Congress passed a law in 2015 requiring the IRS to use private debt collection agencies to pursue “inactive tax receivables,” but the financial results are not encouraging so far, according to a new taxpayer advocate report out Wednesday.
In fiscal year 2017, the IRS received $6.7 million from taxpayers whose debts were assigned to private collection agencies, but the agencies were paid $20 million – “three times the amount collected,” the report helpfully points out.
Goldman Sachs economists see the tax bill adding 0.3 percentage points to GDP growth in 2018 and 2019 while JP Morgan forecasts a similar gain of 0.3 percentage points next year and 0.2 percentage points the year after.
Goldman’s analysts add that federal spending, which is likely to grow more quickly next year than it has recently, will bring the total fiscal boost to around 0.6 percentage points for 2018 and 0.4 percentage points in 2019.
Both banks see deficits likely rising above $1 trillion, or about 5 percent of GDP, in 2019.
Politico’s Tim Alberta and Rachael Bade drop a blockbuster: “Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with President Donald Trump, Ryan has made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker. … He would like to serve through Election Day 2018 and retire ahead of the next Congress. This would give Ryan a final legislative year to chase his second white whale, entitlement reform, while using his unrivaled fundraising prowess to help protect the House majority—all with the benefit of averting an ugly internecine power struggle during election season.”
Speculation has been swirling that Ryan could step down once “he’s harpooned his personal white whale of tax reform,” as HuffPost put it.
When asked at his weekly press conference whether he’ll be quitting anytime soon, Ryan chuckled and said, “I’m not, no.”
The finance ministers of Europe’s five largest economies — Germany, France, the U.K., Italy and Spain — warned that the Republican tax plan could have “a major distortive impact” on international trade and may violate international treaties. "The inclusion of certain less conventional international tax provisions could contravene the U.S.'s double taxation treaties and may risk having a major distortive impact on international trade," the ministers wrote in a letter to Mnuchin.
Politico reports: “The White House is quietly preparing a sweeping executive order that would mandate a top-to-bottom review of the federal programs on which millions of poor Americans rely. And GOP lawmakers are in the early stages of crafting legislation that could make it more difficult to qualify for those programs. … The president is expected to sign the welfare executive order as soon as January, according to multiple administration officials, with an eye toward making changes to health care, food stamps, housing and veterans programs, not just traditional welfare payments.”
President Trump signed a short-term continuing resolution today to fund the federal government through Friday, December 22.
Bloomberg called the maneuver “a monumental piece of can kicking,” which is no doubt the case, but at least you’ll be able to visit your favorite national park over the weekend.
Here's to small victories!
The Republican tax cuts won’t do much for economic growth, former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan told CNBC Wednesday, but they will damage the country’s fiscal situation while creating the threat of stagflation. "This is a terrible fiscal situation we've got ourselves into," Greenspan said. "The administration is doing tax cuts and a spending decrease, but he's doing them in the wrong order. What we need right now is to focus totally on reducing the debt."
“The U.S. economy is running at its full potential for the first time in a decade, a new milestone for an expansion now in its ninth year,” The Wall Street Journal reports. But the milestone was reached, in part, because the Congressional Budget Office has, over the last 10 years, downgraded its estimate of the economy’s potential output. “Some economists think more slack remains in the job market than October’s 4.1% unemployment rate would suggest. Also, economic output is still well below its potential level based on estimates produced a decade ago by the CBO.”
The New York Times editorial board took to Twitter Wednesday “to urge the Senate to reject a tax bill that hurts the middle class & the nation's fiscal health.”
Using the hashtag #thetaxbillshurts, the NYT Opinion account posted phone numbers for Sens. Susan Collins, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, James Lankford, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Jerry Moran. It urged readers to call the senators and encourage them to oppose the bill.
In an editorial published Tuesday night, the Times wrote that “Republican senators have a choice. They can follow the will of their donors and vote to take money from the middle class and give it to the wealthiest people in the world. Or they can vote no, to protect the public and the financial health of the government.”
President Trump met with members of the Senate Finance Committee Monday and is scheduled to attend Senate Republicans’ weekly policy lunch and make a personal push for the tax plan on Tuesday. Will he be a more effective salesman than surrogates in his administration?
Politico’s Annie Karni and Eliana Johnson report that both Democrats and Republicans say Mnuchin and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn have repeatedly botched their tax pitches, “in part due to their own backgrounds” as wealthy Goldman Sachs alums. “House Speaker Paul Ryan earlier this month asked the White House not to send Mnuchin to the Hill to talk with Republican lawmakers about the bill, according to two people familiar with the discussions — though Ryan has praised the Treasury secretary’s ability to improve the legislation itself,” Karni and Johnson write.