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Want to Cut Spending? Here’s How Much of Our Budget Is Going to the Military and Police

If Republicans are serious about wanting to reduce the debt, a new report shows exactly where they could start.

If Congress is looking for a place to cut spending, look no further! A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies found that an estimated $1.1 trillion, or 62 percent of federal discretionary spending, went to militarized programs over the past year.

That includes spending on things like war, weapons development, policing and prisons, and detention and deportation. Only 38 percent of the discretionary budget was left for investment in communities (things like education, childcare, affordable housing, and environmental programs).

As the United States hurtles toward debt default, the IPS report is a good reminder that if the Republican Party really wants to cut spending, it could do so quite easily. But rather than look to the single-largest drain on the public purse, Republicans want to impose harsh work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps, gut clean energy programs, and make life easier for fossil fuel companies..

“Threats to cut spending for vital domestic programs have featured prominently in the debt ceiling debate in recent weeks,” the IPS said in a press statement, “but spending on militarism has been almost entirely exempt from the discussion. Meanwhile, clawing back failed military, homeland security and law enforcement spending could instead fund programs and measures to address the true needs of American communities.”

The IPS report shows just how absurd our national budget priorities really are. Since 2001, discretionary spending on militarism has outpaced investments in communities two-to-one. Spending on federal law enforcement was twice that on childcare and early childhood education programs. Nuclear weapons? Four times what we spend on substance abuse and mental health. Perhaps most damning of all: For every $1 spent on diplomacy and humanitarian aid, the U.S. spent $16 on war and the military.

The report comes just days after a six-month investigation by CBS’s 60 Minutes found that “military contractors overcharge the Pentagon on almost everything.” And this year, about half of the monstrous $842 Pentagon budget will go to defense contractors. According to the IPS, the average taxpayer gave Pentagon contractors $1,087 in 2022.

Lindsay Koshgarian, one of the report’s co-authors, says, “Spending on militarism takes up the majority of the federal discretionary budget, and it has grown faster than all other spending. If we keep up these patterns, we are hurtling toward a future where we can’t afford the basics of a civilized society.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, of course, has said reconsidering military spending in the debt talks is off the table.

Louisiana Republican Breaks Ranks to Kill Anti-Trans Bill, Says He Doesn’t Care What Other People Say

Fred Mills is completely unbothered by the right’s outrage over his vote.

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A Louisiana Republican state senator broke ranks to kill an anti-trans bill banning gender-affirming care for minors. And he doesn’t care about the online right-wing outrage over it.

Fred Mills cast the deciding vote Wednesday to block a bill that would have banned hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and gender-affirming surgery for transgender minors. The bill had passed the House and was up before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Mills joined all four Democrats in voting to defer the bill, effectively killing it for the year. Louisiana is now the only state along the Gulf Coast that still allows gender-affirming care for minors.

“Always in my heart of hearts have I believed that a decision should be made by a patient and a physician. I believe in the physicians in Louisiana,” Mills, a pharmacist, said at the time. “I believe in the scope of practice. I believe in the standard of care.”

Mills explained that part of his decision was based on testimony from medical professionals. Health professionals widely acknowledge that gender-affirming care decreases levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts in LGBTQ minors. Doctors generally don’t recommend surgery for people under age 19, and a Louisiana Health Department report found that no Medicaid recipients had received gender reassignment surgery in the state between 2017 and 2021.

A child and adolescent psychiatrist testified in the committee about the standard procedures already in place for gender-affirming care. He pointed out that many medications used for trans care are proven safe and used to treat other, unrelated issues.

Many far-right activists immediately sought to discredit Mills after the news of his vote broke. Greg Price, who works with the right-wing State Freedom Caucus Network, said Mills had received “massive contributions from Big Pharma.” Noted transphobe Matt Walsh said Mills had “sided with the butchers and groomers” and predicted it would end the senator’s career.

But Mills, frankly, doesn’t care. “Why should I?” he told the Louisiana Illuminator. “They don’t live in District 22. They don’t have a 337 area code.”

“I didn’t run for office to serve those people.”

Mills said he heard no evidence of children being harmed by gender-affirming treatment, so he voted based on the data that was presented. Since then, he said many colleagues have thanked him for his decision, including other Republican senators who are not on the committee.

Supreme Court Sides With Corporate America, Weakens Clean Water Act

The conservative court just made it easier for corporations to pollute our bodies of water.

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In a time when we see the consequences of corporations decimating the beauty, the harmony, and the value of our natural landscape, we ought to be doing everything we can to fight back and protect the earth. The conservative-led Supreme Court, however, believes otherwise.

On Thursday, the court ruled 5–4 to weaken the already whittled-down Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate water pollution.

The question at hand involved defining “waters of the United States” that qualify for protection by the Clean Water Act. And the court held that the 51-year-old CWA does not enable the EPA to regulate discharges into some wetlands near other bodies of water.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion that decided the agency has jurisdiction over wetlands only if they have “a continuing surface connection” to larger bodies of water.

Almost 20 years ago, the court ruled that wetlands are covered by the CWA if they have a ”significant nexus” to regulated bodies of water. Various groups, including property and business organizations and fossil fuel interests, have since rallied to weaken that definition—and on Thursday, they ultimately succeeded.

The court decision follows twice-impeached, criminally indicted, and liable-for-sexual-abuse former President Donald Trump rolling back updates to the CWA made under President Obama. Trump limited federal protection to cover only “permanent” bodies of water and not other smaller but still significant waterways, like streams of water that flow only part of the year. Trump’s rule gave states greater authority to determine what should be regulated under the CWA, which meant less protection for our climate.

With the Supreme Court’s ruling, the CWA’s jurisdiction is now all the weaker. Any seasonal streams of ebbing and flowing waterways can be more readily polluted at will by some of the most callously destructive interests in American society.

What is at stake? Look no further than East Palestine, Ohio, where a disastrous Norfolk Southern train derailment months ago has to this day left residents confused, sick, and disenchanted by the government. The derailment implicated and polluted numerous waterways—some that interlink with adjacent smaller streams and wetlands. While residents even now fear corporate-driven cover-ups of more environmental damage than meets the eye, the conservative-led Supreme Court has made it even easier for communities across America to be upended, just as East Palestine was.

South Carolina Governor Signs Draconian Abortion Ban Behind Closed Doors

With Governor Henry McMaster’s signature, abortion access in the South has been effectively wiped out.

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South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed a bill Thursday banning abortion after six weeks, wiping out access to the procedure for the entire Southeast.

A similar ban had died in the legislature in late April after all of the female senators, who span the political spectrum, banded together to filibuster the measure. But McMaster called the lawmakers back for a special session to consider multiple measures, including a new abortion ban, which passed the legislature on Tuesday. He signed the bill behind closed doors, with no fanfare or warning to doctors who could be about to perform a newly illegal procedure.

“What we are doing today is not going to do away with illegal abortions. It is going to cause illegal abortions,” warned Republican Senator Sandy Senn during the final debate.

Addressing state residents directly, she said, “When … your teenagers end up dying because they went to get an illegal abortion because they didn’t know they were pregnant before six weeks, it is our fault!”

The new law bans abortion after six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant. It includes exceptions for rape and incest up to 12 weeks, but health care providers are required to tell patients that they will report the assault to law enforcement. This could discourage people from seeking abortions because they don’t want to report the attack.

The measure also prohibits mental health from being considered a medical emergency, so even if someone is diagnosed as suicidal, they still cannot get an abortion. Doctors who break the law face fines and up to two years in prison.

While the law does require child support payments be made from the moment of conception, writer Jessica Valenti points out that this is less to help the pregnant person and more to establish that personhood begins at conception.

The South Carolina arm of Planned Parenthood Votes South Atlantic has already said it intends to try to block the law in the courts. There is a slim chance it will succeed: After Roe v. Wade was overturned, South Carolina enacted a six-week trigger ban, which the state Supreme Court blocked in January. The new law is an attempt to circumvent the ruling, and if it’s challenged in court, it’s possible the state’s high court will block it once more.

But until it is blocked, abortion access will be decimated in the South. After Florida and North Carolina codified new abortion restrictions in quick succession, South Carolina was one of the last states in the South to hold the line on access to the procedure. Now that it has fallen, it will be next to impossible for anyone in the region to get an abortion.

Unfortunately, Trump’s Trolling of Ron DeSantis’s Failed Twitter Launch Is Quite Good

Ron DiSaster has made it so, so easy.

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Ron DeSantis’s long-delayed presidential announcement was a disaster. And Donald Trump is cheesing from cheek to cheek.

A Twitter Space with audio glitches, jarring feedback echoes, nervous whispers wondering whether the operation was even working. The DeSantis x Elon Musk x David Sacks collab even fully crashed at one point. The whole affair didn’t even begin until 30 minutes later. The content itself was just as embarrassing; a tinny-voiced DeSantis fielded questions from an entirely sympathetic rotating cast, all while sounding like he was reading off bullet points as quickly as possible, lest the whole Twitter Space chat room crash again before he got it all off his chest.

And Trump had a field day with it all.

He was quick to remind everyone how absurd it was that DeSantis was announcing in the manner he did at all:

Someone also helped Trump figure out A.I. voice impersonations, placing DeSantis in a fictional Twitter Space with a cast including the FBI, the Devil, and Hitler (Trump was also able to scratch a far-right itch by including George Soros in the mix):

And he poked fun at a key feature of Musk: Everything he touches soon blows up:

Of course, even if DeSantis somehow had the brain cells to host a “successful” campaign launch, there’s more at stake. Everything about his résumé exhibits a destructive man corrosive to social harmony, or society working at all.

But whether it’s the decisions of him or those around him, every choice DeSantis has made so far has been downright daffy. Waiting as long as he did to announce. Announcing in the most physically out-of-touch manner—not in his home state, nor even a swing state, but on a website famously eviscerated on the back end. Doing the announcement in a setting in which people can only hear his voice that some may argue is not fit for radio. And all those decisions come while he tries to outdo the twice-impeached, criminally indicted, and liable-for-sexual-abuse former president, while barely criticizing him for any of those faults.

There’s a satisfaction in watching the instantaneous collapse of someone as obscenely evil and dramatically uninterested in unity as DeSantis—even if it is prompted by his role model.

Think Ron Desantis’s Twitter Space Was Bad? What Came After Was Even Worse.

To say DeSantis’s presidential announcement did not go well is an understatement.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Ron DeSantis somehow managed to follow his disastrous Twitter Space with an equally cringey Fox News interview.

The Florida governor formally announced he was running for president Wednesday night in a Twitter event with Elon Musk and David Sacks. To say things had gone poorly would be an understatement, with constant glitches and bad jokes derailing any sense of pomp or celebration. But DeSantis’s subsequent interview on Fox News didn’t really improve things.

When host Trey Gowdy asked how DeSantis would address the war in Ukraine, the Florida man launched into a rant about how the military is too “woke.” “First, I think what we need to do as a veteran is recognize that our military has become politicized,” DeSantis said. “You talk about gender ideology, you talk about things like global warming that they’re somehow concerned, and that’s not the military that I served in.”

He did not mention what he specifically would do about Ukraine. (Recall that DeSantis has previously faced blowback from Republicans for saying Ukraine is not a vital interest.)

Gowdy then asked about the government’s role in addressing climate change (which, props to him for semi-acknowledging that it’s real). DeSantis promptly responded that the weather has been subject to “politicization.”

Insisting that hurricanes have not gotten more intense in recent years, DeSantis instead said, apropos of nothing, “I think what we should be doing in the United States is focusing on being energy independent.”

It’s interesting how quick DeSantis was to denounce things being too politicized, considering all the things he has recently decided to politicize in his home state: bathrooms, drag queens, children’s books, and Disney World, to name a few.

The Ron DeSantis Twitter Campaign Launch Was a Disaster

The Florida governor’s attempt to kick off his presidential candidacy from deep within Elon Musk’s collapsing empire went exactly as well as you’d expect.

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Ron DeSantis’s presidential launch was supposed to be a rebranding moment. Faltering in the polls in recent weeks, the Florida governor had lost much of the heir-to-Trumpism sheen he had earned during his tenure in the Florida statehouse. If he once seemed like the future of the Republican Party, lately he’s just seemed, well, weird: Upon closer inspection—and put next to Donald Trump—he has been robotic, odd, and uncharismatic.

But DeSantis’s campaign launch on Wednesday was supposed to turn the page on all that. Rather than the usual pageantry—a rally in a hometown, flanked by family, broadcast on Fox News during prime time—DeSantis’s team decided to take a big risk. They would take the campaign to Donald Trump’s turf and launch it on Twitter, in a live interview with influencer David Sacks and Twitter CEO Elon Musk. DeSantis was coming for Trump’s core audience: the terminally online.

Well, you get what you pay for, I guess! Hundreds of thousands of users logged on to watch the campaign launch on Twitter Spaces only to overload the social network’s wheezing servers. Musk and Sacks could occasionally be heard mumbling in grainy audio. Mostly, though, there was just silence. It was glitchy, awkward, and strange—a metaphor for DeSantis’s own faltering presidential campaign. “You broke the internet,” Musk could be heard awkwardly mumbling at one point. It was a comment better directed at himself, given the current shambolic state of Twitter.

Thirty minutes after it was scheduled to start, the event finally got underway—with the expected array of awkward braying about “free speech” and dismissal of invocations of racism. DeSantis shrugged off a recent NAACP travel advisory: “Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said. Musk similarly dismissed criticisms that Twitter had become overloaded with Nazis, racists, and freaks under his leadership.

Wasn’t this supposed to be a campaign kickoff? If so, it could hardly be described as a success. A few hundred thousand viewers is impressive, but DeSantis probably could’ve gotten significantly more if he had launched on, say, a Fox News prime-time show. He would, at the very least, have gotten some level of broadcast professionalism (and substantially less hold music): The glitchy, awkward, audio-only format of Twitter Spaces hardly helped assuage concerns that DeSantis lacks the charisma and human touch most successful presidential campaigns require.

Still, DeSantis ultimately got the extremely online event he wanted: one aimed at Musk fanboys and other online weirdos. But that doesn’t mean it was a success. Much like a recent rocket, this can only be described as a classic failure to launch.

Entire House Laughs at Marjorie Taylor Greene After She Asks for Decorum

The irony of the far-right congresswoman talking about decorum

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The entire House laughed in Marjorie Taylor Greene’s face on Wednesday when she called for decorum in the chamber.

Speaking during a House session, the far-right congresswoman said, “Members are reminded to abide by decorum of the House.” Democrats erupted into laughter.

Greene’s not really one to talk about decorum. She has spread conspiracy theories, made racist comments about co-workers, encouraged violence against Democrats, and essentially called for sedition.

A Texas Bill That Would Have Banned Chinese People From Owning Property Has Failed

The bill would have also targeted citizens of three other countries.

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A bill that would have banned people from China and three other countries from owning property in Texas failed to reach the House floor, with its death a huge relief to the state’s Asian American community.

The bill would have prohibited citizens from China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia from owning agricultural and oil leases. It passed the Senate in April with the support of all Republicans and one Democrat, and Governor Greg Abbott said he would sign it despite the measure being widely slammed as racist and xenophobic.

But the House never granted the bill a hearing. Speaker Dade Phelan canceled a planned session, killing dozens of bills, including the property ownership measure. There are a few long-shot measures that lawmakers can take to force the bill through, such as tacking it on to another measure, but they are unlikely to work.

“While our community has succeeded in stopping this terrible bill, it does not undo the racist and xenophobic rhetoric lobbed by elected officials,” the nonprofit Asian Texans for Justice said in a statement. “We will continue to stand up against discrimination and racism against the Asian American community.”

The property ownership bill had sparked multiple similar measures, including within Texas. State Republican lawmakers came under fire in March for a bill that would ban students from the same four countries from all public colleges and universities in the state. That bill never made it out of committees.

Louisiana is also pushing a package of bills that would ban “foreign adversaries,” including Chinese companies and citizens, from buying land in the state. Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law that would prohibit citizens of certain countries from buying homes and land in Florida. Chinese citizens are almost entirely banned, with few exceptions, while there are similar but slightly lighter restrictions on citizens of Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia, and North Korea. A group of Chinese citizens who live and work in Florida are suing the state over the law.

All of these measures are painfully reminiscent of measures that have been implemented over the centuries to keep people of color out of the United States, ranging from the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 to former President Donald Trump’s travel ban that targeted North Koreans, Iranians, and several other Muslim-majority countries. Foreigners and their work are often subjected to racial and political scapegoating when people blame them for a host of issues in American society.

The Texas measures may have died, but the hostility toward immigrants is alive and well.

GOP Lawmaker Erases Maxwell Frost’s Valid Point on Student Debt From the Record

Representative Virginia Foxx, a top recipient of cash from student loan companies and for-profit colleges, acted offended by Frost’s comments on student debt relief.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images Jemal Countess/Getty Images for People's Rally to Cancel Student Debt

Maxwell Frost deconstructed a central conservative talking point against relieving millions of people from student debt—and apparently offended an absurdly bought-out Republican representative while doing so.

“If we legislated using the logic that you bring to this issue today, women and Black folks wouldn’t have the right to vote because it would be unfair to those who never got to vote before them,” said Frost on the House floor Wednesday, speaking against a resolution to repeal President Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness plan. “If we legislated using your logic, that because there was an injustice, we can’t fix it because it’s unfair to those who never had it fixed, means we would never progress on any issue in this country.”

“Why do you bring that bigoted logic to this issue as it relates to students, but not any other issue?”

The “bigoted logic” remarks prompted Republican Representative Virginia Foxx, whom Frost was addressing, to apparently become offended.

“I demand his words be taken down,” Foxx said with a frown.

Frost agreed on his own part to withdraw the “offending words” and proceed onward.

“If we used this logic on every single issue, we would never have progress on anything,” he said. “And the truth of the matter is that young people and people don’t have student debt because we live beyond our means. We have student debt because we’ve been denied the means to live.”

Foxx’s bristling at Frost’s remarks are unsurprising. In numerous election cycles, the almost two-decade North Carolina representative has been the leading recipient of donations from the for-profit education industry and from student loan companies, according to OpenSecrets.

Recall, these figures are out of 435 House members.

In total, Foxx has received over $665,000 from the for-profit education industry and another $86,000 from student loan companies.

The cozy relationship began in 2006—her first reelection cycle—when she was one of the leading House recipients of cash from student loan companies, raking in over $10,000 from the industry. From 2014 through 2022, she remained in the top 10 recipients from the industry; in 2016 and 2018, she was the leading recipient.

And in the for-profit education industry, the figures are even more staggering. From 2016 to 2022, Foxx was the number one recipient of cash from the industry, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars each cycle. In 2014, she was the number-two leading recipient; in 2012, the seventh-leading one.

For-profit schools are infamous for defrauding students and charging them exorbitant amounts of money, making false promises of what kind of education they offer, and deceptively targeting marginalized communities and veterans.

All this cash has left Foxx a longtime proponent of leaving students with crippling debt—impairing the economic and social prosperity they could gain by not being held down by such a burden.

“I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that,” Foxx once said on a radio show, further complaining that students want success “dumped in their lap.”