Fox News and even some mainstream media are effusive about Donald Trump’s trip to the Middle East. He can chew gum, walk on foreign soil and read a prepared speech at the same time!
Back home, the news isn’t so encouraging.
* A SWAMP UNDRAINED: The New York Times reports that the Trump administration “has moved to block an effort to disclose the names of former lobbyists who have been granted waivers to work in the White House or federal agencies.”
This breaks with past tradition by presidents Republican and Democratic. Why is it a problem?
Dozens of former lobbyists and industry lawyers are working in the Trump administration, which has hired them at a much higher rate than the previous administration. Keeping the waivers confidential would make it impossible to know whether any such officials are violating federal ethics rules or have been given a pass to ignore them.
* POOR-PUNISHING BUDGET: Here’s news that will hit home in Arkansas and the other poorer red states that gave Trump huge margins in the November vote. A coming Trump budget proposal means pain for beneficiaries of Medicaid, food stamps and other government welfare programs.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson will like the green light Trump plans to give states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients (at an as-yet high cost for snooping out deadbeats and required department support programs). But a big cut in overall spending could mean trouble here.
Trump proposed some cuts in appropriations earlier. This proposal addresses programs that function automatically.
The proposed changes include the big cuts to Medicaid. The White House also is expected to propose changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, though precise details couldn’t be learned. SNAP is the modern version of food stamps, and it swelled following the financial crisis as the Obama administration eased policies to make it easier for people to qualify for benefits. As the economy has improved, enrollment in the program hasn’t changed as much as many had forecast.