01-22-2021  4:22 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Portland Police Shooting of Man Under International Scrutiny

Aaron Campbell, a 25-year-old unarmed Black man was shot in the back and killed Jan. 29, 2010 by Portland Police Officer Ronal Frashour

John Hairston Becomes First Black CEO of Bonneville Power Administration

29-year employee appointed to new role by U.S. Secretary of Energy  

Natural Gas Terminal Plans In Oregon Hit Snag Over Permit

The ruling was hailed as a major victory by opponents of Jordan Cove, which would be the first such LNG overseas export terminal in the lower 48 states.

BIPOC Caucus Unveils Agenda for 2021

12 members of the state House and Senate name 10 areas of focus

NEWS BRIEFS

People For the American Way Supports Congressional Gold Medal for Officer Eugene Goodman

Goodman, a Black U.S. Capitol Hill police officer, diverted a white mob away from the unprotected Senate chambers during the violent...

St. Andrew Parish Announces 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Awards

The Community Service Award went to cameron whitten of the Black Resilience Fund ...

Applicants Sought for Free Girls’ Summer Wilderness Science Education Expeditions

The programs provide 16- and 17-year-old young women opportunities to travel with professional scientists, artists and wilderness...

Portland Center Stage Welcomes New Literary Manager Kamilah Bush Following Nationwide Search

As literary manager, Bush is charged with deepening the literary and artistic core of Portland Center Stage ...

St Andrew's Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Features Marilyn Keller

On Sunday, Jan. 17, the St. Andrew community will celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the 9:30...

Trump gives permit to ranchers whose case led to occupation

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management in the final days of the Trump administration issued a grazing permit to Oregon ranchers whose imprisonment sparked the 2016 armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge by right-wing extremists.Interior Secretary David...

2 injured in small plane crash in southwestern Oregon

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — Two men were hurt when a small aircraft crashed in southwestern Oregon. The Mail Tribune reports the two men were being treated Thursday for non-life threatening injuries, according to Jackson County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mike Moran. Both men are believed to...

Ex-Cardinals coach Wilks new defensive coordinator at Mizzou

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Steve Wilks is returning to coaching as the defensive coordinator at Missouri.Wilks, who was hired by Tigers coach Eli Drinkwitz on Thursday, took last year off after spending the previous 14 seasons in the NFL. The stint was highlighted by a year as the head coach of...

Music City Bowl between Iowa and Missouri canceled

The Music City Bowl between Missouri and Iowa was canceled Sunday because COVID-19 issues left the Tigers unable to play.The game scheduled for Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee, is the second bowl called off since the postseason lineup was set on Dec. 20, joining the Gasparilla Bowl. Overall, 18...

OPINION

Demos President K. Sabeel Rahman Issues Statement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021

We see painful parallels between the America in which King lived and the present day ...

This is America: White Privilege, Black Lives Matter, and Violence at the Capitol

The violence we witnessed in the United States Capitol on January 6 is nothing new. ...

SPLC Action Fund President: Attempted Coup Displays Organized, Extremist Violence Plaguing the United States

Insidious racism took the form of an American president openly encouraging with “love” violent extremists ...

Commentary: Exit in Disgrace

Will Trump leave in the middle of the night, embarrassed by his four years of crude, rude, lying, and beyond belief incompetence? Or will he be escorted out by a secret service detachment? ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Congress poised for quick action on Biden's Pentagon nominee

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic-controlled Congress has easily passed legislation required to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as President Joe Biden’s secretary of defense, brushing aside concerns that his retirement occurred inside the seven-year window that safeguards civilian...

Cesar Chavez's son happy dad's bust is in Biden Oval Office

WASHINGTON (AP) — Paul Chavez had no idea where a sculpture of his father, Latino American civil rights and labor leader Cesar Chavez, would end up in the White House. He agreed just this week to lend the bronze bust to President Joe Biden and hustled to get it wrapped up and shipped across...

AKA sorority members celebrate Kamala Harris inauguration

CHICAGO (AP) — Elizabeth Shelby had her inauguration outfit planned weeks in advance: blue jeans, a Kamala Harris sweatshirt, a green coat, and pink Chuck Taylors as an homage to her sorority’s colors and Vice President Harris’ signature shoe. And pearls, just like the ones...

ENTERTAINMENT

Review: 'Human Factor' gets personal about Mideast peace

Ready for a documentary about three decades of agonizing fits and starts of the Mideast peace process, from the perspective of U.S. negotiators? You're probably thinking that doesn't sound too enticing right about now. But there’s a reason “The Human Factor,” by Israeli...

Natiruts, Marley, Aparicio sing for unity of the Americas

NEW YORK (AP) — With a trilingual song that calls for the people of the Americas to unite in a more fair and loving world, Brazilian reggae band Natiruts, Jamaican musician Ziggy Marley and Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio hope to make the whole continent vibrate. “América...

Who really had the album of the year? Emily Lazar did.

NEW YORK (AP) — Chris Martin admits that Coldplay’s latest album could have sounded terrible if it wasn’t for one person — mastering engineer Emily Lazar.Like the musical magician she is, Lazar added her special touch to the band’s eighth album “Everyday...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Iran, pressured by blackouts and pollution, targets Bitcoin

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's capital and major cities plunged into darkness in recent weeks as rolling...

Amid cancellation talk, Tokyo Olympics `focused on hosting'

TOKYO (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach and local organizers are pushing back against reports that the...

Coronavirus guidelines now the rule at White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — Testing wristbands are in. Mask-wearing is mandatory. Desks are socially distanced. The...

Russia welcomes US proposal to extend nuclear treaty

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin on Friday welcomed U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposal to extend the last...

Israeli warplanes strike Syria, kill 4 - including children

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Israeli warplanes fired several missiles toward central Syria early Friday, killing...

German virus death toll tops 50,000 even as infections sink

BERLIN (AP) — The death toll from the coronavirus in Germany has passed 50,000, a number that has risen...

MLK Breakfast 2021 Watch Now
Andrew Taylor the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Putting on the brakes after two years of big spending increases, President Barack Obama unveiled a $3.7 trillion budget plan Monday that would freeze or reduce some safety-net programs for the nation's poor but turn aside Republican demands for more drastic cuts to shrink the government to where it was before he took office.

The Skanner News Video here

The 10-year blueprint makes "tough choices and sacrifices," Obama said in his official budget message. Yet the plan, which sets the stage for this week's nasty congressional fight over cuts in the budget year that's already more than one-third over, steers clear of deeply controversial long-term problem areas such as Social Security and Medicare.

The budget relies heavily on the recovering economy, tax increases and rosy economic assumptions to estimate that the federal deficit would drop from this year's record $1.6 trillion - an astronomical figure that requires the government to borrow 43 cents out of every dollar it spends - to about $600 billion after five years.

Obama foresees a deficit of $1.1 trillion for the new budget year, which begins Oct. 1, still very high by historical benchmarks but moving in the right direction.

The president claims $1.1 trillion in deficit savings over the coming decade for his plan, a 12 percent cut from the federal deficits the administration otherwise projects. But that figure includes almost $650 billion in spending cuts and new transportation revenues the administration won't specify.

Obama would trade cuts to some domestic programs to pay for increases in education, infrastructure and research as necessary investments that he judges to be important to the country's competitiveness in a global economy.

But he also raises taxes by $1.6 trillion over the coming decade, much of it from allowing recently renewed tax cuts for families making more than $250,000 a year to expire in two years - he signed a two-year extension of them into law just two months ago - and from curbing their tax deductions for charitable contributions, mortgage interest and state and local tax payments.

Despite his spending cuts and tax increases, the government's total debt would still mushroom from $14.2 trillion now to almost $21 trillion by 2016. Republicans assailed his blueprint for failing to take the lead on the nation's daunting fiscal problems.

"People vote for presidents because they want leadership," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in an interview. "They expect presidents to take on the greatest challenges facing the country. Well, the biggest crisis we have is the debt, and he's doing absolutely nothing to get it under control."

While Obama's budget total of $3.7 trillion would be down slightly from this year's estimated $3.8 trillion, lower war costs and naturally declining stimulus spending are chiefly responsible.

A year after appointing a bipartisan commission to recommend ways to deal with the debt, Obama would bypass almost all of its painful prescriptions to cut huge benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare. But the president said he understood more must be done.

"The only way to truly tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it, in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending and spending through tax breaks and loopholes," Obama said at a middle school outside Baltimore. "So what we've done here is make a down payment."

The White House and its allies said the administration was willing to go further in taking on the long-term problems of Social Security, Medicare and other huge benefit programs. But for Obama to go out on a limb and propose them now, they said, could be counterproductive. It would invite partisan attacks and rally interest groups in opposition.

Instead, Obama appears to be counting on private talks with lawmakers to spark action on the deficit this year, especially in the Senate, where a bipartisan group including several members of the Obama's debt commission are trying to be that catalyst.

"Ultimately the best strategy for getting a result is if we demonstrate in the Senate - Republicans and Democrats - that there's some serious prospect of taking this on," said Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who's taking part in the Senate talks.

The $1.1 trillion in claimed budget savings over the coming decade combines cuts in domestic agency budgets with tax increases and modest curbs to benefit programs like Medicare. But the administration claims more than $300 billion of that savings - to pay for preventing a cut in Medicare payments to doctors - without specifying where it would come from. An additional $328 billion would come from unspecified "bipartisan financing" to pay for transportation infrastructure projects like high speed rail lines and road and bridge construction.

To reduce the annual deficit to a relatively manageable $607 billion by 2015, or 3.2 percent of gross domestic product, the White House gives optimistic estimates for the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and relies on significantly rosier economic predictions than does the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The White House estimates economic growth averaging 4 percent over 2013-2016; CBO predicts a more modest 3.4 percent.

"They are certainly on the upbeat side," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's in New York.

The rosy economic projections help the administration project significantly more tax revenues than otherwise would occur - on the order of $1.7 trillion over the upcoming decade when compared with CBO estimates.

While the budget deficit would drop to $645 billion in 2014, Obama's policies have virtually nothing to do with it. In fact, his promised $36 billion in deficit reduction in 2014 could be erased by higher war costs than the administration estimates. In the current year, the administration's policies actually would increase the deficit by $31 billion, in part by proposing a $250 payment to Social Security beneficiaries that's already been rejected on Capitol Hill.

The president's projected $1.6 trillion deficit for the current year would be the highest dollar amount ever, surpassing the $1.4 trillion deficit hit in 2009. It would also represent 10.8 percent of the total economy, the highest level since the deficit stood at 21.5 percent of gross domestic product in 1945, reflecting heavy borrowing to fight World War II.

The president's 2012 budget projects that the deficits will total $7.2 trillion over the next decade with the imbalances never falling below $607 billion. Even that would exceed the deficit record before Obama took office of $459 billion in 2008, President George W. Bush's last year in office.

Obama's budget would also raise $46 billion over 10 years by eliminating various tax breaks to oil, gas and coal companies - proposals that went nowhere when Democrats controlled Congress and are even less likely to pass now that Republicans control the House.

While Obama's budget avoided painful choices in entitlement programs, it did call for $78 billion in cuts from the Pentagon's future plans, to kill a program opposed by Obama to build an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a move opposed by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, whose state is a principal beneficiary. Obama would also terminate a new amphibious assault vehicle for the Marine Corps; it's well behind schedule and way over budget.

Administration officials also said that the savings from limiting tax deductions for high income taxpayers would be used to keep the Alternative Minimum Tax from hitting more middle-class families over the next two years.

The budget proposes cutting grants for airports and funding awarded to states for water treatment plants, and proposes cutting energy subsidies for the poor in half, reversing huge gains awarded by Democrats the past two years.

Obama's budget for next year comes as House Republicans are trying to slash current-year spending by $61 billion, a proposal that would cut domestic agencies funded by Congress each year by almost one-quarter over the second half of the budget year.

Republicans are taking on many of the very programs Obama wants to increase. Obama is seeking $53 billion for high-speed rail over the next few years; Republicans are trying to pull back $2.5 billion that's already been promised. He's seeking increases for his "Race to the Top" initiative that provides grants to better-performing schools; Republicans on Friday unveiled a 5 percent cut to schools serving the disadvantaged.

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AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.

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