Washington Post: “President Trump did not commit Thursday to avoiding a partial government shutdown next month if lawmakers don’t give him money to build a border wall, a top Republican senator said, raising the potential for a high-stakes budget battle as the GOP prepares to lose its grip on Congress.”
“The U.S. recorded a $100.5 billion budget deficit in October, an increase of about 60 percent from a year earlier, as spending grew twice as fast as revenue,” Bloomberg reports.
“A ballooning U.S. budget shortfall — fueled by tax cuts, spending hikes and an aging population — is driving the Treasury Department to raise its long-term debt issuance.”
Stan Collender: “The new reality is that, with a Democrat-controlled House next year, it may make more political sense for Trump to keep the wall issue alive through the next Congress — especially if he’ll be able to blame House Democrats for it not being funded — than to get his funding now.”
“‘The wall’ isn’t the real issue anyway; it’s just a way for Trump and other Republicans to appeal to the GOP base on immigration without using language that others will find offensive.”
“Given how much Trump relied on immigration in the midterms, it’s a safe bet to assume that he’ll want to keep the issue alive somehow and make it a major focus of his reelection campaign over the next two years. One of the best ways to do that will be not to make a stand that it be funded now.”
“President Trump doesn’t want to give Puerto Rico any more federal money for its recovery from Hurricane Maria, White House officials have told congressional appropriators and leadership. This is because he claims, without evidence, that the island’s government is using federal disaster relief money to pay off debt,” according to Jonathan Swan.
“Trump also told senior officials last month that he would like to claw back some of the federal money Congress has already set aside for Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery, claiming mismanagement.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said that Democrats “might tie their support for the next spending bill to legislation that would protect special counsel Robert Mueller – although he stopped short of saying he would be willing to risk a shutdown,” USA Today reports.
Said Schumer: “The appointment of Mr. Whitaker should concern every American –Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative – who believes in rule of law and justice. He has already prejudged the Mueller situation. If he stays there, he will create a constitutional crisis by inhibiting Mueller or firing Mueller, so Congress has to act.””
“Tuesday was a rough night for authors of the GOP tax law,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Four Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee who all touted the law on the campaign trail lost their seats. Mike Bishop of Michigan, Carlos Curbelo of Florida, Erik Paulsen of Minnesota and Peter Roskam of Illinois won’t return to Congress next year.”
“The tax cut is something I talk about, but I don’t get standing ovations or anything like that. I don’t get booed, either. It’s probably not resonated real well with the average voter. But again, I talk about it.”
— Rep. James Comer (R-KY), quoted by the Washington Post.
CNBC: “Republicans in California had rallied around a gas tax repeal known as Proposition 6, but the measure is now at risk of failing, according to a new poll. That could mean trouble for some GOP candidates who pinned hopes on gaining votes from supporters of the ballot initiative.”
“Top House Republican leaders have been contributors to the gas tax repeal effort, hoping it will boost GOP voter turnout in tight congressional races in California.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told Roll Call the Senate is “highly unlikely” to pass a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class even after the midterm elections.
Said Hatch: “I’ve seen miracles happen before.”
But he added that it would take “a real monumental effort” to get anything like Trump has proposed to rally Republicans to the polls for the Nov. 6 midterms through the Senate.
Tory Newmyer: “Setting aside that President Trump’s pledge to slash middle-class taxes by 10 percent in the coming weeks will be next to impossible to pull off, it’s not clear the gambit even amounts to a good political strategy.”
“Congressional Republicans running for reelection haven’t wanted to talk much on the campaign trail about the tax cut package that was supposed to be their crowning achievement. Trump’s pitch for new cuts points to the reason why: It seems most likely to remind voters of what they didn’t like in the first package he signed at the end of last year.”
Politico: “The pledge — which Trump repeated Monday afternoon — came as news to House and Senate lawmakers, who’ve already returned to their home states to campaign for the elections and have no plans to consider new legislation before then.”
“White House officials spent the day trying to decode what Trump meant because no one knew the substance of any such tax cut, or had seen any policy proposal related to it. Aides were left wondering what Trump had read in newspaper clippings, or seen on Twitter, to inspire this grand promise from his rally podium.”
President Trump repeated his unsubstantiated claim that Republicans plan to unveil a middle class tax cut before the midterm elections a little over two weeks away, CNBC reports.
Said Trump: “We’re putting in a resolution some time in the next week and a half to two weeks and we’re giving a middle income tax reduction of about 10 percent. This is not for business, this is for middle income, and that’s on top of the tax decrease that we’ve already given them.”
With Congress in recess, Trump dismissed the idea that he would try to use an executive order: “No, I’m going through Congress. We won’t have time to do the vote. We’ll do the vote after the election.”
Politico: “Republicans thought their massive tax overhaul would be the centerpiece of their midterm strategy. But it turns out they were so wrong they’ve been barely mentioning the $1.5 trillion tax cut on the campaign trail.”
“With polls showing Americans are more likely to disapprove of the tax law than to approve of it, GOP candidates have been changing the subject to other issues like immigration and health care. Some of the lawmakers who wrote the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are even struggling to hang onto their seats.”
Stan Collender: “I’m going to give Trump the benefit of the doubt and assume that he meant that only the specifics of his new tax proposal would be announced rather than that the plan would be enacted prior to November. With Congress out of session and the GOP leadership almost certainly against calling its members back to Washington during the final days of the election, it’s hard to imagine that he meant anything but that there would be an announcement.”
“But even assuming that what Trump meant was just an announcement, it’s hard to see how what he might propose (For the record, I’m not at all convinced he will actually propose anything) can get done in the lame duck.”
“Making an audacious pre-midterm promise, President Trump told reporters in Nevada on Saturday that he is working with Republican congressional leaders on ‘a very major tax cut for middle-income people,’ to be announced in early November or just before,” Axios reports.
Roll Call: “Both the House and Senate are effectively out of session until the postelection lame-duck session, but if one were to take Trump at face value, he did point to ‘putting in’ the tax legislation before then.”
President Trump “said he will ask all cabinet departments to cut their budgets by 5 percent next year, after the federal budget deficit swelled to its highest level since 2012 during the first full fiscal year of his presidency,” Bloomberg reports.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 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, Bloomberg reports.
Said McConnell: “It’s disappointing but it’s not a Republican problem. 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.”
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“The federal budget deficit swelled to $779 billion in fiscal year 2018, the Treasury Department said on Monday, driven in large part by a sharp decline in corporate tax revenues after the Trump tax cuts took effect,” the New York Times reports.
“The deficit rose nearly 17 percent year over year, from $666 billion in 2017. It is now on pace to top $1 trillion a year before the next presidential election.”
“A deep-pocketed Republican group that began the year vowing to focus on the tax overhaul has mentioned the GOP’s signature legislative achievement in just a fraction of its TV ads in 2018, a signal that the issue hasn’t been the political boon party leaders hoped it would be,” Bloomberg reports.
“The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super-political action committee that’s the largest-spending political group this cycle, has put out 31,220 broadcast spots in the first nine months of 2018, just 17.3 percent of which referred to the tax law… The data underscore concerns among Republicans that the 2017 tax law — championed by President Donald Trump and GOP congressional leaders — hasn’t gained traction with voters ahead of the Nov. 6 election that will determine control of the House and Senate. Instead, the GOP base has been more stirred up by issues like immigration and crime in the Trump era.”