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BPAA Federal Policy Update - October 2, 2020

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COVID-19 and Federal Update:


  • Trump, Others in Inner Circle Test Positive for COVID-19 President Trump revealed early Friday morning that he and First Lady Melania have tested positive for coronavirus. Trump’s diagnosis comes with just over a month remaining before the presidential election. The president is currently experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms of coronavirus, the New York Times reported. WhiteHouse physician Sean Conley said on Friday that the two were “well at this time” and that his medical team would “maintain a vigilant watch.” Conley added that Trump would “continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.” The president and first lady were tested after learning that senior aide Hope Hicks had contracted coronavirus. Hicks flew with Trump on Air Force One to a Wednesday campaign rally in Duluth, Minn., and she began exhibiting symptoms at about the time of the rally, a person familiar with the matter told the Times. Hicks tested negative for coronavirus on Wednesday morning, which allowed her to board Air Force One, according to CBS News.Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel reportedly tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday. However, McDaniel last met with the president a week ago and has remained in Michigan since that time. Read more at National Review.



  • President Trump is being admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center “out of an abundance of caution” after testing positive for the coronavirus, the White House said Friday. “Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the President will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days,” the White House said in a statement. Shortly before 5:30p.m., Marine One landed on the White House’s South Lawn to transport Trump to Walter Reed.
  • Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence have both tested negative for the coronavirus, hours after President Trump announced he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus. “As has been routine for months, Vice President Pence is tested for COVID-19 every day,” said Devin O’Malley, the vice president’s press secretary, in a tweet.


  • Pelosi Hopeful on Aid, Says Trump Illness Alters Dynamic Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin exchanged proposals on a Covid aid package yesterday night and spoke over phone today. The two “discussed areas of disagreement,” including state aid and unemployment insurance, which were outlined in Pelosi’s letter to colleagues today, Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, said in a tweet. The stimulus negotiations have made some halting progress over the past two months, but the two sides remain far apart on how much of a boost to provide and where funds should be directed. Democrats in the House yesterday passed their $2.2 trillion package—down from the $3.4 million plan they passed in May—as their offer in the latest talks. Mnuchin has proposed a plan of $1.6 trillion. In one sign of the how the economic pressure may be affecting the negotiations, Pelosi said today that she would support an extension of relief for airlines either as part of a broader package or as a standalone bill. She previously had resisted any piecemeal approach to the stimulus. Still, the House adjourned this afternoon until a pro-forma session on Monday, without taking up an airline aid measure House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) was pushing. DeFazio’s request for unanimous consent to bring the measure to the House floor was denied because it lacked leaders’ approval. Read more at Bloomberg Government.


  • McConnell vows 'full steam ahead' on Barrett as fears rise of virus outbreak Senate Republicans insisted Friday they have no plans to delay Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation — but a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee tested positive for the coronavirus and Washington was roiled by a possible outbreak at the White House. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday said the chamber intends to move “full steam ahead” on Barrett’s nomination. And the Judiciary Committee will proceed with hearings later this month, according to a GOP aide, though some portions of it may be conducted remotely. Read more at Politico. 





  • Trump postponing campaign events after positive test; Biden tests negative for coronavirus:President Trump is experiencing “mild symptoms” after he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters Friday. The first lady said on Twitter that she, too, has “mild symptoms” but is “overall feeling good.” Trump will postpone or make virtual all of his previously scheduled campaign events, his campaign manager said Friday. Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign announced that Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, have both tested negative for the coronavirus. Read more at the Washington Post.


  • The president’s infection has upended the campaign. A fundraiser in Washington and a rally in Florida were scrapped, and Trump plans to remain in self-isolation at the White House. His campaign manager said all previously scheduled events involving Trump or his family would be postponed or changed to virtual events.
  • Democratic nominee Joe Biden wished Trump and the first lady a “swift recovery” in a morning tweet. He is scheduled to campaign in Michigan on Friday.
  • Vice President Pence and his wife have tested negative, according to a spokesman.
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who attended Trump’s announcement Saturday of his Supreme Court pick, said he has tested positive for the coronavirus and will self-isolate for 10 days.
  • Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel disclosed that she had tested positive.


  • Axios Reports: GOP super PAC will spend $10 million to help Lindsey Graham in South Carolina The Senate Leadership Fund, a Republican super PAC, plans to spend $10 million in South Carolina, hoping to boost Sen. Lindsey Graham's re-election campaign as the race has tightened considerably, McClatchy reports.
  • Why it matters: The campaign has become unexpectedly competitive, with Graham's Democratic opponent, Jaime Harrison, having a massive financial advantage. Harrison was once thought to be a long shot against Graham in the typically Republican state, but the two are now tied 48%-48% according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.
  • The state of play: Harrison's fundraising has surged through small-dollar online donations, and now a Democratic super PAC is dropping an additional $6.5 million. "Harrison’s campaign had reserved more than $15 million in ads in October and November, according to a GOP source tracking the ad data, compared with just over $6 million in reservations for Graham and his Republican allies," per McClatchy.
  • The boost from SLF should balance the spending between campaigns, yet Harrison’s fundraising could still grow. 


  • Democrat Cunningham raises record $28.3M in third quarter for bid against Tillis Democrat Cal Cunningham raised more than $28 million in the third quarter of the year for his campaign to unseat Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), setting a record for the most raised in a single quarter by any North Carolina politician. Cunningham’s $28.3 million quarterly haul is nearly four times as much as the $7.4 million he raised in the second quarter. The massive fundraising sum likely puts Cunningham in a strong position heading into the crucial final month of his campaign. His campaign said that more than 40,000 North Carolinians had given to his Senate bid over the past three months, with many of them contributing more than once. Ninety-six percent of donations were under $100, the campaign said. Read more at the Hill.


  • Trump’s Trade Wars, Covid Response Could Cost Republicans an Iowa Senate Seat President Donald Trump’s newfound struggle to keep Iowa in Republican hands, just four years after a comfortable win in the Midwestern state, could also prove decisive for control of the U.S. Senate. Joni Ernst is running behind in her quest for reelection on Nov. 3, after binding herself both to the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s leadership team in her first term. A member of the Judiciary Committee, she’s looking to the fight with Democrats over Trump’s pick to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to energize Iowa Republicans. Polls show Theresa Greenfield, a 56-year-old real estate executive contesting a statewide office for the first time, with a slight lead. A win over Ernst, 50, would give Democrats one of the three or four seats they need for their first Senate majority in six years, depending on whether Joe Biden beats Trump. Read more at Bloomberg.


  • What’s in Trump’s ‘Platinum Plan’ for Black America? In his efforts to woo African-American voters before the election, on September 25 President Donald Trump unveiled a plan to shovel capital, jobs and opportunities into Black communities — a program that his campaign is calling the “Platinum Plan for Black America.” For Black communities, the Platinum Plan commits to unlocking $500 billion in access to capital, creating 3 million new jobs, and bridging historic disparities in health care and education. School choice, criminal justice reform and favorable trade deals for Black farmers and manufacturers round out the list of the president’s platinum promises. The campaign pledges that Trump will even make Juneteenth a national holiday if he is reelected, building on the credit that the president has taken for making Juneteenth “very famous.” Read about the plan here at Bloomberg.




  • September’s Jobs Report Is A Political Rorschach Test The final jobs report before the presidential election is here. In September, 661,000 more people were employed than in August, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent. That’s a slight — but not huge — improvement over last month, when the unemployment rate was 8.4 percent. (Compare this report’s 0.5-percentage-point decrease to the 1.8-point drop between July and August.) So heading into the fall, employment is in a better position than it was in the spring and summer, but the recovery is also plainly slowing down. With less than five weeks to go before the election, how much will that affect President Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden’s chances? Even in a normal year, our election analysis would be looking at the jobs report as just one economic indicator among many. But this year is even weirder than usual because there’s kind of a Rorschach test element to the report — people of different political leanings can see what they want to see. Read more at FiveThirtyEight.



  • Biden Tax Plan Forecast to Raise $3 Trillion $3 trillion: That’s the amount that Biden’s tax plan would raise over the next decade, although it would even out to only about $2.65 trillion after accounting for economic effects from higher levies on companies and wages, according to new a analysis from the right-leaning Tax Foundation. The bottom 20% of earners would see their after-tax income increase 10.8%, partially due to an increase in the child tax credit. The top 1% of earners would see their incomes decrease 9.9% as a result of higher levies on income, capital gains and additional payroll taxes. Trump’s campaign has run ads saying that Biden’s tax plan would crush the middle class, but the data show that the bottom 80% of taxpayers would all see increases to their income in 2021 under the Democrat’s policies. Over a decade, those individuals would see slight decreases because of indirect effects of higher taxes on businesses.

  • Read about Joe Biden Tax Policy Plan here at the Tax Foundation. Key Findings:
  • Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would enact a number of policies that would raise taxes on individuals with income above $400,000, including raising individual income, capital gains, and payroll taxes. Biden would also raise taxes on corporations by raising the corporate income tax rate and imposing a corporate minimum book tax.
  • Biden’s plan would raise tax revenue by $3.05 trillion over the next decade on a conventional basis. When accounting for macroeconomic feedback effects, the plan would collect about $2.65 trillion the next decade. This is lower than we originally estimated due to the revenue effects of the coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn and new tax credit proposals introduced by the Biden campaign.
  • According to the Tax Foundation’s General Equilibrium Model, the Biden tax plan would reduce GDP by 1.47 percent over the long term.
  • On a conventional basis, the Biden tax plan by 2030 would lead to about 6.5 percent less after-tax income for the top 1 percent of taxpayers and about a 1.7 percent decline in after-tax income for all taxpayers on average.


  • Bloomberg Government HILL TAX BRIEFING: First 2020 Debate Mostly Sidesteps Tax Policy:  The first presidential debate of the 2020 election saw minimal substantive discussion of tax policy, though President Donald Trump did take an opportunity to deny New York Times reporting about his tax liability. Trump, in response to a question about his 2016 and 2017 federal income tax payments, said he paid “millions of dollars.” 
  • As Trump was questioned about the Times report Tuesday night, Biden repeatedly interjected: “Show us your tax returns.” Trump broke with tradition during the 2016 campaign when he declined to release his tax returns, citing an ongoing IRS audit. Last night Trump said “and you’ll get to see it” after claiming he paid millions in taxes in 2016 and 2017, though he provided no timeline for fulfilling that promise.
  • Tax Proposals: The wide-ranging debate, which saw the candidates repeatedly interrupt and talk over one another, did feature lengthy exchanges about climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, and other issues.
  • But the candidates spent little time trying to differentiate themselves from their opponent when it comes to tax policy.
  • Biden did use the issue of Trump’s personal tax bill to reiterate his plan to reverse the 2017 tax law.
  • “He says he’s smart because he can take advantage of the tax code and he does take advantage of the tax code,” Biden said. “That’s why I’m going to eliminate the Trump tax cuts.”
  • Biden, when asked whether raising taxes was a smart move while the economy recovers from pandemic-induced shutdowns, said his plans would create jobs and drive more economic growth.
  • Trump responded by criticizing the economic record of the Obama administration and talking up the strength of the economy since he took office. “You would have a depression the likes of which you’ve never seen” if Biden wins the White House, Trump said.


  • Biden Takes SALT Cap-Related Tax Hit Presidential candidate Joe Biden released years’ worth of tax returns on Tuesday, which showed he and his wife took losses from a cap on state and local tax deductions imposed by the Trump administration. The documents show that in 2019, Biden and his wife Jill Biden paid $94,349 in state and local taxes – $111,717 including state and local real estate taxes. State and local tax deductions, however, are capped at $10,000. Biden is said to be in favor of repealing the $10,000 cap, which was implemented as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It has been criticized harshly by Democratic leaders in high-tax states who claimed it was a politically motivated policy. Biden released returns for tax years 2016 through 2019, which showed he and his wife had taxable income of more than $944,700 in 2019. As previously reported by FOX Business, Biden has come under scrutiny for using a tax strategy to avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll taxes. Read More at Fox Business




  • DOJ Should Not Unilaterally Disrupt Music Consent Decrees In July, the Department of Justice (DOJ) held a two-day workshop on consent decrees that DOJ first struck with two music performing rights organizations (PROs) nearly 80 years ago. Those decrees are still in place today. The PROs, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), license the right to play songs to radio stations, streaming services, television and movie studios, restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, and more. The consent decrees first came about because of the market power held by ASCAP and BMI in the 1940s, and today the two PROs still “account for about 90% of the U.S. market in public performance rights.” DOJ is examining what if any changes should be made to the consent decrees. Read more here.
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