Is Tillerson Being Sidelined by Jared Kushner?

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, made a splash with a highly visible trip to Iraq on behalf of the White House, and is handling portfolios involving parts of U.S. policy toward China, the Middle East, and Mexico. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looks increasingly marginalized.

.. he certainly appears not to have a front-row seat on many foreign-policy issues. He was absent at President Trump’s meetings with the leaders of Israel, Canada, and Japan, and he wasn’t consulted on Trump’s botched executive order restricting non-citizen entry to the U.S.

.. The White House overruled his pick of Elliott Abrams as the No. 2 man

.. When the conservative group Judicial Watch went into federal district court this month to seek the release of State Department documents relating to Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server, it was opposed by Richard Visek, an Obama holdover who is still the acting legal adviser at Foggy Bottom. “The State Department’s position is that we won’t get all the documents until 2020.

.. It’s also all too easy to concentrate foreign-policy decision making in the White House, the way Nixon did. “They really want to blow this place up,” one State Department official told the Atlantic in March. “I don’t think this administration thinks the State Department needs to exist. They think Jared [Kushner] can do everything.”

.. While Trump believes he can close deals with foreign leaders like no one else can, someone has to pave the way for those deals, and a State Department led by Trump appointees is the best bet to fill the role.

.. Blowing up bureaucratic agencies can be a good thing at times, but simply ignoring the fact that they exist is likely to be shortsighted and lead to unwanted surprises.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446520/rex-tillerson-state-department-being-marginalized-jared-kushner

In Trump Country, Shock at Trump Budget Cuts, but Still Loyalty

Judy Banks, a 70-year-old struggling to get by, said she voted for Trump because “he was talking about getting rid of those illegals.” But Banks now finds herself shocked that he also has his sights on funds for the Labor Department’s Senior Community Service Employment Program

.. Some of the loyalty seemed to be grounded in resentment at Democrats for mocking Trump voters as dumb bigots, some from a belief that budgets are complicated, and some from a sense that it’s too early to abandon their man. They did say that if jobs didn’t reappear, they would turn against him.

.. One recent survey found that only 3 percent of Trump voters would vote differently if the election were today

I worked for Jared Kushner. He’s the wrong businessman to reinvent government.

How the New York Observer could predict the fate of the Office of American Innovation.

 .. I summoned our beleaguered IT guy to explain, and he informed me that it had belonged to Kushner, who liked the design of Apple products but preferred the Windows OS.
.. I was the only candidate he interviewed who asked to see the Observer’s financials before I would take the job.
.. I couldn’t persuade Kushner to recapitalize the Observer — even though I reached all my numbers. When the paper had a profitable quarter for what I was told was the first time, Kushner floated the idea of layoffs to increase the margins, seemingly ignoring the fact that staff reductions would also reduce ad inventory by reducing content.
.. He wanted the Observer to be cheaper to run, usually at the expense of growth and evolution, and he could not see the relationship between scale and profit — between risk and reward.
.. Kushner would frequently point to a media company with a 60-person editorial staff and ask why our two-person desk wasn’t producing as many stories or as much traffic.
.. That same obsession with the tech world permeates Kushner’s new project. Cost-cutting is important in situations where there is excess, but it is not what catalyzes evolution; if the point here is to make government more effective, not just more efficient, cuts alone won’t do it.
.. But a more logical explanation is that systems upgrades require appropriations, many of which have been gleefully slashed by Congress.
.. There are many government functions that have no analog in the private sector, she pointed out, like maintaining a nuclear arsenal.

.. he was sure he had the goods. When I worked for him, I wasn’t sure he had a realistic view of his own capabilities since, like his father-in-law, he seemed to view his wealth and its concomitant accoutrements as rewards for his personal success in business, and not something he would have had in any case. To me, he appeared to view his position and net worth as the products of an essentially meritocratic process.
.. I realize also, in retrospect, that he may never have intended to grow it or improve it. It was for him, in essence, another vanity object — like the beautiful, expensive desktop computer he used as a monitor.

Trump wants to add wall spending to stopgap budget bill, potentially forcing shutdown showdown

Mick Mulvaney, calls for $33 billion in new defense and border spending — and $18 billion in cuts to other priorities, such as medical research and jobs programs.

.. But it appeared that few on the Hill shared the White House’s appetite to flirt with a government shutdown over the border wall, which Democrats have pledged to oppose and which even some conservative Republicans object to on fiscal grounds.

.. cuts intended to offset the defense spending, including more than $7 billion from labor, health and education programs. Many of the cuts would be aimed at key priorities for Democrats, such as money for global reproductive health education, but they also take aim at more broadly popular agencies including the National Institutes of Health and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

.. Democrats also scoffed at the idea that the White House would ask Congress to cut widely supported domestic programs to pay for the wall despite Trump’s campaign pledge to make Mexico pay.

“Cutting cancer research, slashing affordable housing and programs to protect the environment, and making middle-class taxpayers pay for a wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for?”

.. It is common for White House budget officials to send Congress a list of proposed cuts to offset new spending priorities. But rarely do the cuts target popular programs such as medical research at the National Institutes of Health in exchange.