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Budget Paves Way For Trump Tax Cuts

Trump: Senate budget vote 'first step towards massive tax cuts'. Politico: "Trump said Thursday morning that the Senate’s scheduled vote on budget legislation is a “first step towards massive tax cuts,” but cautioned that a successful floor vote is not necessarily assured, 'Republicans are going for the big Budget approval today, first step toward massive tax cuts. I think we have the votes, but who knows?' Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday. He did not immediately clarify if he was casting doubt on the budget legislation that will come before the Senate Thursday or on his larger policy goal of cutting taxes and pushing through a major rewrite of the U.S. tax code. Passing budget legislation is a key first step for Republicans that will allow them to seek to approve tax reform legislation via a process call reconciliation, allowing them to approve the bill with a simple majority as opposed to the Senate’s typical 60-vote threshold. But even that lower bar has proven difficult for the GOP to hurdle thus far into the Trump administration, with Republicans unable to muster 50 votes in their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare."

Mnuchin Acknowledeges Tax Cuts Favor Wealthy

Mnuchin Gives Away the Game: 'It's Very Hard Not to Give Tax Cuts to the Wealthy'. Common Dreams: "For weeks President Donald Trump and the Republican Party have been peddling the demonstrable lie that their tax proposals are primarily geared toward helping the middle class, not the wealthiest Americans. But in an interview with Politico's Ben White published Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gave away the game, admitting: 'It's very hard not to give tax cuts to the wealthy... The math, given how much you are collecting, is just hard to do,' the treasury secretary added. But as The Huffington Post's Arthur Delaney notes, the math is not hard at all. In fact, the White House's own tax framework, released last month, had a useful suggestion: add in a higher top marginal rate. 'An additional top rate may apply to the highest-income taxpayers to ensure that the reformed tax code is at least as progressive as the existing tax code and does not shift the tax burden from high-income to lower- and middle-income taxpayers,' the framework says."

GOP Divides To Conquer For Tax Overhaul

To pass tax reform, the GOP will need to divide and conquer. NBC: "Having failed to repeal Obamacare, Republicans are turning to their true passion: cutting taxes and starving government of funds. But, given the narrow margins and internal divisions of the Republican’s congressional majorities, particularly in the Senate, Democratic votes may well determine what, if anything, gets passed. Democrats, their spines stiffened by a ferocious grass-roots mobilization, have demonstrated uncharacteristic unity in the early months of the Trump administration. But tax cuts — and the deep-pocketed lobbyists that push for them — are always hard for politicians to resist. Could this be the issue that divides the left?"

Trump Erects Border Wall Prototypes

30-Foot border wall prototypes erected in San Diego borderlands. NPR: "Construction crews are erecting eight looming prototypes of President Trump's border wall in a remote section of the San Diego borderlands. Four are solid concrete; four are made of steel and concrete; one is topped with spikes. They all approach 30 feet in height. The cost is $20 million, which Congress had set aside in its current budget. Crews in yellow hardhats working in cranes and forklifts are expected to complete the models by the end of the month. Once the sections of wall are finished, Customs and Border Protection — parent agency of the Border Patrol — will evaluate them for three criteria. 'We want a better barrier. One that is hard to scale, hard to penetrate and hard to tunnel under,' says Roy Villareal, chief of the San Diego Border Patrol sector."

Price Seeks To Undermine Medicaid

Weakening Medicaid from within. American Prospect: "This year’s Republican bills to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act sought to impose severe long-term cuts in federal Medicaid funding; those threats to Medicaid are not over yet. Yet even without any congressional action, the Trump administration has considerable power under existing law to modify Medicaid as long as its actions are consistent with Medicaid’s statutory objectives. From all indications, however, the administration intends to bypass the basic requirement that it use its power to promote Medicaid’s purposes, not destroy them, by withdrawing Medicaid coverage from many who depend on it."

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Bargains in the Clouds. Sam Pizzigati: "The deals that deep pockets can snatch up right now on luxury private jets have never been sweeter. The reality of what that means — for the rest of us — could hardly be more bitter. Can we ground these jets? Yes, but we have to ground inequality first."

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