Doug Sword

The Americans paying more taxes
Podcast, Episode 140

 

Tax season has begun, and upper-middle-income taxpayers earning between $120,000 and $200,000 in states with high local taxes are the most likely to be among the 5 percent who paid more last year because of the 2017 law, says Kyle Pomerleau, director of the Center for Quantitative Analysis at the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank. Doug Sword, CQ’s tax reporter, explains how congressional Democrats, and those running for president, are attacking the law.

Negotiators unlikely to meet self-imposed Monday shutdown deal deadline
Both sides were discussing a simple stopgap measure as a fallback if appropriations deal isn’t reached

The White House and congressional leaders on Monday were buying themselves a little more time for negotiations that appeared to stall out over the weekend, with both sides discussing a simple stopgap measure as a fallback to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

Top appropriators met late afternoon at the Capitol in hopes of salvaging a full-year DHS spending bill, as well as completing work on six other fiscal 2019 bills that are largely completed. But it wasn’t clear if the meeting of the so-called “four corners” — Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., and ranking member Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D- N.Y. and ranking member Kay Granger, R-Texas — would yield an immediate breakthrough.

Appropriators attempt to revive talks Monday as Friday shutdown deadline looms
A meeting between 4 top appropriations leaders from the House and Senate is expected at 3:30 p.m.

Republican and Democratic appropriators from both chambers plan to meet Monday afternoon in an effort to revive spending talks as the government heads toward its second shutdown in three months.

The so-called “four corners” — Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., and ranking member Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D- N.Y. and ranking member Kay Granger, R-Texas, — will attend the meeting, according to a Shelby spokeswoman.

House Democrats months away from demanding Trump tax returns
‘No wiggle room’ to deny request for Trump’s tax returns, expert says

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee said it would be months before they definitively try to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns, after a lengthy hearing Thursday to hear from tax and constitutional law experts.

“This is not the end. This is just the beginning,” Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman John Lewis of Georgia said, making it clear there would be more hearings and examination of the sensitive matter.

House Democrats drop Pence, cabinet pay freeze from federal worker raise bill
The bill’s lead sponsor said continuing the executive-level pay freeze would have jeopardized the broader bill

House Democrats are primed to remove a provision of federal worker pay legislation set for a floor vote Wednesday that would have continued a pay freeze for Vice President Mike Pence and other senior Trump administration officials.

The Rules Committee adopted the changes as part of a self-executing rule for floor debate on the underlying bill, which would give the roughly 2 million federal civilian employees a 2.6 percent pay raise this year. That would put civilian workers on par with military servicemembers, who got the same raise in the fiscal 2019 Defense appropriations bill enacted last year.

Atlanta fears shutdown impact on Super Bowl travelers
About 120,000 partiers are expected to depart on “Mass Exodus Monday”

Worried about “Mass Exodus Monday” when an estimated 120,000 Super Bowl partiers will leave Atlanta en masse, the city is taking matters into its own hands to help keep unpaid airport screeners on the job.

An Atlanta credit union will be offering zero interest loans to Transportation Security Administration employees to try to prevent them from calling in sick after the game, said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat.

New bipartisan Senate group facing uphill climb in bid to end shutdown

A bipartisan Senate group has launched new talks  to end the lingering partial government shutdown that began Dec. 22 and is now the longest in history, but they are well aware of the uphill climb awaiting them. 

Senators who met Monday haven’t coalesced around a single approach that can gain the approval of President Donald Trump as well as Democratic leaders in both chambers. But the group still appears to be discussing what kind of border security package can pass muster with the principal negotiators.

Assessing the bleak options for ending the shutdown
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 94

As the longest shutdown in modern history enters its fourth week, CQ’s fiscal policy reporter Doug Sword assesses the options for ending the spending impasse. But none appear promising, as President Donald Trump has rejected the latest proposals.

House GOP Tax Package Still In Limbo as Clock Winds Down
Time remaining in 115th Congress does not bode well for proponents

The House is leaving in limbo an $80 billion package of tax breaks as it leaves for the weekend on Thursday, though in theory there’s still time to take up the measure next week before lawmakers leave town for the holidays.

The second time had been shaping up to be the charm for House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady’s now refurbished year-end tax bill, as Republicans appeared to be lining up behind it Wednesday. An earlier version expected on the floor two weeks ago never made it due to objections from rank-and-file Republicans.

Senate Narrowly Votes to Reject IRS Donor Disclosure Rule

The Senate voted 50-49 to repeal a rule that shields donors to many nonprofit groups from disclosure to IRS officials.

The dramatic vote was tied at 49-49 with 49 Democrats voting in favor and 49 Republicans against, when Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, cast the deciding vote to repeal the rule. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. was absent.

Kevin Brady Drops Extenders, Adds Health Care Tax Rollbacks
House Ways and Means chairman deleted almost $30 billion in tax provisions

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady has refashioned his year-end tax package to try to maximize GOP votes for a stand-alone bill, while dropping provisions the Senate could still pick up and pass this year, possibly as part of a huge wrap-up spending bill.

Brady, R-Texas, deleted $29.9 billion worth of tax provisions, collectively known as “extenders” because they are continually revived for a year or two at a time, that faced GOP opposition in the House. That includes one revenue-raiser disliked by the coal mining industry, which would extend the current tax they pay to support disabled miners with black lung disease; the tax would otherwise be slashed substantially next year.

Spending Talks About to Hit a Wall, New Tax Plan in Doubt
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 90

Lawmakers are racing against the clock to pass seven more spending bills, but their efforts are likely to be a struggle amid President Trump's insistence for $5 billion for the border wall that Democrats don't want to give him, says CQ budget editor Peter Cohn. And CQ tax writer Doug Sword brings us up to date with the latest GOP effort to pass new tax legislation that would renew some tax breaks while making corrections to last year's massive tax overhaul. ...
Van Hollen Complains of ‘Dark of Night’ House GOP Tax Bill
Dems plan to hold hearings on problems with tax code overhaul

Sen. Chris Van Hollen said a 200-page-plus tax bill released late Monday by House Republicans would receive a cool reception from Democrats.

“It was sort of put together in the same way their huge tax bill was put together, in the dark of night,” Van Hollen said, referring to the tax code overhaul  signed into law last December. Van Hollen’s comments came at a “Election Impact: Tax Policy in 2019,” a Roll Call Live event held at FiscalNote headquarters on tax policies expected to take center stage in the 116th Congress. 

Grassley Will Step into Tax Storm, Finance Gavel in Hand
Iowa Republican was a key player on big-ticket measures during his previous tenure as Finance chairman

Sen. Charles E. Grassley is expected to be the next chairman of the Finance Committee, putting the Iowa Republican at the center of the storm in the 116th Congress on what could be divisive debates over tax, trade and health care policy.

Grassley cited a sense of “optimism” fueled by the “pro-growth” policies of a Republican president and Congress. “Looking ahead. ... I want to continue to work to make sure that as many Americans as possible get to experience this good economy for themselves,” he said in a statement released Friday. “That means working to provide Americans with additional tax relief and tax fairness so they can spend more of their hard-earned money on what’s important to them.”

K Street Turns Its Lonely Eyes to Grassley
Republican holds the key to cascading possibilities, from Judiciary to Finance to Banking

Fresh off a divisive Supreme Court battle, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley has a complicated decision to make next month that has the business world watching with keen interest: whether to make the jump over to the Finance Committee chairmanship in the 116th Congress.

“Ask me Nov. 7,” was all the Iowa Republican would say earlier this week on the topic. But the allure of returning to the helm of perhaps the most powerful committee in Congress, with jurisdiction over taxes, trade and health care policy, can’t be lost on Grassley, who was Finance chairman for part of 2001 and again from 2003 through 2006.

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Melvin Watt Accused of ‘Unwanted Advances’
Accuser: Watt made it clear he had ‘an attraction’

A Federal Housing Finance Agency manager leveled charges of unwanted advances and sexual harassment against Director Melvin Watt during a hearing Thursday before the House Financial Services Committee.

Simone Grimes testified that beginning in 2015, when she brought to the regulator’s attention that she was to be paid less than her predecessor in an executive position, Watt offered her a “number of positions” but made clear each time that he had “an attraction” to her.

Trump Signals Intent to Nix Proposed Federal Pay Increase
Congress can weigh in if it feels need to maintain agreed-upon pay hike

President Donald Trump signaled his intent to rescind a scheduled pay increase for federal workers, informing Congress on Thursday that federal law allowed him to do so in the event of a “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.”

The move drew a quick response from D.C.-area members and is almost certain to draw howls from the Senate, which included a 1.9 percent pay raise in its Financial Services spending bill. That measure was part of a four-bill, $154 billion package that passed the Senate 92-6 earlier this month.

Trump’s Controversial Pick for Banking Watchdog Clears First Hurdle
All eyes may be on Kavanaugh, but Kathy Kraninger nomination is kicking up dust too

The Senate Banking Committee advanced Thursday the controversial nomination of Kathy Kraninger to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The vote split on party lines, 13-12. 

The panel’s chairman, Michael D. Crapo of Idaho, said Kraninger was “well prepared” to lead the bureau, and that it’s no surprise her nomination is contentious because the CFPB was the most disputed aspect of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act financial overhaul. 

Fate of Wall Street Watchdog Devolves Into a Squabble Over Acronyms
To many, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the CFPB. Conservatives say that doesn’t even exist

Only in Washington would an argument erupt over a federal agency’s acronym.

To progressives, the agency is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or the CFPB, which took on Wall Street and won compensation for more than 27 million consumers during its startup years under former Director Richard Cordray.

Senate Passes Spending Package, Rejects Trump’s Proposed Cuts
Chamber has now passed seven of the 12 annual spending bills

The Senate approved a $154.2 billion, four-bill fiscal 2019 spending package Wednesday as a continuing bipartisan effort in the chamber pushed it ahead of the House in the appropriations process.

The vote was 92-6. Republicans cast the opposing votes: Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.