clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Vox Sentences: This budget won’t become law. Read it as what it is: a manifesto.

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Dara Lind and Dylan Matthews. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Such a skinny budget, you could starve.

Killing CPB to fund CBP

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
  • The Trump administration released its "skinny budget" — an outline of changes to current funding it's planning to request when it submits a formal budget to Congress later this year — on Thursday. The budget is less "skinny" than it is disordered — the administration has bumped up defense spending by 10 percent, and made billions of dollars in cuts to discretionary domestic programs to make up for it. [Vox / Dylan Matthews]
  • The virtue of such deep cuts is that with so many programs outright eliminated under the skinny budget, it's easier to know how Americans will be affected — and in particular, what the budget would do to many of the working-class and rural voters that Trump considers his base. [Washington Post / Philip Bump]
  • Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, defending the cuts at a White House press conference, gave one of the more tone-deaf defenses of budget austerity in recent memory — arguing that programs to give kids food after school, and Meals on Wheels, don't "show results," and that cutting them is "compassionate." (In fact, both of them have been shown to provide benefits beyond, you know, feeding the people they feed.) [NYT / Paula Span]
  • Of course, those concerned with evidence have other things to worry about: Mulvaney outright said that climate change research is "a waste of your money," and the skinny budget cuts the Environmental Protection Agency's budget by 30 percent (with even deeper cuts for science grants in other agencies). [Vox / Brian Resnick and Sarah Frostenson]
  • Meanwhile, the combination of beefed-up defense funding and slashed State Department funding reflects a world in which the US has cashed in all its soft power for hard power. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • The most interesting parts of Trump's budget are where the lines between "domestic spending" (bad) and "public safety" (good) blur. So there's a lot more spending for immigration detention, for example, but less spending for standard federal prisons — thanks in part to the fact that the Trump budget assumes on the Obama-era decline in the federal prison population will continue, even though the president and his attorney general think that incarceration is the solution to crime. [The Guardian / Lois Beckett]
  • And then, of course, there's the question of the border wall. Between the budget and the request for supplemental defense and security funding for 2017 that the Trump administration submitted to Congress Thursday, it's asking for $4 billion for the wall — which everyone agrees won't pay for an entire wall, but no one knows how much it actually will pay for. [Politico / Ted Hesson]
  • Bear in mind: This isn't the formal budget yet. And it's very unlikely that these cuts will become law. Republicans in Congress are veritably freaking out over the budget Trump presented, and not in a good way. [Washington Post / Kelsey Snell and Karoun Demirjian]
  • Presidents' budgets are almost always fantasy documents; Congress rarely takes funding cues blindly from the executive branch. But this quote from a senior House GOP aide is still striking: "It's a joke ... we've learned not to listen to anything he says or does. We're on our own." [Glenn Thrush via Twitter]

Tap, tap, tap. Is this thing off?

Education Images/UIG via Getty Images
  • Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, issued a joint statement Thursday declaring flatly that they say "no indications" that President Trump was "wiretapped" or otherwise surveilled by President Obama or anyone else. [Reuters / Ayesha Rascoe and Doina Chiacu]
  • The statement comes the week before FBI Director James Comey is set to testify before Congress on the ongoing inquiry into links between Trump and Russia — during which he'll almost certainly be asked about Trump's accusation last week (over Twitter) that Trump Tower was "wiretapped" during the campaign. The statement might make it easier for Comey to deny the allegation. [Vox / Yochi Dreazen]
  • The problem is that the president is sticking to this ridiculous claim. Very much so. Press secretary Sean Spicer delivered an eight-minute(!) soliloquy to reporters Thursday on the subject — arguing vehemently that evidence would come out that the UK intelligence agency GCHQ had surveilled the president. [Politico / Matthew Nussbaum]
  • This claim has its roots in a conspiracy theory that Obama asked the UK to surveil Trump — which is illegal in about two different directions, and also wholly unsubstantiated. [Observer / John R. Schindler]
  • (The UK is, unsurprisingly, pretty angry at the accusation.) [Jim Sciutto via Twitter]
  • As part of Trump's attempt to back up his claims Wednesday night, during an interview with Tucker Carlson, he threw out a claim that "the CIA was hacked" — something that is either a lie or, as Rep. Adam Schiff (the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee) has pointed out, classified information that anyone else in government would be in trouble for leaking. [Politico / Austin Wright]


Ken Jack - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
  • Scoxit: On Monday, Nicola Sturgeon — the first minister of Scotland and a member of the pro-independence Scottish National Party — called for a vote on Scottish independence from the UK in fall 2018 or spring 2019. Call it Scoxit. [New Statesman / Patrick Maguire]
  • Brexit: Scottish voters rejected independence in 2014. But that was before last year's referendum on Britain leaving the EU — something Scotland fiercely opposed. [NYT / Katrin Bennhold]
  • Single Marxit: Scoxit would allow Scotland to rejoin the EU and, accordingly, ensure its continued access to the EU's single trade market. But it would erect trade barriers with the UK, which, for obvious reasons, is a major trade partner itself. [FT / Gemma Tetlow]
  • Dismixit: Independence would also set up Scotland for, potentially, years of budget austerity — the nation's economy doesn't look too hot right now. But it's not like Brexit is going to be an economic walk in the park, either. And besides, one of the lessons of the Brexit vote is that warnings of economic risk simply didn't matter as much to voters as they did to experts. [The Spectator / Alex Massie]
  • Nixit!: UK Prime Minister Theresa May was expected to formally approve the referendum request. But on Thursday, she didn't. May and her Conservative government (as well as the Scottish Labour Party) argue that Scotland shouldn't vote on independence until the UK has completed its Brexit negotiations with the EU (which won't have been completed by spring 2019), so that Scotland knows what it's voting on. [The Guardian / Severin Carell and Heather Stewart]
  • Forxit: It's possible that Sturgeon and the Scottish government will keep pushing May to fold. Next week, the nation's parliament is expected to ask the UK government for an order under "Section 30," which would allow a legally binding referendum. [BBC]
  • Bootxit: If May and the UK keep playing hardball with Scotland, they might be hurting themselves in the medium run — if Scots see the UK as messing around in their affairs too much, they might be more inclined to support independence. [FT / Mure Dickie and George Parker]


  • In defense of "y'all": a manifesto. [The Atlantic / Vann R. Newkirk II]
  • Fun history fact: King George V was killed by his doctor, Lord Dawson, who injected him with 750mg of morphine and a gram of cocaine so he'd die in time for the Times to cover his passing. [The Guardian / Sam Knight]
  • In 1996, Peter Navarro (now Trump's anti-trade guru) ran for Congress as a Democrat, and was supported in rallies by … Hillary Clinton. [Politico / Megan Cassella]
  • What if studies relying on Amazon's Mechanical Turk are using the same few thousand people over and over and over again? [Science / John Bohannon]
  • A study in Sweden finds that people on the autism spectrum have a shorter life expectancy, by 16 years — and doctors' failure to treat unrelated health conditions in autistic people could be a key reason why. [NIH]


Watch this: How poaching is changing the face of African elephants

It's "natural" selection. [YouTube / Gina Barton]