Week Ahead: GOP’s Next Steps On Tax Reform | Fed Chief Speculation Heats Up | Senate To Vote On Disaster Relief
October 22, 2017
Both the Senate and House have passed their 2018 budgets and now the two chambers will have to agree on a resolution that will serve as their vehicle for a planned massive tax code overhaul.
Senate Republicans on Thursday evening narrowly voted 51-49 to pass the fiscal 2018 budget after a grueling hours-long marathon on the Senate floor, the first step to passing a tax plan and fulfilling a key GOP campaign pledge.
The budget was essential because it includes instructions that allow Republicans to pass their tax plan using a process that can avoid a Democratic filibuster. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) joined with every Democrat and independent to vote against the budget bill.
A last-minute amendment by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) adopting technical and procedural language from the House budget may expedite its final passage.
A House GOP source told The Hill that the amendment seems sufficient to avoid a conference committee between the two chambers, and allow the House to simply pass the Senate resolution, as early as the coming week.
President Trump praised Senate Republicans late Thursday for passing the fiscal 2018 budget.
“This resolution creates a pathway to unleash the potential of the American economy through tax reform and tax cuts, simplifying the overcomplicated tax code, providing financial relief for families across the country, and making American businesses globally competitive,” the White House said in a statement.
The GOP push for tax reform isn’t the only big story in the coming week, which will see both the House and Senate in session.
The Senate is also expected to vote in on the House’s $36.5 billion disaster relief bill to help communities hit by hurricanes and wildfires. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has teed up the bill for a procedural vote Monday with final passage as early as Tuesday.
Trump Plans To Release JFK Assassination Documents Despite Concerns From Federal Agencies
October 21, 2017
President Trump announced Saturday morning that he planned to release the tens of thousands of never-before-seen documents left in the files related to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination held by the National Archives and Records Administration.
“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” Trump tweeted early Saturday.
Experts have been speculating for weeks about whether Trump would disclose the documents. The 1992 Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act required that the millions of pages, many of them contained in CIA and FBI documents, be published in 25 years — by Thursday. Over the years, the National Archives has released most of the documents, either in full or partially redacted.
But one final batch remains, and only the president has the authority to extend the papers’ secrecy past the deadline.
In his tweet, Trump seemed to strongly imply he was going to release all the remaining documents, but the White House later said that if other government agencies made a strong case not to release the documents, he wouldn’t.
“The president believes that these documents should be made available in the interests of full transparency unless agencies provide a compelling and clear national security or law enforcement justification otherwise,” the White House said in a statement Saturday.
In the days leading up to Trump’s announcement, a National Security Council official told The Washington Post that government agencies were urging the president not to release some of the documents. But Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone told conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of Infowars this week that he personally lobbied Trump to release all of the documents.
Bill Holter’s Commentary
A sign of things to come elsewhere…
Spain Will Remove Catalonia Leader, Escalating Secession Crisis
October 21, 2017
BARCELONA — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia’s independence drive took its most serious turn on Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.
It was the first time that Spain’s government had moved to strip the autonomy of one of its 17 regions, and the first time that a leader had invoked Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution — a broad tool intended to protect the “general interests” of the nation.
The unexpectedly forceful moves by Mr. Rajoy, made after an emergency cabinet meeting, thrust Spain into uncharted waters. The prime minister is trying to put down one of the gravest constitutional crises his country has faced since embracing democracy after the death of its dictator Gen. Francisco Franco in 1975.
The steps were immediately condemned by Catalan leaders and risked further inflaming an already volatile atmosphere in the prosperous northeastern region. On Oct. 1, thousands braved national police wielding truncheons to vote in a contentious independence referendum for Catalonia, even after it was declared illegal by the Spanish government and courts.
“There’s nothing soft or limited about what he announced today,” Josep Ramoneda, a political columnist, said of Mr. Rajoy. “We’re entering a very delicate phase, in which an independence movement that appeared to be running out of options might now draw instead on a collective sense of humiliation at seeing Catalonia being forced under Madrid’s control.”
Fueled by economic grievances and a distinct language and culture, aspirations for an independent state in Catalonia have ebbed and flowed for generations.
Bill Holter’s Commentary
Jim had already told us this about the floor of the NYSE, rising robots are everywhere!
Cashing Out: The End Of Hong Kong’s Historic Trading Floor
October 21, 2017
Hong Kong (AFP) – In its heyday in the 1980s, more than a thousand brokers dressed in signature red blazers made deals on the trading floor of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, in what was a raucous, competitive bear pit.
But as electronic and internet services burgeoned, brokers drifted away to corporate offices.
With just a handful of traders remaining, the historic hall will close at the end of the month.
The cavernous red-carpeted space with its circular rows of cubicles and giant digital screens showing stock movements stands largely empty as its last occupants pack up their belongings.
“Advances in electronic trading and technology have made our work much more convenient, but now it lacks the communal atmosphere that has given me many memories,” said Christopher Cheung, a lawmaker representing the financial services sector who used to trade on the exchange floor.
Under British rule, Hong Kong transformed into a commercial and financial hub, becoming a gateway between China and the rest of the world as the mainland opened up its economy from the late 1970s.
In 1986 the city’s four separate stock exchanges merged into one and the trading floor opened.
Part of the Hong Kong Exchange (HKEX) building in the bustling Central district, it hummed with energy as brokers exchanged gossip, gesticulated wildly and yelled into telephones.
Market information spread quickly and clients would call in for the latest news, Cheung remembers.
But despite apparent chaos, Cheung says there was a “culture of trust”. On slower days, traders played cards and snacked on peanuts.
Cheung’s company Christfund Securities still has one employee working on the floor in case his office’s computers crash, he said.