‘NO MORE!’: Rand Paul Unveils Plan to Slash Government Spending and Balance National Budget

WASHINGTON (Fox Business) — Sen. Rand Paul on Monday unveiled a new bill that includes trillions in budget cuts over the next five years in order to bring about a balanced budget.  

The Kentucky Republican’s proposal, a copy of which was first obtained by FOX Business, would yield a $65.8 billion surplus by fiscal year 2027. Collectively, the plan spends about $4.2 trillion less than the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated during that time period, a person familiar with the matter said. 

“Five years ago, we could balance our budget with a freeze in spending. Not cut anything. Since then, our debt has skyrocketed to $30 trillion with $2 trillion just from this past year,” Paul said in a statement. “We cannot keep ignoring this problem at the expense of taxpayers, and my budget will put our nation on track to solve this crisis that Congress created.”

The plan calls for cuts across the budget, excluding Social Security, which is racing toward insolvency. What is cut will be determined at a later time through the normal spending process. The goal is to set a parameter that Congress must fit its spending agenda within, rather than identifying specific cuts now. 

Under the legislation, federal spending would freeze in fiscal year 2023 at the CBO’s projected baseline level of $5.874 trillion. From there, it would steadily decline each year; in fiscal year 2024, Paul proposed slashing federal spending by $298.3 billion.

Still, the success odds for the bill – dubbed the Six Penny Plan – are slim. Paul has introduced near-identical versions of the bill in the past, all of which have died in the Senate as the result of bipartisan opposition. Democrats previously opposed cuts to many domestic programs, while Republicans resisted any efforts to slash military spending. 

The gap between what the nation collects and what it spends has started to substantially decline following last year’s $2.8 trillion deficit, with the government expected to post a deficit of $1 trillion in fiscal 2022. 

But the CBO, in its latest budget and economic outlook released at the end of May, projected the shortfall will begin climbing again in 2024, eventually hitting more than 6% of GDP a decade from now. The U.S. has only recorded greater deficits than that six times since 1946.

“This is no time to break out the champagne glasses – deficits will remain extremely high and debt is on course to reach a new record as a share of the economy by 2031,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said in a statement after the report was released. 

The nation’s debt level is currently at a historic high of $30 trillion following unprecedented levels of spending during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

REPORT: Biden Approval Rating Hits New Low Amid Soaring Gas Prices, Inflation

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — A new NBC News poll shows President Biden’s job approval rating has dipped to another low, with just 39 percent of Americans approving of the job he’s doing and 56 percent disapproving.

Americans are dinging the president on inflation, the economy and border security, as they have been for much of his presidency. Only 37 percent of Americans view Biden in a positive light, according to the poll, which shows his favorability rating hovers around the same percentage currently as former President Trump’s.

Biden appears to have lost ground once again after making some gains. Earlier this month, 42 percent of Americans approved of Biden’s job in a Washington Post-ABC News poll, which was up 5 percentage points from a previous poll in February.

In the NBC News poll, 59 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus, where the president has consistently earned the best marks.

But only 33 percent of Americans approve of his handling of the economy, and only 23 percent approve of his handling of inflation and the cost of living, two issues that are likely to be among the most important at the ballot box in November.

Gas prices have surged to record highs this year, topping an average national price of $4.47 per gallon, while prices at grocery stores have also seen steep increases. Last week, reports of a shortage of baby formula triggered another round of anguish among American families.

About 41 percent of Americans say they are “somewhat satisfied” with their current financial situation, according to the poll, with 16 percent saying they are very dissatisfied with their financial situation.

Americans rank cost of living, the economy, voting rights and abortion in that order as the top four issues facing the nation.

The poll was conducted from May 5 to May 7 and then May 9 to May 10 among 1,000 respondents. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.


The Hill’s Brad Dress contributed to the contents of this report.

BUILD BACK BROKER: Biden Signs $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Into Law

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Joe Biden on Monday signed into law a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill at a boisterous ceremony at the White House, sealing a major accomplishment of his first term after weeks of negotiations in the House culminated in a bipartisan vote.

Biden welcomed lawmakers from both parties, from Congress and from state and local governments, to celebrate the passage of the bill and tout what he insisted would be the transformational ways it would improve day-to-day life for many Americans.

Biden used the bill signing to highlight a rare instance of bipartisanship at a polarized time in U.S. politics, even as former President Trump and other conservatives were suggesting House Republicans who voted for the bill should be challenged in primaries or stripped of committee assignments.

After weeks of talks and two trips to the Capitol from Biden, the House voted on the infrastructure bill earlier this month, passing it with a final tally of 228-206, with 13 Republicans crossing the aisle to support the measure, and six progressive Democrats bucking Biden and party leaders to oppose it.

The Senate passed the bill three months earlier in August, with 19 Republicans joining Democrats to move it to the House. The legislation languished there for weeks as progressives sought assurances on the other key piece of Biden’s economic agenda — a social spending bill focused on climate, child care and health care programs that Democrats intend to pass without GOP support through budget reconciliation. 

The $1.2 trillion bill, which contains roughly $550 billion in new funding, will provide for new investments in roads, bridges and railways around the country. White House officials have also said it will allow for the replacement of lead pipes to provide clean drinking water to communities, establish a network of electric vehicle charging stations and help expand internet access for swaths of the country that do not have it.

Biden has tapped former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) as a senior White House adviser to coordinate the implementation of the bill, which cuts across several government agencies. 

Democrats are hoping that officials will be able to get some projects up and running quickly so the public feels the impact of the legislation, which could help Biden and his party politically ahead of the midterms. 

Biden’s approval ratings have been sinking for several weeks and it’s unclear thus far whether the president will see a bump from the infrastructure bill becoming law.  

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted after the infrastructure bill passed the House found that 41 percent approve of Biden’s handling of the presidency, while 53 percent disapprove, a new low for Biden in the survey.

Attention will now shift to the fate of a $1.75 trillion proposal that is contains many of the priorities of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, including funding to combat climate change, efforts to expand health care access and child care assistance, as well as money toward education and housing programs.

If the House passes the reconciliation bill, it will likely be tweaked in the Senate, where Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has expressed reservations about moving too quickly with such a major piece of legislation.

IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWN: Trump to Sign Executive Order Suspending Work Visas to Protect American Jobs

WASHINGTON — Administration officials announced Monday that President Donald Trump will sign an executive order suspending the issuance of certain temporary worker visas through the end of 2020, in an effort to prioritize American workers and slow down immigration.

The order applies to H-1B visas, H-2B visas, H-4 visas, L-1 visas and certain J-1 visas, which relate to skilled and seasonal workers and spouses of H-1B visa holders.

The restrictions are set to remain in place for the rest of the calendar year and administration officials say they be extended beyond the end of the year.

The move comes in response to complaints that American born workers should be prioritized when it comes to jobs, especially in light of the economic downturn caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

A senior administration official said the visa restrictions would free up more than half a million jobs for American workers. The order will also close loopholes that allow companies to outsource labor to foreign workers, the official said.

Two months ago the president signed an initial executive order which temporarily suspended the issuance of new green cards, citing the need to protect American jobs amid widespread unemployment caused by the Coronavirus outbreak.

“I think it’s going to make a lot of people very happy,” Trump said of the order Sunday during an interview with Fox News. “And it’s common sense, I mean, to be honest with you. It’s common sense.”

TRUMP: ‘Generous’ Second Round of Stimulus Checks For the American People on the Way

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday said he supports the idea of giving Americans another round of stimulus checks to help bolster the economy and get those impacted by the Coronavirus back on their feet.

In an interview with Scripps Networks, the president said he would approve sending Americans a second check and hinted that the payments may arrive sooner rather than later.

“We had this going better than anybody’s ever seen before, Trump said. “We had the best job numbers, the best economics, the best economy we’ve ever had, and then we had the virus come in from China. Now we’re rebuilding it again. We will be doing another stimulus package. It’ll be very good, it’ll be very generous.”

When asked when the next set of checks may be approved, the president replied, “Over the next couple of weeks probably.”

A bipartisan bill in Congress authorized payments of up to $1,200 each to millions of Americans, with additional payments of $500 per child, in legislation that Trump signed into law in March.

Since then another $3 trillion bill that passed the House of Representatives on May 15 authorized a second round of economic stimulus payments of up to $6,000 per U.S. household.

Lawmakers are not expected to vote on another Coronavirus bill until sometime in July.

CONSERVATIVES WARN: Feds Close to Spending More Than on Revolutionary, Civil War, WWI, II Combined

WASHINGTON (CNSNews.com) — A coalition of conservative leaders sent a letter to President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warning that the congressional spending in the coronavirus must stop because it’s getting very close to $10 trillion, which is more than the government spent fighting the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and World War I and II combined.

The Save Our Country coalition, which is made up of conservative leaders, called on Trump and Republican congressional leaders to “Stop the Spending.”

The coalition consists of: Stephen Moore, co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity; Adam Brandon, president of FreedomWorks; Jim DeMint, chairman of Conservative Partnership Institute; Lisa Nelson, CEO of American Legislative Exchange Council; Arthur Laffer, Laffer Associates; Casey Mulligan, University of Chicago; Jenny Beth Martin, Tea Party Patriots; Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform; William Bennett, former Reagan cabinet member; Brent Bozell, founder and president of Media Research Center; Scott Garrett, former member of Congress; Bob McEwan, Center for National Policy; Ed Meese, former Attorney General of the United States; Jim Miller, former Office of Management and Budget; and William Walton, Center for National Policy.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, they released new budget projections showing government spending is headed to 51 percent of GDP for the first time ever. The federal government has already spent trillions in stimulus funds, and the White House and Congress are considering plans to spend at least $1 to 3 trillion more.

“Congress has already spent more than $2 trillion on CoronaVirus relief packages. The irresponsible Pelosi bill that passed the House a week ago would raise that spending total to $5 trillion, which is on top of the $4.71 trillion that Congress already authorized,” the coalition wrote in the letter.

“We are getting very close to an unthinkable $10,000,000,0000,000 (ten trillion) federal budget, which is more money in one single year than the United States government spent, adjusted for inflation … to fight the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I and World War II – combined,” they wrote.

The coalition noted that for the first time in history, “more than half of all national income would flow through the government,” when you take into account state and local expenditures.

“The inside-the-beltway crowd falsely calls these trillions of dollars a ‘stimulus’ to the economy. But government can only give money to some people, as Nobel-prize winning economist Milton Friedman taught all of us many years ago, by taking money from others,” the coalition wrote.

“Government spending – and policies such as paying millions of workers more money to stay unemployed than to go back to work, and paying states more money to enable them to stay shut down – is inhibiting the fast recovery we want in jobs and incomes, not stimulating it,” they wrote.

The coalition said that “runaway government spending is the new virus” afflicting the U.S. economy. They say that “the best way to supercharge a jobs recovery would be to repeal the payroll tax so that every working American would receive a 7.5% raise in the paycheck immediately, and every small business would see a reduction in their payroll costs of 7.5%”

“This incentivizes hiring and work. The economy desperately needs more of both of these and less debt spending,” they wrote.

REPORT: White House Pushing for $2T Stimulus Prior to Election

WASHINGTON — White House officials are pressing congressional leaders to approve a fourth Coronavirus-related stimulus package totaling much as $2 trillion in direct aid to Americans prior to the election, Fox Business is reporting.

Citing unidentified sources within the Trump administration, Fox claims the plan could include payroll tax cuts, which have been heavily pushed for by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and aid to Democrat-controlled states such as California, Illinois and New York.

Additional perks of the package would reportedly include infrastructure spending, an extension of unemployment benefits to Americans impacted by the first wave of Coronavirus and additional liability protections for businesses as they attempt to reopen should a possible “second wave” of infections from the Coronavirus occur.

According to Fox, administration officials believe the timing is key and that such a package would drive the unemployment rate to below 10%, boosting President Donald Trump’s odds of a landslide reelection. Last week the economy reported a 2.5 million increase in new jobs and unemployment for May fell to 13.3 percent from 14.7 percent in April, when the shutdown was at it’s max. On Tuesday, another key economic improvement was reported as retail sales showed an 18 percent increase in May.

When reached for statement, both White House officials and representatives for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had no comment.

TRUMP EFFECT: General Motors’ shares fall after Trump threatens to cut its subsidies in retaliation for layoffs

WASHINGTON — General Motors’ stock fell more than 3 percent on Tuesday after President Donald Trump tweeted that he would consider pulling General Motors’ subsidies in response to the company’s announcement that it plans to reduce production at several facilities and lay off more than 14,000 people.

“Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO, Mary Barra, for closing plants in Ohio, Michigan, and Maryland. Nothing being closed in Mexico & China,” the president tweeted Tuesday. “The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get!”

“We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including for electric cars,” Trump continued. “General Motors made a big China bet years ago when they built plants there (and in Mexico) – don’t think that bet is going to pay off. I am here to protect America’s Workers!”

The drop in the automaker’s shares represented the company’s worst financial day in more than a month.

In a statement released by it’s corporate office, General Motors said it is “committed to maintaining a strong manufacturing presence in the U.S.” and added that “many of the U.S. workers impacted by [plant closures] will have the opportunity to shift to other GM plants.”

“We appreciate the actions this administration has taken on behalf of the industry to improve the overall competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing,” the company said, without addressing the president’s comments directly.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Trump pressured the company to keep the Ohio, Michigan, and Maryland facilities open and warned it against moving operations overseas.

“They better damn well open a new plant [in Ohio] very quickly,” Trump told the Journal. He said he told the company that “you’re playing around with the wrong person.”

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GREAT AGAIN: Stocks surge on earnings and economic data; Dow climbs 500

NEW YORK (AP) — World stock markets are rallying Tuesday, and U.S. stocks are on track for their second-largest gain in 2018 following strong earnings reports from major U.S. companies in finance and health care. Technology companies are also rising after their recent slump. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose as much as 502 points.

Even with the big gains, major indexes are still broadly lower for the month following a two-day rout last week that erased nearly 1,400 points from the Dow.

Investors were encouraged by some good news on the economy. The Federal Reserve said output by U.S. factories, mines and utilities climbed in September despite the effects of Hurricane Florence, and the Labor Department said U.S. employers posted the most jobs in two decades in August while hiring continued to increase.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index jumped 54 points, or 2 percent, to 2,805 as of 2:45 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow gained 494 points, or 2 percent, to 25,745.

The Nasdaq composite climbed 192 points, or 2.6 percent, to 7,623 as technology companies reversed some of their outsize losses from the last few days. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 39 points, or 2.6 percent, to 1,592.

Earnings for U.S. companies climbed about 20 percent in each of the first two quarters of 2018 as economic growth picked up and corporate taxes were slashed. Analysts expect similar results in the current period.

Stocks have gyrated over the last three days following a six-day losing streak that included some of their biggest declines of the year. The S&P 500 fell 6.9 percent from its record high on Sept. 20 to its recent low on Thursday. It remains 4.3 percent below that record level.

HEALTHY…: UnitedHealth, the largest U.S. health insurer and provider of privately-run Medicare Advantage plans, once again topped Wall Street forecasts and raised its projections for the year. The stock climbed 4.1 percent to $270.95. Other health insurers also rose. Cigna advanced 3.8 percent to $211.70 and Humana rose 3.4 percent to $327.90. Medicaid service company Molina Healthcare jumped 4.1 percent to $144.26.

Health care products giant Johnson & Johnson added 1.4 percent to $135.89 after it said prescription sales jumped. Its results, too, were stronger than analysts expected.

…AND WEALTHY: Morgan Stanley rose 5.7 percent to $45.94 and Goldman Sachs added 2.4 percent to $220.38 after the two investment banks did better than expected in the third quarter, helped by strong performance in their trading operations and better-than-expected revenue from stock underwriting. Morgan Stanley’s stock has fallen 12 percent this year and Goldman has lost almost 14 percent.

TECH UPDATE: Technology companies rose. Microsoft jumped 2.8 percent to $110.65 and Adobe rallied 8.6 percent to $258.36 after it backed its fourth-quarter profit and revenue forecasts. The stock has jumped 47 percent this year, but had slumped in recent days. Internet companies also advanced. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, rose 2.4 percent to $1,128.80.

Email delivery company Sendgrid climbed 14.8 percent to $35.50 after cloud communications platform company Twilio agreed to buy it for $36.92 per share in stock, or $1.7 billion. Twilio fell 3.4 percent to $73.56.

SUSPENSE FOR NETFLIX: Netflix rose 2.7 percent to $342.04 ahead of its third-quarter report Tuesday afternoon. The streaming video company has struggled over the past three months and has fallen almost 20 percent since its second-quarter report, when it posted disappointing subscriber totals and gave a weaker forecast than analysts expected.

It’s still up 78 percent this year, the third-best of any S&P 500 stock.

O CANNABIS: On Wednesday Canada will legalize marijuana nationwide. While cannabis companies mostly traded lower Tuesday, the stocks have made huge gains this year in highly volatile trading. Tilray fell 5.7 percent to $156.27 while Canopy Growth shed 7.1 percent to $52.87.

On Tuesday Benchmark Capital analyst Mike Hickey started coverage of Tilray with a $200 price target, saying its supply deals with pharmacies and a partnership with drugmaker Novartis will help make it an early leader in the market. Hickey valued the Canadian cannabis market at about $3.2 billion in 2019 and said it will climb to $8.1 billion by 2023.

Tilray’s market value stands at $14.5 billion, up ninefold since it went public in mid-July, and Canopy Growth has more than doubled in value to $12 billion. Canopy announced a $4 billion investment from Corona beer maker Constellation Brands in August. The huge gains reflect investors’ view that that other countries will legalize marijuana in the years to come.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude oil added 0.2 percent to $71.92 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 0.4 percent to $81.14 per barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 1.7 percent to $1.98 a gallon and heating oil picked up 0.6 percent to $2.34 a gallon. Natural gas lost 0.1 percent to $3.24 per 1,000 cubic feet.

BONDS: Bond prices edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.17 percent from 3.16 percent.

METALS: Gold rose 0.1 percent to $1,231 an ounce. Silver lost 0.2 percent to $14.70 an ounce. Copper slipped 0.3 percent to $2.78 a pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.27 yen from 111.88 yen. The euro fell to $1.1577 from $1.1584.

OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 added 1.5 percent while the DAX in Germany jumped 1.4 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent. Italy’s FTSE MIB jumped 2.2 percent after the government avoided last-minute delays in presenting a budget plan.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rallied 1.2 percent and the Kospi in South Korea was little changed. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index finished 0.1 percent higher.

___

Marley Jay of The Associated Press contributed to the contents of this article.

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