On The Money: Trump feels squeeze in tax return fight | Second Republican blocks disaster aid bill | Brazilian firm draws scrutiny on Trump farm aid | Trump tariffs threaten to drown gains from tax cuts
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THE BIG DEAL–Trump feels squeeze in tax return fight: President TrumpDonald John TrumpCitizenship and Immigration Services union blasts Trump’s pick to head agency Texas secretary of state resigns after botched voter purge Trump hits Biden for 1994 crime bill support MORE is feeling the heat in the fight over his tax returns.
House Democrats are expected to initiate a court case in the near future to obtain the documents. And a series of recent developments may not bode well for Trump’s efforts to keep lawmakers from seeing his returns.
“It’s unavoidable that he can’t hide from this anymore, no matter how hard he tries,” said Maura Quint, executive director of Tax March, which supports the efforts to obtain Trump’s returns.
Democrats see several actions that took place last week as positive signs for their efforts.
- Federal judges issued rulings that sided with Democrats in two other cases where they issued subpoenas to obtain the president’s financial information.
- The Washington Post on Tuesday reported about a draft IRS memo written last fall finding that the Treasury secretary has no discretion when it comes to requests for tax returns made by the chairmen of Congress’s tax committees.
- And New York state lawmakers on Wednesday passed legislation that would allow the chairmen of Congress’s tax committees to request the state tax returns of Trump and other federal, state and local officials.
All of these developments come as House Democrats prepare to take legal action to obtain Trump’s tax returns. The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda tells us what to expect here.
LEADING THE DAY
Second House Republican blocks disaster aid package: A second House Republican blocked passage of a disaster aid bill on Tuesday, increasing the odds that lawmakers will have to wait until the chamber reconvenes from recess next week to send the measure to President Trump.
Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Republicans attempt to amend retirement savings bill to include anti-BDS language House votes to boost retirement savings MORE (R-Ky.) objected to an attempt by Democrats to clear a $19.1 billion disaster aid package by unanimous consent during a pro forma session.
How we got here: Lawmakers first tried on Friday during another pro forma session to pass the legislation by unanimous consent, since most House members had left for the Memorial Day recess on Thursday.
But freshman Rep. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyOn The Money: Conservative blocks disaster relief bill | Trade high on agenda as Trump heads to Japan | Boeing reportedly faces SEC probe over 737 Max | Study finds CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Conservative blocks House passage of disaster relief bill MORE (R-Texas) objected to its passage on Friday, citing the $19 billion price tag and lack of funds requested by the Trump administration to help agencies dealing with migrants at the southern border.
Blowback: Like Roy, Massie also quickly drew ire from his own party for blocking the bill’s passage.
“This is yet another example of politicians putting their own self-interest ahead of the national interest. It’s pathetic that some members have chosen this moment to grandstand & get into the national headlines,” tweeted Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.).
What’s next? The House isn’t scheduled to come back into session for roll call votes until next Monday, June 3.
Brazilian firm draws scrutiny on Trump farm aid: The Trump administration is under fire for granting millions in trade-related farm aid to a company owned by two Brazilian brothers under investigation for violating U.S. anti-corruption laws.
JBS USA, an American subsidiary of an international meatpacking corporation, has reportedly received millions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aid program for farmers and ranchers caught up in President Trump’s trade war.
But Democratic lawmakers are pressuring the Trump administration to retract its payouts to JBS USA, citing its link to a foreign corporation run by brothers at the center of corruption and bribery probes in both the U.S. and Brazil. I explain why here.
Trump offers farm aid as trade war heats up: Trump has sought to protect the ailing U.S. farm sector from tariffs on the country’s agricultural exports through direct payments and crop purchases from the USDA. He announced Thursday that the USDA would offer $16 billion more in aid to U.S. farmers and ranchers, following $12 billion in assistance unveiled in July.
- U.S. farmers and ranchers are among the hardest hit by the trade-war blowback from China and the European Union. Trump’s tariffs on steel, aluminum and Chinese goods prompted retaliatory levies on U.S. crops and livestock, hurting producers already reeling from low commodity prices and severe weather.
- JBS USA operates dozens of beef, pork, and poultry packaging plants throughout the U.S. and is among several firms facing retaliatory tariffs on American agricultural products.
The controversy over JBS: Through a string of high-profile acquisitions, JBS USA has grown to become the second-largest producer of beef, pork and poultry in the country.
But as JBS USA reaped profits from its growing American operations, the Brazilian brothers who owned the parent company–Josely and Wesley Batista–faced severe legal trouble at home and in the U.S.
- The Batistas have admitted to bribing thousands of Brazilian officials, including several presidents, and are facing accusations of insider trading and lying to prosecutors. Both have spent time in prison in Brazil.
- The Justice Department is also investigating the Batistas for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to court records obtained by The Hill.
And as Trump’s trade war escalates, it’s threatening to wash away the positive economic effects from his signature tax cuts, fallout which could endanger his reelection, reports my colleague, Niv Elis.
Economists say that Trump’s latest tariffs are all but canceling out the effects of the tax cuts for all but the wealthiest American families. An additional round of tariffs Trump has threatened hopes of securing a trade deal with China could tip the scales altogether.
- A study on the New York Federal Reserve’s blog suggested those tariffs alone had the potential to wipe away the benefits of the tax-cut law for most families, costing U.S. households an average of $831 a year.
- The non-partisan Tax Policy Center found that the Trump tax law would save families earning between $50,000 and $75,000 per year $870, meaning the higher China tariffs would come close to wiping out gains for these households.
- A Morgan Stanley analysis released last week warned that if Trump went forward with tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese imports, “we see the global economy heading towards recession.”
Of course, we’re not quite sure how much impact the tax cuts had on the economy in the first place. A report released today by the Congressional Research Service, Congress’ non-partisan research and analysis group, found that the 2017 law had a “minimal” boost to GDP growth.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Consumer confidence rose in May despite rising trade tensions between the Trump administration and China and declines in retail and home sales…
- …But nearly half of Americans surveyed believe that President Trump’s policies of imposing tariffs are harmful to the U.S. economy, nearly double the 25 percent who think the tariffs help the economy, according to a new Monmouth University poll.
- Chinese tourism to the United States dropped for the first time in 15 years after Beijing warned of the potential dangers in visiting the U.S.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauCanada begins process to ratify new NAFTA: report On The Money: Judge upholds House subpoena for Trump financial records | Trump vows to appeal ruling by ‘Obama-appointed judge’ | Canada, Mexico lift retaliatory tariffs on US | IRS audit rate falls Pence will travel to Canada to rally support for new NAFTA MORE on Monday notified the country’s lawmakers he intends to bring forward legislation to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the deal that replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement, Bloomberg News reported.
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez hits NYT over story on Hope Hicks: It’s framed ‘as some Lifetime drama’ GOP amps up efforts to recruit women candidates Ocasio-Cortez, progressives trash ‘antisemitic’ Politico illustration of Bernie Sanders MORE (D-N.Y.) plans to tend bar in her district at a Friday event to support tipped workers in the Empire State, the New York Daily News reported Tuesday.
ODDS AND ENDS
- Mackenzie Bezos has signed a pledge to give at least half of her $36 billion fortune to charity following her divorce from Amazon CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosSen. Coons examines Amazon’s privacy and data security practices for Alexa devices Amazon shareholders vote down limits on facial recognition software Did Bezos just save NASA’s Project Artemis moon mission? MORE.
- Clerics in Pakistan declared Monday hoarding U.S. dollars a “grave sin,” the Financial Times reported.