FROM Damian Paletta
War on poverty or war against the poor? The White House budget request is called A New Foundation for American Greatness , in tune with the best-known slogan of the Trump campaign. Massive cuts in safety-net programs, from Medicaid to food stamps, are supposed to get people off the dole and into the workforce. Where are the jobs? Massive tax cuts for the wealthy are expected to trickle down and be offset by growth in the economy. It's a formula that hasn't worked before, and the Budget Director admits that $2 trillion in revenue has been double counted.
Retired Marine general to head Homeland Security Another Trump cabinet selection goes to another General. This time it's John F. Kelly, a four-star veteran of 40 years in the Marine Corps with a history of command in combat — and whose own son was killed in Afghanistan. He's slated to be the Secretary of Homeland Security. Damian Paletta covers the White House for the Wall Street Journal .
US Captures ISIS Chemical Weapons Engineer The Pentagon has confirmed that Special Operations forces captured a high-ranking chemical-weapons operative with the Islamic State in Northern Iraq. He's provided information that's led to American airstrikes against stocks of what is said to be mustard gas. Damian Paletta is national security and intelligence reporter for the Wall Street Journal .
NSA's Bulk Collection of Phone Records Is Illegal, Court Rules Since Edward Snowden revealed massive data collection by the National Security Agency, Congress has been debating whether authorization should be renewed. Today, a federal appeals court in New York ruled it's illegal . This morning, Attorney General Loretta Lynch told a Senate Committee , "We are reviewing that decision but given the time issues involving the expiration of it, we are also, and have been, working with this body and others to look for ways to reauthorize Section 215 in a way that does preserve its efficacy and protect privacy." Damian Paletta is national security and intelligence reporter for the Wall Street Journal .
How Much Surveillance Will Americans Tolerate? Section 215 of the Patriot Act expires at the end of next month. It authorizes the bulk collection of American telephone records by the National Security Agency — part of what was revealed by Edward Snowden two years ago. President Obama says it's not really needed to keep America safe and that he's willing to let it expire . But Congress is divided. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants it renewed , a House Committee wants it amended to require the NSA to take court action before collecting some information. With time for action running short, do most Americans understand what's at stake for their privacy? Do they really care?
What Will Medicare's Healthier Outlook Mean for Budget Battle? Reports on the two largest federal programs came out today: the annual check-ups by the trustees of Social Security and Medicare . There's good news and bad news for both deficit hawks and advocates for senior citizens. Damian Paletta is economic policy reporter for the Wall Street Journal .
Congress Takes Up Gun Control and Immigration Reform Gun control is on the move in the Senate, and two-thirds of Americans support a "path to citizenship" for undocumented workers. Last night, President Obama dined at the White House with leading Republicans. Can he get them to support him on those issues and his budget compromise?
Public Spending and Political Brinksmanship When they controlled both houses of Congress last year, Democrats failed to pass a budget for this year. Now Republicans are in charge of the lower house—where all spending originates. They are demanding massive reductions, while Democrats insist on freezing spending at last year's levels. The deadline for one or the other to blink is next Friday and, if there's no agreement, the government could shut down.
Public Spending and Political Brinksmanship When Democrats dominated Capitol Hill last year, they failed to pass a budget for this year, providing an opportunity for Republicans after they took the House. But the GOP is divided on whether to shut down the government if Democrats don't agree to more spending cuts than they want. Democrats insist on freezing spending at last year's levels. The deadline for one or the other to blink is next Friday. What would that mean for the millions who depend on federal programs? Which party would gain the most political points by refusing to compromise? With the deadline approaching on Friday of next week, we get a report on progress — or the lack of it — on Capitol Hill.
White House Debt Commission Releases 'The Moment of Truth' The co-chairs say it's the the "Moment of Truth," and it calls for sweeping changes in how the federal government collects and spends taxpayers' money. It's the report of the President's Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Damian Paletta reports for the Wall Street Journal .
Bank of America Halts Its Foreclosures across the US After reports that bankers used robo-signers to complete home foreclosures without review, the biggest bank in the country has put all foreclosure sales on hold. Damian Paletta reports for the Wall Street Journal .
Elizabeth Warren and the Politics of Consumer Protection Wall Street's worst nightmare is a heroine to consumer advocates. When has a Harvard professor of bankruptcy been the subject of an admiring rap video? Elizabeth Warren, who helped force a Bureau of Consumer Protection into the Finance Reform bill, was appointed today as a White House advisor. How much clout will she have in the future? Instead of heading up the new bureau, she will report to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, an occasional foe. Will she have the power to write tough rules for mortgages, credit cards and payday loans? Will she ever be asked to enforce them?
Rewrite of Financial Rules Moves Closer to Law Last year’s House version of finance reform passed over the opposition of all the Republicans and 27 Democrats. Now the Senate has come up with a tougher version. Four Republicans joined all but two Democrats yesterday as the Senate passed its version of finance reform.
Endgame in Sight for Financial Reform After the House passed finance reform last year, it was widely assumed that the Senate would produce a kinder and gentler measure. But…think again. Incumbents of both parties are facing tough challenges in this election year, and Goldman Sachs has been charged with consumer fraud. The Senate has begun to vote on amendments, and Damien Paletta is covering the action for The Wall Street Journal
An Endgame in Sight for Finance Reform As the Senate gets ready to vote on finance reform, The Financial Times has headlined, “Wall Street lobbyists braced for defeat.” Banks are highly unpopular this election year, and some conservative Republicans may join forces with liberal Democrats to crack down. But--even if Goldman Sachs could lose a big chunk of its profits—critics say the reforms deal more with symptoms than causes. Should states get back the authority they once had to protect consumers?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?