Democrats draw surprisingly strong bipartisan support from voters for their most ambitious economic overhaul proposals. But some of those same voters are skeptical about the ability of White House aspirants to run on and pass the plans.
That is the takeaway from a New York Times-Survey Monkey poll that found two-thirds of respondents — including 55 percent of Republicans — back Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) proposal for a wealth tax on the super-rich. The survey also found broad majority support for free college and Medicare-for-all proposals that more liberal Democratic presidential candidates are floating.
Taken together, the results suggest President Trump and the GOP could face a tougher challenge than they expect painting Democrats as socialists bent on undermining the strength of the country’s economic system. Yet voters need convincing that costly, disruptive progressive plans stand a chance of advancing in a deeply divided Washington. “In terms of progressive policy, one of the big things we’re finding is it’s not opposition we’re fighting, it’s cynicism,” Democratic pollster Celinda Lake tells the Times’s Jim Tankersley and Ben Casselman in their write-up of the poll. “People don’t think it can happen.”
The show of support for Warren’s wealth tax, which would assess a 2 percent levy on households with more than $50 million, tracks with other recent polling on the matter. A February poll by Morning Consult, for example, found that 61 percent support the idea.
Lake, in a presentation last month at a conference dedicated to raising taxes on the ultrawealthy, made the case that Democratic tax proposals aimed at the rich present the party an important opportunity. Voters, she told me at the time, trust the two parties evenly on taxes but give Republicans a 10-point edge on handling the broader economy. The popularity of the soak-the-rich plans could provide a means to close that gap, especially given the sour public assessment of President Trump’s signature tax cuts. Last month, a group of 18 people rich enough to pay the wealth tax endorsed it in an open letter to 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
Democratic voter anxiety about backing candidates who support a more aggressive economic program turned up between the lines of another new survey. Warren’s policy proposals are providing her strongest argument to voters, a CBS News poll of Democratic voters finds. Eighty-eight percent of respondents cited her plans as her biggest appeal.
But Warren ran second overall to former vice president Joe Biden in the poll, ranking as the top choice for 20 percent of voters, versus 25 percent for Biden. Biden's apparent chief draw: voter confidence in the likelihood of his beating Trump. Three-quarters of respondents said Biden would probably win, compared to 45 percent who said the same of Warren.
The poll found 86 percent of Democratic voters surveyed supported raising taxes on the wealthy to fund an expanded national health-care program.
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— New budget deal details: No spending cuts; two-year debt ceiling hike. The Post's Damian Paletta and Erica Werner: "White House and congressional negotiators rushing to hammer out the final details of a sweeping budget and debt deal are unlikely to include many — if any — actual spending cuts, even as the debt limit is lifted for two years, people familiar with the talks said. The agreement appeared likely to mark a retreat for White House officials who had demanded major spending cuts in exchange for a new budget deal. But the process remained in limbo while negotiators awaited final approval late Sunday from [Trump.] ...
"In practical terms, the budget agreement would increase spending by tens of billions of dollars in the next two years, a stark reversal from the White House’s budget request several months ago that sought to slash spending at many agencies starting in October. As some White House officials backed away from demands for spending cuts, their focus shifted to trying to block an attempt by Democrats to restrict funding for a wall along the Mexico border."
House Republicans are divided. The Wall Street Journal's Andrew Duehren and Catherine Lucey: "Some conservative House Republicans are asking President Trump to reject any agreement to set new spending levels and increase the government’s borrowing limit without significant spending cuts, injecting further uncertainty into negotiations toward a deal this week.
"Rep. Mike Johnson (R., La.), the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, a group of around 150 conservative Republicans, spoke with [Trump] on Saturday about his concerns with the still-developing budget agreement. 'We believe the White House and congressional leadership should be prepared to walk away from this if necessary,' Mr. Johnson said in an interview."
— AOC outraises other Finance Committee Dems: “Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Katie Porter are proving that you don't need Wall Street money to raise big bucks on the House Financial Services Committee,” Politico’s Zachary Warmbrodt reports.
“The freshman Democrats have emerged as two of the top fundraisers on the powerful panel, which has long been a draw for corporate campaign contributions because of its sprawling jurisdiction over the finance industry. But Ocasio-Cortez, Porter and other progressives who joined the committee this year are shunning contributions from corporate political action committees and don't appear to be suffering for it.”
— China says talks could resume soon. Bloomberg: "Face-to-face negotiations between the top Chinese and U.S. trade negotiators could happen soon, according to Chinese state media, after a number of goodwill gestures by Beijing over the weekend. Chinese companies asked U.S. exporters about buying agricultural products and also applied for exemptions from China’s retaliatory tariffs on the goods, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday. That shows China’s “goodwill” and its commitment to fulfill its promises to the U.S., Xinhua said early today in a separate commentary."
— Chinese investment in U.S. is plummeting: “Growing distrust between the United States and China has slowed the once steady flow of Chinese cash into America, with Chinese investment plummeting by nearly 90 percent since [Trump] took office,” the New York Times’s Alan Rappeport reports.
“The falloff, which is being felt broadly across the economy, stems from tougher regulatory scrutiny in the United States and a less hospitable climate toward Chinese investment, as well Beijing’s tightened limits on foreign spending. It is affecting a range of industries including Silicon Valley start-ups, the Manhattan real estate market and state governments that spent years wooing Chinese investment, underscoring how the world’s two largest economies are beginning to decouple after years of increasing integration.”
- China, meanwhile, is opening up its financial sector to more foreign investment. Bloomberg: "Foreign investors can take a stake or control entities including wealth management units of commercial lenders, pension fund managers and currency brokers, the central bank said in a statement on Saturday. The measures were unveiled after a high-level meeting on Friday chaired by Vice Premier Liu He, where policy makers discussed targeted steps to counter rising risks and challenges facing the $44 trillion industry."
- Chinese companies just pulled ahead of American companies on Fortune's Global 500 list, the magazine's Geoff Colvin notes: There are 129 Chinese companies on the list, compared to 121 American companies.
Chinese buyers seek tariff exemptions: “Some Chinese companies are applying for tariff exemptions as they make inquiries about buying U.S. agricultural products, more than a week after [Trump] complained that China hasn’t increased its purchases of American farm products,” Bloomberg News’s Shamim Adam and Dominic Lau reports.
“The applications will be evaluated by experts appointed by the Customs Tariff Commission, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. China and the U.S. are implementing the agreement reached by Trump and President Xi Jinping when they met in Japan last month, the report said.”
China launches its own NASDAQ. CNBC's Evelyn Cheng: "China is trying again to boost the credibility of its volatile stock market. On Monday, China launched a new Nasdaq-style tech board — the Science and Technology Innovation Board, or “STAR Market” — on which 25 companieswere listed, as the country attempts to address investor concerns like market volatility and lack of governance. China boasts the world’s second-largest equity market, just behind the U.S. More foreign capital is expected to flow into mainland Chinese stocks with their inclusion in major investment indexes. But retail participation has been relatively high, leading to much speculative activity that has caused many to call China’s stock markets a casino."
— Commerce in chaos. Politico's Daniel Lippman: "Constant infighting among top officials. Sudden departures of senior staffers without explanation. A leader who is disengaged and prone to falling asleep in meetings. The Commerce Department has reached its apex of dysfunction under Wilbur Ross, according to four people with knowledge of the inner workings of the department. The 81-year-old Commerce secretary, who has for months endured whispers that he is on the outs, spends much of his time at the White House to try to retain [Trump’s] favor, the sources said, leaving his department adrift... Ross’s penchant for managing upward at the expense of his staff is leading to what one plugged-in observer described as 'a disaster over there.'"
— Corporate taxes are falling unevenly: “The U.S. tax overhaul has lowered tax rates for many companies, and many others that were already toward the bottom of the scale have been able to stay there so far, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows,” the Wall Street Journal’s Theo Francis and Richard Rubin report.
“That marked the third straight quarter below 20% and is consistent with the goals and structure of the tax overhaul, which lowered the federal corporate rate to 21% from 35%. The law’s authors wanted to help U.S. multinationals compete in foreign markets and aid domestic companies with high tax burdens, while reducing the value of tax breaks and making it harder to achieve single-digit tax rates.”
- But foreign banks could fare better: “Foreign-owned banks reaped benefits as well, though the structure and reporting of their global financial operations make them more difficult to quantify. Late last year, they won a potentially lucrative victory in a proposed Treasury Department regulation that puts into effect a part of the 2017 tax law that established a global minimum tax on multinational corporations,” the Times's Jim Tankersley and Peter Eavis report. “Analysts say the proposed regulation, which companies must apply even though it has not been made final, could allow foreign banks to largely avoid the minimum tax.”
— The opioids case that will be the biggest civil trial in U.S. history: “Cuyahoga County and nearby Summit County soon will be at the center of the most important legal test of how much responsibility drug companies bear for the opioid epidemic,” my colleagues Jordan Heller and Lenny Bernstein report. “Barring a settlement, the two counties are scheduled to go to trial in October as the first case among the consolidated lawsuits brought by about 2,000 cities, counties, Native American tribes and other plaintiffs.”
“In a court filing released Friday, lawyers for the two counties accuse some of the biggest names in the drug industry of creating a ‘public nuisance’ that endangered the health of residents by failing to control the drug flow, even when they knew, or should have known, that some painkillers were being diverted to illegal use.”
— Labor nominee defended Wall Street, Walmart. The Post's Jeff Stein and Rachel Siegel: "When a court ruled that blackjack and other card dealers at Steve Wynn’s Las Vegas resorts did not have to share their tips with supervisors, the casino turned to a renowned corporate attorney in Washington: Eugene Scalia. The son of the late Supreme Court justice successfully got the ruling reversed in Nevada’s Supreme Court, forcing dealers to split their tips with floor supervisors at the casino...
"Scalia, [Trump’s] pick for the next labor secretary, has for years worked on behalf of America’s biggest businesses, including Wall Street banks, Walmart and SeaWorld, amassing a legal record that critics say leaves him a poor choice to enforce the nation’s labor laws. But Scalia, 55, a veteran attorney at the corporate law firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, is experienced in legal matters and could join the administration as it is looking for additional ways to roll back regulations that Trump officials argue hold back economic growth."
- Scalia fought Wall Street regs: "In 2010, Scalia won a big case against the Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of the Business Roundtable, an industry group that represents big businesses. He also helped win a case against federal regulators on behalf of MetLife, the global insurance firm, arguing it should be exempt from stricter oversight imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act."
- Halliburton, Whirlpool, TD Ameritrade and GNC Holdings are among the notable companies reporting their earnings, per Kiplinger.
- The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee holds a hearing on the challenges of cannabis and banking on Tuesday.
- Coca-Cola, Visa, Hasbro, Lockheed Martin, JetBlue, Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Snap Inc., United Technologies are among the notable companies reporting their earnings on Tuesday, per Kiplinger.
- The House Small Business Committee holds a hearing on the Tax Cut and Jobs Act on Wednesday.
- The House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing on the proposed merger between SunTrust and BB&T on Wednesday.
- The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on a number of pending nominations, including Treasury general counsel Brent McIntosh’s nomination to become an undersecretary in the department on Wednesday.
- Facebook, Boeing, Caterpillar, AT& T Anthem, Tesla, United Parcel Service and PayPal are among the notable companies reporting their earnings on Wednesday, per Kiplinger.
- The Financial Services’ Task Force on Financial Technology holds a hearing on alternative data in underwriting and credit scoring on Thursday.
- Amazon, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Alphabet, T-Mobile, Intel, Bristol-Myers Squibb, 3M, American Airlines, Comcast, Unilever and Valero Energy are among the notable companies reporting their earnings on Thursday, per Kiplinger.
- McDonald’s, Goodyear Tire and AbbVie are among the notable companies reporting their earnings on Friday, per Kiplinger.