Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Democrats get the better deal over Trump in spending bill.

We'll have to wait to see what actually gets to the House floor, and then what gets passed;  but a negotiating team of Republicans and Democrats reached an agreement on Sunday night on a spending bill that would have bipartisan support.

It only goes through the end of this fiscal year at the end of September, but any bipartisan agreement these days seems like a cause for celebration.   Here are some of the highlights, reported by the Washington Post.   I'll cautiously say that it looks like the Democrats got the better deal and that President Trump is the big loser.

1.   Republicans got defense and border security:   The Defense budget will go up by $12.5 billion, with $1.5 billion more for border security, specified to be used for technology investments and for repairs of existing fencing and infrastructure.   But the language is very clear:  there will be no money for Trump's border wall.

2.  What the Democrats got:    Planned Parenthood continues to receive federal funding (only through September in this bill, of course).   Instead of eliminating the National Endowments for the Arts and for the Humanities, each will get a $2 million increase.    NPR and PBS survived without any cuts.  The National Science Foundation and other science programs are fully funded on a par with  last year.  The CDC is cut by a smaller amount than originally proposed, and NIH gets $2 billion increase.  There will be no punitive defunding of "sanctuary cities."   A small decrease in the food stamp program is consistent with declining enrollment as the economy improves.

Pell grants for college students are increased.  An EPA program to help communities clean up drinking water remains fully funded, while 99% of the overall EPA budget will be maintained.   The Office of Management and Budget will be required to detail the "expected costs" of Executive Orders and Presidential Memorandums.  Trump had wanted a large increase in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) funding -- and got only a small increase, part of which will go for hiring more immigration judges.   The Legal Services Corporation, which Trump wanted to eliminate, would be funded through this period.

3.  Bipartisan wins:  The big one that everyone favored was a big increase in funding to combat opioid addiction, as well as overall increases in substance abuse and mental health programs.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid are not mentioned -- I think because this is for discretionary spending;  entitlement programs come under a separate bill.

The bill is expected to come to the floor this week.   It may be change quite a bit in the give and take of floor debate.   But at this point, it looks like the Democrats come out ahead -- at least when measured against President Trump's rhetoric about all the things he was going to cut.

Referring to Trump's 100 day accomplishments, Paul Krugman (New York Times) put it this way:  "The gap between big boasts and tiny achievements has never been wider."


PS:  One observation to add.   It looks like the Republicans in Congress aren't paying much attention to the blustering threats coming from the Oval Office (or rather the Oval Tweet) concerning programs to slash and eliminate.    RR.

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