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December 1, 2017

On Thursday, the congressional tax scorekeepers at the Joint Committee on Taxation projected that the Senate Republican tax plan would add $1 trillion to the federal deficit, using "dynamic scoring" that accounts for economic growth. "This is the standard by which the GOP has insisted that fiscal legislation should be judged" for 40 years now, notes New York Times business reporter Binyamin Appelbaum‏. It wasn't the result deficit-wary Republicans wanted, and it led to an overnight rewrite of the tax plan — that plus a parliamentary disqualification of a proposed "trigger" to raise taxes if the $1.63 trillion in tax cuts don't pay for themselves.

Earlier Thursday, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) dismissed the "trigger" idea. "The bottom line is, we'll be able to fill any deficit hole with additional revenues, and we basically saw the same during the Reagan tax cuts, frankly the Kennedy tax cut, you can even go all the way back to the Coolidge tax cut," he told Bloomberg's Kevin Cirilli. "We will be able to raise more revenues, and if not, as a Republican, the answer would be less spending, not more taxes."

The national debt is "the greatest crisis that receives almost no attention in Washington," Hensarling added, elaborating on the spending cuts. "What we need to do is, obviously, reform current entitlement programs for future generations. That's a heavy political lift, but so far we haven't found any help from Democrats."

On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) had similarly suggested cutting future Medicare and Social Security benefits as the next step after passing tax cuts. Calvin Coolidge's tax cuts in 1926, it should be noted, "would substantially contribute to the causes of the Great Depression," the precursor to entitlements, Great Depression historian Robert McElvaine wrote in The Washington Post on Thursday. "Yet the plain fact that the trickle-down approach has never worked leaves Republicans unfazed." You can read more at the Post. Peter Weber

2:06 a.m. ET
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Throughout his campaign, Mexico's president-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, vowed to fight corruption and cut down on perks for government officials, and on Sunday, he announced his plan to slash his own salary in half.

López Obrador said that he will earn 108,000 pesos, or about $5,707, a month, less than half what President Enrique Peña Nieto makes now. He also said no public official will earn more than he does during his six-year term. "What we want is for the budget to reach everybody," López Obrador told reporters.

Other changes he plans on making include cutting perks for elected officials like bodyguards, chauffeurs, and private medical insurance; forcing politicians to disclose their assets; ending pension plans for former presidents; and turning the presidential residence into a cultural center. He will take office in December. Catherine Garcia

1:29 a.m. ET
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On Monday, President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet one-on-one for 90 minutes in Helsinki, joined only by their interpreters.

The summit is taking place in Finland's presidential palace, with Trump and Putin also scheduled to have lunch with aides and attend a joint press conference. Democratic and Republican lawmakers have spoken out against the meeting, coming just days after the Justice Department announced it was indicting 12 Russians accused of hacking Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign emails in 2016.

Trump told CBS News on Sunday that he is going into the meeting with "low expectations," and while no major breakthroughs are expected, experts say just getting to talk with Trump is a win for Putin. "Russia has done nothing to deserve us meeting them in this way," Nina Jankowicz, a global fellow at the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute, told The Associated Press. "Not only is this a P.R. coup [for Putin] no matter what happens, Trump could say nothing and it would help to legitimize his regime." Catherine Garcia

12:23 a.m. ET

Retired music teacher Robert Moore has long dreamed of getting his students together for one more concert — little did he know that they also had the same idea.

Moore retired in 1996 after spending 30 years directing the Ponca City Chorale in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Moore taught about 900 students, and a small group joined forces to plan a huge concert to show their appreciation. Almost 300 former students were able to gather in Ponca City, coming from different states and countries, to perform for Moore inside the Poncan Theatre. They came up with an elaborate scheme to get Moore to the Poncan, and when he saw all those faces from the past, he was in shock.

Many told Moore they went into teaching and music because of him, including John Atkins from the class of 1976; he spent 25 years singing with the L.A. Opera and other groups, and "it wouldn't have happened with you," he said. Moore taught them discipline and the importance of hard work, several told CBS Sunday Morning, and they respected him. "No man deserves this," he said through tears. "I loved you then and I love you now. Thank you." Catherine Garcia

July 15, 2018
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Wanting to pave the way for negotiations to end the war in Afghanistan, the White House has directed top U.S. diplomats to seek direct talks with the Taliban, several American and Afghan officials told The New York Times.

The Taliban, which controls or has influence over 59 of Afghanistan's 407 districts, has long said it wants to first discuss peace with the United States, not the Afghan government, but the U.S. has always pushed back. There are about 15,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and the Taliban continues to regularly launch deadly attacks.

Over the last few weeks, several high-ranking American officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan to prepare for talks, with Pompeo briefly visiting Kabul and meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Catherine Garcia

July 15, 2018
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Prince William and Prince Charles RSVP'd "no" to tea with President Trump last week at Windsor Castle, leaving Queen Elizabeth to go it alone, The Sunday Times reports.

Both men said they had no desire to meet with Trump during his visit to the U.K., a person with knowledge of the matter told the Times, and even the Queen's interaction with him was "kept to the bare minimum." Trump's trip was not an official state visit, but Prince Charles and Prince William not meeting with him "was a snub," the person said. "They simply refused to attend. It's a very, very unusual thing for the Queen to be there on her own." At 97, Prince Philip has retired from royal duties, with Charles often filling in for his father, but "he goes to what he wants to go to, and if he had wanted to be there he could have been."

Charles and William spent their Friday doing more than changing Prince Louis' diapers and flipping through the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's wedding album; Charles attended a board meeting and a Gloucestershire police event, and William played in a charity polo match. Catherine Garcia

July 15, 2018
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British investigators believe that current or former agents of the Russian military intelligence service G.R.U. were likely behind the nerve attack agent that poisoned an ex-spy and his daughter in Salisbury, England, this spring, The New York Times reports.

On Friday, the Department of Justice indicted 12 G.R.U. officers, accusing them of hacking internal documents from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Three current and former U.S. and British officials told the Times that British intelligence is very close to identifying the people they think carried out the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in March, although they have not entirely ruled out another Russian intelligence agency being involved.

Skripal was in the G.R.U. for nearly 15 years, spending some of the time as a spy for M16, Britain's foreign intelligence service. He was arrested in 2004 and pleaded guilty to espionage, but was released in 2010 as part of a spy swap, moving to England. G.R.U. is known for doling out harsh punishment to traitors, but Russia has denied any involvement in the attack. Catherine Garcia

July 15, 2018
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Unfortunately for Elon Musk, all the money in the world can't buy you a thicker skin.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO lashed out Sunday on Twitter at a British diver who criticized him for sending a mini-submarine to the cave in Thailand where 12 boys and their soccer coach were trapped for more than a week. Vern Unsworth played a major role in the rescue, and told CNN on Saturday the mini-submarine was "just a PR stunt" with "absolutely no chance" of working.

In now-deleted tweets, Musk said he "never saw this British expat guy," and there was video of the rescue that proved Unsworth wrong. Musk followed up by saying, "You know what, don't bother showing the video. We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it." Unsworth has not yet responded to Musk's attack. Catherine Garcia

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