Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

FOR THE WEEK OF MAR. 20, 2017

President’s budget starts debate over proposed military boost and deep cuts elsewhere

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Read other news about this topic and share a quotation that grabs your interest.
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Find an opinion column or reader letter about the budget. Summarize a key point.
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What else does President Trump do or say this week? Describe a reaction by anyone inside or outside the government.

The drama in Washington continues. President Trump presented a 53-page budget plan last week that gives the clearest look so far at his priorities. The budget would raise spending in three of 17 major categories — defense, homeland security and veterans affairs — while slashing most of the rest. The request to Congress "represents a critical first step in investing in a larger, more ready and more capable military force," Trump says in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan. In the budget year starting next Oct. 1, the new administration wants to eliminate dozens of programs that help the poor, support scientific and medical research, provide cultural enrichment and aid foreign allies. In education, it hopes to add $1.4 billion for school choice programs while cutting $9 billion (13 percent) overall from the Education Department.

Trump’s first budget proposal, labeled "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again," would increase defense spending by $54 billion and balance that partly by reducing the amount of tax dollars going to nearly two dozen other agencies. Money for the Agriculture, Labor and State departments would be cut more than 20 percent. The Environmental Protection Agency would lose 31 percent of its budget, if lawmakers approve the draft plan. That would eliminate 50 programs and 3,200 jobs. The White House also proposes withdrawing federal support for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

A sizable cutback in non-military federal workers is one goal. "You can't drain the swamp and leave all the people in it," says Mick Mulvaney, the president's budget director. But many proposals already prompt congressional criticism, even from the president's party. Many Republicans object to large cuts in foreign aid and diplomacy. Democrats and others say they'll fight to protect environmental, health, educational and arts programs.

"The proposed cuts would have ugly, highly visible effects," writes New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, an economist. In Boston, the head of a community development agency that administers social service programs that rely largely on federal aid says: "I've been doing this 45 years, and I've never seen anything like this. . . . Maybe things have to change somewhere, but I don't think the defense budget should be increased on the backs of poor people."

Budget chief says: "This budget represents a president who is beholden to nobody but the voters. He is following through on his promises." – Mike Mulvaney, director at the White House Office of Management and Budget

GOP senator says: "The administration's budget isn’t going to be the budget. We do the budget here. The administration makes recommendations, but Congress does budgets." – Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Budget scholar says: "This is not a budget. It's a Trump campaign press release masquerading as a government document." – Stan Collender, author, blogger and Georgetown University instructor

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2017
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