On The Money: House Democrats to renew effort to obtain Trump's tax returns | How Biden might use executive power to advance economic agenda

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© Getty Images On The Money: House Democrats to renew effort to obtain Trump’s tax returns | How Biden might use executive power to advance economic agenda

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THE BIG DEAL-House Democrats to renew effort to obtain Trump’s tax returns next year: Democrats are planning to renew their efforts to obtain President Trump’s federal tax returns after he leaves office next year.

  • “Based on the principle of the issue, not the politics of it, yes, you have to stay with the case,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) told The Wall Street Journal this week.
  • Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), a senior Ways and Means Committee member who has been a leading advocate for obtaining Trump’s tax returns, told the Journal that lawmakers “have an obligation to examine this and follow the money.”

The background: In April 2019, Neal requested Trump’s personal and business tax returns from 2013 through 2018 from the IRS.

  • He cited a provision in the federal tax code that states that the Treasury secretary “shall furnish” tax returns requested by the chairpeople of Congress’s tax committees.
  • Neal has said that the Ways and Means Committee wants Trump’s tax returns because the panel is conducting oversight and considering legislative proposals relating to how the IRS enforces tax laws against presidents.
  • The Trump administration rejected Neal’s request and subsequent subpoenas, arguing that House Democrats lack a legitimate legislative purpose for obtaining Trump’s tax returns. The Ways and Means Committee then filed a lawsuit, which has yet to be resolved.

The road ahead: President-elect Joe Biden’s administration could choose to respond to Neal’s requests by providing the Ways and Means Committee with Trump’s tax returns. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) predicted in August that Neal would be able to obtain Trump’s tax returns under a Biden administration.

The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda breaks it down here.

LEADING THE DAY

How Biden might use executive power to advance economic agenda: President-elect Joe Biden may have limited levers to influence the U.S. economy as it recovers from the worst recession since the Great Depression.

The prospect of a GOP-controlled Senate, which could scale back or block a major fiscal response to the coronavirus, means Biden might need to rely on the sorts of expansive executive measures President Trump used to shape his economic agenda on issues like trade, regulation and emergency spending.

“It’s not going to be as easy as it would have been had there been a Democratic sweep, where they could have used budget reconciliation to pass a lot of their agenda,” said G. William Hoagland, senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

“I do think the Biden administration is going to have to start thinking about how to achieve their goals without legislation, and looking more at the executive process,” he added.

The Hill’s Niv Elis tells us why here.

The gist: If Democrats fail to win both Senate runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5, Biden may have to fall back on the kinds of executive actions Trump used extensively during his presidency when Congress would not pass related legislation.

The options:

  • Trump used national security laws to circumvent Congress and ignite a slew of trade wars, most prominently with China, but also with Europe and other key allies. Biden could seek to reduce tariffs through negotiated agreements, meaning he will not lift tariffs right away.
  • Biden could also follow in Trump’s footsteps on unemployment insurance. After failing to strike a deal on renewing $600 in weekly additional unemployment payments that expired July 31, Trump used executive actions to provide extra funding.
  • And he could also put in place emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to make people feel safe about returning to work, raise the minimum wage for workers on federal contracts, restore Obama-era policies on overtime protection and change standards to help workers get more benefits.

SEC charges former Wells Fargo execs with defrauding investors: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday filed charges against two former Wells Fargo executives for allegedly misleading investors in the bank by using sales figures inflated by unauthorized and unwanted products.

The stock market regulator charged former Wells Fargo chief executive John Stumpf and Carrie Tolstedt, who oversaw Wells Fargo’s consumer banking operations, with violating federal anti-fraud rules for securities.

  • The SEC alleged that Stumpf and Tolstedt defrauded Wells Fargo shareholders by touting the bank’s “cross-sell metric” – a figure that tracked the average number of products sold to households.
  • Both Stumpf and Tolstedt made public statements and certified disclosures that cited the cross-sell metric as an indication of the company’s success despite several internal and external reports that the bank was selling millions of customers unwanted products and charging them for accounts they never agreed to open.

I have more on the charges here.

ON TAP NEXT WEEK

Monday:

  • Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida gives a speech on monetary policy, 2 p.m.

Tuesday:

  • Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton testifies before the Senate Banking Committee in a virtual hearing, 10 a.m.

Thursday:

  • A House Financial Services subcommittee holds a hearing on pandemic-related insurance challenges, 10 a.m.

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Senate Republicans are warning that President-elect Joe Biden would spark “a fight” if he were to nominate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) or former national security adviser Susan Rice to his Cabinet.
  • The S&P 500 closed at a record high Friday, as traders focused on good news about a potential COVID-19 vaccine and brushed off the current spike in infections.
  • The number of online grocery store shoppers using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, or food stamps, has risen sharply amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Three states are set to reimpose some of the most extensive coronavirus-related restrictions amid a nationwide spike of infections and hospitalizations.

Recap the week with On The Money:

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