Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Quotation

The conservative mind, in some very visible cases, has become diseased. The movement has been seized by a kind of discrediting madness, in which conspiracy delusions figure prominently. Institutions and individuals that once served an important ideological role, providing a balance to media bias, are discrediting themselves in crucial ways. With the blessings of a president, they have abandoned the normal constraints of reason and compassion.

— Michael Gerson, former chief speechwriter for George W. Bush: The conservative mind has become diseased (The Washington Post)

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Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal questioned Budget Director Mick Mulvaney about Trump’s new budget proposal during the House Budget Committee hearing today.

Transcript of the exchange:

PRAMILA JAYAPAL: Let’s talk about clear language and telling the American people exactly what’s happening in this budget. We are slashing, in this budget, you are slashing, Medicaid by $610 billion. Combined with the healthcare cut, that’s almost $1.5 trillion of cuts to a program that currently serves 74 million Americans. So, in plain language for the American people, that is a dramatic cut to their health care – for most people, healthcare that they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere.

A $1.2 billion cut to Centers for Disease Control, clear English, cuts drug addiction treatment and prevention services. A $1 billion cut to housing assistance programs, including for veterans who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. We talked about infrastructure already so I won’t go into that.

Mention SNAP. This is nutritional assistance for the most needy families in our country. And, let’s just talk about the border wall for a second. This is a $1.6 billion investment into, what I call, the “Wall to Nowhere”. This is a wall, a down payment on a wall, that is ultimately gonna cost the taxpayers $40 billion according to a recent MIT study. And as Janet Napolitano once said when she was governor of Arizona, “Show me a 100 foot wall, I’ll show you a 101-foot ladder”.

This is not the solution to any of our immigration issues.

Now you’ve said, Director Mulvaney, that you should’ve called this the “Taxpayer First Budget,” but I have to ask you: Which taxpayer? Out of the almost trillion dollars in tax cuts in this budget, which are on the backs of all these other cuts we’ve mentioned, 50% of those tax cuts are gonna to the top 1%. And 75% of the tax cuts are gonna to the top 75% of income earners. So what we are doing is taking away essential benefits for working families across this country – positions that the president ran on – and putting them into the top earners in the country.

So, when you talk about ‘Trumpanomics” — I think that was the word you used in your opening statement — and you said “Let’s do anything that gets you to 3% growth,” is that the same philosophy that got the president to six separate bankruptcies… $1.8 billion in debt for Trump Hotels before he declared those bankruptcies?

I’m not really sure what “Trumpanomics” is when you look at the President’s record. So what I’d like to ask you, Director Mulvaney, is can you explain how taking away from programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the disabled and student loan repayments — one of the top issues in this country, Republicans and Democrats alike $1.4 trillion dollars in student loan debt right now — Can you explain how that benefits the economy or working families across this country?

And I might reclaim my time to just to make sure, but let’s start there.

TRUMP BUDGET DIRECTOR MICK MULVANEY: I… I… I can try. Because folks are throwing me notes because you raised a bunch of issues so let me do this this in as rapid form as I possibly can. CHIP is being extended; it’s not being reduced. Total spending on drug treatment goes up; it’s not being reduced.

You use the word “plain language”, slashing Medicaid to most people — plain language slashing Medicaid  would mean we spend less next year than we did this year. That’s what a slash means, right? That’s what you hear? No. It’s not true. I think it’s one year in a ten-year window when we have a little kind of tiny dip because of the cliff that’s caused by the AHCA on the Medicaid expansion states.

But generally speaking, across the budget all we do is slow the rate of growth. Which is to say we will be spending more on Medicaid every single year, again I think except one. And you can call that a slash but I’m telling you back home, people say you slash spending on something, I think they would expect you to think that you’re spending less money one year versus the previous year.

The SNAP: What we do on SNAP is a couple different things, and again we can take more time on this if you like. We do ask for an able body work requirement. We can go into the fact that SNAP went up dramatically during the downturn from I think roughly 28 million people on the program before the recession to 47 million people on the program at the height of the recession.

I think the most recent number we have is roughly 42 or 44 million. We’re back near what we like to call full employment. We’ve had several years of a slow but growing economy. Don’t we think that maybe some of those folks —

PRAMILA JAYAPAL: I’m gonna… I’m gonna reclaim my time. I’m sorry — we’re limited so I’m sorry for that. But I think if you look at what the American people thought about the Republican healthcare bill, you’ll see that that slash in Medicaid is in a fact a slash in Medicaid, that even a Republican governor spoke out against it.

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Just another sunset in the beautiful Pacific Northwest

Just another sunset in the beautiful Pacific Northwest

Aside

Right wing Liberals remain short of a majority in British Columbia after more ballots counted

A provincial election update:

The NDP have jumped into a 101-vote lead over the Liberals in the battle for Courtenay-Comox, a riding that could decide which party governs British Columbia.

The final count of absentee ballots continues today, but as of the last update Tuesday afternoon, the NDP’s Ronna-Rae Leonard was leading Liberal candidate Jim Benninger 10,481 votes to 10,380.

Officials have counted slightly more than half the 2,077 absentee ballots in the riding.

The outcome of the race has the potential to alter the province’s political landscape.

A Liberal victory would give the party 44 seats and a bare majority in the 87-seat legislature. The NDP would finish with 40 and the B.C. Green Party with three.

As a reminder, the NDP, or New Democratic Party, is the main progressive party in British Columbia, while the Liberals are the main right wing party. The Greens are a minor party that are on the rise, having only won their first riding (what Canadians call a district) in 2013. The Greens have now tripled their numbers and will decide which of the major parties governs the province if these results hold.

There are still some absentee ballots left to count.

Progressive activists aren’t waiting for final numbers to call for a coalition government between the New Democratic Party and the Greens.

With the final election results still unclear, the calls for co-operation remain speculative but a reminder to both the Greens and the NDP that many of their supporters see them as natural allies.

“If no party has a strong majority after the final ballots are counted, the NDP and the Greens have a historic opportunity to make good on the important policies they both campaigned on – but only if they work together,” said Lyndsay Poaps, executive director of Leadnow, the umbrella organization that delivered a petition with 25,000 names calling for an alliance between the two parties.

NDP leader John Horgan and Green leader Andrew Weaver aren’t the best of friends, but they will need to put their personal differences aside if the Liberals are to be dislodged after having held power for fifteen years.

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New locomotives mean new service: Amtrak Cascades is expanding, and there's nothing Tim Eyman can do to stop it

New locomotives mean new service: Amtrak Cascades is expanding, and there's nothing Tim Eyman can do to stop it

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Fisheye view of a brand new Siemens Charger locomotive manufactured for use on Amtrak's Cascades route, which is funded by Washington and Oregon taxpayers

Fisheye view of a brand new Siemens Charger locomotive manufactured for use on Amtrak's Cascades route, which is funded by Washington and Oregon taxpayers

Video Clip

Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin), Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon), Mike Pence (Beck Bennett), Eric Trump (Alex Moffat), Donald Trump Jr. (Mikey Day), Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Aidy Bryant), Melania Trump (Cecily Strong) and Ivanka Trump (Scarlett Johansson) perform “Hallelujah.”

Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week’s biggest news, including President Donald Trump asking James Comey when he would announce Trump is not under investigation.

Dawn Lazarus (Vanessa Bayer) stops by with the weather.

Drunk Uncle (Bobby Moynihan) weighs in on Donald Trump’s presidency.

Four seniors (Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer) bid goodbye to high school with a performance.

See all the sketches from this weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live, the fourth episode of SNL to air live coast-to-coast.

Quotation

I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nutjob… I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off… I’m not under investigation.

— Donald Trump told visiting Russians that firing ‘nut job’ Comey eased pressure from investigation (The New York Times).

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Snapshot of a drawing showing where the Southeast Redmond light rail station will go

Snapshot of a drawing showing where the Southeast Redmond light rail station will go

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Redmond wants light rail: Sound Transit had excellent turnout for its latest Link design open house

Redmond wants light rail: Sound Transit had excellent turnout for its latest Link design open house

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Speakers at today's Filing Week luncheon: Tina Podlodowski, Dow Constantine, Tom Perez, Manka Dhingra

Speakers at today's Filing Week luncheon: Tina Podlodowski, Dow Constantine, Tom Perez, Manka Dhingra

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President Jimmy Carter pays a surprise visit to Dow Constantine's annual Filing Week luncheon prior to meeting with Manka Dhingra

President Jimmy Carter pays a surprise visit to Dow Constantine's annual Filing Week luncheon prior to meeting with Manka Dhingra

Recommended Link

Where anti-tax fervor means ‘all services will cease’

Southwestern Oregon’s public services are rotting away or shutting down due to voter unwillingness to pay dues to keep them running. The New York Times looks at the collapse of the commons in an often-ignored area of the Pacific Northwest.

Recommended Link

Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador

An exclusive from The Washington Post: “The president’s disclosures to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in their Oval Office meeting last week jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State — an information-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, current and former U.S. officials said. “

Recommended Link

World’s first light rail on a floating bridge: For I-90, Sound Transit had to invent ‘a brilliant solution’

“Sound Transit’s consultants have invented a flexing track connection, using earthquake science, to safely move future light-rail trains on the I‑90 floating bridge,” reports The Seattle Times’ Mike Lindblom.

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Happy Mother's Day from NPI!

Happy Mother's Day from NPI!

Video Clip

Sean Spicer (Melissa McCarthy) confronts Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin) about the rumors that he’s being replaced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Aidy Bryant).

Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin) discusses firing FBI director James Comey in an interview with Lester Holt (Michael Che).

Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week’s biggest news, including President Donald Trump firing FBI director James Comey. Pete Davidson stops by to discuss getting sober.

See all the sketches from this weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live, the third episode of SNL to air live coast-to-coast.

Recommended Link

Sinclair requires TV stations, including KOMO, to air segments that tilt to the right

A must-read from The New York Times. “Eight current and former KOMO employees describe a newsroom where some have chafed at Sinclair’s programming directives, especially must-runs pieces, which they view as too politically tilted and occasionally of poor quality.”

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Flanked by fishermen, Senator Cantwell blasts the Trump regime's scheme to grease the skids for a new Pebble Bay mine

Flanked by fishermen, Senator Cantwell blasts the Trump regime's scheme to grease the skids for a new Pebble Bay mine

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Speakers at the Downtown Redmond Park groundbreaking: Nancy McCormick, John Marchione, Joan McBride, Molly Hill

Speakers at the Downtown Redmond Park groundbreaking: Nancy McCormick, John Marchione, Joan McBride, Molly Hill

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Groundbreaking for the Downtown Redmond Park

Groundbreaking for the Downtown Redmond Park