Trump proposes privatizing federal assets including airports, freeways, and the International Space Station
In the infrastructure plan, which envisions leveraging $200 billion in federal funds into $1.5 trillion in investment, "the Trump administration is pushing federal officials to sell off, privatize, or otherwise dispose of a broad array of government assets," The Washington Post reports, including Dulles and Reagan National airports, freeways, aqueducts, and electrical facilities in the South, West, and Pacific Northwest. The budget also sets aside $150 million to explore privatizing the International Space Station.
"The federal government owns and operates certain infrastructure that would be more appropriately owned by state, local, or private entities," the Trump infrastructure plan says. Federal agencies would gain new "authority to divest of federal assets" and keep the proceeds of such sales, incentivizing the privatization of public property.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao called this "a much more collaborative and creative way" of funding projects when "unfortunately, there's not enough money to be able to pay for all the infrastructure needs of our country." (Chao's husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, just pushed through a $1.5 trillion tax cut.) "We should also not discriminate" against private firms wanting to partner with public entities, Chao said. Norman Ornstein at the American Enterprise Institute had a different view of the proposal:
Trump "infrastructure" plan is a thinly disguised effort to sell valuable public properties and roadways-- including Dulles and National airports and the GW Parkway-- to their billionaire cronies and stiff the public. Kleptocracy redux
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) February 12, 2018
The budget's proposal to "encourage commercial development" of the ISS, with the goal of at least partially privatizing the orbiting research and exploration facility after 2024, was not fleshed out. And it's prospects are murky. Private aerospace firms seemed cool on the idea, and Congress did not seem enthusiastic. Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called the rumored proposal fiscally irresponsible and blamed it on "numskulls" at the Office of Management and Budget. Peter Weber
Fox News' Shep Smith lists everyone Trump attacked over the weekend, asks why he won't ever criticize Russia
"The president spent the weekend defending himself, misrepresenting the truth, and attacking others from his phone in Florida," Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said Monday afternoon, kicking off his look at President Trump's weekend of tweeting. Trump fired off angry, frequency inaccurate tweets against the FBI, the Justice Department, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calf.), and Oprah Winfrey, among other targets, Smith noted, but tellingly, "he did not attack Vladimir Putin or Russia, nor did he express concern that the Russians attacked the United States, nor did he pledge in any way to put measures in place to stop future attacks."
Smith read some tweets and did some fact-checking, noting, for example, that while Trump insisted he "never said Russia did not meddle in the election," in fact "the reality is the president has questioned the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election over and over and over again." Trump conflated Russian election meddling, now conclusively proved, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's collusion investigation, Smith added. "The collusion investigation, according to our reporting, is ongoing," and "the extent to which Russian meddling did or did not affect the results of the election is an open question."
Smith seemed most perplexed by Trump's unwillingness to criticize Russia or Putin. "The president's spokespersons have been on television denouncing the meddling, the president has not," he said. "Not once, not on camera, not on Twitter, not anywhere." Watch below. Peter Weber
More than two years after Wanda Roberts and her family threw a message in a bottle into the Pacific Ocean, it was found by Edward Paulino, thousands of miles away in Guam.
Roberts' late father, Bob Mahan, loved to camp out by the ocean, and on Sept. 9, 2015, the family gathered on the beach in Navarro, California, sending a message in a bottle out to sea. It ultimately reached the shores of Malojloj, where it was discovered on Feb. 3 by Paulino. Paulino's daughter, Gerika, told the Pacific Daily News her dad likes "collecting interesting items on the beach," and when he found the bottle he urged her to contact Roberts. "It's amazing that the bottle traveled such a long distance," she said.
The faded pink bottle contained a letter from Roberts, explaining why she had thrown it into the ocean, and a small container of bubbles sporting a picture of Mahan's favorite cartoon character, Mickey Mouse. Gerika Paulino messaged Roberts, who lives in Washington, on Facebook to let her know the bottle had arrived in Guam, and Roberts was thrilled. "Social media is a wonderful outlet connecting us to another part of the world," she said. "This brought back fond memories, and all of the family agrees that my dad would have loved to know we did this." Catherine Garcia
Sure, presidential historians have their own rankings of presidential greatness, but President Trump grades on a different scale, according to Late Night's "Donald J. Trump's Guide to U.S. Presidents, Vol. 1." Trump, naturally, ranks No. 1 and his predecessor, Barack Obama, was barely worth a mention, but Trump also weighed in on Grover Cleveland ("He always cracked me up when I would see him on Sesame Street"), George Washington's wife, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton's wife. Watch below. Peter Weber
President Trump, who once called Mitt Romney a "mixed up man who doesn't have a clue," someone "so awkward and goofy," and "one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics," announced on Monday that Romney has "my full support and endorsement" in his quest to become the next senator from Utah.
Romney, who once called Trump "a phony, a fraud," and someone whose "promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University" who's now playing "the American public for suckers," accepted, tweeting: "Thank you Mr. President for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah."
Ah, politics. Catherine Garcia
Peter Wang died a hero, and his friends from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School want his burial to reflect that.
Wang, 15, was one of 17 people killed last week during a mass shooting at the school in Parkland, Florida. Witnesses said Wang, who was a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet, was helping his fellow students to safety when he was fatally shot. His friend Aiden Ortiz has put together a petition asking for Wang, who was wearing his JROTC uniform when he was killed, to be buried with full military honors. "I want people to know that he died a hero, that he died saving many people," Ortiz told WPLG. Classmate Rachel Kuperman also remembered Wang as a caring person, saying that last Tuesday, one day before the shooting, she forgot her lunch, and Wang bought her candy, snacks, and a Sprite from a vending machine. "He put others before himself," she said.
The petition is on the White House's We the People site, and if more than 86,000 people sign it, the White House will respond. As of Monday night, the petition had more than 33,000 signatures. Wang's funeral will be held on Tuesday. Catherine Garcia
The White House saw last week's shooting at a Florida high school, which left 17 dead and 15 injured, as "a distraction or a reprieve," one official told The Washington Post on Monday.
"A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled," the official said, referring to several scandals of the administration's own making, including Cabinet members using taxpayer money to fly first class and top officials evidently ignoring documented accusations of domestic abuse made against former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter by his two ex-wives.
The unidentified aide added that while the spotlight isn't quite as bright on the White House right now, "as we all know, sadly, when the coverage dies down a little bit, we'll be back through the chaos." Catherine Garcia
The ghosts of James Buchanan and William Henry Harrison are feeling pretty good right now.
Professors from the University of Houston and Boise State University sent current and recent members of the presidential politics section of the American Political Science Association a survey on presidential greatness, asking 170 historians to grade each president. In bad news for President Trump, he came in dead last, bumping Buchanan — faulted for bringing the United States to the brink of civil war — up a spot. Abraham Lincoln came out on top, followed by George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson, while Harrison, who died of pneumonia just 31 days into his term, joined Trump and Buchanan at the bottom.
The survey was last conducted in 2014, and this year, Barack Obama moved up 10 places, coming in eighth. Out of other modern presidents, George W. Bush ranked 30th, Bill Clinton 13th, George H.W. Bush 17th, and Ronald Reagan ninth. There was some consensus with Trump: He ranked in the bottom five for Republican, Democratic, independent, liberal, conservative, and moderate historians, and he did win one category: "Most polarizing." Catherine Garcia