Opinion writer

* The Senate Majority Leader wants Americans to know that Republicans still want to cut their benefits:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed rising federal deficits and debt on a bipartisan unwillingness to contain spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and said he sees little chance of a major deficit reduction deal while Republicans control Congress and the White House.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem,” McConnell said Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg News when asked about the rising deficits and debt. “It’s a bipartisan problem: unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.”

McConnell’s remarks came a day after the Treasury Department said the U.S. budget deficit grew to $779 billion in Donald Trump’s first full fiscal year as president, the result of the GOP’s tax cuts, bipartisan spending increases and rising interest payments on the national debt. That’s a 77 percent increase from the $439 billion deficit in fiscal 2015, when McConnell became majority leader.

This is a fascinating move. He’s saying that no one should hold Republicans accountable for the increases in the deficit that have come from their enormous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy because the real problem is entitlements, so stop asking them to do anything about it.

But he’s also laying the groundwork for them to do to the next Democratic president what they’ve done to previous ones: Demand cuts to social programs under the guise of deficit reduction, grinding government to a halt if they have to and hampering that Democrat’s presidency. McConnell is truly one of the most cynical figures in American political history.

* Carol Morello and Erin Cunningham report that the Trump administration is looking super-hard into the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi:

Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince promised to expand investigations into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, President Trump tweeted Tuesday, even as kingdom repeated its denials of having any role in the journalist’s fate.

Trump, in back-to-back tweets, gave no details on the possible scope of a Saudi probe in the case. It was also unclear how possible Saudi findings could differ from assertions by Turkish officials that Khashoggi was killed earlier this month after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Trump said he spoke by phone with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, who again “totally denied any knowledge” of what transpired with Khashoggi.

Well, if he “totally denied” it, then case closed.

* David Drucker reports that Democratic candidates are being fed by a final wave of campaign cash from base voters eager to throw out the Republicans.

* Political scientist Aaron Belkin has just launched a new campaign to expand the size of the Supreme Court by four justices. If the court moves right as fast as everyone expects, you’re going to see a lot more support for proposals like this one.

* Sarah Ferris reports that Republicans who used to pretend to care about the deficit are now just funding everything in the hope that voters won’t get too mad at them.

* Jamil Smith says that for the GOP, suppressing the votes of African-Americans is a desperate act of survival.

* Geoffrey Skelley explains why young voters might just turn out this year, at least in higher numbers than usual.

* Eric Levitz points out that if young voters don’t turn out, the old folks could literally destroy all of us.

* Cameron Joseph reports on Joe Donnelly’s attempt to walk the fine line of a red-state Democrat as election day approaches.

* Annie Waldman and Erica Green report that Charlottesville still struggles with another legacy of Jim Crow: a separate and unequal education system.

* Aram Roston reports that the war on terrorism is increasingly relying on assassinations carried out by mercenaries.

* Rob Arthur and Allison McCann report that after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, Republican states responded by closing hundreds of polling places in minority neighborhoods.

* Jeff Hauser argues that if Democrats take back the House they should use their subpoena power to reclaim the mantle of populism.

* Ed Kilgore examines how the ghosts of the 1968 election still haunt our politics fifty years later.

* And Ashley Reese examines how Trump uses dead white women and the specter of brutish men of color to create fear and hate.