Skip to Content

Trumponomics Daily—Thursday, February 23

Yesterday’s note looked at the outside pressures imperiling chances for quick action on tax reform. Namely, Congressional Republicans won’t take it up until they’ve dealt with Obamacare, and that task is only getting more vexing. As we’ve seen this week in footage from raucous town-hall meetings across the country, rising popular angst over the potential repeal of the healthcare law is forcing GOP lawmakers into confrontations with angry constituents. And fraught debate over the issue will come amid an already-packed Congressional calendar, including ongoing Senate confirmations for cabinet and sub-cabinet level posts and Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch; a government spending measure (current funding expires April 28); and a debt ceiling hike, among other items.

But the bandwidth issue at most is only half the challenge. A potentially tougher one comes from within the party. Despite the claim by President Trump yesterday that the GOP tax plan is “actually very well finalized,” there is nothing approaching a consensus about how to move forward among the three Republican power centers in Washington. House Republicans are pushing a proposal to fund rate reductions by raising roughly $1 trillion from a new border tax. Senate Republicans largely object to that approach but so far have no offer of their own. And though Trump two weeks ago promised to present a “phenomenal” plan within a matter of weeks, neither side of Capitol Hill expects the White House to deliver one. That could leave the administration in a position of refereeing a debate between the two chambers, but it’s not clear there’s agreement within Trump’s team about major contours of an overhaul. For starters, Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, is said to back a border tax while Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economist, doesn’t.

Newly-confirmed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Wall Street Journal yesterday that his department has its own reservations about such a levy (specificially, “what the impact may be on the dollar”) and added the administration is “looking seriously” at it. Appearing on CNBC this morning, Mnuchin restated the White House goal of getting a “very significant” bill passed by the time lawmakers quit Washington for their August recess. That timeline is exceedingly ambitious, which is a nice way of saying it’s plainly unrealistic. CGCN Group, a lobbying firm, offered some optimistic perspective in a note to clients yesterday: “Complex comprehensive reform proposals die a dozen or more times before they are signed into law. That rule has been true for most major pieces of legislation Congress has enacted over the last 30 years, and it will certainly be true for tax reform.” But a tax overhaul has to be born before it can start dying, and that hasn’t happened yet.

Tory Newmyer

Must Reads

President Trump Is Meeting With Firms That Offshore U.S. Jobs on Thursday [Fortune]

This morning’s huddle includes executives from Caterpillar, United Technologies, Dana, 3M, and General Electric.

From Trump the Nationalist, a Trail of Global Trademarks [NYT]

As Trump waged a presidential campaign that stoked opposition to globalization, his business empire sought to vastly expand its global footprint by applying for  dozens of new trademarks around the world.

Tillerson looking for ways to raise his public profile [Politico]

The former Exxon Mobil CEO finds himself locked out of Trump’s inner circle in the administration’s opening act and wants aides to help address the growing public perception he lacks clout.

The Pruitt Emails: E.P.A. Chief Was Arm in Arm With Industry [NYT]

Newly public emails show that as Oklahoma’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt, now Trump’s environmental czar, worked closely with oil and gas interests, electric utilities and groups in the Koch network to roll back environmental regulations.

‘You Have to Stop,’ Renaissance Executive Tells Boss About Trump Support [WSJ]

Disagreements over Trump are spawning bitter acrimony in some corporate ranks.

Number of the day

$1 billion 

The savings that Trump has claimed he negotiated with Boeing to develop, purchase and operate two new jets that will serve as Air Force One, though the Air Force says it can’t account for that sum.

Loose change

The Yuge-est Threat to the Trump Economy: Spiking Interest Rates [Fortune]

Mexico: We ‘Do Not Have to Accept’ Trump’s Deportation Rules [Fortune]

Tech opens new war with Trump over transgender rights rollback [Politico]

The stock market rally: Too far, too fast [CNN Money]