Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund Weekly Report from Washington for 11/13/17

CALENDAR:

The House will return Monday, with first votes set for 6:30 PM. The House is scheduled to hold its last vote no later than 3 PM Thursday. The Senate also returns on Monday, with the first vote set for 5:30 PM. The Senate will stay in session through Thursday.

LAST WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:

The House came back to work last Monday, and took up and passed two bills under Suspension of the Rules.

On Tuesday, they took up and passed H.R. 3441, the Save Local Business Act. The bill passed by a vote of 242-181. Then they passed H.R. 3911, the Risk-Based Credit Examination Act, under Suspension of the Rules, by a vote of 389-32.

On Wednesday, the House voted for the Rule to consider H.R. 2201, the Micro Offering Safe Harbor Act.  They also took up and passed H.R. 4173, the Veterans Crisis Line Study Act of 2017, under Suspension of the Rules.

Then they took up and passed H.R. 3043, the Hydropower Modernization Act, by a vote of 257-166.

Later that day, the House took up and passed H.R. 3705, the Veterans Fair Debt Notice Act of 2017, under Suspension of the Rules, by a vote of 422-10.

On Thursday, the House took up and passed H.R. 2201, the Micro Offering Safe Harbor Act, by a vote of 232-188.

And then they were done.

THIS WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:

The House will return Monday, with four bills teed up for consideration under Suspension of the Rules, and one Resolution.

On Tuesday, they’ll bring up three more bills under Suspension of the Rules. Then they are scheduled to move to consideration of H.R. 2810, the Conference Report to accompany the National Defense Authorization Act, and H.R. 2874, the 21st Century Flood Reform Act.

On Wednesday, the House will consider five more bills under Suspension of the Rules.

The House Rules Committee has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday to consider the Rule for consideration of H.R. 1, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, so I expect we’ll see that on the floor Thursday.

And then they’ll be done and gone for their Thanksgiving break.

LAST WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:

The Senate came back to work last Tuesday, and voted to confirm John Gibson to be Deputy Chief Management Officer of the Department of Defense. The vote to confirm was 91-7.

Then the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the nomination of Steven Engel to be Assistant Attorney General, and then later that same afternoon, the Senate voted to confirm him to that job. Both the vote to invoke cloture and the vote to confirm were 51-47.

Later Tuesday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the nomination of Peter Robb to be General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. And on Wednesday, the Senate voted to confirm him. The vote to confirm was 49-46.

Later Wednesday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the nomination of William Wehrum to be Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. And on Thursday, the Senate voted to confirm him to that job. The vote to confirm was 49-46.

Later Thursday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the nomination of Derek Kan, to be Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy.

THIS WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:

The Senate will return Monday, with the first vote scheduled for 5:30 PM. That will be a vote to confirm Derek Kan to be Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy. And then we’ll see more votes on nominations for the rest of the week – Steven Bradbury to serve as General Counsel of the Department of Transportation, David Zatezalo to be Assistant Secretary of Labor, Joseph Otting to be Comptroller of the Currency, Donald Coggins, Jr. to be a federal district judge in South Carolina, and Dabney Langhorne Friedrich to be a federal district judge in the District of Columbia.

AT&T-TIME WARNER MERGER:

On the possible AT&T-Timer Warner merger, the Department of Justice has told AT&T that it would have to divest either the Turner television unit – which includes CNN – or DirecTV in order to win the Department’s approval for the merger. Rather than go along with the divestment, AT&T is said to be preparing for a court battle, and, according to the WSJ, “arguing the opposition is politically motivated since there is no overlap between the two companies’ businesses lines.”

CLINTON EMAILS:

An early May 2016 draft of former FBI Director James Comey’s statement terminating the Clinton email investigation says she had been “grossly negligent” in her handling of classified information, according to newly reported memos to Congress.

That tough language was softened significantly before the memo was released – Comey merely charged her with being “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information.

That change is significant, because federal law says gross negligence can be punished criminally, with fines or incarceration.

Said the original draft, “There is evidence to support a conclusion that Secretary Clinton, and others, used the email server in a manner that was grossly negligent with respect to the handling of classified information.” According to a source who has seen the original draft, that original version was softened on or around June 10.

The documents sent to Congress did not include information indicating who recommended the textual changes. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley sent a letter Monday to current FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding to know who made the changes, and what was his or her thinking.

In other Clinton email news, last Friday, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg dismissed a pair of lawsuits from Judicial Watch and Cause of Action Institute that were seeking to force the State Department to continue its search for Hillary Clinton’s emails.

This same judge’s earlier ruling dismissing the suits was overturned by a panel of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, so we’ll have to wait to see what the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals does now.

GUNS:

As of Labor Day, Rep. Richard Hudson’s H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, has 212 cosponsors in the House. Importantly, the 209th Member of Congress to add his name as a cosponsor is Rep. Bob Goodlatte of VA, who is serving his last term as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill.

In the Senate, the companion legislation is Sen. John Cornyn’s S. 446, the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. That bill has 38 cosponsors.

The bills would do just what they sound like they would do – amend federal law to allow qualified individuals “to carry a concealed handgun into or posses a concealed handgun in another state that allows its residents to carry concealed firearms.”

Despite near-majority support in the House and significant support in the Senate, neither bill has moved out of committee.

IRS:

The good news is, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s term of office is done as of last week, and we can’t say “good riddance” fast enough. On his way out the door, he took his revenge on the Republicans he thinks made his life miserable for the last four years by having the IRS finally begin to enforce ObamaCare’s employer mandate. At his direction, the IRS has sent out thousands of penalty letters to businesses the IRS believes are not complying with that employer mandate. No one is sure just how many businesses could be hit with penalties and interest, but by some estimates cited by the Wall Street Journal, it will be in the tens of thousands.

The CBO estimated in 2015 that employers would owe $9 billion in FY 2016 and $13 billion in FY 2017.

JUDICIARY:

Our allies at Judicial Crisis Network last week announced a campaign to support the confirmation of Kyle Duncan to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans. The two-week ad campaign features a Duncan testimonial by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. Duncan was one of the attorneys representing the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty in the Hobby Lobby ObamaCare challenge.

OBAMACARE:

Last Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office released its score for repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate. According to CBO, repealing the individual mandate would save the federal government $338 billion over the next decade, and would result in 13 million more people being uninsured. Of course, we would say that’s 13 million more people exercising their own healthcare freedom to make their own decision not to buy a product they can’t afford and don’t want.

House and Senate GOP leaders are still considering whether or not they should add a provision repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate to the tax reform bills currently working their way through House and Senate. No decisions have yet been made, other than the House GOP Leadership’s decision not to add ObamaCare individual mandate repeal to the House version of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act during the Ways and Means Committee markup session last week.

RUSSIA PROBE:

The best piece of analysis in a long time on the Russia probe is Kim Strassel’s Friday column in the Wall Street Journal. Entitled “Lifting the Steele Curtain,” she makes the argument that the Steele dossier – constructed by a former British intelligence agent working for Fusion GPS for its clients, the Clinton for President campaign and the Democratic National Committee – is “one of the dirtiest tricks in U.S. political history.” As she points out, it’s the first time in memory that a campaign commissioned opposition research on its opponent, then took the results of that opposition research, handed it to the federal government, which then began an investigation of its claims and then leaked the existence of that investigation to the media, leading the media to write that the campaign’s opponent was under investigation by the federal government. I commend the entire column to your attention, and you can find it in this week’s Suggested Reading.

SPENDING:

We’re now less than one month away from Congress’ December 8 deadline to pass a bill funding the government, and by all accounts, they’re going to need more time. So look for both House and Senate to pass a short-term Continuing Resolution after they come back from the Thanksgiving break. I expect that extension will last less than a month, so they can finalize details on an omnibus spending package that will get us through the end of the fiscal year next September, and then bring that bill to the floor for a vote before Christmas. Of course, they didn’t plan on a hurricane spending supplemental appropriations bill, so even a Christmas deadline is optimistic – one senior GOP legislative aide quoted by The Hill suggested, “That is an unrealistic timeline. It will take AT LEAST a solid legislative month once we get a topline …”

TAX REFORM:

After a four-day markup session, the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday finally approved, on a 24-16 party-line vote, H.R. 1, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, and sent it to the Rules Committee for floor consideration. As mentioned above, House leaders currently plan to bring the tax reform bill to the floor of the House on Wednesday of this week.

The bill cuts the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, shrinks the number of brackets on the individual side from seven to four, and cuts tax rates for all incomes under $1 million. As amended, it would eliminate the tax deduction for state and local income and sales taxes, but would allow for a deduction of up to $10,000 on property taxes.

Importantly, changes were made during the markup session that brought on board the National Federation of Independent Business, which endorsed the bill after it came out of markup on Thursday. U.S. Rep. Steve King got a long-sought provision added, which would save an estimated $20 billion by requiring people claiming the child tax credit to provide a Social Security for their child, to prevent illegal immigrants from claiming the credit. The popular adoption tax credit was restored during the markup session.

Meanwhile, Senate GOP leaders unveiled their version of tax reform on Thursday.

The Senate bill contains both many similarities to and several significant differences from the House bill. While both bills drop the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, the Senate version delays that tax reduction for one year, so it doesn’t go into effect until 2019.

This would have two effects – one fiscal, and one economic. On the fiscal front, delaying the tax cut by a year would reduce the so-called “cost” of the provision – that is, it would delay the drop in revenues collected by the Treasury that would be associated with a significant rate cut. In the Senate, they’re trying to fit the tax cut into a $1.5 trillion cut over ten years, so all the tax cuts contained in the bill can be made permanent.

On the economic front, we’d likely see a rush of businesses putting money toward capital investment, as businesses took advantage of full expensing against a 35 percent tax rate rather than wait a year and lose that extra 15 percent savings. But as Art Laffer points out, that would also mean lots of tax avoidance and sheltering next year – and that would likely include more offshoring. A delay in the drop in the corporate tax rate would deter foreign investment from coming to the United States in 2018, and that could lead to a loss of revenue to the government, perhaps as much as $100 billion.

There are other differences between the Senate bill and the House bill. In the Senate bill, though they cut taxes on the individual side, they drop the top tax rate to 38.5 percent. The Senate bill would also keep deductions for medical expenses and for student loan interest that the House bill eliminates. And the Senate bill would completely eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes, rather than keeping the $10,000 deduction for property taxes now found in the House bill. That’s because in the Senate, no GOP Senators represent CA, NY, NJ, IL, or CT, the high-tax states whose GOP Representatives have been pitching a fit.

Further, the Senate bill would maintain the deduction for mortgage interest on loans up to $1 million, while the House bill cuts that threshold to $500,000.

The Senate bill includes an increase in the child tax credit from $1000 to $1,650, while the House bill raises it to $1,600. Sens. Marco Rubio and Mike Lee say that $1,650 is still too low, and want to raise it to $2,000.

I’ve included a link in the Suggested Reading to a piece from the Daily Signal that compares the House and Senate tax bills to current law.

The Senate Finance Committee will hold its markup session on its bill beginning Monday afternoon at 3 PM. More than 350 amendments have been filed.

URANIUM ONE:

Last Tuesday evening, U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs led a Special Order on the House floor to discuss the Uranium One scandal. Joining him in the Special Order were Reps. Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Scott Perry, Ted Yoho, and Jody Hice. I’ve included a link to Rep. Biggs’ press release about the Special Order in the Suggested Reading, and from that press release you can find links to video of each of the Congressmen addressing the topic.

SUGGESTED READING:

JENNY BETH MARTIN/TEA PARTY PATRIOTS:

Hill: Jenny Beth Martin: Tax Reform Must Help Workers In America’s New Sharing Economy

WT: Jenny Beth Martin: Russia’s Century of Disinformation Campaigns

AGENDA:

Hill: This Week: House GOP Pushes Tax Reform Vote

AT&T-TIME WARNER:

CNN: AT&T Takeover Of Time Warner Hits Snag With DOJ As Dispute Goes Public

WSJ: Regulators Seek Significant Asset Sales in AT&T Deal for Time Warner

CLINTON EMAILS:

Hill: Early Comey Memo Accused Clinton Of Gross Negligence On Emails

WT: FBI Originally Deemed Clinton ‘Grossly Negligent’ in Handling of Secret Emails

WT: Botched Russia Assessment Raises Questions of Intel Chiefs’ Motives

Hill: Judge Dismisses Lawsuits over Clinton Emails

GUNS:

SRC: We Have the Votes To Pass National Concealed Carry, but the Terrible Twins Are Blocking It

IRS:

IRS: Koskinen’s Parting Gift from the IRS

JUDICIARY:

WE: Judicial Crisis Network Launches Ad Campaign For Federal Appeals Judge Nominee From Louisiana

NYT: Trump Is Rapidly Reshaping the Judiciary. Here’s How.

OBAMACARE:

WE: Trump Readies Executive Order To Unravel ObamaCare’s Individual Mandate

Politico: CBO: ObamaCare Mandate Repeal Would Reduce Deficit By $338 Billions

RUSSIA PROBE:

WSJ: Strassel: Lifting the Steele Curtain

SPENDING:

Politico: Democrats Emboldened After Elections – But Still Wary Of Shutdown Talks

Hill: GOP Lawmaker Says Congress Won’t Meet Dec. 8 Spending Deadline

TAX REFORM:

RC: Small Business Concerns Threaten GOP Tax Overhaul

WaPo: Senate GOP Tax Bill Could Delay Corporate Tax Cut and Make Other Major Changes that Break Sharply with House Plan

Hill: GOP Criticism Of Tax Bill Grows But Few Are Ready To Vote Against It

Politico: Senate GOP Could Struggle To Match House On Taxes

Forbes: Tax Reform Means Tax Cuts For All Americans, Regardless Of Income

Politico: GOP Drubbing Scrambles Tax Reform Outlook

Politico: House Leaders Race To Round Up Tax Votes

BI: The Group That Represents America’s Small Businesses Reverses Its Position on the New GOP Tax Bill

Politico: House GOP Punches Big Hole In Plan With Tax Avoidance Charges

Politico: Senate GOP’s Tax Bill Points To Nasty Fight Ahead

WaPo: Hatch: The Senate Tax Bill Is Exactly What the Middle Class Needs

Politico: House Committee Advances Tax Overhaul Bill

Hill: Adoption Tax Credit Restores After Conservative Backlash

Ways And Means: 5 Fast Facts About How Tax Cuts, Jobs Act Delivers Tax Relief To Americans

DS: A Tale of Two Tax Bills: Comparing the House, Senate Reform Plans

Politico: Brady: House Will Not Accept Repeal of State, Local Tax Deduction

CNBC: Kudlow: A Pro-Growth GOP Tax Cut Is on the Way — This Year

URANIUM ONE:

Congressman Andy Biggs: House Republican Members Renew Focus On Robert Mueller, James Comey, Uranium One, Fusion GPS, The Trump Dossier, Hillary Clinton And The Clinton Foundation

MISCELLANEOUS:

GQ: Inside Donald Trump’s Election Night War Room

Esquire: Election 2016 Behind The Scenes

Daily Beast: Bannon Protégée Gets A New Job In The White House – And Its Not Going Well

NBC News: Bad Night For Trump Sets Stage For More GOP Infighting

WaPo: Woman Says Roy Moore Initiated Sexual Encounter When She Was 14, He Was 32

WaPo: Trump, McConnell Call Upon Roy Moore To Exit Alabama Race “If These Allegations Are True”

Politico: Republicans Might Be Stuck With Roy Moore

RC: Will Sexual Allegations Sink Roy Moore Campaign?

Hill: Moore Defends Himself as Pressure Mounts

WaPo: Trump Casts Doubt on Allegations Against Moore, Leaving Republicans an Impossible Choice

Hill: Republicans Float Pushing Back Alabama Special Election

USAT: ‘Much Ado About Very Little’: Roy Moore Allegations Met with Skepticism in Alabama

 

Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund Weekly Report from Washington for 11/6/17

 

CALENDAR:

The House will return Monday, with first votes set for 6:30 PM. The House is scheduled to hold its last vote no later than 3 PM Thursday. The Senate also returns on Monday, with the first vote set for 5:30 PM.

LAST WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:

On Thursday, October 26, the House took up H.Con.Res. 71, establishing the congressional budget for the U.S. Government for fiscal year 2018 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2019 through 2027. This was a vote on the Senate-passed budget resolution, and its passage meant that there was no need to go to conference to work out differences between the House-passed budget and the Senate-passed budget. By simply putting the Senate-passed budget resolution directly on the floor of the House, with no amendments, and then passing it, the House bypassed the need for a conference committee.

The budget resolution passed by a vote of 216-212, and thus was unlocked the key to using the reconciliation process to pass tax reform through the Senate. Because debate is limited to 20 hours in the Senate, the minority party has no way of filibustering the bill, and that means it can pass with a simple majority. Twenty Republicans voted against the resolution, registering their objection to a portion of the tax reform bill.

One week later, on Thursday, November 2, the House considered H.R. 849, the Protecting Seniors Access to Medicare Act. This bill terminates ObamaCare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board – the infamous IPAB – which has the authority to unilaterally change Medicare policy that could ultimately reduce seniors’ access to healthcare. The bill passed by a vote of 307-111, with no Republicans voting against it and 76 Democrats crossing party lines to vote with the majority.

Then the House took up H.R. 3922, the CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS act, also known as the reauthorization bill for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The bill extends CHIP for five years, extends community health centers for two years, and provides another two year extension for other public health programs. The bill passed by a vote of 242-174.

And then they were done.

THIS WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:

The House will return Monday evening, and will consider five bills concerning veterans under Suspension of the Rules.

On Tuesday, the House will consider 11 more bills under Suspension of the Rules, all but two of which concern veterans.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 3043, the Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017 and H.R. 2201, the Micro Offering Safe Harbor Act.

LAST WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:

Beginning on Thursday, October 26, the Senate went on a judicial confirmation spree of sorts. That day, the Senate confirmed Scott Palk to be a U.S. district judge. Over the course of the next week, the Senate confirmed one more federal district judge and four more Circuit Court judges, thereby bringing from seven to 13 the number of federal judges confirmed by the Senate.

Then the Senate confirmed by voice vote a ton of ambassadorial nominations – 16, by my count – and more State Department Assistant Secretaries and similar executive branch nominees.

THIS WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:

The Senate will come back into session on Monday and will resume consideration of Steven Engel to be an Assistant Attorney General. At 5:30, the Senate will vote to invoke cloture on that nomination.

On Tuesday, the Senate will more to a roll call vote on the confirmation of John Gibson II to be Deputy Chief Management Officer of the Department of Defense.

Through the remainder of the week, the Senate will consider at least three more nominations.

AT&T-TIME WARNER MERGER:

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Department of Justice is preparing a potential lawsuit challenging AT&T’s planned takeover of Time Warner if the government and the two companies cannot reach an agreement. Followers of the potential $85 billion merger note that this is standard practice for the Department of Justice, and still believe the deal will go through in the end – but maybe with some strings attached.

CLINTON EMAILS:

On Tuesday, October 24, the chairmen of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform Committees announced a joint investigation into how the FBI handled the 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State. No hearings have yet been scheduled.

IMMIGRATION:

On Tuesday, October 24, Huffington Post reported that Speaker Ryan, meeting with members of the Republican Study Committee, had told them he anticipated that legislative language addressing the so-called “Dreamers” would likely be included in the upcoming December omnibus spending bill.

Nine days later, President Trump hosted several GOP Senators at the White House for a meeting on immigration, and told them he did not want to see DACA language in the omnibus package or in other so-called “must pass” legislation like the upcoming CHIP reauthorization.

Democrats, meanwhile, continue to insist on inclusion of language protecting the Dreamers in the omnibus package, and have threatened to withhold their votes and force a government shutdown if they don’t get what they want. Stay tuned.

IRS TARGETING SCANDAL:

On Wednesday, October 25, the Washington Times reported that lawyers in one of the lawsuits against the IRS finally found the smoking gun – an email from an IRS official acknowledging while the targeting was going on that tea party and conservative groups were being targeted for their political beliefs.

The April 1, 2011 email from Elizabeth C. Kastenberg, an official in the IRS’ Exempt Organizations division, read as follows: “These cases are held back primarily because of their political party affiliation rather than specifically any political activities.” That, of course, totally undercuts Lois Lerner, who insisted that IRS agents who were holding back applications “didn’t do it with a higher level of review” and “didn’t do this because of any political bias.”

But it turns out that wasn’t the biggest news of the day on the IRS targeting scandal. Later that day, the Department of Justice declared a victory of sorts for the tea party movement when it announced it had reached agreements with tea party groups that had sued the government over the IRS targeting scandal. The agreements have yet to be approved by a judge.

Said Attorney General Jeff Sessions, “There is no excuse for this conduct. Hundreds of organizations were affected by these actions, and they deserve an apology from the IRS. We hope that today’s settlement makes clear that this abuse of power will not be tolerated.”

In one of the two cases that were settled – the one filed in Washington, DC, with 41 plaintiffs – the IRS offered an apology. “The IRS admits that its treatment of Plaintiffs during the tax-exempt determination process, including screening their applications based on their names or policy positions, subjecting those applications to heightened scrutiny and inordinate delays, and demanding some Plaintiffs’ information that TIGTA determined was unnecessary to the agency’s determination of their tax-exempt status, was wrong. For such treatment, the IRS expresses its sincere apology,” wrote the IRS in court documents.

The second case, filed in Ohio, was a class action lawsuit involving 428 members of the affected class. In that lawsuit, the proposed consent decree calls for a payment of $3.5 million to the class members.

On Thursday, October 26 – the day after the two agreements were announced – President Trump announced his appointment of Assistant Treasury Secretary David Kautter as Acting Commissioner of the IRS, to serve in the position that will be vacated by departing IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, whose term of office expires next week.

JUDICIARY:

The Senate is still sitting on 43 more judicial nominees, and there are almost 100 more judicial vacancies waiting for nominees to fill them.

OBAMACARE:

As predicted, on Wednesday, October 25, federal district judge Vince Chhabria denied a motion by 18 states and the District of Columbia that would have forced the Trump Administration to continue making illegal and unconstitutional Cost Sharing Reduction payments to health insurers.

PERSONNEL:

On Thursday, November 2, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Federal Reserve Governor Jerome “Jay” Powell to serve as Chairman of the Federal Reserve System when current Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s term of office expires in February.

Powell is a squishy Republican who was appointed to the Fed board by President Obama in 2012, after having served as a Treasury Department undersecretary during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

He was opposed by 20 GOP Senators during his confirmation vote to his current position on the Fed board, and is seen as only slightly to the right of Chairwoman Yellen.

RUSSIA PROBE:

Last Monday, we learned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had indicted former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and his right-hand man, Rick Gates. We also learned that former Trump Campaign volunteer foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos had cut a plea deal with Mueller.

The two events are significant for different reasons.

The Manafort and Gates indictments are for actions taken by the two defendants long before either one of them had gone to work for the Trump campaign. In fact, their actions took place before there even was a Trump campaign, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the Trump campaign. Essentially, the two are accused of making tons of money working for the political party that ran Ukraine for a number of years, failing to register as agents of this foreign interest, laundering $18 million in payments, and then using the funds to finance a “lavish lifestyle” without paying taxes on the funds – though, for some reason, the indictments do not include tax evasion.

Clearly, Mueller is attempting to squeeze Manafort and Gates into flipping against the President.

The Papadopoulos plea deal, on the other hand, is the result of actions taken by Papadopoulos with regard to his activities inside the Trump campaign – to wit, he has now acknowledged that he lied to government agents about his activities in trying to set up meetings for Trump campaign personnel, including then-candidate Trump, with Russian government officials.

Papadopoulos has become a cooperating witness, and has apparently been one since July, so there’s a possibility he may have been wearing a wire in any August or September conversations with former Trump campaign officials.

And just this weekend, there are news reports that Special Counsel Mueller may be getting ready to indict former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and or his son.

TAX REFORM:

On Thursday, November 2, House GOP leaders unveiled their draft tax reform proposal. As expected, it significantly cuts both corporate and individual tax rates, while offsetting that static loss of revenue by eliminating deductions in both the corporate and individual spheres. Over the next decade, according to the official scoring, the reform proposal would be a net tax cut of $1.5 trillion, with about a trillion dollars of that going to the corporate side, and the remaining $500 billion to the individual side.

The corporate tax rate would be cut from its current 35 percent – highest in the developed world, and a real disincentive to business investment in the United States, which costs us jobs and keeps wages lower than they would be otherwise – down to 20 percent, which would make us much more competitive internationally. And some small businesses – but not all – that use pass-through income would see their rates drop from the current 39.6 percent down to 25 percent.

Not surprisingly, big business – as represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable – supports the draft legislation. But many smaller businesses – as represented by the National Federation of Independent Business – oppose the current draft of the legislation, because not enough of them would receive the benefit of the 25 percent rate.

On the individual side, the current seven tax brackets would be shrunk to four, set at 12 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent, and 39.6 percent. Most, but not all, taxpayers would see a cut in their tax rates. The standard deduction would be virtually doubled, but personal exemptions would be eliminated.

And the death tax is restricted further for the next six years, with a doubling of the current threshold to $11 million, and is eliminated entirely after six years.

In order to offset the loss of revenue, the reform proposal eliminates or restricts many deductions. The mortgage interest deduction, for instance, which currently allows a deduction for mortgage interest up to $1 million, would be halved, to $500,000. That’s got both the National Association of Homebuilders and the National Association of Realtors opposed to the current draft, because they believe it will negatively impact the housing industry.

The current deduction for state and local taxes – which has the effect of taking money from lower- and middle-income taxpayers in fiscally frugal states and subsidizing higher-income taxpayers in big-spending states – would be restricted, so that up to $10,000 in property taxes could be deducted, but not state and local income or sales taxes.

Rep. Tom Rice of SC is trying to get an amendment added during the markup session this week that would address concerns generated by current law treatment of contractors who work for companies like Uber, Postmates, and GrubHub. His amendment – actually a stand-alone law he’s drafted, called the NEW GIG Act, sponsored in the Senate by John Thune of SD – would end the Obama Administration’s attacks against the business model of the gig economy by making clear that these workers are classified properly as “contractors,” and not “employees,” and easing their tax filing burden by allowing for withholding of estimated taxes on their 1099 forms. That seems to make sense, and it could provide billions of dollars in tax revenue that can be used to offset rate cuts elsewhere.

I’m not going to go further into the details for a simple reason – what was released on Thursday is not what’s going to be voted on two weeks from now. In fact, that draft legislation lasted less than 24 hours before House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady introduced on Friday his “chairman’s mark,” the committee chairman’s official draft of the legislation to be amended during this week’s coming markup session. And even that chairman’s mark, we are told, is going to be amended further before the House Ways and Means Committee starts its markup session today.

If House Republicans keep to the schedule they’ve laid out, we expect that Ways and Means Committee markup will run from Monday through Thursday, so that the full House can vote on the legislation next week, and they can be done with their bill before the Thanksgiving break.

Meanwhile, there will be a separate bill on the Senate side. Unlike the ObamaCare repeal exercise – where the Senate did not have its own bill come out of committee, but instead merely offered amendments drafted in the Majority Leader’s office to the bill that came out of the House – the Senate Finance Committee will draft its own tax reform plan for consideration by the Senate. We expect to see that draft legislation released after the House Ways and Means Committee markup is done.

One other item of note – both House and Senate GOP leaders are coming under pressure from President Trump to include repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate in the tax reform reconciliation bill to come. Many conservatives, including Senators Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, and Tom Cotton, along with House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows and former Chairman Jim Jordan, think you could kill three birds with one stone:

First, repealing the mandate would, according to the CBO’s last score, lead to 15 million fewer people having health insurance. That would translate into somewhere between $300 billion and $400 billion in savings over the next decade, because fewer people with ObamaCare means less paid out in government subsidies under ObamaCare. When the CBO last scored the prospect, they said it would save the government $416 billion over ten years; there are indications, though, that a new CBO score on the matter might show significantly smaller savings.

Second, repealing the individual mandate now would make the next attempt at ObamaCare repeal somewhat easier, because those who want to repeal ObamaCare would have already taken the political hit for the expected loss of coverage. Remember, the squishy Senate Republicans who were problematic on ObamaCare repeal were problematic precisely because they didn’t want to vote for something that could be portrayed as causing a loss of coverage for so many people. So by repealing the individual mandate now, that means the CBO coverage baseline is reduced, which would make the next repeal attempt a somewhat simpler exercise, politically, because they wouldn’t be seen as “taking coverage away” from anyone – they would have already done so in the tax bill.

Third, that $300-$400 billion in savings could be used to offset further rate cuts.

Of course, going back to number two – the reduction in the coverage baseline – would make passing tax reform harder in the Senate. As Ways and Means Chairman Brady pointed out, the Senate has yet to put together any proposal that can get to 50 votes, so including repeal of the individual mandate in the tax bill may not be a good idea.

Nevertheless, he has asked CBO for an updated score on repeal of the individual mandate, and will likely decide this week with House GOP leaders whether or not it should be included in the bill before it goes to the floor.

URANIUM ONE:

On Friday, three House Republicans – Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, and Louie Gohmert – introduced House Resolution 606, expressing the sense of the House that Special Counsel Mueller should resign his position as Special Counsel.

And in an appearance on FOX News Sunday yesterday, SC GOP Senator Lindsey Graham said the Department of Justice should appoint another special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton over her ties to Russia and her campaign’s use of Fusion GPS to assemble the fabled “Trump Dossier.”

Said Graham, “I think we need a special counsel to investigate the Fusion GPS episode between the Democratic Party, Mr. Steele and Russian operatives.” He later added, “I think we need a special counsel to investigate the Uranium One episode where thousands of dollars were given to the Clinton Global Fund and to former President Bill Clinton from groups tied to Russia.”

SUGGESTED READING:

JENNY BETH MARTIN/TEA PARTY PATRIOTS:

Hill: Jenny Beth Martin: The House Needs To Pass The Senate’s Budget And Move To Tax Reform

Hill: Jenny Beth Martin: No Room For Amnesty In Our Government Spending Bill

WT: Jenny Beth Martin: Congress Must Review Military Women Policies

WT: Jenny Beth Martin: What’s at Stake in the Virginia Attorney General Race

Axios: Jenny Beth Martin: Trump Should Stay Out Of Mississippi

Breitbart: Tea Party Patriots Jenny Beth Martin On 2018 MS Senate Race:’ I hope The President Just Stays Out’

US News: Can Conservative Anti-Establishment Candidates Win In 2018?

Sacramento Bee: California Republicans Embrace Donald Trump

Reuters: Consumer Groups Join Conservatives Against AT&T Deal For Time Warner

Townhall: Tea Party To Trump: Don’t Endorse Senator Wicker In Mississippi

CNN: Conservative Groups To McSally: Stay Out Of Arizona’s Senate Race

AGENDA:

RC: House Volleys CHIP Measure to Senate

AT&T-TIME WARNER:

WT: Jenny Beth Martin: DOJ Must Carefully Review AT&T-Time Warner Merger

WSJ: U.S. Weighs Suit Against AT&T’s Deal for Time Warner

USAT: AT&T-Time Warner Merger May Face Justice Department Anti-Trust Suit

CLINTON EMAILS:

Hill: House GOP Leaders Open Probe Into FBI’s Handling Of Clinton Investigation

Politico: House GOP Opens Probe Into DOJ’s Clinton Investigation

Politico: House GOP Launches Probes Into Clinton, Obama Controversies

IMMIGRATION:

HuffPo: Paul Ryan Tells Conservatives DACA Will Be Part Of Spending Deal

Politico: Supreme Court Completes Punt In Travel Ban Cases

WE: Trump Administration Challenges Federal Judge’s Decision To Block Newest Travel Ban

Politico: Trump To Meet GOP Senators On DACA Fix

Politico: Dreamer Fix Shouldn’t Be In Deal To Avoid Shutdown, Trump Tells Senators

IRS TARGETING SCANDAL:

WT: IRS Agent’s Email Says Groups Were Targeted ‘Primarily Because of Their Political Party Affiliation’

WT: Trump Administration Officially Apologizes For IRS Tea Party Targeting

WaPo: Justice Department Agrees To Settle Lawsuits Over IRS Scrutiny Of Tea Party Groups

Fox News: Trump DOJ Settles Lawsuits Over Tea Party Targeting By Obama’s IRS

Reuters: Justice Department Settles with Conservative Groups over IRS Scrutiny

Cincinnati: IRS Settles Tea Party Cases For Millions And An Apology

WT: Tea Party Groups Targeted By IRS Get $3.5 Million Settlement

NYT: Justice Department Settles With Tea Party Groups After IRS Scrutiny

JUDICIARY:

Politico: McConnell Preps Judicial Confirmation Frenzy

Breitbart: Senate Confirms Trump’s Judicial Nominees Despite Democrats’ Opposition

OBAMACARE:

Politico: Senate Seeking Clarity From Trump On ObamaCare Deal

Hill: Judge Won’t Force Trump To Keep Making ObamaCare Payments

AP News: Trump Administration Proposes Health Law Benefit Changes

PERSONNEL:

Lab. Equipment: NASA Administrator Nominee To Get Hearing At Senate Committee Hearing Amid Opposition

Hill: Trump USDA Pick Linked To Mueller Probe Withdraws Nomination

Hill: Trump Names Powell As Chairman Of The Federal Reserve

Bloomberg: Here’s What You Need To Know About Powell’s Fed Chair Selection

RUSSIA PROBE:

WaPo: Clinton Campaign, DNC Paid For Research That Led To Russia Dossier

WT: FEC Complaint Accuses Clinton Campaign, DNC of Violating Campaign Finance Law with Dossier Payments

Law Newz: FEC Complaint Says Clinton Campaign, DNC Violated Law Over Trump Dossier

Hill: FBI Informant In Obama Era Russian Nuclear Bribery Cleared To Testify Before Congress

Hill: GOP Seizes On New Clinton Revelation

WSJ: Democrats, Russians And The FBI

Politico: Ryan: FBI To Give Congress Dossier-Related Documents

Hill: Conservative Site Funded Project That Led To Trump Dossier

NYT: Conservative Site First Funded Anti-Trump Research By Firm That Later Produced Dossier

Hill: Clinton, Trump And The Russia Dossier: What You Need To Know

NRO: A Bipartisan Dossier Of Collusion

Reuters: White House Chief Of Staff Calls For Special Counsel To Probe Democrats

Reuters: Ex-British Spy Paid $168,000 For Trump Dossier, US Firm Discloses

Hill: Uranium One Deal Led To Some Exports To Europe, Memos Show

Politico: Clinton Defends Campaign Funding Of Research In Steele Dossier

WSJ: The FBI’s Political Meddling

Hill: Manafort Indicted On 12 Counts, Surrenders To The FBI

Hill: Trump On Manafort Indictment: ‘ This Was Years Ago’

Daily Wire: Breaking: Former Trump Foreign Policy Advisor Cuts Plea Deal, Admits Russians Offered To Funnel ‘Dirt’ on Hillary

Politico: Tony Podesta Stepping Down From Lobbying Giant Amid Mueller Probe

NRO: Paul Manafort Indicted: What It Means

Politico: The Definitive Trump – Russia Timeline Of Events

WSJ: The Manafort Indictment

WaPo: Upstairs At Home With The TV On, Trump Fumes Over Russia Indictments

NYT: Trump Campaign Got Early Word Russia Had Democrats Emails

Hill: How Young Trump Aide Became Key Player In Russia Probe

Daily Caller: George Papadopoulos’s Fascinating Link To The Trump Dossier

NYT: Trump And Sessions Denied Knowing About Russian Contacts. Records Suggest Otherwise

TAX REFORM:

WaPo: Trump Pledges No Change To Your 401K In His Tax Cut Plan

WaPo: Trump’s Promises Narrow GOP’s Options On Tax Bill

Politico: House To Vote Thursday On Senate Budget

WE: Republicans Threaten To Block Budget Passage Over Local Deductions

IBD: This Is Rich: Democrats Fight To Protect A $1.8 Trillion Tax Break That Benefits The Top 1%

IBD: Surprise! It’s Not The GOP’s Middle Class Tax Cuts That Will Benefit The Middle Class

Hill: Ryan: Tax Bill Coming Next Week

Politico: House Republicans Gear Up For Imminent Tax Bill Roll Out

Forbes: Salt Sticking Points Shouldn’t Keep GOP From Passing The Budget

Politico: GOP Leaders Scramble For Tax Deduction Fix Before Budget Vote

Hill: House Adopts Senate Budget, Takes Step Toward Tax Reform

Politico: House Narrowly Passes Budget – Setting Up Mammoth Tax Fight

Hill: GOP Plans Tax Blitzkrieg

Politico: Ryan Loses Key Ally On Tax Reform After Switch On Benefits For Homeowners

Bloomberg: House Tax Writer Gives Ground On A State And Local Tax Break

Politico: House GOP Tosses Conservative Playbook In Bid For Tax Reform

Hill: Senate GOP: We Are Unified On Controversial Tax Policy Change

Politico: House GOP Struggles To Unite On Tax Bill

Hill: GOP To Delay Release Of Tax Bill

House: HR1

Politico: GOP Unity (For Now) On House Tax Plan

NYT: Republican Plan Delivers Permanent Corporate Tax Cut

Politico: Tax Talking Points

Breitbart: Republican Tax Plan Cuts Middle Class And Corporate Taxes, Leaves Retirement Savings Safe

WSJ: Half A Tax Reform

Politico: Senate Littered With Tax Reform Land Mines

Politico: The GOP’s Hidden 46% Tax Bracket

Politico: Conservatives Push To Repeal ObamaCare Mandate in Tax Package

Hill: GOP Predicts Few Defections on Tax Vote

WaPo: Trump Personally Pushing GOP Leaders To Use Tax Bill To Undermine ObamaCare

WaPo: Using Tax Legislation To Overhaul ObamaCare Still ‘Being Discussed,’ Ryan Says

Hill: Tax Bill Raises Red Flags for Senate GOP

Politico: Who Pays More Under the Trump-House GOP Tax Plan?

URANIUM ONE:

RC: House Republicans Call Upon Mueller To Resign As Special Counsel

Breitbart: House Republicans Introduce Resolution Calling on Special Counsel Robert Mueller To Step Down

  1. Res. 606: Text

NYP: Graham Calls for Special Counsel To Probe Clinton Russia Ties

MISCELLANEOUS:

NBC News: Arizona GOP Senator Jeff Flake, Appalled By Trump, Won’t Seek Re-Election

Hill: Poll: GOP Voters Want McConnell To Step Down

Breitbart: Exclusive: Freedom Works’ Adam Brandon On Jeff Flake: ‘If Your Electoral Strategy Is Cozying Up To Mitch McConnell, You’re Done’

WITN: GOP’s Flake To Retire, Speech Takes Aim At Trump

WaPo: McConnell Allies Declare Open Warfare on Bannon

Politico: John Boehner Unchained

WSJ: Toomey’s ‘Guidance’ Repeal Guide

CNN: ‘Kill Them All’ — Russian Linked Facebook Accounts Called For Violence