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By Jonathan Allen, Bloomberg News (TNS)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will rally Democrats for a budget battle with Republicans by proposing a major spending boost for both domestic programs and the military.

With his fiscal 2016 spending blueprint set for release Feb. 2, Obama will address a meeting of House Democrats on Thursday in Philadelphia to supply details and an argument to carry into a fight to reverse the across-the-board budget limits known as sequestration.

The budget will “show how we can invest in his vision for middle class economics,” the White House said in a statement released Thursday.

Obama is proposing as much as $68 billion in additional discretionary spending above the level set in the 2011 law that triggered sequestration, split between defense and domestic priorities, according to people familiar with the document. That’s an almost 7 percent increase over discretionary-spending levels prescribed by sequestration.

The White House previously outlined tax increases and new funding Obama plans to seek in a budget that amounts to a political agenda for Democrats.

None of that will sit well with the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, where many lawmakers want to make deeper cuts to the spending within a federal budget of almost $4 trillion.

“Previous budgets submitted by the president have purported to reverse the bipartisan spending limits through tax increases that the Congress — even under Democrats — could never accept,” Don Stewart, deputy chief of staff for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in an e-mail.

Obama’s budget submission is the opening bid in a nine-month battle over the federal government’s bottom line for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Republicans in Congress will then try to write their own version, a task made difficult by divisions within the party over how to allocate federal funds.

The general direction of Obama’s plan will come as no surprise to Republicans or Democrats. His budget director, Shaun Donovan, said in October that Obama would write a spending plan that obliterates sequestration.

“Relieving sequester in 2016 and beyond is critical to long-term growth and investment,” Donovan said.

Along with spending above the sequestration limits, his budget will call for a funding reduction of about 20 percent for the Overseas Contingency Operations account that has funded American military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Democrats have long contended that if they can put enough pressure on the Pentagon’s budget, Republicans will eventually agree to boost domestic spending in exchange for more funding for the military.

Obama’s budget would offset the new spending with a mix of increased revenue and cuts elsewhere, the White House said. Obama previously proposed raising $320 billion in taxes over a decade, mostly on top earners, and using most of the proceeds for new tax breaks for two-earner couples, child care and education.

“Fully paid for with cuts to inefficient spending programs and closing tax loopholes to make sure everyone pays their fair share, the president’s budget will be able to make critical investments in the things we need to grow,” the White House said.

House Democrats are in Philadelphia for their annual retreat. Earlier this week, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi successfully lobbied Obama to drop one of his proposals, which would have eliminated a tax break for earnings from college savings accounts known as 529s.

Photo: President Barack Obama speaks at the Anschutz Sports Pavilion on the campus of the University of Kansas on Thursday Jan. 22, 2015 in Lawrence, Kan. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

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