A billion here a billion there

Pretty soon you’re talking real money.

New York Times: Federal Budget Would Raise Spending by $320 Billion


‘How many zeroes in a billion again?’

20 thoughts on “A billion here a billion there”

  1. New York Times:

    WASHINGTON — White House and congressional negotiators reached accord on a two-year budget on Monday that would raise spending by $320 billion over existing caps and allow the government to keep borrowing, most likely averting a fiscal crisis but splashing still more red ink on an already surging deficit.

    If passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, the deal would stop a potential debt default this fall and avoid automatic spending cuts next year. The agreement would also bring clarity about government spending over the rest of Mr. Trump’s term, though Congress must still fill in the details, program by program.

    “I am pleased to announce that a deal has been struck with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — on a two-year Budget and Debt Ceiling, with no poison pills,” Mr. Trump announced on Twitter.


    But it is another sign that a Capitol once consumed by fiscal worries simply no longer cares — even as the government’s deficit approaches $1 trillion a year. Still, the accord would lift the debt ceiling high enough to allow the government to keep borrowing for two more years, punting the next showdown past the 2020 elections.

    “It’s pretty clear that both houses of Congress and both parties have become big spenders, and Congress is no longer concerned about the extent of the budget deficits or the debt they add,” said David M. McIntosh, the president of the Club for Growth, a conservative group that advocates free enterprise.

    The agreement, negotiated largely by Ms. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, would raise spending by about $320 billion, compared with the strict spending levels established in the Budget Control Act of 2011 and set to go into effect next year without legislative action. Spending on domestic and military programs would both increase, a key demand of Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer, offset by $77.4 billion in spending cuts, half the $150 billion in cuts some White House officials initially demanded.

    In a joint news release, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer praised “robust funding for critical domestic priorities,” saying that since the 2017 fiscal year, they had pushed domestic spending up by $100 billion. The deal includes an additional $2.5 billion for the 2020 census, according to a senior Democratic aide, and domestic programs would see about $10 billion more than military programs over two years.

    The negotiators hope to enact the deal before Congress leaves for its August recess.

    “While the reality of divided government means this is not exactly the deal Republicans would have written on our own, it is what we need to keep building on that progress,” Mr. McConnell said.


  2. Britain just announced it’s getting its BJ. The US isn’t the only country in the world screwed by the RW nuts in its country. 

    And speaking of a load of crap

    National Security

    Justice Department tells Mueller to not answer a wide swath of questions

    The Justice Department instructed former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in a letter Monday not to answer a wide variety of questions about his investigation of the president and Russian interference in the 2016 election — a fresh indication of how difficult it may be to extract any new information or insights about the high-profile investigation when he testifies to Congress on Wednesday.

    Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer said in Monday’s letter that he was responding to a request earlier this month from Mueller for guidance on how to handle questions “concerning privilege or other legal bars applicable to potential testimony in connection with” subpoenas for Mueller’s congressional testimony.

    * * *

    Though Mueller, a former FBI director, has vast experience at congressional hearings, his testimony Wednesday probably will be more contentious than his previous appearances on Capitol Hill. Those who know him say they expect him to stick to the script and probably leave lawmakers of both parties disappointed. Mueller said at the May news conference that he hoped that event would be his last time speaking publicly about his work and that, if pressed to testify, he would not speak beyond his report.

    “We chose those words carefully,” he said, “and the work speaks for itself.”

    ok, I get that the wheels of justice turn slowly, but they are supposed to turn. 

  4. pogo, dueling memos on the hearing – doj’s & nancy’s

    from axios:

    Pelosi’s guide to the Mueller hearings

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office will blast out a six-page memo to all members of the Democratic caucus Tuesday on how party leadership wants members to frame tomorrow’s hearings for former special counsel Robert Mueller.

    Why it matters: The document, which reads like an election ad, is Democrats’ version of the short summary Attorney General Bill Barr released days after Mueller’s report was submitted to the Justice Department.

    • A Democratic leadership aide said Pelosi wants members to drive home the message that the chaos consuming President Trump “did not begin, nor does it end, with Mueller.”
    • “This is back to the basics,” the aide added. “We want to show that what took place was an unprecedented sweeping assault on American democracy. We think that context is lost.”

    The breakdown: The first four pages are a collection of what Pelosi’s office sees as the most important and damaging quotes from Mueller’s report.

    • Pages five and six speak to how the caucus will try to continue this fight in the fall, using the same tactics Congress implemented post-Watergate — a mixture of more aggressive oversight and passing sweeping reforms to combat money in politics and promote government ethics and transparency.
    • The Dem leadership aide said that they will also launch a social media campaign to coincide with Mueller’s testimony, in which they are asking celebrities and outside supporters to retweet passages from the report.

      • They’ll also prepare a “war room” to deal with rapid response messaging.


  5. okay, so instructions on the mueller hearing have been sent to mueller from the administration and to members from the House leadership.  here are some for the media from media consultant Margaret Sullivan in wapo:

    The media is getting a second chance to cover Robert Mueller’s findings — and this time get it right

    In political media, as in love, there aren’t many chances to correct a serious wrong.


    But the news media will get just that on Wednesday when Robert S. Mueller III testifies before Congress, months after his long-awaited report on Donald Trump and possible Russian collusion to swing the 2016 election was competed.


    Recall how gullible — and therefore misleading to the public — the news media was in March when Attorney General William Barr characterized the unreleased report in a four-page letter.


    Coverage of that letter set in place an inaccurate narrative that has been almost impossible to dislodge.


    Many news organizations, including some of the most prominent, took what Barr said at face value or mischaracterized the report’s findings.

    They essentially transmitted to the public — especially in all-important headlines and cable-news bulletins — what President Trump desperately wanted as the takeaway: No collusion; no obstruction.

    Not only that, much of the media treatment failed to emphasize sufficiently that this was Barr’s rendering of Mueller’s conclusions.


    And many early headlines and tweets went so far as to state that Mueller found no evidence of conspiracy, although that’s not the whole story.


    (While the report did not find sufficient evidence to bring charges of criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, it stated that Trump could not be exonerated of trying to obstruct the investigation itself. And it said that Mueller’s conclusions were informed by his reasoning that Trump couldn’t be indicted, at least partly because of a Justice Department opinion against prosecuting a current president.)

    Yet here was the Philadelphia Inquirer’s big, bold headline: “No evidence of conspiracy.”


    And here was a Bloomberg Markets tweet on March 25: “Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has found no evidence that President Trump colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential campaign, the question becomes how much of the news is already baked into markets.”


    And the Wall Street Journal — like many others — apparently found no need in its main headline for attribution to Barr. It merely stated: “Mueller Finds No Collusion.” (Barr was mentioned in a much smaller sub-headline.)


    And the much-watched “60 Minutes” lead-in on CBS stated baldly that the report exonerated Trump.


    The pro-Trump media went much further, of course. The New York Post, in huge red letters, wrote “No Collusion, No Obstruction” — and (implicitly) slammed the media: “Two Years of Hysteria End in Trump Vindication.”

    And Trump himself was trumpeting just that, and more, from every available rooftop.


    All of this put Barr, as the New York Times’s James Poniewozik put it, in the position of “the editor who writes the clickbait headline for all the browsers who never actually read the piece.”


    Those who read the full report, or detailed coverage of its findings, or even the more nuanced, less breathless press coverage, would have come away with a far different view.


    As The Washington Post reported in late April, Mueller himself objected to the way Barr’s letter failed to fully capture the “context, nature and substance” of his report.


    But by then, it was far too late to change the hardened narrative, or to suggest a more accurate reading, though many have tried.


    Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, in a MSNBC town hall, said she had three takeaways after an intensive, into-the-night reading of the full report:

    “Part 1, a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 elections for the purpose of getting Donald Trump elected. Part 2, then-candidate Donald Trump welcomed that help. And Part 3, when the federal government tried to investigate Part 1 and Part 2, Donald Trump as president delayed, deflected, moved, fired and did everything he could to obstruct justice.”

    It is true, of course, that Mueller’s investigation did not bring what many of Trump’s political foes — and some irresponsible media commentators — were hoping for: indictments of Trump or of his closest associates, possibly family members.


    It’s also true that some of the media reporting and commentary over the past two years has been over the top: far too speculative about what the report would say and result in.


    On Wednesday, the national media will be in “flood the zone” mode as Mueller finally testifies.


    Not only will the hearing be carried live on cable news but the major broadcast networks will set aside their regular schedules to do the same. And there will be special reports aplenty, as well as a great deal of newspaper and other text coverage.


    Some damage is irretrievable. Many Americans have made up their minds already about Mueller’s findings — and about Trump himself, no matter what he is or does.

    And the hearing no doubt will be heavily politicized by questions and concurrent grandstanding from those posing the questions.


    But hearing from Mueller directly is important, even if it does nothing other than reiterate what’s in his report. And this new round of media coverage is important, too, if only because it can clarify and drive home what Mueller originally said.


    There is an opportunity here to remove a false, cartoon version of Mueller’s investigation and to substitute a well-rendered portrait of a subject that could hardly be more important to the country.

  6. Hey Craig….  whatever you did to this site is working.  It’s moving at lightening speed…  thanks!

    Ain’t it grand to have a business man as our prez…

  7. working hard on the campaign trail file.  
    click to see the fascinating interactive photos from

    NYTimes:  How to get a selfie with Elizabeth Warren in 8 steps

    LANSING, Mich. — Sure, you could wear a campaign button. But a photo with the candidate is so much more versatile: suitable for avatars, posting with a clever hashtag, even printing out and framing if you want to go analog.


    Posing for the camera with a presidential candidate used to be a perk generally reserved for wealthy donors. At Senator Elizabeth Warren’s events, all it costs is passing some time in a well-organized selfie* line.


    *The pictures are not technically selfies.


    At a recent event in Lansing, a small army of campaign staff members — working like a factory assembly line that hums along — helped usher voters through their encounter with Ms. Warren in eight key steps.


    At Ms. Warren’s campaign stops, her speech to the crowd is only the first half of a two-act production. What comes next, and can last just as long, is the Warren selfie line, a campaign-trail innovation for the age of Instagram.


    Ms. Warren’s campaign estimates that she has spent about 107 hours taking pictures in selfie lines since entering the race — the equivalent of working 9-to-5 for 13 days. At one event in Iowa, she continued posing for pictures in the midst of a tornado warning.


    “I have time to do this because I’m not spending hours and days and weeks with big-dollar donors and corporate lobbyists,” Ms. Warren said. “I’m not running around the coasts trying to scoop up as much money as I can. That leaves a lot more time for selfies.”

    >Ms. Warren is one of two key figures in the selfie line. The other is Nora Kate Keefe, 29, who serves as Ms. Warren’s body woman — the aide who is always close by the candidate’s side. She is also the campaign’s go-to selfie line photographer.


    “I took on the clicks, as you’d say,” she said in an interview.


    Ms. Keefe speaks in selfie-line lingo. “It really starts with line prep,” she said, explaining the mechanics of the undertaking. “Then there’s the bag push,” she said, referring to the person who takes bags and coats from people, so they do not fumble with them while meeting Ms. Warren.


    One of Ms. Keefe’s signature techniques is to take photos throughout a voter’s interaction with Ms. Warren — not just when they pose for a picture. Voters are then pleasantly surprised to find a collection of pictures showing them meeting Ms. Warren, rather than a single snapshot.

    In Lansing, the selfie line stretched all the way to the back of the gym where the event was held. Ms. Warren spent more than an hour posing for pictures, and about 800 of the 1,700 people at the event stayed to get a photo, her campaign estimated.


    For some voters, their brief encounter with Ms. Warren was an opportunity to mention something important to them. Two law students were in their second Warren selfie line of the year, and even spent precious time showing Ms. Warren a photo from their first meeting. A woman in her 70s said it was among the highlights of her life — and she had just seen “Hamilton” twice.


    For Stephanie Kittleson, 69, a retired teacher, the saying did appear to come true: A selfie was worth a thousand words. “I got to pose for a picture and I got to hug her,” she said. “You can tell she’s not a bunch of words.”


    Ms. Warren said she planned to keep taking pictures with everyone who wanted one, even if her crowds grew — giving Ms. Keefe even more time to refine her craft. “I’ve mastered being able to take photos with two phones at once,” Ms. Keefe said. “I’m pretty proud of that one.”


  8. Nothing of note that I can tell in today’s stage of the Tour with respect to the GC, but congratulations to Caleb Ewan on his second stage win.  Tomorrow will add 2 climbs (Cat 3 & 4) to an otherwise leisurely ride.  The next 3 days however will be a climber’s paradise. Thursday, a Cat 3, Cat 1 and 2 HCs (above category), Friday 2 3s, a 2, a 1 and an HC, and Saturday a 1, a2 and a finish at the top of an HC.  The boys will know they’ve been in the Alps by the time they hit the Sunday ride to the Champs-Elysees.  This is when the real stuff hits.  May the best rider win.  

  9. parts of jane mayer’s article in

    the New Yorker:  The Case of Al Franken

    ast month, in Minneapolis, I climbed the stairs of a row house to find Al Franken, Minnesota’s disgraced former senator, wandering around in jeans and stocking feet. It was a sunny day, but the shades were mostly drawn. Takeout containers of hummus and carrot sticks were set out on the kitchen table. His wife, Franni Bryson, was stuck in their apartment in Washington, D.C., with a cold, and he had evidently done the best he could to be hospitable. But the place felt like the kind of man cave where someone hides out from the world, which is more or less what Franken has been doing since he resigned, in December, 2017, amid accusations of sexual impropriety.

    There had been occasional sightings of him: in Washington, people mentioned having glimpsed him riding the Metro or browsing alone in a bookstore; there was gossip that he had fallen into a depression, and had been seen in a fetal position on a friend’s couch. But Franken had experienced one of the most abrupt downfalls in recent political memory. He had been perhaps the most recognizable figure in the Senate, in part because he’d entered it as a celebrity: a best-selling author and a former writer and performer on “Saturday Night Live.” Now Franken was just one more face in a gallery of previously powerful men who had been brought down by the #MeToo movement, and whom no one wanted to hear from again. America had ghosted him.


    At his house, Franken said he understood that, in such an atmosphere, the public might not be eager to hear his grievances. Holding his head in his hands, he said, “I don’t think people who have been sexually assaulted, and those kinds of things, want to hear from people who have been #MeToo’d that they’re victims.” Yet, he added, being on the losing side of the #MeToo movement, which he fervently supports, has led him to spend time thinking about such matters as due process, proportionality of punishment, and the consequences of Internet-fuelled outrage. He told me that his therapist had likened his experience to “what happens when primates are shunned and humiliated by the rest of the other primates.” Their reaction, Franken said, with a mirthless laugh, “is ‘I’m going to die alone in the jungle.’ ”

    Now sixty-eight, Franken is short and sturdily built, with bristly gray hair, tortoiseshell glasses, and a wide, froglike mouth from which he tends to talk out of one corner. Despite his current isolation, Franken is recognized nearly everywhere he goes, and he often gets stopped on the street. “I can’t go anywhere without people reminding me of this, usually with some version of ‘You shouldn’t have resigned,’ ” Franken said. He appreciates the support, but such comments torment him about his departure from the Senate. He tends to respond curtly, “Yup.”

    When I asked him if he truly regretted his decision to resign, he said, “Oh, yeah. Absolutely.” He wishes that he had appeared before a Senate Ethics Committee hearing, as he had requested, allowing him to marshal facts that countered the narrative aired in the press. It is extremely rare for a senator to resign under pressure. No senator has been expelled since the Civil War, and in modern times only three have resigned under the threat of expulsion:….

    A remarkable number of Franken’s Senate colleagues have regrets about their own roles in his fall. Seven current and former U.S. senators who demanded Franken’s resignation in 2017 told me that they’d been wrong to do so. Such admissions are unusual in an institution whose members rarely concede mistakes.

    [names & quotes regrettees and continues with what would have been heard in an ethics hearing]



  10. I’ll be up at 5:30 AM west coast time.  Anyone want to join me here for the hearings?


  11. The Al Franken thing is so odd.  He did admit to the behavior — after that all down hill especially with Gillibrand giving him a big fat shove.

  12. Al did stupid comedian gags and may have been a bit too touchy-feely at times and Gillibrand did stupid politics. The Senate is poorer for it.   It would be difficult for me to vote for her even if she somehow beat the overwhelming odds against her candidacy.  Her being mired at less than 1% support, luckily, I won’t have to meet that test.

  13. Pogo – I am seeing Sagan lining up on the wrong wheel, he should be up one more.  He is finishing fourth when at worst he should be doing third and at best he should take the stage.
    During the last month we are seeing the destruction of the Dept of Agriculture by SFB.  Perdue made it look like there was nothing happening, now it is in the news.  Starvation of people and concentration camps are just like in Mein Kampf, which I heard from many people is SFB favorite audio book (in the original German).

  14. trump claims that under Article II he is allowed to do whatever he wants. I’ve been scouring Article II and can’t seem to find that wording. Can someone help me out.
    Maybe he’s talking about the russian constitution.

  15. From Political Intelligence :
    KEY TAKEAWAYS/07.22.191. The horserace holds largely steady in the weeks following the first debates.Biden ticked up another point this week (33%), but still remains behind his initial predebate standing at 38%. 2. Warren’s supporters are 84% white, compared to nearly 7 in 10 of Sanders and Harris’ supporters. • A majority of both Warren and Harris’ supporters have a college degree and are women, though a larger proportion of Warren’s supporters are women. • Warren’s supporters are nearly evenly split among age while Sanders is driven by younger voters and Harris by older voters.

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