Politics 2017 May 18

Trump administration likely to propose massive cuts to education funding

The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration plans drastic cuts to education in the next fiscal year. Among other things, college work-study funds would be cut in half, and a program that reduces college loan debt for new teachers would end entirely.

Conservative urges fellows not to assume news they don’t like is fake

Kevin D Williamson reminds fellow conservatives via National Review that the mainstream media, for all their flaws, aren’t “fake news.” He gives the example of Sean Hannity reading with approval an article from the mainstream Associated Press and then weirdly declaring, “The mainstream media won’t tell you about that!” Increasingly, he says, he encounters people who believe false Internet rumors (e.g., that Hillary Clinton was disbarred) and instead dismiss valid corrections as false. “The irony is that they have fallen for fake news, and retreat into ‘fake news!’ when their gullibility is shown.”

Erick Erickson on why Trump’s White House loyalists talk to the press

Another conservative, blogger and radio host Erick Erickson, said Tuesday that he personally knows a White House staffer who has leaked to the press despite being a staunch Trump loyalist. The reason, according to Erickson, is that “the President will not take any internal criticism, no matter how politely it is given. He does not want advice, cannot be corrected, and is too insecure to see any constructive feedback as anything other than an attack.” But Trump does pay attention to the news, so leaking to the press is a way to get Trump to pay attention.

Erickson adds something particularly troubling: “I am told that what the President did is actually far worse than what is being reported. The President does not seem to realize or appreciate that his bragging can undermine relationships with our allies and with human intelligence sources. He also does not seem to appreciate that his loose lips can get valuable assets in the field killed.”

Early warnings of Trump admin’s carelessness with classified information

There are signs the problem isn’t just with President Trump. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo recently quoted a January article in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth saying that American intelligence officers had warned their Israeli colleagues to be cautious about revealing sensitive sources to the new administration for fear it would reach Iran via Russia. More recently the Associated Press reported on breaches of security protocol by Trump’s team during the transition period. On the snark front, The Guardian quoted a tweet, from Jeb Bush campaign strategist (and frequent Trump critic) David Kochel: “John McCain probably revealed less to the KGB in 5+ years of torture at the Hanoi Hilton than Trump did in 5 minutes in the Oval.”

Kevin Drum disputes NYT on rising household debt

Yesterday The New York Times reported that “Americans have now borrowed more money than they had at the height of the credit bubble in 2008, just as the global financial system began to collapse.” But Kevin Drum responded that this number is misleading in that it overlooks inflation, population growth, the larger economy, and lower interest rates. A better measure of household debt load is the percentage of disposable income going to loan repayment. That, it turns out, has been around 10 percent for the past five years, the lowest level in decades. I’d add that interest rates are rising so household debt bears watching, but Drum’s clearly right that total debt is in itself a misleading statistic.

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