TenCount -> The Tax Bill + Alabama Senate Election

TenCount -> The tax bill + Alabama Senate Election

A highly selective view of events in the week ahead with important financial, legislative and political implications, put together by your friends at Sphere Consulting.

  • Good Morning! The tax bill is likely to suck up much of the oxygen in Washington DC this week, as a conference committee of House and Senate negotiators meets beginning Wednesday to hash out the differences between the two chambers’ bills. Lawmakers from high-tax states are continuing to push for concessions on the federal deductibility of state and local taxes, and President Trump has signaled that he would accept a smaller corporate tax cut than many Republicans were pushing for, as a possible way of paying for the state and local tax breaks. President Trump is scheduled to give a tax speech at Treasury on Wednesday.
  • Voters go to the polls in Alabama on Tuesday for a special election to determine who will take the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became Attorney General. Republican Roy Moore is the expected winner over Democrat Doug Jones; Moore continues to lead statewide polls by a narrow margin. President Trump, at a rally on Friday that was in Florida but just 30 miles from the Alabama border, urged voters to elect Moore. If elected, Moore faces a possible ethics investigation over claims of sexual misconduct with teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
  • The Federal Reserve Board of Governors convenes for the final time this year on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the occasion is likely to mark the last time that Fed Chair Janet Yellen will oversee a change in interest rates. The central bank is expected to raise its benchmark rate for the third time this year in light of the strengthening economy and a steady decline in the employment rate. The Fed’s decision will be announced at 2 pm Wednesday, followed a half hour later by a Yellen press conference. Her term ends in February, and President Trump has nominated Jerome Powell as the next chairman.
  • If the Special Counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election is a thorn in President Trump’s side (and it is), Rod Rosenstein is the briar patch whence it came. Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as Special Counsel following the firing of James Comey as head of the FBI; Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from the issue. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee members will get a chance to question Rosenstein about the decision during an oversight hearing.
  • The Federal Communications Commission meets Thursday to consider repeal of the Net Neutrality rules adopted under the previous chairman. With Republicans holding a 3-2 majority on the commission, the outcome is not in doubt, and lawsuits to try to save the Net Neutrality rules are certain to come almost immediately. On Wednesday, the Federalist Society will conduct a conference call “Exploring Net Neutrality and the Implications of Repeal.”
  • The Justice Department sued to block AT&T’s proposed takeover of Time Warner, and a federal judge has set a March 19 date for trial on the issue. The question at issue is, as always, whether the merger would harm competition and consumer welfare. On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee takes a closer look at the issue at a rescheduled hearing on “The Consumer Welfare Standard in Antitrust: Outdated or a Harbor in a Sea of Doubt?”
  • Don’t think North Korea went away. Or the threat of other forms of terror. On Wednesday, two think tanks probe the issues: the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts “Ballistic Missile Defense: Evolving Threats & New Priorities” while the Hudson Institute conducts a conversation with Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke on “The Future of Combating Terrorism and Countering the Use of WMD.”
  • Canadian and Mexican officials will head back to Washington on Monday for the latest round of talks on NAFTA. Although President Trump has threatened to withdraw from the pact, negotiators have reached agreement previously on some points, and this week’s sessions aim at settling some minor details before the next major round of talks in January. On Monday, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts “The Costs and Consequences of Exiting NAFTA,” while on Tuesday a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee examines “The Future of the North American Free Trade Agreement,” and the Wilson Center explores “North American Competitiveness and the Future of NAFTA.”
  • Senator Bob Corker has been a persistent critic of President Trump’s handling of foreign affairs, and as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he’s making his views known. In recent months, the committee has examined the administration’s perspective on the use of force and probed who has the authority to order the use of nuclear weaponsOn Wednesday, the committee will conduct another hearing in the series on “Using Force: Strategic, Political and Legal Considerations.”
  • Few could successfully argue that President Donald Trump doesn’t know something about achieving success. Certainly few would try at the Heritage Foundation, which on Wednesday hosts “The Art of the Donald: Lessons from America’s Philosopher-in-Chief,” featuring Christopher Bedford, editor-in-chief of the Daily Caller News Foundation. Bedford promises to “take you inside the new president’s unorthodox mind, unlocking the genius of his approach to everything in life and offering insights into navigating life the Trump way.”

    Founded in 2006, Sphere Consulting is an international public affairs firm providing clients with creative, effective, and timely solutions.  Our work spans the globe and all industry sectors with a focus on the implementation of strategic campaigns to deliver your media and government relations needs.

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