March 17, 2017

Top Stories

Remaining Defenders Of Trump Wiretap Claim Find Themselves Out On Limb

The Gist: Determining a culprit is an increasingly lonely effort. Initially, a number of Republican lawmakers went out on a limb to defend Trump, saying his wiretapping allegations may well have merit. But after congressional intelligence committees investigating the matter came up empty-handed, Trump's allies went silent or walked their remarks back, leaving senior White House staffers and diehard pro-Trump pundits hanging.

Advocates Raise The Alarm Over Ripple Effects Of Eliminating NEH, NEA

The Gist: The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities have long been ripe targets for conservatives looking to trim fat from the federal budget, but President Donald Trump's newly released blueprint proposes eliminating them entirely—and arts and humanities advocates are already gearing up for a fight.

Tom Cole: Trump's Proposed Cuts To NIH, CDC Are 'Short-Sighted'

The Gist: Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a top Republican who sits on the House Appropriations and Budget Committees, on Friday morning signaled he was not on board with all of President Donald Trump's proposed cuts in his budget blueprint.

From The Reporter's Notebook

Defending the draconian spending cuts in the first Trump budget, the White House's top budget official suggested Thursday that "Meals on Wheels" isn't "showing any results," TPM's Kristin Salaky reported. "The CDBGs have been identified as programs since the second Bush administration as ones that were just not showing any results. We can't do that anymore," Mick Mulvaney said. "We can't spend money on programs just because they sound good. Great, 'Meals on Wheels' sounds great. That's a state decision to fund that particular portion."

Agree or Disagree?

Josh Marshall: "Many people look at this arc of growing dependency on money from the former Soviet Union and look for that moment when Trump becomes so dependent on money from Russia that he's forced to cut a deal with Vladimir Putin; or perhaps his business partners catch him in a compromising situation and then he's owned by nefarious forces in Russia. I do not rule out the possibility that some less lurid version of one of these scenarios did happen. But what many of us see as the smoke, which must somewhere lead to fire, is actually the story itself. The smoke is the story! Or to put it differently, the deep business ties provide a compelling explanation and I think likely sufficient explanation of Trump's persistent coziness and affection with top figures in Russia and Russian geopolitical interests. It's abundantly clear that from the early aughts through recent years, Trump became highly dependent on money from the former Soviet Union - mainly Russia and Ukraine but also Kazakhstan, Georgia, Uzbekistan and other states. Many of the figures in his orbit were at least in the business of shepherding money out of those countries into New York real estate. In many or most cases the FBI and the DOJ suspected them of money laundering and ties to organized crime."

Say What?!

"Hoping @POTUS tells Hawaii judge what Andrew Jackson told overreaching court. I’ll ignore it and let the court enforce their order."

- After a federal judge on Wednesday ordered a hold on Trump’s revised travel ban, Huckabee urged the President to ignore the ruling, citing Andrew Jackson’s refusal to enforce an 1832 Supreme Court decision affirming the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation.

BUZZING: Today in the Hive

From a TPM Prime member: "Nobody is talking much about fake insurance. In the days before Obamacare my son had a startup and he bought cheap 'health insurance' from some fly-by-night outfit. I eventually took a look at the policy and was astounded by how little it covered - no drug coverage, severe limits on total coverage and they didn't even provide the normal negotiated discounts with doctors and labs (the whole "cost of test is $173, amount covered is $4.73, patient owes $0" thing). So one thing the GOP will do is remove minimum coverage requirements - that will indeed make premiums lower, but it will have a hidden cost. There was a fight in designing Obamacare as to what those minimum coverages should look like - mental health, routine care and vaccinations without a co-pay, chiropractors etc. You can argue that some of those (like chiropractors) are "choice" items that should be left to the consumer. But those are kind of at the margin - the GOP plans will likely include actual fake insurance. The cross-state policies will help them on that - so the Idaho insurance company will be able to sell its cheap fake insurance into other states."

Related: Obamacare Repeal Bill Takes Another Step Forward, Passage Still In Doubt

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What We're Reading

Podcasts Are the New Xanax (The Atlantic)

"London Bridge is down": the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death (The Guardian)