Trump earmarks $20 million for golfer Jack Nicklaus’ pet project in new proposed federal budget

President Donald Trump’s 2019 budget proposal has come under much scrutiny. A portion of the budget requests $20 million to go towards Trump’s golf buddy Jack Nicklaus’s mobile children’s hospital project.

The money will go towards expanding Miami’s Nicklaus Children’s Hospital to offer mobile services, which Nicklaus has long lobbied for.

“The $20 million increase will continue support for the pediatric disaster care pilot initiative which aims to improve pediatric care during emergencies,” the budget proposal reads.

“Nicklaus had lobbied Trump on the golf course in Florida, and he met with HHS Secretary Alex Azar and then-OMB Director Mick Mulvaney in Washington, D.C., to request funds. Trump personally directed HHS to earmark the funds to help Nicklaus develop mobile children’s hospitals, one individual said,” Politico reported.

Trump and Nicklaus have constantly golfed together since November the report said.

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and HHS did not respond to Politico’s requests for comment.

Read the full report here.

[Raw Story]

Trump just declared a national emergency at the border

After battling for weeks over funding for a border wall, overseeing the longest government shutdown in US history, and finally signing on to a deal to fund the government, President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency over a contrived crisis at the US-Mexico border.

On Friday, Trump invoked his power to declare a national emergency in a unilateral effort to make progress on the border wall Congress has thus far denied him. He initially demanded $5 billion for the construction of about 200 miles of barrier at the border, and Democrats in Congress have repeatedly refused to go anywhere near that figure. He got about $1.3 billion for border fencing in the deal he finally agreed to, a far cry from the desired amount. So he’s going with a national emergency to get more.

“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border, and we’re going to do it, one way or another, we have to do it,” he said in a speech at the White House Rose Garden on Friday.

Trump will try to cobble together funds from a number of areas and redirect them toward border wall construction. White House officials ahead of the announcement on Friday said he would redirect about $600 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund, an account funded by money seized by the US government; $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense’s counter-drug activities; and $3.6 billion from other military construction accounts. Trump won’t try to take anything from disaster relief.

“I didn’t need to do this,” Trump said on Friday. “But I’d rather do it much faster.”

That the president has finally decided to declare an emergency isn’t entirely surprising — he has been wavering on the idea for weeks.

So why declare a national emergency in addition to the spending deal? The short answer is that Trump doesn’t want to admit he lost. He’s already getting less for border fencing than was in the original spending bill he refused to sign in December — and caused a 35-day government shutdown over — so he’s looking to executive action instead.

There has been some debate about whether Trump can indeed declare an emergency at the border considering there isn’t really one, and the answer, at least initially, seems to be that he can.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor on Thursday that he would support the emergency declaration.

[Vox]

Trump Threatens Wall Coming ‘One Way or the Other’ as Lawmakers Talk Read Newsmax: Trump Says Wall Coming ‘One Way or the Other’ as Lawmakers Talk

Congressional negotiators dug in for a weekend of talks on a security plan that includes some sort of barrier on the U.S.-Mexican border, hoping to complete a deal to avert another government shutdown that’s also acceptable to President Donald Trump.

Trump was back in the fray late Saturday afternoon, indicating in a tweet that if Democrats didn’t give him all the wall money he’s demanded, he may use executive action to build it. Democrats have warned such action would face court challenges, and some Republicans have suggested it’s an option best avoided.

Negotiators on Saturday were homing in on a proposal with border barrier funding of between $1.3 billion and $2 billion, said a person familiar with the talks. That’s far lower than the $5.7 billion that Trump had been demanding.

Representative Steven Palazzo, a Republican member of the House-Senate panel holding the talks, said Friday that he expects a deal “before the end of the weekend” that could be finalized on Monday. The Mississippi lawmaker said some key details are still under negotiation, including the amount of money for barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby are scheduled to appear on political talk shows on Sunday morning, which could provide additional clarity on how talks are progressing.

Another Republican on the negotiating panel, Representative Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, said the party wants as much barrier funding as possible, and he hopes that the final amount is above $2 billion. House Appropriations Committee spokesman Evan Hollander said in a statement that Democrats want the figure to be less than $2 billion.

[Newsmax]

Trump issues executive order freezing federal workers’ pay in 2019

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Friday freezing federal workers’ pay for 2019, following through on a proposal he announced earlier in the year.

The move, which nixes a 2.1% across-the-board pay raise that was set to take effect in January, comes as hundreds of thousands of federal employees are expecting to begin the new year furloughed or working without pay because of a partial government shutdown.
Trump told lawmakers he planned to scrap the 2019 pay bump for federal workers in August, saying the federal budget couldn’t support it. In addition to the 2.1% pay increase, the executive order also cancels a yearly adjustment of paychecks based on the region of the country where workers are posted, called the “locality pay increase,” that was due to take effect in January.

The move does not affect a 2.6% pay increase for US troops next year that was passed as part of the massive defense spending bill Trump signed in August.

Lawmakers could include a pay raise for 2019 in a spending bill to reopen the government, but negotiations have been at an impasse over money for Trump’s border wall.

About 380,000 federal employees are on furlough and 420,000 are working without pay as the new year approaches.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders in August, Trump described the pay increase as “inappropriate.”

“We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” the President wrote.

Trump also stressed that a pay freeze would not affect the federal government’s ability to attract qualified workers. He cited his statutory authority to adjust pay out of “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.”

[CNN]

Trump Doubles Down on Shutdown Threat: ‘I Don’t Mind Owning That Issue’

President Donald Trump spoke to reporters again this afternoon following his contentious public spat with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on the border wall and a possible government shutdown.

Trump directly said he would be “proud” to shut down the government in the name of fighting for border security.

During a bill signing this afternoon, Trump said the meeting was “very friendly” and stood by his comments. When asked about owning the idea of a shutdown, he said, “I don’t mind.”

He elaborated:

“I don’t mind having the issue of border security on my side. If we have to close down the country over border security, I actually like that in terms of an issue, but I don’t want it to be an issue, I want it to be something that the country needs… We need border security, and part of border security is a wall. So I don’t mind owning that issue.”

And if the fight is on border security, Trump added, “I think I win that every single time.”

[Mediaite]

In public fight with Democrats, Trump says he would be ‘proud’ to shut down government over border wall

President Donald Trump and Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi bickered at length on Tuesday in an explosive public meeting at the White House over the president’s promised border wall and threat to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t fund it.

“If we don’t get what we want one way or the other … I will shut down the government,” Trump said during a highly unusual fight that played out in front of the press before the official meeting began. “I am proud to shut down the government for border security. … I will take the mantle of shutting it down.”

If Trump and Congress can’t agree to a funding bill by Dec. 21, large parts of the federal government will run out of operating authority. The Defense Department, however, is funded through the end of next September.

Trump said it was unlikely that he would strike a deal Tuesday with Pelosi, a California Democrat who is expected to become House speaker next month, and Schumer, a New York Democrat who is the Senate minority leader.

“We may not have an agreement today,” he said. “We probably won’t.”

The House Freedom Caucus, a group of Trump’s Republican allies in Congress, demanded Monday night that $5 billion be included for the wall in any spending bill, while the Democratic leaders have been open to accepting less than $2 billion.

Earlier in the day, according to two sources who spoke to NBC News on the condition of anonymity, Pelosi told House Democrats that she and Schumer would offer the president a deal to pass six appropriations bills and a yearlong extension of current funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

Short of that, she said, they would agree to a basic extension of funding through Sept. 30, 2019, for all seven appropriations bills, including the one that funds Homeland Security.

Before Trump took ownership of a possible shutdown, Pelosi took an early dig at him in her opening remarks and noted that his party still controls both the House and Senate until January.

“We must keep the government open,” she said. “We cannot have a Trump shutdown.”

“A what?” he snapped at her.

“You have the White House, you have the Senate, you have the House of Representatives,” Pelosi responded.

But, she noted, not all Republicans are on board with his plans to build a physical barrier.

“There are no votes in the House, a majority of votes, for a wall,” Pelosi said.

“If I needed the votes for the wall in the House, I would have them in one session,” Trump countered. “It would be done.”

But for two years, he has been unable to muster those votes for his core campaign promise during the 2016 election — a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that Trump vowed Mexico would pay for.

Vice President Mike Pence watched Tuesday’s spectacle unfold in silence as Trump and the Democrats also fought over the results of last month’s midterm elections and their meaning.

Outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly and presidential advisers Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller were also in the room for the meeting.

Pelosi urged the president to stop bickering in front of the media.

“This is spiraling downward,” she said.

The private portion of the discussion was brief, as Pelosi and Schumer emerged quickly to talk to reporters outside the White House.

Schumer said Trump threw a “temper tantrum.”

Later, back at the Capitol, he said the meeting was “productive” in that “the president showed what he wanted: shutdown.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a top Trump ally, cheered the president on from the sidelines of Twitter.

“Great job sticking to your guns on border security, Mr. President!” he wrote. “You are right to want more border security funding including Wall money. They are WRONG to say no.”

Graham also advocated for Trump to add into the mix a provision protecting certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children from deportation to put pressure on Democrats to approve money for the wall.

Likewise, some Democrats took to social media to back their leaders.

“Remember when Mexico was going to pay for the President’s wall?” Rep. Val Demings of Florida tweeted. “Shutting down the government over this foolish idea would be wildly irresponsible. A shutdown would cripple the economy and degrade transportation security during the holidays.”

[NBC News]

Reality

Donald Trump lied multiple times and threw a very public temper tantrum during a photo op at the White House with Senator Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi over the southern border wall funding and averting a government shutdown, which Trump said he would take full credit for.

Trump, who promised his supporters Mexico would pay for a wall, instead demanded the American taxpayers pay for his wall.

Some of the lies include:

* Trump claiming parts of his wall has been built. Even his supporters know this is a lie.

* Trump said illegal traffic is down in areas where a wall was built. Again no construction has been completed.

* Trump said 10 terrorists have been apprehended. This is a lie.
* Trump repeated white nationalist and KKK talking points when he claimed immigrants bring crime and disease.

Media

Trump Calls U.S. Defense Spending “Crazy” in Apparent Change of Heart on Military Budget

President Donald Trump blasted the United States’ defense spending in a Monday morning tweet, despite long being a champion for increased military spending.

Trump took to Twitter to say that the U.S. has spent $716 billion on defense this year—an amount he called “crazy.” However, last August, the president signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which approved that exact amount for defense spending in the fiscal year 2019.

At the time, Trump said the increase in spending was to provide the U.S. military with resources “better than any military on earth.” The bill provided the largest military pay raise in nine years.

On Monday, Trump seemed to have a change of heart, lamenting the country’s high defense spending and blaming it on an arms race with Russia and China. The president said he would aim to meet with the leaders of these two nations “at some time in the future” to stop the “uncontrollable Arms Race.”

The Trump administration has been critical of Russia’s ballistic missile program recently, even threatening to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in October. China, too, has upped its military development in recent years.

Defense spending is at record highs around the world, with China’s military budget falling just behind that of the U.S. at $228 billion in 2017. The U.S. spends about 17% of its $4 trillion federal budget on national defense.

[Yahoo]

Trump tweets that tariffs are making the US “richer than ever before.” They’re not.

Either President Donald Trump isn’t sure how tariffs work or he’s being deliberately misleading about them.

The president fired off an early-morning tweet on Thursday declaring that billions of dollars are “pouring into the coffers of the United States” because of the tariffs his administration has put on some $250 billion in Chinese imports.

“If companies don’t want to pay Tariffs, build in the U.S.A.,” Trump wrote. “Otherwise, lets just make our Country richer than ever before!”

But that’s not really how tariffs work: The US may be generating some revenue from tariffs, but billions of dollars aren’t pouring in. Moreover, a lot of the money that is made off of tariffs comes from US consumers — not Chinese companies.

“If you think about who’s actually paying the tax, it’s like a sales tax. It’s like saying, ‘I put a sales tax on producers, isn’t this great we’re getting all this money?’ And then consumers say, ‘Wait, that’s from my wallet,’” said Michael Klein, a professor of international economic affairs at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and founder of the nonpartisan economics publication Econofact. “It’s just another example of taking where there’s a tiny germ of truth and blowing it up to the point where it’s absurd, for his own political purposes.”

On Thursday, Trump will travel to Buenos Aires for the G20 summit, where, among other agenda items, he’s expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping for a working dinner to discuss the countries’ relations, including trade. The sit-down is seen as high-stakes, given that the US has placed nearly $250 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods and China has levied retaliatory tariffs of its own. The escalating trade war poses a threat to both nations’ economies.

Tariffs don’t really work this way

The Trump administration has shown itself to be pretty into the idea of tariffs. It’s put tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from multiple countries as well as on several billion dollars of Chinese goods. The way tariffs work is that the goods marked for tariffs face a border tax when they’re imported into the US.

As Vox’s Matt Yglesias recently explained, the US government with its initial rounds of China tariffs was careful to make sure the products it targeted had foreign-made alternatives:

When that happens, US purchasers switch to non-Chinese alternatives, and then consumers from outside the US tend to switch around and start buying the Chinese products. The overall impact is slightly less efficient global supply chains, some real pain to Chinese firms that need to find new customers, and a limited impact on American prices.

In other words, thus far, things have been relatively tame. A recent study from EconPol Europe found that Trump’s first round of tariffs have increased the prices US buyers pay for Chinese-made goods by 4.5 percent and decreased the prices received by Chinese sellers of US-bound goods by 20.5 percent.

That means that thus far, the tariffs have been mostly, but not entirely, paid for by China, but it’s not going great for anyone. And if Trump’s meeting with Xi doesn’t go well and the trade war escalates, the economic effects of tensions could worsen.

And it’s not going to be making the US significantly richer, because the more tariffs, the less incentive to import the goods affected, and therefore the less money being collected.

“If the point of tariffs is to reduce what you’re buying, that means you’re not going to make that much money,” Klein said.

And much of the money that does come in will be from Americans themselves. Tariffs are often passed on to consumers, therefore driving up prices and, ultimately, inflation.

Trump, who is personally very wealthy, has been rather cavalier about the potential for prices going up. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week in which he appeared to float the idea of putting tariffs on iPhones and laptops, he said, “I mean, I can make it 10 percent, and people could stand that very easily.”

“Made in the USA” isn’t as easy as Trump makes it out to be

President Trump often makes the case that many of the United States’ trade and economic problems could be solved if companies would just do all of their manufacturing here. He’s attacked General MotorsApple, and Harley-Davidson, among others, for having operations outside the US.

But “build in America” (which, by the way, many of Trump’s companies didn’t) isn’t as easy as it sounds. Supply chains are global, so even when Trump thinks he’s hitting back at China over, say, the iPhone, he’s missing the fact that the product is sourced from a lot of places, and its supply chain spans many countries.

In an Econofact analysis last year, Klein and Harvard political economist Marc Melitz estimated that each iPhone 7 imported to the US was recorded as a $225 import from China, but of that amount, only $5 represents work performed in China, largely assembly. The remaining $220 corresponds to other parts of Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

“It always sounds good when a president sounds tough on trade and issues protectionist policies,” Wayne Lam, a principal analyst at the information and analytics firm IHS Markit, told me when discussing the iPhone earlier this year. “We just don’t have the sheer workforce size nor skill set to be good at consumer electronics manufacturing.”

[Vox]

Trump on border wall funding: ‘This would be a very good time to do a shutdown’

President Trump on Saturday kept the door open to a potential government shutdown if an upcoming deal to fund parts of the government does not include funding for a border wall.

“We’re talking about border wall, we’re talking about quite a big sum of money, about $5 billion,” the president told reporters Saturday before leaving the White House for a trip to California.

“This would be a very good time to do a shutdown. I don’t think it’s going to be necessary, because I think the Democrats will come to their senses, and if they don’t come to their senses, we will continue to win elections,” he added.

Trump has previously flirted with shutting down the government over funding for his proposed border wall, but Republicans convinced him not to do so before the midterms, saying it would hurt them at the polls.

The president’s latest comments come as he is negotiating with the Senate on a deal to partially fund the government.

Congress has until Dec. 7 to fund the rest of the government after lawmakers failed to approve seven of the 12 individual funding bills before the end of the fiscal year deadline.

“I would always tell anybody, including the president, it’s not a good idea to shut down the government, period,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said earlier this week.

“I can’t tell you,” he added when asked if $5 billion is “doable.”

[The Hill]

 

Trump administration took nearly $10 million from FEMA’s budget to support ICE

The Trump administration took nearly $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s budget this summer to help boost U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to budget documents shared with USA TODAY.

The revelation, just ahead of Hurricane Florence’s expected landfall in North and South Carolina, was found by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who first shared the documents live on MSNBC late Tuesday.

He told USA TODAY that after the devastation of last year’s storms, including hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma, FEMA should have the funds it needs to be prepared for another disastrous hurricane season.

“It’s almost guaranteed to happen again, so this is just incredibly irresponsible,” Merkley said.

The budgeting document, titled “Department of Homeland Security FY 2018 transfer and reprogramming notifications,” lists $9,755,303 taken from FEMA’s budget, about .9 percent of the agency’s listed overall budget, and given to support ICE.

Money was also taken from other agencies, including millions from the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, to help ICE, the document states.

The document lists the additional money was taken to help ICE detain immigrants along the southern border, fund beds in detention centers and remove undocumented immigrants from the country.

“ICE must have sufficient detention bed capacity to detain illegal aliens when necessary as it enforces the Nation’s immigration laws as fairly and effectively as possible,” the budget document states. “Ensuring adequate funding for the detention beds requires projecting an Average Daily Population (ADP) for adult detainees as well as the daily costs incurred in keeping a detainee in custody.”

The nearly $10 million was taken from various places within FEMA, including training, preparedness and protection, and response and recovery operations.

Tylet Houlton, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees both agencies, dismissed criticism of the document as a “sorry attempt to push a false agenda” and said none of the money transferred came from disaster relief funding.

“Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts. This is a sorry attempt to push a false agenda at a time when the administration is focused on assisting millions on the East Coast facing a catastrophic disaster,” he said in a tweet. “The money in question — transferred to ICE from FEMA’s routine operating expenses — could not have been used for hurricane response due to appropriation limitations.”

While it’s not uncommon for agencies to move money around, FEMA’s budget was decimated last year due to the barrage of storms and fires that affected the nation and the agency was criticized heavily for its handling of the disaster in Puerto Rico.

Merkely said he was made aware of FEMA’s budget cuts while looking into a solution for family separation and the detention centers set up along the border. He said the document makes it clear ICE is using money from FEMA “to build more detention centers.”

Merkely said he believes the budgeting reallocation happened in response to the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy, which was rolled out earlier this year.

The policy led to thousands of families being separated and housed in detention centers, which he says may have increased the need for more money in ICE’s budget.

Both FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests from USA TODAY.

[USA Today]

 

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