Despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s bluster on “historic tax reform” and $1 trillion in infrastructure investment, his visions still remain short on specifics, while the Congress appears headed to an epic clash over a contentious corporate tax plan.
American stocks surged in euphoria after Trump said Feb. 9 that he would announce something “over the next two or three weeks that will be phenomenal in terms of tax.” Yet his address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, his first, contained nothing but generalities — a far cry from the promised “phenomenal” plan.
During the campaign, Trump called for cutting the federal corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives have drawn up a proposal of their own that would introduce a 20% border adjustment tax to fund a corporate tax rate cut to 20%. This plan would impose no taxes on exports but would bar companies from deducting import-related costs from taxable income.
Trump has not taken a clear stand on the border adjustment tax, and Tuesday’s address only alluded to the issue. “When we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes,” he said. “But when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them nothing, or almost nothing.” Read More
The announcement comes amid reports that CNN, MSNBC and other organizations were thinking of boycotting the evening to protest their treatment at the hands of the new administration. This includes being called “a danger to our country” by the president and having their access to officials limited. Buzzfeed, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Daily News, the Hill and Politico were not invited to an off-camera but on-the-record press gaggle with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer yesterday, a move CNN called “unacceptable.”
The annual dinner at the Washington Hilton, which raises money for journalism scholarships and awards, has turned into a celebrity event that some journalists have criticized as a sign the Washington press is becoming too cozy with the nation’s power structures.
Trump himself was brutally roasted when he attended as a guest in 2011 for pushing the Obama “birther” controversy.
Just a few hours after Trump warned during his CPAC speech that “we’re gonna do something about the media”, he did just that after the White House barred a number of news outlets from covering Sean Spicer’s Q&A session on Friday afternoon. Spicer decided to hold an off-camera “gaggle” with reporters inside his West Wing office instead of the traditional on-camera briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room according to press reports.
Among the outlets not permitted to cover the gaggle were various news organizations that Trump has singled out in the past including CNN, The NYT, The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News.
Several non mainstream outlets were allowed into Spicer’s office, including Breitbart, the Washington Times and One America News Network. Several other major news organizations were also let in to cover the gaggle. That group included ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Reuters and Bloomberg, however AP and Time have boycotted the event.
The White House Correspondents’ Association sharply criticized the decision.
“The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House,” Jeff Mason, the association’s president, said in a statement. “We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not,” he added. “The board will be discussing this further with White House staff.”
The US Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump’s nomination for treasury secretary, a former Goldman Sachs banker and hedge fund manager.
The Senate confirmed Steve Mnuchin’s nomination to be secretary of the Department of the Treasury by a vote of 53-47.
Mr Mnuchin spent 17 years at Goldman before becoming a hedge fund manager, film financier and chairman of Pasadena-based OneWest Bank. His confirmation as secretary means that former Goldman employees hold two of the top economic jobs in the US, as former president and chief operating officer Gary Cohn left the bank to become director of the White House’s National Economic Council.
Earlier today, we explained why billionaire Democrat, and Clinton supporter, George Soros is the likely source of funding behind the rapidly spreading – and costly – Trump “Muslim Ban” lawsuits.
Moments ago, we found the other “source of funds” missing link in the ongoing anti-Trump executive order campaign. As Bloomberg reports, the company footing bill for the legal brief signed by more than 120 mostly tech companies that oppose President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, is none other than the Company which offered Hillary Clinton its “strategic plan” to help Democrats win the election, and track voters, and which hired former Clinton Foundation CEO, Eric Braverman: Google (technically, its parent company Alphabet).
It took Obama ten days since he departed the White House one final time to break his promise that he would “stay on the sidelines” regarding Trump’s policies…
… and in his first public statement, the former president the charge that the Trump administration had based his immigration executive order on a policy adopted by his own administration, and endorsed the protests that have been taking place across the country in response to the new restrictions.
Kevin Lewis, Obama’s spokesman, said rejected Trump’s insistence that the decision to temporarily halt refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries and stop all Syrian refugee resettlement in America is similar to a 2011 decision by Obama. “With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”
As a reminder, over the past 24 hours, Trump has compared his actions to Obama’s 2011 moves to restrict entries from Iraq after two Iraqis were arrested in Kentucky on terrorism charges.
Former Obama administration officials have denied that there was ever a halt to the awarding of visas to Iraqis, though the processing of these applications slowed after they were subject to more intense scrutiny.
Obama’s decision to step back into the public light comes just 10 days after he left office. He joins the chorus of Democrats and mostly tech CEOs criticizing Trump for his decision to temporarily halt refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries and stop all Syrian refugee resettlement in America.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed on Saturday to hold a summit in Washington on Feb. 10.
It will be their first meeting since Trump assumed the presidency.
The two spoke on Saturday by phone.
Afterward, Abe told reporters that he and Trump “confirmed the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance in light of economic and security challenges facing the countries.”
He also said that during the planned February meeting, he “wants to have a candid and productive exchange of opinions on economic and security issues as a whole” with Trump.
When they get together, Abe plans to confirm that Trump will stick to the current policy that the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture fall under Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. security treaty, which defines the U.S.’s defense commitment to Japan.
Abe looks to obtain assurance that the U.S. will continue to concern itself with security in the Asia-Pacific region by first discussing the handling of the Senkaku issue.
“It’s a great thing for the American worker, what we just did,” Trump said on Monday after signing an order withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord with 11 other nations. He didn’t sign any actions to direct a renegotiation of the Nafta accord with Mexico and Canada, yet he said on Sunday he would begin talks with the two leaders on modifying the accord, BBG reported. “We’ve been talking about this a long time,” Trump said.
As the AP notes, the move is basically a formality, since the agreement had yet to receive required Senate ratification. Trade experts say that approval was unlikely to happen given voters’ anxiety about trade deals and the potential for job losses. It remains unclear if Trump would seek individual deals with the 11 other nations in TPP— a group that represents roughly 13.5 percent of the global economy, according to World Bank figures. Trump has blamed past trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization for a decline in U.S. factory jobs.
Trump’s trade focus fulfills a campaign promise to rewrite America’s trade policy during his first days as president. In declaring his determination to renegotiate Nafta, Trump would rework an agreement that has governed commerce in much of the Western hemisphere for 22 years. By scrapping the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord negotiated by former President Barack Obama, Trump will delight many of his most fervent supporters as well as a good many Democrats, while opening an economic vacuum in Asia that China is eager to fill.
Trump campaigned against the TPP and other trade deals, including Nafta, during his campaign for the White House. In a video released in November, Trump promised to exit TPP “on day one,” calling it “a potential disaster for our country.”
It’s finally over: Donald Trump has secured 304 Electoral Votes following the Texas vote (with 2 faithless electors), officially securing the presidency of the United States. Of course, the now official President-Elect Trump took to twitter to confirm the victory:
We did it! Thank you to all of my great supporters, we just officially won the election (despite all of the distorted and inaccurate media).
Texas’ 36 electoral votes for Trump pushed him over the edge at around 4:30 Central Time, even though two rogue electors’ defections deprived Trump of one of those votes. That gave Trump 304 total electoral votes.
A quick recap of the day’s events from the WSJ:
Members of the Electoral College meeting in state capitals across the country on Monday confirmed President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 election, ending a last-ditch campaign to deny him the presidency. Mr. Trump amassed at least 270 electoral votes on Monday afternoon—enough to officially become the president-elect over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, according to a tally of votes by the Associated Press.
Typically just a formality, this year’s Electoral College vote attracted an outsize amount of attention after a group of mostly Democratic electors made a late push to block Mr. Trump’s path to the White House. They argued the Electoral College had a constitutional duty to act independently of the will of the voters in extraordinary circumstances. Protesters gathered in several state capitols across the country to encourage electors to reject Mr. Trump.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said he won’t seek a second term. Korea’s parliament voted 234-56 to impeach President Park. Czech National Bank raised the possibility of negative rates to help manage the currency. A Brazilian Supreme Court justice removed Senate chief Renan Calheiros from his post, but was later overturned by the full court. Brazil central bank signaled a possibly quicker easing cycle. In the EM equity space as measured by MSCI, UAE (+6.2%), Poland (+6.0%), and Mexico (+5.9%) have outperformed this week, while Czech Republic (-0.6%), Hong Kong (-0.2%), and China (+0.6%) have underperformed. To put this in better context, MSCI EM rose 2.8% this week while MSCI DM rose 2.8%.
In the EM local currency bond space, Brazil (10-year yield -60 bp), the Philippines (-59 bp), and Indonesia (-40 bp) have outperformed this week, while India (10-year yield +20 bp), China (+5 bp), and Czech Republic (-1 bp) have underperformed. To put this in better context, the 10-year UST yield rose 3 bp this week to 2.41%.
In the EM FX space, BRL (+3.1% vs. USD), COP (+2.9% vs. USD), and CLP (+2.8% vs. USD) have outperformed this week, while EGP (-2.3% vs. USD), CNH (-0.8% vs. USD), and SGD (-0.7% vs. USD) have underperformed.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said he won’t seek a second term. He cited family reasons. The next chief executive will be selected in March by a committee of 1,200. China has veto power over the final selection, and so it’s clear that another establishment leader will be chosen.