Budget & Taxes

Trump’s Trade War Crowds Out GOP Message

“Republicans want President Trump to stick to a simple message ahead of the 2018 midterm elections: cutting taxes and slashing regulations,” Politico reports.

“But the president, who regards himself as a master communicator, seems to have a different plan. After repeatedly deriding the marketing of the landmark tax reform passed in December — which he wanted to call the ‘Cut Cut Cut Act’ — Trump has shifted gears, instead launching into a tit-for-tat war on trade with China.”

For members: Playing to the Base Won’t Help the GOP In the Midterms

Trump Throws Away His Speech

President Trump was supposed to talk about the new tax law in West Virginia today, but he “tossed the script — literally,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Trump: “This was going to be my remarks. It would’ve taken about two minutes, but… That would’ve been a little boring, a little boring. Now I’m reading off the first paragraph, I said this is boring. Come on. We have to say, tell it like it is.”

He then threw his speech into the air.

“Rather than zeroing in on a focused message about the tax cuts that congressional Republicans believe is the key to retaining their majorities this fall, Trump launched into a rambling diatribe of red-meat rhetoric that had nothing to do with the tax law.”

Will Trump Ignore the Law In Latest Spending Plot?

Stan Collender wonders whether President Trump will attempt to not spend funds appropriated in the omnibus spending bill passed by Congress. He could “try to do this legally or just ignore the law and do it on his own.”

“Either way, if Senate Republicans allow this it absolutely would be a huge breach of faith with their Democratic colleagues and a violation of the deal they cut with them to avoid a filibuster on the omnibus. It would render another bipartisan agreement on any issue close to impossible for as long as Trump was president. It would also be the most egregious abuse in the past four decades of one of the most obscure (unless you’ve been reading my column lately) parts of the federal budget process.”

“This is exactly what we’ve come to expect from an autocratic president who acts impulsively, has no interest in the legislative process, has (and still is) supporting misuses of the process to suit his whims and doesn’t think or care at all about long-term political strategy.”

GOP Mulls Gambit to Avoid Spending Omnibus Funds

“President Trump and congressional Republican leaders, frustrated they had to work with Democrats to pass a fiscal 2018 omnibus spending measure, are mulling a way for their own party to effectively cut some of the funds they just approved,” Roll Call reports.

“The idea would be to deploy lesser-used provisions of the 1974 budget process law to roll back spending by impounding some of the appropriated funds.”

“Multiple rescissions can be grouped in a single message, and Congress has 45 legislative days to approve all, part or none of the president’s request. The budget law would provide a pathway for the Senate to consider a rescission resolution with only a simple majority support.”

Cuomo Moves to Shield New Yorkers from New Tax Law

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) “has pushed through a plan to shield his state residents from tax hikes under the Republican tax law — and Democratic-controlled statehouses across the country are following suit,” the Washington Post reports.

“The two provisions — one creating a new ‘charitable’ fund to replace local property taxes, and the second a largely technical change in how taxes are assessed — aim to help taxpayers avoid a new $10,000 cap on the amount of state and local taxes they can deduct from their federal taxes. The cap was imposed by congressional Republicans to raise money to offset their law’s steep cut to the corporate tax rate, but critics say it was designed to hurt residents of liberal states.”

Mulvaney Nears Victory in Battle with Mnuchin on Taxes

“The White House is poised to give its budget office greater control over some of the Treasury Department’s regulations, handing budget director Mick Mulvaney a victory in a months-long power struggle with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin,” Politico reports.

“The move, which could come in the next few weeks, would end the autonomy the Treasury Department has enjoyed since the 1980s when it comes to issuing tax rules, while giving greater power to one of Trump’s favorite Cabinet members at the expense of another. The highly sensitive debate has consumed the attention of top officials at both agencies.”

House GOP Will Push Balanced Budget Amendment

Playbook: “House Republicans will take up a balanced-budget amendment when they return from recess, several sources tell us. This follows on the heels of their $1.3-trillion budget bill and their massive tax bill.”

“Why do this now? Here’s what we think: It’s almost election season, and it would be helpful if GOP lawmakers could go home and be able to say they voted to support balancing the federal budget, even though they voted boosted discretionary spending by a ton, and have not touched entitlement spending, which, they have said for years, is the driver of U.S. budget deficits.”

Republicans Look to Push Another Tax Cut Bill

“Republicans are dreaming of passing another round of tax cuts this year — or at least making vulnerable Democrats squirm by voting against them,” Politico reports.

“GOP leaders are weighing a series of votes to make last year’s temporary tax cuts for individuals permanent… The strategy would portray the party as the guardian of Americans’ paychecks, Republicans say, and buoy the GOP during a brutal election year.”

“Republicans argue they win regardless of whether it culminates with a Rose Garden ceremony: Either Democrats support the legislation, giving the GOP a major legislative accomplishment in its scramble to save its majorities. Or, more likely, Democrats block the bill — allowing Republicans to paint them as opponents of the middle class.”

Earmarks Are Definitely Back

Stan Collender: “No one used the word while this bill was put together, but there should be no doubt that ‘earmarks‘ — money set aside for a specific purpose — were used extensively to buy votes. Some were the traditional small amounts for a particular state, district, industry or company; others were the inclusion of whole programs. Either way, they were almost precisely what congressional Republicans, led by former Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), swore to stop doing. “

How Trump Delivered on Obama’s Promises

“President Trump’s budget proposals have taken a hatchet to President Obama’s top priorities. They’ve called for deep cuts in renewable energy, medical research and nonmilitary spending in general,” Politico reports.

“Now the Republicans who control Congress have passed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, and it not only protects Obama’s priorities, it expands them.”

“The omnibus—Capitol Hill jargon for a single spending bill that funds most government functions—does not kill any of the programs or agencies Trump’s budget proposed to kill… It basically extends the fiscal status quo that has prevailed since the start of Obama’s second term—plus a sizable chunk of new deficit spending—even though Republicans now control the legislative and executive branches.”

Trump Infuriates Base with Fake Veto Threat

A former White House official tells Mike Allen that online conservative ire about the spending bill President Trump signed yesterday — after a puzzling tweeted veto feint — “is the hardest I’ve ever seen the base turn on Trump over anything.”

Said the official: “A big reason why people voted for him was because of his apparent willingness to stand up to the entrenched political class in both parties. Voters wanted a fighter who wouldn’t back down to ‘the swamp’ like a typical politician. They were attracted to his strength and alpha mentality, but unfortunately yesterday’s fake veto threat did little but make him look weak … and his base took notice.”