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‘Historic’ budget cuts bill actually increased 2011 spending by $3 billion: CBO

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WASHINGTON – The fiscal 2011 funding bill roundly hailed for its “historic” spending cuts actually raised government spending by more than $3 billion, according to a new report.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded Monday evening, “Total discretionary outlays in 2011 will be $3.2 billion higher as a result of the legislation, CBO estimates—an increase of $7.5 billion for defense programs, partially offset by a net reduction of $4.4 billion in other spending.”

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In other words, the bill’s increase in defense spending this year outweighed the cuts to discretionary programs — something the CBO warned may potentially be the case. Now it’s the official projection.

The finding is particularly embarrassing because President Barack Obama and leaders of both parties portrayed the measure as a monumental accomplishment in the realm of spending cuts, which they all agreed were vital to America’s future.

“We have agreed to an historic amount of cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) five weeks ago, promising that the measure would cut $39 billion from 2011 spending.

There was some good news in the CBO report for champions of spending cuts: the legislation is projected to lower the deficit by $122 billion between 2012 and 2021, with a reduction of $183 billion in spending authority during that period.

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“[O]ne thing is clear: congressional Republicans were able to save American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars in the long term,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Boehner.

[Via Brian Beutler]

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Ukraine blows up key Trump defense: Top officials knew of military aid freeze before it became public

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Top Ukrainian officials were alerted in early August that $391 million in U.S. military aid had been frozen as President Donald Trump sought to pressure the country to investigate Joe Biden.

That undercuts the president's latest defense arguing that the foreign ally couldn't have felt pressured because Ukraine was not yet aware that the aid had been frozen, reported the New York Times.

Former Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor told Congress on Tuesday that the freeze was directly related to Trump's demand for an announcement that Biden was under investigation.

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Trump attorney shocks judge by claiming president could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue: ‘Nothing could be done’

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William Consovoy, an attorney for President Donald Trump, argued in court on Wednesday that President Donald Trump is immune from prosecution if he literally shoots someone on Fifth Avenue.

In a hearing before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, Consovoy took the position that Trump is immune from a subpoena for his financial records, which are being investigated by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

At one point, Judge Denny Chin asked Consovoy about what he called the "Fifth Avenue example," referring to a Trump claim that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.

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‘Not a pretty picture’: Second-ranking GOP senator inches closer to impeachment after Bill Taylor testimony

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The second-ranking Republican senator sounded an alarm over testimony by the former Ukraine ambassador.

GOP Whip John Thune (R-SD) reacted to testimony Tuesday by veteran diplomat Bill Taylor, who told lawmakers that President Donald Trump directed efforts to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden in exchange for congressionally approved military aid.

"The picture coming out based on the reporting we’ve seen is not a good one," Thune told reporters Wednesday, "but I would say until we have a process that allows to see this with full transparency it’s pretty hard to come to hard and fast conclusions."

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