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What’s the price of Biden’s plan? Democrats drive for zero



What’s the price of Biden’s plan? Democrats drive for zero


WASHINGTON (AP) — What will it cost to enact President Joe Biden’s massive expansion of social programs?

Congress has authorized spending up to $3.5 trillion over a decade, but Biden is prodding Democrats to fully cover the cost of the legislation — by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, negotiating the price of prescription drugs and dialing up other sources of federal revenue such as increased IRS funding.

The idea is that entire package should pay for itself.

Defending a bill not yet fully drafted, Democrats are determined to avoid a deficit financed spending spree. They are growing frustrated by the focus on the proposed $3.5 trillion spending total, arguing far too little attention is being paid to the work they are doing to balance the books. Biden on Friday said he would prefer the price tag described as “zero.”

“We pay for everything we spend,” Biden said at the White House. “It’s going to be zero. Zero.”

But the revenue side of the equation is vexing, and it’s emerged as a core challenge for Democratic bargainers as they labor to construct one of the largest legislative efforts in a generation. Their success or failure could help determine whether the bulk of Biden’s agenda becomes law and can withstand the political attacks to come.

Republicans, lockstep in opposition, aren’t waiting for the details. They’ve trained their focus on the $3.5 trillion spending ceiling set by Democrats, pillorying that sum as fiscally reckless, misguided, big government at its worst.

“The radical left is pushing in all their chips — they want to use this terrible but temporary pandemic as a Trojan horse for permanent socialism,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Thursday. “Trillions upon trillions more in government spending when families are already facing inflation.”

Part of the problem for Democratic leaders is the lack of a consensus about which programs to fund and for how long. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., acknowledge the price will likely come down and say they have a “menu” of revenue raisers to pay for it. But without certainty on what initiatives will be included, no final decisions can be made.

“This is not about price tag,” Pelosi said Thursday. “This is about what’s in the bill.”

Biden and administration officials stress the plan is as much about fairness as dollars and cents. By taxing the wealthy and corporations, they hope to fund paid family leave and child tax credits that help those reaching for the middle class, all while adopting environmental and economic policies that help the U.S. compete with China. But the haggling over a final spending target is overshadowing the policy goals they are trying achieve.

Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a lead negotiator for House progressives, said Friday that reporters should not depict the measure as costing trillions of dollars when the accompanying proposed tax increases would cover the cost.

“I just believe that this is going to be a zero-dollar-bill — that’s the No. 1 priority,” she said.

Sharron Parrott, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank based in Washington, warned Democrats that emphasizing the $3.5 trillion figure could detract from what they are trying to achieve.

“The debate so far has been overly focused on a single number: the $3.5 trillion in gross new investments over the next ten years — including both spending increases and tax cuts — that may be included in the package,” Parrott wrote in an August blog post. “True fiscal stewardship requires a focus on the net cost of the package and, even more fundamentally, a focus on the merits of the investment and offset proposals themselves.”

What Biden is really pushing are two goals that can easily come into conflict. He wants to restore the middle class to the epicenter of economic growth, but do so without worsening the national debt or raising taxes on people earning less than $400,000 a year.

Further complicating things is that many of his spending policies are actually tax cuts for the poor and middle class, which means he is raising taxes for one group in order to cut them for another.

Democrats also have to contend with how the measures are assessed by the Congressional Budget Office, the final arbiter of how the legislation will affect the federal balance sheet.

The Democrats’ expanded child credit and dependent care credits, enacted earlier this year, are counted as costs in a CBO score. Biden wants to extend these programs as part of the budget, which he is now arguing amounts to one of the largest middle-class tax cuts in U.S. history.

“It’s reducing taxes, not increasing taxes,” Biden said Friday.

It’s not entirely clear whether Biden’s claim of “zero” cost is feasible under the 10-year outlook used by the CBO to assess the economic impacts of legislation. Biden’s own budget officials earlier this year estimated that his agenda would increase the national debt by nearly $1.4 trillion over the decade.

Biden on Friday described the multi-tiered talks with legislators as at a “stalemate.” More meetings are expected in coming days.

In the evenly split Senate, key Democratic senators such as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema have qualms about the total spending. Democratic moderates are jockeying for advantage against their liberal counterparts. With time running short, Biden is asking for more patience to get the numbers right so that the votes will follow.

“This is a process,” he said. “But it’s just gonna take some time.”

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Need a last-minute Halloween costume? Hit up the most magical shop in Denver.



Need a last-minute Halloween costume? Hit up the most magical shop in Denver.

Editor’s note: Each week in Staff Favorites, we offer our opinions on the best that Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. (We’ll also let you in on some hidden gems).

It’s the same scenario every year: a last-minute costume party invite, followed by the most depressing closet raid.

Some people’s wardrobes are filled with costume-worthy pieces — I’m looking at you, renaissance fest types — but my closet of basics just doesn’t cut it, and I usually find myself throwing together something deeply lame at the last possible minute.

Not this year. This year, I went to The Wizard’s Chest.

From the moment you step inside this 16,000-square-foot magic castle at 451 Broadway, it’s hard not to feel the Halloween spirit.

Photo By AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post

An interior view of the Wizard’s Chest on Wednesday, February 24, 2016.

Giant dragons and wizards loom over the entrance, which opens up into a wonderland filled with treasure chests and witches’ cauldrons, fairy wings and wigs in every color imaginable. Originally opened in 1983, the family-owned store has nearly 40 years of magic under its belt. The interior design — filled with murals and ornate castle-like details — is modeled after “the fantastic world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth,” according to The Wizard’s Chest’s website.

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Sudan’s military takes power in coup, arrests prime minister



Sudan PM held in apparent coup; general declares emergency


CAIRO (AP) — Sudan’s top general on Monday dissolved the government and announced that the military will run the country after his forces arrested the acting prime minister and other officials. Thousands of Sudanese protested in the streets against the coup.

The military takeover threatens to derail Sudan’s long, rocky attempt to transition to democracy two years after protesters forced the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir. The move came just before the military was supposed to hand leadership of the country’s joint military-civilian administration to civilians next month.

After the early morning arrests of government officials, thousands flooded the streets of the capital, Khartoum, and its twin city of Omdurman to protest. Footage shared online appeared to show protesters blocking streets and setting fire to tires as security forces used tear gas to disperse them.

Protesters could be heard chanting, “The people are stronger, stronger” and “Retreat is not an option!” as plumes of smoke filled the air. Videos on social media showed large crowds crossing bridges over the Nile to the center of the capital.

At least 12 protesters were wounded in demonstrations, according to the Sudanese Doctors Committee, without giving details.

In the afternoon, the head of the military, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, went on national TV and announced that he was dissolving the government and the Sovereign Council, a joint military and civilian body created to run the country since al-Bashir’s ouster.

He said quarrels among political factions prompted the military to intervene.

Burhan declared a state of emergency and said the military will appoint a technocratic government to lead the country to elections, set for July 2023. But he made clear the military will remain in charge, saying, “The Armed Forces will continue completing the democratic transition until the handover of the country’s leadership to a civilian, elected government.”

The Information Ministry, still loyal to the dissolved government, called his speech an “announcement of a seizure of power by military coup.”

The United States and the European Union expressed concern over Monday’s developments.

Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. special envoy to the Horn of Africa, said Washington was “deeply alarmed” by the reports. Feltman met with Sudanese officials over the weekend in an effort to resolve the growing dispute between civilian and military leaders. EU foreign affairs chief Joseph Borrell tweeted that he’s following events with the “utmost concern.”

The first reports about a possible military takeover began trickling out of Sudan before dawn Monday. By mid-morning, the Information Ministry confirmed that the prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, had been arrested and taken to an undisclosed location. Several senior government figures were also detained, the ministry said in a Facebook post. It said their whereabouts were unknown.

Hamdok’s office said in a statement on Facebook that he and his wife were detained early Monday as part of what it described as a “complete coup.”

Internet access was widely disrupted and the country’s state news channel played patriotic traditional music. At one point, military forces stormed the offices of Sudan’s state-run television in Omdurman and detained a number of workers, the Information Ministry said.

Tensions have been rising for weeks between Sudan’s civilian and military leadership over Sudan’s course and the pace of the transition to democracy.

A failed coup attempt in September fractured the country along old lines, pitting more conservative Islamists who want a military government against those who toppled al-Bashir in protests. In recent days, both camps have taken to the street in demonstrations.

After the September coup attempt, the generals lashed out at civilian members of the transitional power structure and called for the dissolution of Hamdok’s government. The Sovereign Council is the ultimate decision maker, though the Hamdok government is tasked with running Sudan’s day-to-day affairs.

Burhan, who leads the council, warned in televised comments last month that the military would hand over power only to a government elected by the Sudanese people.

His comments suggested he might not stick to the previously agreed timetable, which called for the council to be led by a military figure for 21 months, followed by a civilian for the following 18 months. Under that plan, the handover was to take place sometime in November, with the new civilian leader to be chosen by an alliance of unions and political parties that led the uprising against al-Bashir.

Since al-Bashir was forced from power, Sudan had slowly emerged from years of international pariah status. The country was removed from the United States’ state supporter of terror list in 2020, opening the door for badly needed foreign loans and investment. But the country’s economy has struggled with the shock of a number economic reforms called for by international lending institutions.

Sudan has suffered other coups since it gained its independence from Britain and Egypt in 1956. Al-Bashir came to power in 1989 in one such takeover, which removed the country’s last elected government.

Among those detained Monday were five senior government figures, according to two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to share information with the media.

They include Industry Minister Ibrahim al-Sheikh, Information Minister Hamza Baloul, and Mohammed al-Fiky Suliman, a member of the Sovereign Council, as well as Faisal Mohammed Saleh, a media adviser to Hamdok. Ayman Khalid, governor of the state containing the capital, was also arrested, according to the official Facebook page of his office.

After news of the arrests spread, the country’s main pro-democracy group and two political parties issued appeals to the Sudanese to take to the streets.

One of the factions, the Communist Party called on workers to go on strike in an act of mass civil disobedience after what it described as a “full military coup” orchestrated by Burhan.

The African Union has called for the release of all Sudanese political leaders including Hamdok. “Dialogue and consensus is the only relevant path to save the country and its democratic transition,” said Moussa Faki, the head of the AU commission.

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CSU Rams’ football recruiting rankings for Class of 2022 are ugly. But experts say it’s too early to panic over Steve Addazio’s next class.



CSU Rams’ football recruiting rankings for Class of 2022 are ugly. But experts say it’s too early to panic over Steve Addazio’s next class.

When the new football recruiting rankings for the Class of 2022 came out this past Wednesday, it was easy to spot the usual suspects. Georgia? No. 1. Alabama? No. 2. Ohio State? No. 4. Oregon? No. 7.

Finding the CSU Rams?

That … took a little more work.

With eight weeks until the early signing period begins on Dec. 15, the Rams checked in at No. 117 on 247’s national rankings, with eight commitments. That nestled them between New Mexico at No. 116 and Eastern Michigan at No. 118.

If that ranking held, it would be the lowest for an incoming Rams class since 2015, which landed at No. 119 nationally and 10th in the Mountain West.

Still, Brandon Huffman, national recruiting editor for the site, wants to share two words with CSU faithful before blood pressures start climbing:

Don’t. Panic.

“I think the Mountain West as a whole has had a sharp decline in commitments,” Huffman said. “With the exception of Air Force, and two schools that have new coaches (Boise State and Utah State), only (four) other schools have more commitments than Colorado State. I think, like much of the Mountain West, (the Rams) have to wait for ‘their tier’ to start to become more clear.”

For one, Huffman said, he expects the 3-stars-or-fewer prospects who typically make up the bulk of Group of 5 classes to wait longer before making their collegiate decisions. For another, more FBS coaches are intentionally leaving scholarship slots free for experienced players to sign via the transfer portal.

Of the 22 players who started for CSU (3-4, 2-1 Mountain West) at Utah State this past Friday night, seven were transfers — and five of those transfers were on the offensive side of the ball.

“Unless you’re a top-tier program, you’re probably not signing big classes anymore,” noted Blair Angulo, 247Sports’ West Coast recruiting analyst. “(It’s a) safer bet to take a college-ready transfer than a low-to-mid-3-star (prospect) that will need a couple years of development.

“Unless you’re rooting for a big Power 5 program, you probably won’t see many commitments until closer to the early signing period … schools are waiting to see how rosters will shake out and coaches are strategically leaving some spots open for additions via the transfer portal. Recruits, meanwhile, are also being a bit methodical in their approach, especially within that pool of players that CSU is in on.”

The Rams headed into the weekend ranked No. 11 out of 12 MW schools in 247Sports’ composite ranking.

According to the database, CSU’s last commit was July 6, via a verbal pledge from John Locke, a 6-foot-4 tight end out of Helotes, Texas.

“No school had more buzz in the Mountain West going into this year than San Jose State, coming off the MW title in 2020, and they have fewer commitments than CSU,” Huffman said. “So I think much of it is based on the screwy evaluation period and still after-effects of COVID.”

After an 0-2 start to the season, the Rams won three of their next five and lost narrowly — and painfully — against the Aggies this past Friday night, 26-24.

If there is a silver lining in FoCo, it’s that CSU plays three of its final five regular-season games at home.

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