“Savings for the top six U.S. banks from President Trump’s signature tax overhaul accelerated last year, now topping $32 billion as the lenders curbed new borrowing, pared jobs and ramped up payouts to shareholders,” Bloomberg reports.
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds 64% of Americans strongly or somewhat agreed that “the very rich should contribute an extra share of their total wealth each year to support public programs” – the essence of a wealth tax.
Results were similar across gender, race and household income. While support among Democrats was stronger, at 77%, a majority of Republicans, 53%, also agreed with the idea.
“Individual taxpayers are half as likely to get audited as they were in 2010, after tax enforcement by the Internal Revenue Service fell to the lowest level in at least four decades,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The IRS audited 0.45% of personal income-tax returns in fiscal 2019, down from 0.59% in 2018 and marking the eighth straight year of decline.”
New York Times: “The $1.4 trillion spending bill passed by Congress last week quietly achieves what a parade of select committees and coordinating councils could not: rescue a dying pension fund that is the lifeblood of nearly 100,000 retired coal miners.”
“For the first time in 45 years of federal pension law, taxpayer dollars will be used to bail out a fund for workers in the private sector. And now that there’s a precedent, it might not be the last.”
New York Times: “Corporate executives, major investors and the wealthiest Americans hailed the tax cuts as a once-in-a-generation boon not only to their own fortunes but also to the United States economy.”
“But big companies wanted more — and, not long after the bill became law in December 2017, the Trump administration began transforming the tax package into a greater windfall for the world’s largest corporations and their shareholders. The tax bills of many big companies have ended up even smaller than what was anticipated when the president signed the bill.”
“One consequence is that the federal government may collect hundreds of billions of dollars less over the coming decade than previously projected. The budget deficit has jumped more than 50 percent since Mr. Trump took office and is expected to top $1 trillion in 2020, partly as a result of the tax law.”
“Senior Trump administration officials in recent days threatened a presidential veto that could have led to a government shutdown if House Democrats refused to drop language requiring prompt release of future military aid for Ukraine,” the Washington Post reports.
“The language was ultimately left out of mammoth year-end spending legislation that passed the House and Senate this week ahead of a Saturday shutdown deadline. The White House said President Trump would sign the $1.4 trillion package before midnight.”
The House of Representatives is expected to vote this afternoon on a government spending deal, although President Trump has not said he would actually sign the bill.
Brendan Buck, a former aide to former Speaker Paul Ryan tweets: “I really love how because DJT said he won’t sign another omnibus, Congress is just cutting the omnibus into two bills, sending them to him at the same time, and hoping he won’t notice or care that it’s still just actually one big omnibus.”
Playbook: “The House is going to vote on a bill today to keep government funded through September 2020, and change a host of unrelated policies. The bill came out Monday. It will get a vote tonight. The number of issues handled in this bill is stunning. It contains major changes in health care policy, extends flood insurance, reauthorizes the Export-Import Bank for seven years, extends the terrorism insurance program and reauthorizes money to rebuild the Kennedy Center, and so much more.”
“And guess what: Late Monday night the House decided to pair a massive package of tax extenders with this bill.”
“Let’s put it this way: If you are a company or an entity with a legislative priority, and you couldn’t get it in this year-end package, call your lobbyist for a chat. Or better yet, look for a new one.”
The Wall Street Journal has more on what’s in the bill.
Washington Post: “The 2017 tax law lowered the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, but in practice large companies often pay far less than that due to deductions, tax breaks and other loopholes.”
“In the first year of the law, the actual amount corporations paid in federal taxes on their incomes — their so-called ‘effective rate’ — was 11.3% on average, possibly its lowest level in more than three decades… The report also found that 91 corporations in the Fortune 500, many worth billions of dollars, paid no federal taxes last year.”
Lawmakers have agreed to include $1.375 billion for physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border in a forthcoming government funding deal, two congressional sources told The Hill.
But it would also be significantly less than the $5 billion requested for new border barrier spending in President Trump’s budget.
“President Trump’s border wall is facing a surprising new legal hurdle down in Texas: an obscure legislative provision crafted by House Republicans in 2014 when the GOP was targeting then-President Barack Obama’s budget powers,” Politico reports.
“The amendment, carried forward into current law, has resurfaced with a vengeance in El Paso, Texas. U.S District Court Judge David Briones has been quoting back its words in a series of rulings against Trump’s decision to take $3.6 billion from military construction projects to expedite his wall.”
“As first adopted, the Republican language specifically prohibited Obama from taking any step to ‘eliminate or reduce funding for any program, project, or activity as proposed in the President’s budget request’ until it’s cleared with Congress.”
Top congressional negotiators announced a tentative deal on $1.3 trillion in federal spending, likely averting government shutdown, the Washington Post reports.
The agreement in principle sets up votes next week.
“The U.S. government deficit spiked 12 percent to $342 billion during the first two months of fiscal year 2020, according to data from the Congressional Budget Office,” Fox Business reports.
“The CBO says the U.S. budget deficit will average $1.2 trillion a year from 2020 to 2029, amounting to 4.4 percent to 4.8 percent of gross domestic product.”
Politico: “Congressional negotiators are scrambling to reach a deal that would allow the House to vote on several spending bills this week, with just 11 days left to avert a shutdown.”
“The last-minute wrangling to bring long-delayed spending bills to the floor is an attempt to take care of some must-do work heading into next week, when Capitol Hill will be consumed with a likely House floor vote to impeach President Trump.”
CNN: “Congress is once again running right up to the brink of a government shutdown. There is cautious optimism, but still work to be done. Progress has been made but the largest outstanding issues still stand. Everyone involved wants an agreement, but those same lawmakers and administration officials are still haggling over issues — large and small.”
“Negotiators have about 24 to 48 hours to wrap up an agreement on all 12 spending bills to have any chance to move them in such a short time frame. This is very, very tight — and a short-term off-ramp will be needed if nothing comes together before Monday.”
“President Trump’s 2017 tax cuts reduced the U.S. tax burden to one of the lowest among major world economies,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“U.S. tax burdens dropped by the largest amount among those countries in 2018, and the U.S. now has lower taxes than all but three countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.”
Bloomberg: “Joe Biden plans to pay for $3.2 trillion in policy proposals with new and higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, including a measure targeting companies like Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc. that have reported paying no federal income taxes in recent years.”
“The so-called minimum book tax, which his team estimates would raise $400 billion over a decade, would be coupled with increases in the top individual and corporate rates that Biden has already promised.”
Playbook: “We’re hearing murmurs out of the Hill and White House that there’s a chance President Trump will not sign any government funding bills until he knows how the DHS funding bills will be worked out — presumably to see how immigration policy/the wall is handled.”
“Why does this matter? Because the government shuts down in 17 days unless Congress acts. There was some plan to pass some non-controversial bills this month, and then deal with the more difficult items like Defense and DHS later on. But if the president is unwilling to sign any spending bill until he sees how DHS is worked out, that complicates this strategy. It could lead to a yearlong stopgap — which would preserve the president’s abilities to reprogram money for his wall, but cancel the planned $100 billion increase in spending. Or Congress could fall back on a series of short-term bills while the president fights.”