Fox News Halftime Report -- Trump budget sees big cuts, big deficits

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Fox News Halftime Report

May 23, 2017
By Chris Stirewalt

 

On the roster: Trump budget sees big cuts, big deficits - Brennan: Trump campaign interacted with Kremlin - Sessions narrows Trump's order on sanctuary cities - Audible: Who loves ya, baby? - Roger Moore, R.I.P. 

TRUMP BUDGET SEES BIG CUTS, BIG DEFICITS
 Fox News: "The Trump administration on Tuesday sent to Congress a $4.1 trillion budget blueprint that calls for deep cuts to entitlement, education and other programs while freeing up billions for the military, border security and the president's proposed U.S.-Mexico wall. The proposed fiscal 2018 budget titled, 'A New Foundation for American Greatness,' would boost military spending by 10 percent. … The proposal is expected to set off an extended debate in which Democrats already are accusing the administration of trying to balance the budget on the backs of low-income Americans. … Lawmakers from both parties have said major changes will be needed as the proposal moves through Congress. The blueprint projects that this year's deficit will rise to $603 billion, up from the actual deficit of $585 billion last year. But the document says if Trump's initiatives are adopted the deficit would start declining and actually reach a small surplus of $16 billion in 2027."

Ryan heading for showdown with Trump over taxes - Politico: "Paul Ryan and the White House are barreling toward a tax reform show-down — a faceoff that's becoming all but inevitable as the speaker continues selling a tax plan rejected by Trump officials. At issue is a controversial pillar of the House GOP tax plan that effectively hikes taxes on imports."

Budget plan calls for selling half of emergency oil stockpile - Bloomberg: "The White House plan to trim the national debt includes selling off half of the nation's emergency oil stockpile and the entire backup gasoline supply, part of a broad series of changes proposed by President Donald Trump to the federal government's role in energy markets."

Budget forecast based on even rosier than usual projections - FiveThirtyEight: "History may prove Mulvaney right. It's possible that new innovations — artificial intelligence, perhaps, or self-driving cars — will act as an economic booster rocket, much as the industrial revolution did two centuries ago. It's even possible that Trump's policies will help unlock that potential. But economic projections are meant to be forecasts, not wishes. And based on the evidence we have now, there's little reason to think the projections at the heart of Trump's budget are grounded in reality."

But it's probably not going anywhere - The Hill: "Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) warned on Monday that President Trump's budget may be a non-starter on Capitol Hill, noting lawmakers routinely craft their own legislation. Cornyn made the comment after he was asked whether a proposed cut to Medicaid in Trump's budget was too steep. … Pressed if the"dead on arrival" status also applied to Trump's forthcoming budget, expected to be released on Tuesday, he added, "I think it may find a similar fate, but obviously it's an expression of his priorities, which is important in terms of the conversation between the branches." 

THE RULEBOOK: SIC SEMPER
"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." – James Madison, Federalist No. 47

TIME OUT: HAMMER DOWN
Reporter Trip Gabriel and photographer George Etheredge spent a couple of days at an Illinois truck stop getting to know some of the men and women who drive America's big rigs. It's a timely look at those who epitomize the concept of "forgotten Americans." NYT: "There are 1.7 million men and women working as long-haul drivers in the country. Yet truckers — high up in their cabs — are literally out of view for most Americans. At a moment when President Trump has ignited a discussion of blue-collar labor and even climbed into a truck during a White House event, trucking, which was once among the best-paying such jobs, has become low-wage grinding, unhealthy work. Turnover at large for-hire fleets hauling freight by the truckload — the backbone of the industry — runs an astonishing 80 percent a year, according to a trade group. Looming over the horizon is a future in which self-driving trucks threaten to eliminate many drivers' livelihoods."

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump net job-approval rating: -17.4 points
Change from one week ago: -2.6 points

BRENNAN: TRUMP CAMPAIGN INTERACTED WITH KREMLIN
Fox News: "Former CIA Director John Brennan testified Tuesday that he personally told Russia's intelligence service director to stay out of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections – but that the warning was not heeded. 'It was clear to everyone Russia brazenly interfered and under explicit warning to not do so,' Brennan told members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence about Russia's influence during the campaign. Brennan also said he had seen intelligence that links Russian players to people involved in President Trump's 2016 campaign - though he did not identify them. 'I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals,' Brennan testified. 'It raised questions in my mind about whether Russia was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.' However, Brennan added that he doesn't know whether 'collusion' existed."

Trump asked intel officials to push back against FBI collusion probe - WaPo: "President Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials. Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election. Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president."

Administration won't try to block Mueller - WaPo: "Justice Department ethics experts have concluded that newly appointed special counsel Robert S. Mueller III can oversee the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election — even though his former law firm represents several people who could be caught up in the matter, authorities announced Tuesday. In an email, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said ethics officials had reviewed the case and 'determined that Mr. Mueller's participation in the matters assigned to him is appropriate.'"

Trump looking to build legal dream team on Russia probe - WaPo: "President Trump is moving rapidly toward assembling outside counsel to help him navigate the investigations into his campaign and Russian interference in last year's election, and in recent days he and his advisers have privately courted several prominent attorneys to join the effort. … That search process, in which Trump has been personally involved, is expected to yield a formal legal unit in the coming days, made up of lawyers from several firms who would work together to guide Trump as he responds both to the ongoing federal probe and the congressional investigations, the people said."

Trump eyeing Lewandowski, Bossie as crisis managers - Politico: "The White House is looking to wall off the scandals threatening to overtake the president's agenda by building a separate crisis management operation. President Donald Trump personally reached out to two of his former campaign aides – his first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and his deputy campaign manager, David Bossie – to sound them out about working with the administration as crisis managers, according to two people familiar with the situation. POLITICO previously reported that both men were spotted in the West Wing last week, before Trump departed on his overseas trip. … No formal announcement is expected before Trump returns to the U.S. this weekend." 

Burr says Flynn could be held in contempt - Politico: "Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr is not ruling out holding Michael Flynn in contempt of Congress as President Donald Trump's former national security adviser continues to stonewall lawmakers. Flynn's lawyer informed the Intelligence panel Monday that Flynn would not honor a subpoena for a list of his interactions with Russian officials in the run-up to last year's presidential election. And Burr said his committee has 'plenty' of options to respond."

SESSIONS NARROWS TRUMP'S ORDER ON SANCTUARY CITIES
NYT: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday clarified President Trump's executive order on so-called sanctuary cities, narrowly defining such jurisdictions — and the money they could expect to receive from the federal government — in a way that appeared to fall far short of Mr. Trump's previous threats to starve all federal funding from localities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. Later on Monday, the Justice Department asked a federal court in California to reconsider a ruling that blocked the order last month. In a two-page memorandum, Mr. Sessions announced that the Trump administration would withhold certain types of federal aid from jurisdictions that 'willfully refuse to comply' with a single federal immigration law. That statute requires cities, counties and states to allow local agencies and officials to exchange information about people's immigration status with federal immigration authorities. Only federal grants from the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security would be affected, Mr. Sessions said."

TRUMP DENOUNCES 'LOSERS' BEHIND U.K. CONCERT BOMBING
Fox News: "President Trump called Tuesday for 'all civilized nations' to unite against terrorism and 'obliterate this evil ideology,' citing the deadly Manchester attack to underscore the central message of his foreign trip as he concluded a visit to the Holy Land. 'All civilized nations must be united in this effort. This trip is focused on that goal,' Trump said at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, after meeting earlier with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. The president spoke after a suicide bomber killed 22 and injured at least 59 at an Ariana Grande concert in the U.K. The president held a phone call Tuesday morning with British Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss the "wanton and depraved" attack, according to the White House, and will take his message later this week to meetings with NATO and G7 leaders. During earlier remarks in Bethlehem, Trump offered his condolences to the victims, calling such attackers the 'evil losers in life.'"

Arrives in Rome for papal meeting - WashEx: "President Trump arrived in Rome on Tuesday ahead of his first-ever meeting with Pope Francis, with whom he memorably sparred during the 2016 presidential campaign. Air Force One landed at Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci International Airport at about 6:15 p.m. local time on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, Trump is expected to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican and tour the Sistine Chapel."

PLAY-BY-PLAY
GOP spending big in special electionsNBC

DNC reports worst fundraising since 2009WashEx

AUDIBLE: WHO LOVES YA, BABY?
"I like Ted Cruz probably more than my colleagues like Ted Cruz, and I hate Ted Cruz." – Sen. Al Franken D-MN, in an interview with USA Today.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
"Ah, O great sage…all wallowing aside, how can you have a political newsletter without considering how unbalanced (in every sense of the word) news coverage bordering on propaganda drives politics? Media, Trump or Trump, media. It functions like a hyperactive hamster on his wheel." – Rebecca L. Baisch, Idaho Falls, Idaho 

[Ed. note: You are kind, Ms. Baisch, to offer me an indulgence on this point. But, I will endeavor to keep our examinations of the press as occasional diversions and not a central theme. Why watch hamsters when there is bigger game afoot?]
 
"I appreciated your inclusion of the Atlantic's nostalgic look at life before 'casual attire.' Preceded by JFK's aversion to hats (which decimated said industry), casual day, then casual attire all week, was the harbinger of what's happening to our discourse today. Twitter and texting have led to the transliteration (I use that word, ironically, loosely) of the American language so that everything is either an acronym or stylized. Which brings me back to the Atlantic's look at workplace style. Indeed, linguistically we've regrettably also long lost the use of the familiar vs. formal differentiation of pronouns and verbs that still exists in many languages. That said, I'm thankful for every day I don't have to wear a tie anymore!" – Jeff Smith, Statesboro, Ga.

[Ed. note: I add my voice to your lamentation, Mr. Smith. If you watch television, you may have observed I do wear a tie to work every day. I wear hard-soled shoes and I try to remember to do as my father taught me, and carry a handkerchief in my back pocket. Due to security concerns in Washington, I had to give up carrying a pocket knife, which leaves me cursing every time I'm presented with a box or a package to open. I am unusual in that my father, a veteran of Korea, was a generation older than my peers' dads. I met my brother for the rare treat of a dinner together some weeks ago and thought how funny it was that here we were in dark suits, white shirts, muted neck ties and with well-shined shoes. Needless to say, our uniform looked a little anachronistic even in a restaurant in Washington, where proper business attire is still a thing. This note has often examined the value of hypocrisy as a sign of respect for other people and civilization at large. Dressing properly for occasions is part of that. When I dress to appear on television, it is out of respect for you the viewer and the privilege I have in my work that I wear a suit and tie. I want you to know that this work, and by extension you, matter to me. Letting it all hang out at work may be more honest in the sense that it's a closer representation of the slovenly messes we would all like to be, but it fails to show proper respect and care for our fellows and for the work we are doing.]

"I have just finished the biography by McCullough about Harry Truman. I am struck by the similarities of the problems faced by both. Neither one was prepared for the office. They both encountered great resistance from the opposing party Truman's first term makes Trumps look easy. Neither one had a political back ground to match the job. Both seem to connect with the voters at times, sublime and other times the pits. However Truman accomplished a lot for this country. He loved it and seems Trump professes the same intent. Do you suppose someone could brief The Donald on the problems Harry had… and learn something?" – David McMurrain, Chattahoochee Hills, Ga.

[Ed. note: Such a great book! You can always tell when a modern American president is in trouble, because he starts reading about Harry Truman, especially long about re-election time. I see some of the similarities you mentioned, Mr. McMurrain, but I will take issue with one claim. Truman's political pedigree may not have been as impressive as his predecessor's, but what he learned with the Pendergast Gang in Kansas City was considerable. Also, don't forget that Truman served for more than a decade as a judge and for ten years as a U.S. senator before ascending to the vice presidency. Truman may have been the last president not to have a college degree, but he was richly experienced in public life, including his time leading an artillery battery in World War I.]

"I entered a query into my search engine: What is the most important issue today? A Gallup poll for May appeared. They ask this type of question monthly. People can answer any way they want to, so there are lots of different responses. The economy, health care and immigration are at the top of the list. The Russia Thing is tied for dead last with less than one half on one percent selecting this as important. It actually got an *. Imagine that. It's still the economy stupid! All the drama from the mainstream media added up to nothing." – Jerry Van Pelt, Frisco, Texas

[Ed. note: Also scoring asterisks in the poll you mentioned: ISIS, the media, gun control and foreign policy. That doesn't mean large numbers of people don't think that those are serious subjects for consideration. It's just that substantially larger numbers of people are more concerned about issues like healthcare and "poor leadership," which tied for first place with 18 percent in this month's survey. Our government doesn't have the luxury of ignoring things that are unpopular. It is certainly true, though, that Democrats are at risk of becoming a one-note orchestra, which is not helpful given the party's disconnect from voters in 2016. But with the institution of a special counsel's investigation into the Russia matter, perhaps both parties can move on to more profitable pursuits.]   

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

ROGER MOORE, R.I.P. 
The Atlantic: "[Roger Moore's] last appearance in a [James Bond] film was in 1985's A View to Kill, and in the years since then he appeared in a smattering of movies, and spent much of time doing humanitarian work for which he was named a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 1991. His approach to work was summed up in this quote to The New York Times in 1970, well before he achieved global stardom for the Bond movies. 'Noel Coward once gave me a memorable bit of advice—'Accept everything,'' Moore told the newspaper. 'If you're an actor, keep working. That's what Coward said. Glorious advice.' … His acting was often criticized, and he publicly, at least, didn't seem to take it to heart. 'My acting range has always been something between the two extremes of 'raises left eyebrow' and 'raises right eyebrow,' he is once reported to have said."



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