries on and then collapses under its own weight.
Upside: You reap the backlash. Downside: You have to live with your conscience.
President Trump no longer safe in White House: Former Secret Service agent
By Malia Zimmerman, FoxNews.com
March 17, 2017
The president is no longer safe on the White House grounds, according to former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, who once guarded presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Bongino made the stunning assessment in an interview Friday with Fox News. It followed an incident last Friday night when a man jumped the White House fence and may have roamed the property for as long as 15 minutes before he was stopped by the Secret Service.
Jonathan Tran, who carried two cans of mace, set off multiple alarms, Bongino said, and was even spotted by Secret Service officers, but was still able to come within “close proximity” of the White House and even reportedly “jiggled the door” to the executive mansion.
“The intruder set off multiple alarms, alarms that clearly showed someone breached the property, and he was seen by officers who didn't think anything of it. This is a big story,” Bongino told Fox News.
“That just shows the president is not safe there - in the White House. The Secret Service does not have the assets, they don't have personnel on the ground they need to keep him safe.”
Should a group of terrorists decide to storm the White House, the Secret Service would not be able to protect Trump, Bongino predicted.
“The Secret Service cannot even keep one person off the grounds - what will they do if 40 terrorists charge the White House?” he asked. “And believe me the terrorists are already thinking about that.”
According to the Secret Service, Tran was charged with entering a restricted building and carrying a dangerous weapon.
Trump, who was on the property, has praised the Secret Service for doing a “fantastic job” and said the suspect was “troubled.”
But Bongino said the current Secret Service management “sucks.”
“The Secret Service is stuck in their ways and don't want to redo and upgrade the White House security plan. President Trump won't be safe there until they do,” Bongino said.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, also blasted the latest incident and said “this keeps happening.” Chaffetz’s panel oversees the Secret Service...