Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Ella Nilsen. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.
The latest version of the Senate health care bill is released; Trump goes on attack mode against the Congressional Budget Office; Nobel Peace Prize winner and dissident Liu Xiaobo dies.
MAGAnomics is apparently a thing now
- The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has been in the news a lot lately with its health care bill scoring, but the latest report it released examined President Trump’s budget, which proposes deep cuts to federal spending and boasts yuuuuge economic growth. Oh, and it's called "MAGAnomics." [Washington Post / Damian Paletta and Max Ehrenfreund]
- One of its biggest promises is to balance the federal budget in the next decade, which is a monumental undertaking.
- The CBO’s assessment? Yes, Trump’s budget will definitely reduce spending over the next decade, to the tune of about $3.3 trillion. No, that does not equal a balanced federal budget. [Congressional Budget Office]
- Trump would have to cut over $2 billion more to achieve that result, according to the CBO report. [Congressional Budget Office]
- It’s not unusual for the CBO to score a presidential budget, but there was a pretty big disparity between the White House and CBO numbers, far more than for the budgets released by President Obama. [Vox / Dylan Matthews]
- That’s because the CBO says Trump’s budget office was relying on economic growth numbers that were way too optimistic. The White House said its budget would spur 3 percent economic growth, while the CBO estimated it would be closer to 1.8 percent. [Vox / Dylan Matthews]
- The CBO also said Trump’s budget office was using suspect math and didn’t give out enough information about the president’s tax plan, a key component to forecast economic growth. [NYT / Alan Rappeport]
- Perhaps not surprisingly, the White House’s reaction after the report was to go after the CBO itself, putting out a video questioning the office’s credibility (which contained a noticeable spelling error of the word “inaccurate.”) [The White House via Twitter]
Mitch McConnell’s health care balancing act
- It all comes down to one vote. [Politico / Burgess Everett and Jennifer Haberkorn]
- On Thursday, Senate Republicans released their updated version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, and, spoiler alert: Two Republicans have already said they won’t be supporting it. [Washington Post / Sean Sullivan, Juliet Eilperin, and Kelsey Snell]
- Interestingly enough, the two senators who have said they will vote against the BCRA are on opposite sides of the political spectrum: They are Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
- Collins won’t vote for the bill because she disagrees with its steep cuts to Medicaid, while Paul is opposed because he doesn’t think the legislation goes far enough. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
- The two senators are a perfect illustration of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s tough balancing act on this bill from day one.
- From the beginning of the health care bill process, McConnell has been trying to please conservative and moderate members of his own party — two groups that want very different things. [NYT / Thomas Kaplan and Robert Pear]
- So he’s been trying to get a little something for everyone into the bill. For moderates who believed earlier versions were too bare-bones, there’s more money to work with in this bill because McConnell is keeping an Obama-era tax on the country’s highest earners, to the tune of about $231 billion. [Washington Post / Amber Phillips, Reuben Fischer-Baum, Kevin Schaul, and Kevin Uhrmacher]
- For conservatives, there’s a new amendment that would bring back cheap insurance plans that offer very little in the way of coverage. (For more on that, and there’s a lot more, read Sarah Kliff’s excellent explainer.) [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
- At latest count, there are seven more senators who have said they have concerns with the current version of the bill but have not given a definitive up or down vote on it. [Washington Post / Sean Sullivan, Juliet Eilperin, and Kelsey Snell]
Nobel Peace Prize–winning dissident Liu Xiaobo dies
- Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo died today after a prolonged battle with liver cancer.
- Liu died while serving out an 11-year sentence for a 2009 manifesto he co-authored calling for an end to one-party rule in China, as well as demands for the communist government to stop human rights abuses. [CNN / Steven Jiang, Ray Sanchez, and Joshua Berlinger]
- Liu, a former professor, was also widely known for his role shielding protesters from the police during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. [BuzzFeed / Gabriel Sanchez]
- He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. During the ceremony, Liu’s chair remained empty, and his captors did not allow him to write a speech for the occasion. Awarding the prize to Liu was controversial in its own right, as the Chinese government specifically told the Nobel Committee not to give him the award. [NYT / Sarah Lyall]
- On Thursday, it was the Nobel Committee’s turn to criticize the Chinese government. They and the human rights organization Amnesty International delivered a scathing rebuke to Beijing for not allowing Liu to go to another country and receive chemotherapy and other treatment for his disease. [Reuters / Joseph Campbell]
- In the weeks leading up to Liu's death, his supporters were outspokenly trying to convince the Chinese government to free him and let him get treatment, to no avail. [Vox / Lindsay Maizland]
- Liu is the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate to die in state custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, a vocal critic of the Nazis who won the prize in 1935 and died three years later, after being held in German concentration camps. [Nobel Prize]
- Eight years after Liu’s manifesto criticizing China’s authoritarian government, the country is a far cry from what he envisioned. [Slate / Joshua Keating]
- Though there have been some small reforms, China's government remains solidly authoritarian, and human rights violations are still a huge problem there. [Human Rights Watch]
- The NASA spacecraft Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for a year, and it just sent back some pretty stunning photos of the planet’s Great Red Spot. [NASA / Roberto Molar Candanosa]
- Kid Rock appeared to be announcing a Senate campaign yesterday, but the whole thing might just be a ploy to sell more music. [CNN / Saba Hamedy]
- Spotify and its relaxing, ambient piano playlists came under fire a few weeks ago when the streaming giant was accused of promoting its own “in-house” artists. But that’s not the whole story. [The Verge / Dani Deahl and Micah Singleton]
- Some schools around the country are starting to abandon state and federal curriculums in favor of personalized education, where students control the pace of their learning. But state proficiency tests in Idaho show students at personalized learning schools are falling behind their peers. [Hechinger Report / Wayne D’Orio]
- Standup comedy is in the midst of a modern renaissance, drawing huge crowds and getting a massive audience through Netflix and other streaming services. [Washington Post / Elahe Izadi]
- “The North Carolina newspaper The Newbern Weekly Progress wrote that Lincoln was ‘coarse, vulgar and uneducated,’ while the Houston Telegraph opined that he was ‘the leanest, lankiest, most ungainly mass of legs, arms and hatchet face ever strung upon a single frame.’” [Atlas Obscura / Michael Waters]
- “Steering toward the Belknap County jail, past homes spangled with Christmas lights, Adams admitted that he felt wary. He had already met this young man, who wanted nothing to do with him. Still, Adams would try. He never knew when an addict might begin saying ‘yes’ to him.” [NYT / Benjamin Rachlin]
- “Pendant chokers. Ribbon chokers. Those suede/leather tie-on ones that I don’t know the proper name for. Keyhole necklines that result in a choker-like effect. They’re all on display here, pulled tautly across the faux-teenage necks of nearly every female character in nearly every scene on this show.” [Racked / Stephanie Talmadge]
- “This works out perfectly for female bonobos. Like humans, they only have to mate with partners they dig, which is definitely better than the whole violent coercion thing chimps have going on.” [Popular Science / Sara Chodosh]
- "In the note recovered by police, Smith apologized to authorities and said that 'NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER' was involved in his death." [Chicago Tribune / Katherine Skiba, David Heinzmann, and Todd Lighty]