The Trump budget

Let’s look at some of the highlights of the Trump budget:

For example, the budget would cut $554 billion from Medicare spending over 10 years.

It also would make changes to Medicaid, the health program for lower-income Americans that is funded by the federal government and states. It would create a “market-based health-care grant” that could fund programs in addition to the traditional Medicaid program, a change that would lower Medicaid spending by about $250 billion over 10 years.

One program that would face the biggest reduction is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is a version of food stamps run by the Agriculture Department. The White House proposes cutting $214 billion from the program over 10 years, although Congress often fights about changing SNAP and rarely has enacted changes.

Kevin Drum adds in some more:

The Post Office loses $4 billion, primarily by giving them “the ability to address their expenses—including the cost of personnel.” In other words, by slashing pay and pensions. Low-income energy assistance is eliminated. Foreign aid is cut $5 billion. PBS funding is eliminated. Ditto for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. HUD loses $9 billion, including a $4 billion cut in rental assistance. Etc. etc.
On the mandatory spending side, the budget proposes cuts of $266 billion to Medicare over ten years. SNAP loses $213 billion. Obamacare is eliminated, of course. “Waste and abuse” will generate savings of $187 billion. Farmers lose $47 billion. Subsidized student loans go away, as does the student loan forgiveness program.

And yet it still increases the deficit by a lot:

The White House projects a large gap between government spending and tax revenue over the next decade, adding at least $7 trillion to the debt over that time. In 2019 and 2020 alone, the government would add a combined $2 trillion in debt under Trump’s plan.

And even to get that they assume very rosy projections that are unlikely to happen.

On the one hand this budget is meaningless since the recently passed budget doesn’t follow this plan, on the other this tells us what the Trump administration wants: massively increase defense spending even though the US easily has the largest defense budget in the world already; cut almost all domestic spending, especially that which goes to the non-rich and science; pass large tax cuts that mostly go to the rich and big corporations even if it explodes the deficit.


No more global warming

2017 was the second warmest year on record according to NASA:

Continuing the planet’s long-term warming trend, globally averaged temperatures in 2017 were 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.90 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. That is second only to global temperatures in 2016.

Phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña, which warm or cool the upper tropical Pacific Ocean and cause corresponding variations in global wind and weather patterns, contribute to short-term variations in global average temperature. A warming El Niño event was in effect for most of 2015 and the first third of 2016. Even without an El Niño event – and with a La Niña starting in the later months of 2017 – last year’s temperatures ranked between 2015 and 2016 in NASA’s records.

In an analysis where the effects of the recent El Niño and La Niña patterns were statistically removed from the record, 2017 would have been the warmest year on record.

The NOAA says 2017 was the third warmest year and adds more details:

2017 marks the 41st consecutive year (since 1977) with global land and ocean temperatures at least nominally above the 20th-century average. The six warmest years on record for the planet have all occurred since 2010.

  • The average Arctic sea ice extent for the year was 4.01 million square miles, the second smallest annual average since record-keeping began in 1979.
  • The average Antarctic sea ice extent for the year was 4.11 million square miles, the smallest annual average since record-keeping began in 1979.

You can assume that Trump will ignore all of that, it’s all a hoax after all.

Fuck Trump

This has been a week that shows President Trump’s priorities. He doesn’t care about the environment:

The Trump administration Thursday moved to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans with a plan that would open up federal waters off the California coast for the first time in more than three decades.
The new five-year drilling plan also could open new areas of oil and gas exploration in areas off the East Coast from Georgia to Maine, where drilling has been blocked for decades.

The proposal comes less than a week after the Trump administration proposed to rewrite or kill rules on offshore oil and gas drilling imposed after the deadly 2010 rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

He doesn’t care about the Dreamers:

“We want the wall,” Trump said at a press conference at Camp David in Maryland. “The wall is going to happen, or we’re not going to have DACA,” he said, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Democrats are fighting to restore.

He doesn’t care about people who fled war-torn countries:

The Trump administration said Monday it is ending special protections for Salvadoran immigrants, an action that could force nearly 200,000 to leave the US by September 2019 or face deportation.

He wants a return to the war on drugs:

“This is a straightforward rule of law issue,” Lelling responded. “Congress has unambiguously made it a federal crime to cultivate, distribute, and/or possess marijuana. As a law enforcement officer in the executive branch, it is my sworn responsibility to enforce that law.”

A congressional budget rider bars the Department of Justice from spending money on most prosecutions of state-licensed medical marijuana operations, meaning the state’s currently operating dispensaries should be safe for now.
However, that amendment is due to expire later this month along with the current federal budget. Sessions previously called on Congress to drop the language.

And to compound this, Trump has shown himself to be a coward.

He says he supports DACA but had to get rid of it because there were legal problems (there really weren’t any).  Then he said that Congress needed to do something and he supported that. Now he says he only supports it if he gets what he wants. Don’t be surprised if he adds more requirements.

The same is true for the people from El Salvador, he says Congress should actually pass a law instead of relying on extensions to the Temporary Protection. And anyway:

The months before then “will provide time with individuals with TPS [temporary protected status] to arrange for their departure, or if eligible, to do the necessary paperwork to remain in the United States,” a senior administration official told reporters on a call previewing the announcement.

Of course they don’t say how this will happen and they want to make it harder to legally immigrate to the US.

It isn’t that Trump doesn’t support ending DACA or sending people back who have been in the country for 20 years or cracking down on marijuana, he does. It’s just that he doesn’t want to be blamed if these turn out to be unpopular.

Trump’s EPA

Here’s how the EPA works under President Trump:

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in May announced the creation of a Superfund Task Force that he said would reprioritize and streamline procedures for remediating more than 1,300 sites. Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma, appointed a political supporter from his home state with no experience in pollution cleanups to lead the group.
The task force in June issued a nearly three dozen-page report containing 42 detailed recommendations, all of which Pruitt immediately adopted.

Now, nearly six months after the task force released its report, a lawyer for EPA has written PEER to say that the task force had no agenda for its meetings, kept no minutes and used no reference materials.
Further, there were no written criteria for selecting the 107 EPA employees the agency says served on the task force or background materials distributed to them during the deliberative process for creating the recommendations.
According to EPA, the task force also created no work product other than its final report.

In some ways I can believe this, Pruitt has a history of having industry write stuff for him:

The letter to the Environmental Protection Agency from Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma carried a blunt accusation: Federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state.

But Mr. Pruitt left out one critical point. The three-page letter was written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies, and was delivered to him by Devon’s chief of lobbying.

“Outstanding!” William F. Whitsitt, who at the time directed government relations at the company, said in a note to Mr. Pruitt’s office. The attorney general’s staff had taken Devon’s draft, copied it onto state government stationery with only a few word changes, and sent it to Washington with the attorney general’s signature.

Trump administration is rolling coal

Here’s the Trump administration trolling the world again:

The Trump administration made its debut at a United Nations conference on climate change on Monday by giving a full-throated defense of fossil fuels and nuclear energy as answers to driving down global greenhouse gas emissions.

The forum — the only official appearance by the United States delegation during the annual two-week climate gathering of nearly 200 nations — illustrated how sharply the administration’s views are at odds with those of many key participants in the climate negotiations.

George D. Banks, special adviser to President Trump on international energy issues, led a panel with top American energy executives. “Without question, fossil fuels will continue to be used, and we would argue that it’s in the global interest to make sure when fossil fuels are used that they be as clean and efficient as possible,” Mr. Banks said. “This panel is controversial only if we chose to bury our heads in the sand.”

Here’s an interesting comeback:

Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who has spent tens of millions of dollars on a campaign to shut down coal plants, said, “Promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit.”

The thing is, Donald Trump doesn’t recognize that. He is the king of political correctness, so if he thinks there’s no global warming then you’re not going to hear anybody from his administration talk about it and so you get comments like the one above by Mr. Banks.

Politcal Correctness in the EPA

The new EPA is all about Political Correctness:

The Environmental Protection Agency has canceled the speaking appearance of three agency scientists who were scheduled to discuss climate change at a conference Monday in Rhode Island, according to the agency and several people involved.

Ok, that’s really just censorship. Here’s the Political Correctness:

The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program is funded through the EPA’s approximately $26 million National Estuary Program. It funds 28 state-based estuary programs and delivers about $600,000 annually to the Narragansett Bay program. Pruitt’s proposed budget for 2018 would eliminate the national program.
Under Pruitt’s leadership, the EPA also has removed most mentions of the words “climate change” from its website.

On an EPA website, scores of links to materials to help local officials prepare for a world of rising temperatures and more severe storms have been removed.
Among the now-missing pages are those detailing the risks of climate change and the different approaches states are taking to curb emissions. Also edited out were examples of statewide plans to adapt to weather extremes.

It is no longer politically correct to talk about global warming at the EPA–that’s impressive, the agency tasked with protecting the environment doesn’t want to talk about something that will have a pretty adverse effect on the environment.

More Political Correctness from the Trump administration

Here is more political correctness:

For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to prevent an ingredient once used in stain-resistant carpets and nonstick pans from contaminating drinking water.

The chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, has been linked to kidney cancer, birth defects, immune system disorders and other serious health problems.

So scientists and administrators in the E.P.A.’s Office of Water were alarmed in late May when a top Trump administration appointee insisted upon the rewriting of a rule to make it harder to track the health consequences of the chemical, and therefore regulate it.

The Trump administration doesn’t want to hear about the problems caused by these chemicals so they try to bury the information–it’s not politically correct to talk about.

And there’s more:

In March, Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. chief, overrode the recommendation of Ms. Hamnett and agency scientists to ban the commercial use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, blamed for developmental disabilities in children.

The E.P.A.’s new leadership also pressed agency scientists to re-evaluate a plan to ban certain uses of two dangerous chemicals that have caused dozens of deaths or severe health problems: methylene chloride, which is found in paint strippers, and trichloroethylene, which removes grease from metals and is used in dry cleaning.

and here’s some typical political correctness in action:

Methylene chloride has been blamed in dozens of deaths, including that of a 21-year-old Tennessee man in April, who was overwhelmed by fumes as he was refinishing a bathtub.

“How is it possible that you can go to a home improvement store and buy a paint remover that can kill you?” Ms. Hamnett asked. “How can we let this happen?”

Furniture-refinishing companies and chemical manufacturers have urged the E.P.A. to focus on steps like strengthening warning labels, complaining that there are few reasonably priced alternatives.

Ms. Hamnett said Dr. Beck raised the possibility that people were not following the directions on the labels. She also suggested that only a small number of users had been injured. “Is it 1 percent?” Ms. Hamnett recalled Dr. Beck asking.

Methylene chloride is killing people but that’s bad for business and so you have to work to find ways to say what the administration wants–sure it’s killing people but maybe they didn’t follow the directions and anyway it’s not that many people.

And here’s how the administration replies when a news agency continues to be politically incorrect:

“No matter how much information we give you, you would never write a fair piece,” Liz Bowman, a spokeswoman for the E.P.A., said in an email. “The only thing inappropriate and biased is your continued fixation on writing elitist clickbait trying to attack qualified professionals committed to serving their country.”

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