Essential Politics: Trump dashes to Rome, slashes federal spending

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While news about has been dominated for weeks by accusations of scandal, there’s a new thread to talk about as the week reaches its midpoint: his plan to make major cuts in a slew of domestic spending programs.

And that’s gotten the attention of state lawmakers, too. You won’t be surprised as to how many of them feel.

Good morning from the state capital. I’m Sacramento Bureau Chief , and while we’ve got a lot to cover with Trump’s overseas trip and important news in the saga that is the Russian election meddling investigation, let’s begin with dollars and cents.

TRUMP’S BUDGET: BOOSTS DEFENSE, CUTS SOCIAL PROGRAMS

The new president’s first at-bat when it comes to the federal budget came while he was more than 4,000 miles away on his first foreign trip.

It might have been better that way. After all, it seems Trump’s $4.1-trillion spending plan . said they’ll write their own, while decried many of its proposed cuts.

Military spending? Trump would raise it. Border security? Up. Medicaid? Down. Taxes? Down.

The proposal also failed to win applause from a number of economists, who were .

“You can’t use the same money twice,” said Marc Goldwein, a senior vice president for the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Our graphics team has in Trump’s budget plan. And again, it’s worth remembering that we’re a long ways off from any of this becoming law.

Still, there’s a worry in California that it could provide a template for what’s ahead.

IN CALIFORNIA, SCORN FOR TRUMP’S PLAN

In Sacramento, the details of the president’s plan reinforced the idea that the only alternative for leading Democrats is to fight.

The proposed cuts to health and human services, if enacted, . And it would leave Gov. and legislative leaders in a pickle: either try to subsidize some of the programs being cut or watch Californians most vulnerable struggle to find the help they need.

“Our budget is fairly robust,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) of the state’s own finances. “But I can’t see being able to plug billions of dollars of cuts from the federal government.”

Tops on the nothing-we-could-do list would be replacing the billions of dollars that could be lost in the repeal of the .

TODAY: THE NEW SCORE

By the way, stay tuned for today’s big news on the healthcare front: the long-awaited analysis from the of the cost and coverage impact expected by the version of the American Health Care Act passed by House Republicans three weeks ago.

We’ll have the early details on our news feed.

THE $400-BILLION HEALTHCARE QUESTION FOR CALIFORNIA

The healthcare frenzy explains the intense demand by liberal activists these days for California to create a single-payer system that would provide health coverage for all of its citizens — a replacement of private and public insurance.

A bill to do just that finally was affixed with a price tag this week: $400 billion per year.

For some context, keep in mind the state budget is only about $183-billion.

The legislative estimate released Monday immediately served as a political Rohrschach test. Detractors noted that half of that sum would have to come from new revenue, such as possible 15% payroll tax on employers. Proponents pointed out that the system would save employers and workers between $100 billion and $150 billion that is currently being spent on the private insurance market.

Melanie Mason has . And keep in mind that the bill, which will almost certainly clear the state Senate’s appropriations committee this week, doesn’t offer any specifics on the taxes needed to pay for it. That’s very unusual, a clear sign of how white-hot the politics are for Democrats right now.

FROM ISRAEL TO THE VATICAN

The president briefly meets with today in a meeting that will no doubt be closely watched for body language as much as what’s actually said. Remember that Francis seemed to take issue in 2016 with Trump’s signature campaign promise.

“A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” .

As Brian Bennett and Tracy Wilkinson report, — for being, in the words of one scholar, “loose canons” in their respective circles.

And from there, the president’s visit with European leaders . How Trump handles the pressure will be important.

EVEN IN ISRAEL, THERE’S RUSSIA

He may be overseas, the president hasn’t been able to completely escape the tempest back in Washington. Trump’s visit to Israel, and hints of , eventually veered back to allegations surrounding his recent meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office.

Specifically, allegations that he told the Russian diplomats that classified information had been provided by Israel. , said Trump as he sat next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I never mentioned the word or the name Israel,” the president said.

THE INTEL CHIEFS SPEAK OUT

A trio of intelligence chiefs made their way to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, in three more tense question-and-answer sessions with members of Congress on the Russian election interference investigation.

The most riveting may have been the testimony by former CIA Director , in his first public discussion of the investigation that began while he was still on the job.

“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,” .

Testimony also came from National Intelligence Director and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers.

THE FLYNN ‘FRENZY’

And then there’s the question of what happens next for Trump’s former national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. .

Flynn’s attorneys said on Monday that and the ‘s appointment of a special counsel have created a legally dangerous environment for the embattled general to cooperate with a Senate investigation.

And then, Flynn .

On Tuesday, , and senators didn’t rule out the possibility that all of this results in a contempt of Congress charge against the former presidential advisor.

THE HIT IT’S TAKING ON TRUMP

President Trump’s standing in national polls has consistently declined since the end of last month. His approval rating now sits at the lowest point of his presidency.

David Lauter offers a few answers about .

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

— Congressional Democrats have asked the Trump administration for information on any link being made between the health insurance industry’s political support for GOP healthcare efforts and .

— The Trump administration has and limited the potential financial consequences for local governments.

Atty. Gen. is seeking hundreds of millions in new funding to pay for .

— On Thursday, the political world will look to for a test of Democratic strength and Republican resilience in the age of Trump.

— Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle raised concerns Tuesday that Brown’s state budget plan imposed by voters in 1979.

— Supporters of Kimberly Ellis, who lost her bid to lead the California Democratic Party by a razor-thin margin last weekend, to see if there were any voting irregularities.

— By a 7-2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday , with a dissent by the new arrival, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.

— The high court also , because they had been gerrymandered along racial lines.



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