Budget & Taxes

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.”

Congress Averts Shutdown with $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill

New York Times: “After a scare over whether a fiscally conservative senator might force a brief government shutdown this weekend, along with an unexpected grievance from another senator over the renaming of an Idaho wilderness area, the Senate voted 65 to 32 to approve the bill around 12:30 Friday morning.”

“Government funding was set to expire Friday night, but by approving the bill, lawmakers moved to avert what would have been the third shutdown of the year.”

Washington Post: “It abandons GOP claims of fiscal discipline in a stark reversal of the promises many Republicans ran on in capturing control of the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014 as they railed against what they described as a profligate President Barack Obama. And in another about-face, GOP leaders tossed aside their own rules and past complaints about Democrats to rush the legislation through the House ahead of the Friday midnight government shutdown deadline. Lawmakers of both parties seethed, saying they had scant time to read the mammoth bill, which was released less than 17 hours before the House voted.”

Trump Having Second Thoughts About Spending Bill

President Trump “is having second thoughts about supporting the omnibus spending deal that was reached Wednesday morning,” the HuffPost reports.

“The source also said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) will be heading over to the White House on Wednesday afternoon to try and sell the president on the GOP wins in the $1.3 trillion government funding bill and assure him that it’s a good deal for Republicans.”

“Trump is apparently most upset about the spending deal’s lack of funding for a border wall.”

There’s Still No Spending Bill

Playbook: “The $1-trillion plus spending bill, which keeps government open from Friday through the end of September, was supposed to come out late last night in advance of a Wednesday House vote… That could be problematic. Why? It needs to get through the House and Senate by Friday in order to avoid a government shutdown. The leadership is able to wave the three-day rule to allow expedited consideration. But there’s still some concern about a Wednesday vote. The vast, vast majority of lawmakers haven’t seen any of the text yet.”

Trump Open to Short Term DACA Deal

President Trump “is willing to entertain a temporary extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in exchange for border-wall funding in the upcoming spending bill,” the Washington Post reports.

“The move, which White House officials communicated to Republican congressional leaders this week, represents a stunning shift for Trump, who has insisted for months on including strict limits on legal immigration as part of any deal to protect DACA recipients. A deal could largely remove immigration from the national agenda until after the 2020 election.”

Two Weeks Until the Government Runs Out of Money

Playbook: “Yes, here we are again, government funding runs out in less than two weeks, and there’s more drama developing behind the scenes.”

“Things to keep an eye on: Will Republicans in Congress keep funding for the so-called Gateway Tunnel, a new tunnel between New York and New Jersey? President Donald Trump has threatened to veto any funding bill that includes money for the project, but House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) is retiring, and it’s one of his top priorities. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also wants it built, and Republicans will need Democratic votes.”

“Also Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the House Freedom Caucus leader who is close to President Trump, tweeted over the weekend that the funding bill should cut off money for so-called sanctuary cities. This is a nonstarter for Democrats and could be a serious issue if the Freedom Caucus digs in on it.”

Rushed Tax Law Needs to Be Fixed

“The legislative blitz that rocketed the $1.5 trillion tax cut through Congress in less than two months created a host of errors and ambiguities in the law that businesses big and small are just now discovering and scrambling to address,” the New York Times reports.

“Companies and trade groups are pushing the Treasury Department and Congress to fix the law’s consequences, some intended and some not, including provisions that disadvantage certain farmers, hurt restaurateurs and retailers and could balloon the tax bills of large multinational corporations.”

“While Treasury can clear up uncertainty about some of the murky provisions, actual errors and unintended language can be solved only legislatively — at a time when Democrats seem disinclined to lend votes to shoring up a law they had no hand in passing and are actively trying to dismantle.”

Protecting the Wealthy In Blue States

“Resistance to the Republican tax overhaul comes with an ideological twist for some Democratic state officials: They’ve styled themselves as champions of the working class but are pushing hard for measures that would reduce taxes mostly for the wealthy,” the AP reports.

“Democratic governors and lawmakers in a handful of high-income, high-tax states are promoting policies that are intended to spare their residents the pain of the new $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local taxes. Connecticut, New Jersey and New York are even planning to sue the federal government over the new cap, which was a key provision of the Republican tax overhaul adopted in December.”

“The legislative workarounds have moved swiftly through state Senate chambers in California and New Jersey. A bill with similar components passed the Oregon Senate and House in the last two weeks. The concept is under consideration in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.”

The GOP’s Tax Cut Narrative Is Unraveling

The Atlantic: “The most basic criticism of the GOP’s tax cut was that the boons for corporations and their shareholders would far outweigh the benefits for ordinary workers. That’s exactly what seems to be happening. Stock buybacks announced between January 1st and February 15th reached historically high levels, totaling about $170 billion in that period.”

“That’s 28 times larger than the total value of end-of-year bonuses that were credited to the corporate tax bill—some of which had been announced months earlier and had nothing to do with the tax cuts. Companies might be advertising new bonuses. But they’re quietly reaping the benefits of higher profits.”

Could Trump Privately Fund a War?

Stan Collender: “In one of the most frightening stories I’ve read since the start of the Trump presidency, the New York Times reported on Saturday that the administration is seriously considering paying for the new U.S. embassy it wants to build in Jerusalem with funds provided by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.”

“But the scariest part is the other things Trump might want to do this way. If privately funding an embassy is possible, what would stop Trump or some future president from raising funds to finance and conduct a war with mercenaries? An oligarch-like president with deep-pocketed friends would be able to ignore the checks and balances set in the Constitution and the legislative process to do whatever he or she (and they) wanted to do.”

Democrats Aren’t Rushing to Help GOP Fix Tax Glitches

“The glitches in the new tax law are starting to pile up,” Politico reports.

“Republicans would like to address the problems as soon as next month, as part of legislation needed to fund the government. But to do that, they’ll need assistance from Democrats, and it’s unclear they are in any mood to help. They were shut out of the process of writing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and may be looking for payback after Republicans steadfastly refused to allow them to fix hitches in the Affordable Care Act.”

“Some Democrats say they will want to widely reopen the law, as part of any effort to clean up the legislative miscues.”