Here is where most of Trump’s education cuts come from

The largest portion of President Donald Trump’s cuts to the Education Department in his 2019 budget proposal is buried within 160 pages and mentioned in a single sentence among a slew of other programs.

Making up more than half of the $3.6 billion total cuts to the agency, the budget plan calls for eliminating the $2.1 billion Supporting Effective Instruction State Grant program in its entirety. The program, also known as Title II, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), is used by schools to pay for teacher professional development, reductions in class size, and the formation of new evaluation procedures.

Listed in a section entitled “Reduces Waste: Streamlines or Eliminates Ineffective or Redundant Program,” the administration barely gives any other explanation for the cuts.

Credit: Screenshot of FY2019 Budget

Despite the lack of fanfare, the grant program is the key source of federal funding to support teacher training. A recent report by the Center for American Progress (CAP) found that schools use the funding not just for professional development, but to “build stronger teacher pipelines” and “modernize and elevate the teacher workforce” by recruiting teachers of color, providing mentoring, and increasing teacher salaries — practices that help prevent teacher attrition. (ThinkProgress is editorially independent of CAP.)

This is especially important at a time when teacher shortages have reached high levels across the country. Education Department data shows that districts in every state are struggling to fill teacher positions for a variety of subjects, including math, science, and special education.

“This would be a significant burden for states charged with staffing in these high need areas,” Constance Lindsay, research associate at the Urban Institute’s education policy department, told ThinkProgress.

The shortages have been a longstanding problem, with teacher education enrollments dropping by 35 percent between 2009 and 2014, according to a report by the Learning Policy Institute. The report highlighted the key trends leading to a decrease in the number of teachers, including high student-teacher ratios — an issue that Title II funding also seeks to resolve. According to the Department of Education, more than 40 percent of schools in the 2014-2015 school year used some Title II funds for class size reduction, and 14 percent of schools used all of their funds to reduce class size.

Gutting the Title II program would “be particularly hard felt in our higher poverty schools where educators and students need more support — not less,” explained nonprofit organization Education Trust. According to the organization, Title II money is distributed based on a formula that ensures districts with the highest percentage of students living in poverty receive the most funding. During the 2015-2016 school year, almost half of the money was distributed to the highest-poverty schools. Those schools are often the ones who stand to benefit the most from additional teacher training and professional development, and they typically serve the most diverse populations of students.

“Those students — they’re already going to school in strapped environments,” said Lindsay, adding that schools in high poverty areas “don’t have the resources on their own … it’ll hurt these kids the most.”

This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has proposed cutting the program, and while the Obama administration also had its qualms about it — namely, that professional development funds should be better analyzed to measure their impact on student education — former Education Secretary Arne Duncan suggested fixing the program, not getting rid of it. Last year, House Republicans unveiled a measure that also calls for the elimination of the program. It currently awaits committee consideration.


Trump’s infrastructure plan has no dedicated money for broadband

Enlarge / President Donald Trump unveils his infrastructure plan in the State Dining Room at the White House February 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla )

President Trump’s new 10-year plan for “rebuilding infrastructure in America” doesn’t contain any funding specifically earmarked for improving Internet access. Instead, the plan sets aside a pool of funding for numerous types of infrastructure projects, and broadband is one of the eligible categories.

The plan’s $50 billion Rural Infrastructure Program lists broadband as one of five broad categories of eligible projects. Here’s the full list:

  • Transportation: roads, bridges, public transit, rail, airports, and maritime and inland waterway ports.
  • Broadband (and other high-speed data and communication conduits).
  • Water and Waste: drinking water, wastewater, storm water, land revitalization, and Brownfields.
  • Power and Electric: governmental generation, transmission, and distribution facilities.
  • Water Resources: flood risk management, water supply, and waterways.

Eighty percent of the program’s $50 billion would be “provided to the governor of each state.” Governors would take the lead in deciding how the money would be spent in their states. The other 20 percent would pay for grants that could be used for any of the above project categories.

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Trump’s Head Will Explode As His Own Director Defies Him And Praises The FBI’s Integrity

When Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) asked FBI Director Christopher Wray about the attacks on his bureau, Wray responded by breaking with Trump and praising the integrity of the FBI. Video: Trump's FBI Director defies Trump and praises the integrity of the FBI. https://t.co/v7f4aa3qlN pic.twitter.com/0sG1L73sdg — Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) February 13, 2018 Wray said, “I […]

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Someone In The White House Leaked Trump’s Secret Plan To Divide The Country With Racism

A White House aide leaked to the press that Trump’s real plan for 2018 is to exploit cultural issues to fire up Republican voters ahead of the midterms by dividing the country with racism. Axios reported: A source close to the White House tells me that with an eye to getting Republicans excited about voting […]

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Trump’s budget cuts Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, breaking core campaign promise

When he began his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to “save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts.”

This is a promise, however, President Trump would like to break. Trump’s 2018 budget proposal that would cut all three programs, which help the most vulnerable in American society, by billions of dollars.

Fox News’s website tells readers that Medicare is spared “as he promised during the 2016 campaign,” but a cursory search of the White House’s own budget document reveals this is not true.

The White House’s position is largely in line with the congressional GOP, which has also tried to pass a budget that would cut $1 trillion from Medicare and almost half a trillion from Medicaid.

Here is what the Trump administration’s budget proposal would do to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Cutting Medicare by $266 billion

The Trump budget document, titled “An American Budget: Major Savings and Reforms,” proposed cutting a net $266 billion under the category, “Medicare: Eliminate wasteful federal spending.” Among other things, Trump’s budget changes the way patients are reimbursed for post-acute care, making it harder for physicians to refer patients to other providers, and “limits hospital payments associated with early discharge to hospices.”

Cutting Medicaid by $1.1 trillion

The Trump budget proposes cutting Medicaid, under the simple guise of “reforms,” by $1.1 trillion over 10 years. The goal is to encourage states to transition away from the Medicaid expansion that Obamacare allowed, in part by imposing a “Medicaid per capita cap and block grant with the Consumer Price Index.”

Cutting Social Security by $72 billion

The budget document lists “Reform disability programs” in line for a $72 billion decrease over the 10-year budget window. This includes explicit cuts to Supplemental Security Income programs and Social Security Disability Insurance programs, both managed by the Social Security Administration.

SSDI recipients are people who have become disabled and who have paid taxes into the Social Security Trust Fund, while SSI is needs-based — both programs have lengthy waiting period before anyone receives benefits.

The cuts target retroactive SSDI benefits, multi-recipient SSI families, overlapping unemployment and disability payments, and other administration programs.

Last year, when an almost identical proposed cut in 2017’s budget document appeared, a source with knowledge of the budget told ThinkProgress that the cuts were of such a magnitude that it would be like making the program into a block grant.


Rachel Maddow Just Wrecked Trump’s Infrastructure Week

Rachel Maddow used the example of Trump’s acting director who was overseeing rail safety with no experience and a second job as an example of how incompetence and corruption are at the heart of Trump’s “infrastructure week.” Video: Rachel Maddow wrecks Trump's infrastructure week in less than three minutes. #Maddow https://t.co/KgfRoY64OX pic.twitter.com/O9tTJCxpDp — Sarah Reese […]

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Trump’s pick to run the 2020 Census withdraws from consideration

Thomas Brunell, President Trump’s pick for deputy director of the Census Bureau, has withdrawn his name from consideration for the position, Mother Jones reported on Monday. Brunell would have been charged with overseeing the 2020 Census survey, which has faced mounting challenges over the years.

According to sources who spoke to the outlet, Brunell, who has vigorously defended Republican redistricting efforts in several states, was initially floated for the top job at the Census Bureau, but was later moved to the deputy director slot, a position which does not require congressional approval. Brunell was slated to start at the end of November, according to internal documents obtained during a Freedom of Information Act request by Protect Democracy. A spokesperson from the Department of Commerce, which oversees the Census Bureau, confirmed that Brunell was “not under consideration” on Monday.

As Mother Jones noted, Brunell was opposed by civil rights advocates and Democratic legislators who worried that his views on redistricting would carry over into his work for the bureau, or that he might severely undercount minority communities to ensure more Republican districts received more funding later on. Former officials from the Commerce Department also claimed that his role as second in command was perhaps more detrimental to the organization as a whole than if he had been nominated as director: as Politico reported in November, “Subtle bureaucratic choices in the wording and administration of the census can have huge consequences for who is counted, and how it shifts American voting districts,” making Trump’s choice of a partisan appointee all the more concerning.

“This is worse than making him director,” a former high-level Commerce official told Politico at the time. “…[If he takes over the deputy director position], there are tons of little things he could be doing to influence what the final count looks like. The ripple effect on reapportionment would be astounding.”

The deputy director role has typically been filled by a nonpartisan career civil servant with an extensive background in statistics. Brunell, by contrast, is a political science professor at the University of Texas at Dallas and previously received several grants to research redistricting efforts.

“It’s quite a difference going from an academic setting to the Census Bureau,” an anonymous former associate of Brunell told Politico last fall. “I don’t think he’s done the administrative work that would be needed to be at a high level in a large organization like [that].”

Brunell’s departure is the latest setback for the Census Bureau, which has been plagued by myriad issues in its efforts to prepare for the 2020 decennial survey.

The census, conducted every 10 years since 1790, serves several important purposes, including ensuring that citizens are granted the appropriate number of representatives at the state, local, and federal level, allowing lawmakers and researchers to fairly lobby for them on Capitol Hill. It’s also the most official measure of diversity in the United States and gives analysts the data they need to prioritize people’s needs.

According to a Sunlight Foundation survey published in October last year, 74 percent of city officials nationwide trust and rely on the results of each decennial census to serve their citizens, with those officials saying that it was “important” or “very important” for planning, development, innovation, and analytics purposes. When the census is threatened — whether by funding cuts or partisan leadership, which advocates claim Brunell’s appointment would have provided — minority populations, who rely on the survey to give them a voice in Washington, are often the first to feel the consequences.

The 2020 Census has faced myriad issues stemming from an audacious tech overhaul that has stalled due to financial woes and congressional gridlock. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has criticized the Census Bureau for “poor planning…and poor management,” with IT director David Powner telling ThinkProgress last November that “leadership” was to blame for the survey’s many missed deadlines and 2017 field tests. GAO officials have also flagged the 2020 Census as a “high-risk” program and worry that it could face even more hurdles in the months to come.

Compounding the problem is recent debate over a highly controversial survey question which would ask respondents to list their current citizenship status. Undocumented immigrants fear that divulging such information could result in deportation; civil rights groups, by extension, are concerned that lack of response from those communities could result in underrepresentation in Congress and, as Mother Jones noted, less funding.

The one silver lining in all of this, some argue, is that an extremely partisan 2020 survey is less likely than before, now that Brunell is no longer on the Trump administration’s list.

“It’s breathtaking to think they’re going to make that person responsible for the census,” former Attorney General Eric Holder told Mother Jones’ Ari Berman in January, prior to news of Brunell’s departure. “It’s a sign of what the Trump administration intends to do with the census, which is not to take a constitutional responsibility with the degree of seriousness that they should. It would raise great fears that you would have a very partisan census run in 2020.”

Officials have not yet said who will take over as deputy director in Brunell’s place.


Trump’s VA Secretary Used Taxpayer Dollars To Take His Wife On A European Vacation

This is part of a pattern of members of the administration – up to and including the president himself – using their positions for their own personal benefit.

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Sarah Sanders tried to defend Trump’s praise for an alleged abuser. It was a disaster.

During the White House press briefing on Monday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked if President Trump stands by remarks he made last Friday, when he said he hopes former top aide Rob Porter “has a wonderful career” immediately after he was ousted from his White House job following domestic assault accusations made by two of his ex-wives.

“Does the president still wish Rob Porter well, does he still believe that he wants him to have a great career ahead of him?” a reporter asked.

Sanders indicated that Trump’s comments were meant to reflect that he hopes all Americans — domestic abusers included — do well.

“I think the President of the United States hopes that all Americans can be successful in whatever they do, and if they’ve had any issues in the past — I’m not confirming or denying one way or the other — but if they do, the president wants success for all Americans,” Sanders said. “He was elected to serve all Americans, and he hopes for the best for all American citizens across the country.”

Almost all of the questions Sanders faced on Monday were about the Porter allegations and the White House’s response to them. Sanders repeatedly dodged questions about why Trump hasn’t personally spoken out against against domestic violence — “it’s my job to speak on behalf of the president,” Sanders said at one point — and claimed reporting indicating White House Counsel Donald McGahn learned about the allegations against Porter as early as January 2017 is inaccurate.

But pressed on exactly what part of the reporting is wrong, Sanders refused to go into detail.

“Again, I’m not going into the specific details of how the process works,” Sanders said, adding that “the White House had not received any specific papers” about Porter’s background check when the Daily Mail broke news of the abuse accusations.

While Sanders insisted that her denunciation of domestic violence reflects Trump’s views, Trump’s own comments suggest he has more sympathy for Porter than his alleged victims.

After praising Porter on Friday, Trump on Saturday lamented that “lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.”

Trump’s comments have alienated even some of his staunchest defenders. On Monday morning, hosts of Fox & Friends staged what amounted to an on-air intervention for the president. Host Ainsley Earhardt pleaded with White House spokesman Hogan Gidley to team up with Sanders and talk some sense into the president.

“Will you and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, will y’all get together and maybe advise [Trump] and talk to him about, this is an opportunity when he can come out against domestic violence?” she said. “I mean those pictures are horrific.”

On Monday, Sanders refused to say if Trump — who has been accused of sexual assault by 14 women, all of whom he claims are lying — even believes Porter’s accusers.

“Does he believe Rob Porter’s accusers or are they lying?” a reporter asked.

Sanders didn’t answer the question, but instead said “the president, along with the entire administration, take domestic violence very seriously and believe all allegations need to be thoroughly investigated.”


MSNBC’s Ari Melber Turns Hypocrite Trump’s Own Words Against Him On National Security

MSNBC’s Ari Melber took clips of Trump saying that Hillary Clinton couldn’t be trusted with classified information and contrasted that with the hypocrisy of an administration where nearly four dozen people lack the security clearances that they need to be handling classified intelligence. Video: Ari Melber takes down some Trump hypocrisy on handling classified information. […]

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