The trillion-dollar budget

The U.S. congress has agreed on how to spend $1 trillion over the next few months.  They spend about $3-4 trillion every year, but this budget keeps them in business until September.  I can never understand this budget business.  There are some pie charts here and other graphs here.  They’re helpful.  But, what does the new administration want to spend money on?  According to the white house, just one thing–the military.  Really, that’s all?  Compared to past budgets, that doesn’t seem too complicated.  But, maybe it shouldn’t be.  The new president certainly doesn’t have as much to say about his budget as the old one did.  Maybe he’s not as interested in money, or, maybe he doesn’t like to write long introductions.  Either way, I didn’t see a border wall listed.

One thing that won’t be getting much new funding from the new administration is environmental protection.  In fact, Fox ‘News’ informs us that the EPA website has scrubbed its climate change web pages.  That may be, but there still seem to be a few left here, here, here, and here.  Revisionism takes a while.

Finally, I’m going to post a long quote.  I read the recent 100-day interview of President Trump by John Dickerson on CBS.  The problem is, it’s very hard for me to make sense of the interview because Trump keeps interrupting Dickerson.  I found that, by removing Trump from the discussion, it became much easier to understand what both of them were trying to say.  So, here is my edited version of the interview.  Just pretend it’s a phone call and you only hear one side.  Bob Newhart used to do great sketches like this.

  • JD: Mr. President, you and the administration said to North Korea, “Don’t test a missile.” They have tested a missile. Is the pressure not working?
  • JD: You say, “Not happy.” What does that mean?
  • JD: Not happy mean military action?
  • JD: The Chinese, our allies, have been allies with North Korea. How are you sure that they’re not using this as a way to test you?
  • JD: Why do–
  • JD: Why do these missiles keep blowing up?
  • JD: You don’t want to discuss it because maybe we have something to do with it?
  • JD: What do you make of the North Korean leader?
  • JD: Let me ask you a question about the presidency. George W. Bush said this about being president. He said, “You think one thing going in, and then the pressures of the job or the realities of the world are different than you thought.” Do you agree?
  • JD: You said in an interview with Reuters that you thought it would be easier. Why?
  • JD: You mean me personally or?
  • JD: But that had been true before. That had been true–
  • JD: –during the campaign, sir.
  • JD: You were the one who got China–
  • JD: –to stop manipulating their currency?
  • JD: Even if they were doing it before?
  • JD: Let me–
  • JD: You’re a negotiator. If you need something from somebody, you need China to help you with North Korea, doesn’t that send a message to China, “We’re not going to bug you about human rights, about intellectual property. In the South China Sea we’re not going to put too much heat on you”? Aren’t you breaking one of your own negotiating rules?
  • JD: Let me ask you–
  • JD: Let me ask–
  • JD: What do you know now on day 100 that you wish you knew on day one of the presidency?
  • JD: That’s all you’ve learned, about the media? You knew from the campaign about the media. You said it all the time —
  • JD: So–
  • JD: No, no, I meant–
  • JD: Here’s a question.
  • JD: Let’s step back a minute.
  • JD: Presidents have to learn how to adapt. Every president comes into the job, it’s different than they expect, they must adapt. Surely, you’ve learned something else other than that the media is dishonest.
  • JD: And how do you adapt?
  • JD: Give me another thing you learned that you’re going to adapt and change because all presidents have to at this stage.
  • JD: Why?
  • JD: I want to get to–
  • JD: Let me ask you about health care — Tucker Carlson interviewed you about six weeks ago when you were in the middle of health care negotiations. And you agreed with him that the health care bill wasn’t going to help your supporters. That those who lived in rural areas, the older, were going to get hurt by that bill. And you told him–
  • JD: Well, hold on. Let me just finish the question, if I may, sir–
  • JD: Well, this is why I wanted to ask you. You said to Tucker, “We will take care of our people, or I am not signing it.” You said you were going to negotiate.
  • JD: So tell me what in the bill you’ve been negotiating to get–
  • JD: –in that helps your supporters. I’m just trying to get the details of how your people–
  • JD: –will be helped.
  • JD: So–
  • JD: I just want to compare you to your own.
  • JD: No, no, but I want–
  • JD: No, but I’m not. I’m asking what–
  • JD: –you’re going to do.
  • JD: So but in the bill, as it was analyzed, there were two problems. One, and you talked about this with Congressman Robert Aderholt, who brought you the example of the 64-year-old who under Obamacare the premiums–
  • JD: But has that been fixed?
  • JD: How?
  • JD: What kind though?
  • JD: Help us explain because there are people–
  • JD: –out there wondering what kind of changes.
  • JD: Okay.
  • JD: But that’s not in–
  • JD: –this bill. The borders are not in–
  • JD: –this bill. It’s in that third bill, right, because–
  • JD: Okay.
  • JD: Let me–
  • JD: So–
  • JD: So what you’ve just described is the bill that you previously had said you worried wouldn’t help your people. And here’s why I ask. You said, “Pre-existing conditions.”
  • JD: Okay.
  • JD: Although–
  • JD: In one of the fixes that was–
  • JD: In one of the fixes it was discussed pre-existing was optional for the states–
  • JD: –oh, okay. So it’ll–
  • JD: –be permanent?
  • JD: Okay. Well, that’s a development, sir. So you’re saying it’s going to be pre-existing to everybody?
  • JD: Just to–
  • JD: Let me ask you something–
  • JD: Okay. So what I hear you saying is pre-existing is going to be in there for everybody, it’s not going to be up to the states?
  • JD: And it’s not up to the states?
  • JD: Okay.
  • JD: But on that crucial question, it’s not going to be left up to the states? Everybody gets pre-existing, no matter where they live?
  • JD: Guaranteed?
  • JD: Okay. Is it a guarantee?
  • JD: Let me.
  • JD: People out there with pre-existing conditions, they are worried. Are they going to have the guarantee of coverage if they have a pre-existing condition or if they live in a state where the governor decides that’s not a part of the health care, or that the prices are going to go up? That’s the worry. The American Medical Association says–
  • JD: –it could effectively make coverage completely unaffordable for people.
  • JD: So I’m not hearing you, Mr. President, say there’s a guarantee of pre-existing conditions.
  • JD: Okay, excellent. We got there.
  • JD: Let me ask you–
  • JD: –about your tax plan.
  • JD: Tax plan came out this week. It’s got some big deficit numbers. You’ve said that’s going to be made up by growth. Congressional–
  • JD: Let me.
  • JD: Look–
  • JD: Let me ask you this, Mr. President. Congress may not go along with–
  • JD: –so they’re going to try and find some spending. Let me ask you about the question of Medicare. They’re going to want, in Congress, to make up on the spending side, to change Medicare. Will you allow that?
  • JD: But, sir, will you allow it?
  • JD: Does President Donald Trump want them not to do that?
  • JD: It sounds as if, having covered you in the campaign, it sounds like you’re leaving the door open. On the campaign, you were quite clear. You said, “I’m the guy who’s not going to touch Medicare.”
  • JD: So if I–
  • JD: For me, if I have it now, or if I’m going to have it in the future, it’s not getting cut?
  • JD: And that’s it?
  • JD: Other than that, it’s tightened up?
  • JD: Let me ask you about your tax returns, sir. When your Treasury secretary was asked about whether you were going to release them, Secretary Mnuchin said, “The president has no intention.” Is that right?
  • JD: I just wanted to make sure–
  • JD: –you weren’t changing.
  • JD: Have you–
  • JD: Let me ask you–
  • JD: You–
  • JD: You first said that you were under audit, were going to wait till that was done, about 14 months ago. That seems like a long time. When do you think this might happen? Are you asking them?
  • JD: When? Give me a sense of–
  • JD: A member of Congress suggested that a condition for getting tax reform would be releasing your tax returns. What do you think about that?
  • JD: So you’re not buying that deal.
  • JD: You said yesterday on FOX that Russia is a phony story. Which part of it is phony?
  • JD: Meaning the Trump campaign?
  • JD: But you don’t mean–
  • JD: Let me ask you this, sir.
  • JD: I–
  • JD: Look–
  • JD: You don’t think it’s phony that they, the Russians, tried to meddle in the election? You believe that?
  • JD: That you don’t know or you do know?
  • JD: You don’t–
  • JD: So President Donald Trump is ambivalent–
  • JD: –about or not ambivalent, you’re not just not sure?
  • JD: But you don’t think it’s the Russians–
  • JD: But–
  • JD: But there is agreement in the intelligence communities and other places and investigative communities on the Hill that Russia was–
  • JD: –involved in the election.
  • JD: Mr. President, I think we’re going to have to end it there.
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