OVERNIGHT MONEY: Bad week gets worse

THURSDAY’S BIG STORY:

Lois Lerner’s long week won’t be getting any shorter.

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One day after the House Ways and Means Committee voted to refer the former IRS official to the Justice Department for potential criminal wrongdoing, the House Oversight Committee will in all likelihood vote to hold her in contempt on Thursday morning.

Long the focal point of the controversy over the IRS’s handling of conservative groups, Lerner has twice refused to answer questions from the panel chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

Republicans insist that Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights when she professed her innocence to the panel before going mum.

Thursday’s vote is likely to be another partisan affair, as Oversight Republicans and Democrats have spent the week lobbing bombs at each other. The Ways and Means vote to refer Lerner to Attorney General Eric Holder — which accused her of targeting Crossroads GPS, the campaign heavyweight co-founded by Karl Rove — also slid by on a party-line vote.

On Wednesday morning, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) upped the ante by citing a Congressional Research Service report to accuse Issa of pursuing tactics comparable to the communist witch hunt under former Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.).

Issa’s team responded hours later with claims that Cummings, the top Democrat at Oversight, hid interactions he had with the IRS, including Lerner. It all adds up to another potent partisan cocktail when the committee votes tomorrow.

Of course, if contempt for Lerner is approved as expected, there’s still a long ways to go. The full House would have to approve the resolution, which would then be sent to the Justice Department. GOP leaders like Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) have said the support the contempt charges.

 

WHAT ELSE WE’RE WATCHING:

Global gathering: The International Monetary Fund and World Bank will continue their spring meeting in Washington tomorrow, as economic giants from across the globe convene.

There will be plenty of chatter about the global economy, including the Ukraine situation, potential slowdown in China, and whether the U.S. economy is finally ready to take off. Christine Lagarde, the IMF managing director, and Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank president, will both be chatting with the press.

Taxing conversation: A full roster of Republican big shots will be gathering in one spot tomorrow, as Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform holds its annual “Tax Day Eve” press conference.

GOP leaders in both chambers, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.), are scheduled to talk, as are potential 2016 candidates like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Both House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and the top Republican at Senate Finance, Orrin Hatch (Utah), are on tap to stop by as well.

And, yes: We know April 10 isn’t actually the day before Tax Day. But the looming two-week congressional recess appears to have complicated matters a bit for Norquist and ATR, whose anti-tax pledge is still signed by the overwhelming majority of GOP lawmakers.

Dodd-Frank do-over: The Bipartisan Policy Center will unveil a new report tomorrow, detailing how the Dodd-Frank financial reform law missed the chance to streamline the nation’s financial watchdogs.

Appropriatin’: Appropriators continue the job at hand, digging into various pieces of the budget and doling out dollars. The Senate Appropriations Committee will hear from Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, while the House Appropriations Committee has several events lined up — headlined by a chat with Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

 

LOOSE CHANGE

Oh, Congress: The House Agriculture Committee looked to have gotten the ball rolling on reauthorizing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Wednesday, but Wall Street reform groups could gum up the works.

House Agriculture’s approval, by voice vote, came a mere 24 hours after the CFTC reauthorization was introduced, and the legislation has received the endorsement of the committee’s top Republican and Democrat.

But Wall Street critics argue the measure handcuffs the derivatives watchdog in key ways, and are making their displeasure known. The reform group Better Markets said Wednesday the bill is “aimed at tying the hands of the underfunded derivatives regulator.”

The smooth sailing the bill once enjoyed has now gotten rockier, and the Senate still has to propose its own take at legislation authorizing the work of the agency.

Take your hands off my tax code?: Republicans and Democrats in this town have been deeply divided over taxes for some time, but on one point they generally agree: The tax code is an overly complex mess that should be simplified for the taxpayers who struggle to cobble together a return each year.

The problem with that? According to a new AP-GfK poll, roughly six in 10 taxpayers say filling out their taxes is easy. About nine in 10 say they wouldn’t be willing to pay more for an easier way.

Of course, as The Associated Press notes, about nine in 10 also use a paid preparer or software like TurboTax.

 

ECONOMIC INDICATORS:

Initial Claims: The Labor Department will release its weekly claims for first-time jobless benefits.

Export Prices-Import Prices: The Commerce Department releases its March report tracking trends in exports and imports, with the export data worth watching for indications of how the global economy is faring.

Treasury Budget: The Treasury Department releases its March budget data, which is used mostly by the market for year-over-year changes in receipts and outlays.

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

–   Watchdog finds IRS employees promoted Obama in 2012

—   Senate confirms Obama picks for trade positions

—   Lerner mentioned Organizing for America job

—   Read Camp’s letter to Holder 

—   Minutes show Fed wanting to keep rates low as economy improves 

—   Dems say Ryan budget is a job killer 

—   Lawmaker attempt to increase pay fails 

—   Bank of America agrees to $772M settlement

—   Panel sends Lerner case to DOJ 

—   First 2015 spending bill cleared by House panel 

—   House panel quickly approves CFTC tweaks

 

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