Plus three more things you need to know today.
White House budget plan slashes social safety net
Big cuts to Medicaid and food stamps would partially fund the administration’s $4.8 trillion budget, which is scheduled to be announced on Monday. The proposal also increases military spending and tightens belts at the Education Department and Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The president’s budget plan assumes more robust economic growth than what most economists predict. Initiatives to boost the president’s appeal with supporters are also included, such as more money to restore the Everglades of Florida, a key battleground state.
Members of Chinese military charged with huge Equifax hack
According to the Department of Justice, four members of China’s People’s Liberation Army broke into Equifax’s dispute portal, making queries to obtain Americans’ personal data and stealing trade secrets. The breach, which exposed over 150 million Americans to potential identity theft in 2017, cost the credit agency $700 million in fines from the Federal Trade Commission. “Unfortunately, the Equifax hack fits a disturbing and unacceptable pattern of state-sponsored computer intrusions and thefts by China,” said attorney general William Barr.
As New Hampshire primary approaches, Democrats go on the attack
Democratic presidential candidates are taking off the gloves after a contentious televised debate and last-ditch appearances over the weekend ahead of New Hampshire’s primary Tuesday. Pete Buttigieg, smarting from what looks to be a razor-thin victory in Iowa, called out Sen. Bernie Sanders as too far left, while former Vice President Joe Biden, struggling to regain momentum after a glaring caucus defeat, responded to a comparison of Buttigieg’s inexperience with, “He’s not Barack Obama.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand, focused on small meet-and-greets rather than attacking opponents, saying tearing each other down would not beat Donald Trump.
Trump fires second impeachment witness and his brother
In case you missed it: On Friday afternoon, President Trump fired Gordon D. Sondland as the ambassador to the European Union on the same day that he ordered Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, an Iraq war veteran on the National Security Council staff, removed from his post (despite Vindman’s prior standing agreement to be reassigned at the end of the month). Both men testified in the impeachment hearings. Vindman’s brother Yevgeny Vindman, who played no role at all in the hearings, was also dismissed from his job as a lawyer for the National Security Council. Other witnesses left their posts more quietly, such as Marie Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine, who retired last month from the Foreign Service; her replacement, William B. Taylor Jr.; and Jennifer Williams, aide to Vice President Mike Pence. Kurt D. Volker, special envoy for Ukraine, resigned days before testifying.