Overnight Finance: McConnell, Schumer spar over debt limit | WH says tax reform depends on Dems | Mnuchin doubts Trump’s corporate tax goal possible | Dem wants criminal probe of Equifax stock sales | Mystery surrounds Cordray’s plans

Overnight Finance: McConnell, Schumer spar over debt limit | WH says tax reform depends on Dems | Mnuchin doubts Trump’s corporate tax goal possible | Dem wants criminal probe of Equifax stock sales | Mystery surrounds Cordray’s plans
© Greg Nash

Mystery surrounds Cordray's plans: It's become a guessing game in Washington: Is Richard Cordray running or not?

The director of the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is said to be mulling a bid for governor of Ohio, where he served as attorney general and state treasurer, and could announce his plans at any moment.

But there's a catch.

Federal law prevents Cordray, a Democrat, from campaigning while he serves as director of the CFPB. That's forced lawmakers, reporters and industry lobbyists to scrounge for clues about his intentions.


Leaders of congressional committees and trade groups that interact frequently with Cordray speculate that his relaxed demeanor in recent meetings indicates he's headed out the door. Cordray's allies say nothing has changed. I try to make sense of it all here: http://bit.ly/2xXNQNt.


White House: Tax reform hinges on Democratic support: White House legislative affairs director Marc Short on Tuesday emphasized the need for President Trump and Democrats to work together on tax reform, citing Republican lawmakers' past failures to fulfill their campaign promises.

"We learned this summer that keeping 50 or 52 Republicans [in the Senate] is not something that's reliable," Short said at a roundtable hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. "Despite promises and commitments they've made to the American voters since 2010, we don't feel like we can assume we can get tax reform done strictly on a partisan basis, so it would be wise for us ... to try and reach out and earn the support from Democrats as well."

Trump and other White House officials have expressed frustration with Republican lawmakers, who hold a majority in the House and Senate, following the failure to pass an ObamaCare repeal bill this summer -- something the GOP has promised to do for years.

Short expressed confidence that Democrats will get on board, saying the administration has met with 250 members from both sides of the aisle about tax reform since April. The Hill's Jonathan Easley reports: http://bit.ly/2xY294J.


Mnuchin: Trump's corporate tax rate goal may not be achievable: Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinIRS reduces donor reporting rules for some tax-exempt groups On The Money: US files complaints at WTO | House leaders get deal to boost biz investment | Mnuchin says US will consider Iran sanctions waivers | FCC deals blow to Sinclair-Tribune merger Mnuchin says US will consider Iran oil sanctions waivers: report MORE on Tuesday said that President Trump's goal of lowering the corporate tax rate to 15 percent may not be achievable.

"I don't know if we'll be able to achieve that, given the budget issue," Mnuchin said at an conference hosted by CNBC. "But we're going to get this down to a very competitive level, and what the exact number is less important. And what's more important is making sure we have a competitive system."

Mnuchin's comments are similar to remarks that Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit Former Trump aide says he canceled CNN appearance over 'atrocious' Helsinki coverage MORE (R-Wis.) made last week. Ryan said that "the numbers are hard" to make a 15 percent rate possible, and that he's shooting for a rate in the low-to-mid 20s. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda explains: http://bit.ly/2xXO9bf.


GOP budget chair may not finish her term: House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane BlackDiane Lynn BlackGOP lawmaker introduces legislation labelling first-time illegal border crossing as a felony Scalise throws support behind Black, Blackburn ahead of Tennessee primary GOP lawmaker: Porn partly to blame for school shootings MORE (R-Tenn.) might not finish out her congressional term as she focuses on her run for governor, according to a report in The Tennessean confirmed by The Hill.

"We haven't made that decision yet," Black was quoted as saying at a gubernatorial candidate forum at Nashville's Tennessee State Fair.

Black added that she's still hoping to pass a 2018 budget resolution through the House, but a whip count last week did not turn up the necessary votes.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus is withholding its support from the budget because they want more details on the plan for tax reform.

"I'm still doing what I promised I would do and that's to try to get the budget across the line," Black said. "It's out of my committee, but I feel obligated to continue to work to get that done and we're working on that right now."  Here's more from The Hill's Niv Elis: http://bit.ly/2xXYkN0.


House Dems demand answers from Equifax CEO: Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are demanding answers from the CEO of Equifax about the company's data breach that left the personal information of 143 million people exposed.

All 24 minority members of the committee signed a letter to the Equifax executive, Richard Smith, calling on him to come forward with more information about his handling of the crisis.

"We are writing with serious concerns about the immense scale of this data breach, and we have a number of questions about whether Equifax took appropriate steps to safeguard the personal information of consumers," the letter reads. "We also have concerns about the amount of time it took for Equifax to notify the public of the breach and about the way Equifax is providing information to consumers."

A spokesman for Equifax did not immediately respond when asked to comment: http://bit.ly/2xXStHp.


Dem senator on Equifax breach: 'Somebody needs to go to jail': Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampDoug Jones walks tightrope on Supreme Court nominee Red-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (D-N.D.) is calling for a criminal investigation into Equifax's stock sales after a massive data breach earlier this year, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Equifax, one of the country's three major credit bureaus, revealed this month that it had learned in July that a data breach may have compromised the personal information of 143 million Americans.

Three Equifax executives, including the company's chief financial officer, John Gamble Jr., reportedly sold nearly $2 million worth of shares after learning of the data breach but before they made the hack public.

"If that happened, somebody needs to go to jail," Heitkamp said at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions' conference in Washington Tuesday, according to Reuters.

"It's a problem when people can act with impunity with no consequences," she added. "How is that not insider trading?" http://bit.ly/2xY5aCb.


Happy Tuesday and welcome back to Overnight Finance. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

See something I missed? Let me know at slane@thehill.com or tweet me @SylvanLane. And if you like your newsletter, you can subscribe to it here: http://bit.ly/1NxxW2N.


On tap tomorrow

  • House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade: Hearing entitled "A Legislative Proposal to Impede North Korea's Access to Finance," 10 a.m. http://bit.ly/2vLlXri.
  • House Small Business Committee: Hearing entitled "Serving Small Businesses: Examining the Effectiveness of HUBZone Reforms," 11 a.m. The HUBZone program seeks to bring federal contracts to small businesses in economically distressed areas. http://bit.ly/2vLwqmu.


US, Malaysia talk trade: Top U.S. and Malaysian trade officials are discussing ways to further strengthen their trading relationship.

President Trump and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak met at the White House on Tuesday and vowed to move forward with a trade agreement between the two nations.

"We're talking about trade, very large trade deals," Trump said.

"We're working on one deal where between $10 and $20 billion dollars' worth of Boeing jets are going to be purchased, General Electric engines will be purchased, and many other things," he said.

Najib said his delegation came to the U.S. with several specific economic agenda items, including purchasing 33 Boeing planes with the possibility of purchasing another 25 more. Here's more from The Hill's Vicki Needham: http://bit.ly/2xXTXRW.


Bank lobby chief calls for 'cooler heads' to revamp consumer bureau: The president of a top banking group on Tuesday criticized both parties for not installing a bipartisan commission to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a Republican goal long opposed by Democrats fond of the bureau's current director, Richard Cordray.

Richard Hunt, president and CEO of the Consumer Bankers Association, said both parties are to blame for failing to spread the CFPB's power among a commission, akin to several other regulatory agencies.

"We need consumer protection, because if you don't have consumer protection, you don't have the banking trust." Hunt said. "It has nothing to do with Richard Cordray. It has to do with certainty and stability at the CFPB."

"Everybody's got blame," Hunt added. "It's time to get cooler heads from both political parties to look at the longevity of the CFPB." http://bit.ly/2xXTXkU.


McConnell: No debt ceiling vote needed until 2018: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Overnight Defense: Washington reeling from Trump, Putin press conference Feehery: The long game MORE (R-Ky.) says Congress will hold off on raising the debt ceiling until 2018 now that lawmakers cleared a three-month extension.

"Since I was in charge of drafting the debt ceiling provision that we inserted into the flood bill we likely, almost certainly, are not going to have another debt ceiling discussion until well into 2018," McConnell told The New York Times.

The bill Congress cleared last week raises the debt ceiling until Dec. 8. But the Treasury Department could use "extraordinary measures" to push back the deadline for another debt increase, likely until the spring.

Democrats hoped forcing GOP leadership to deal with both the debt ceiling and funding the government at the end of the year would give them more leverage heading into the fall.

But McConnell said Democratic leadership "spiked the ball in the end zone a little too early." The Hill's Jordain Carney explains: http://bit.ly/2xXY7ZY.


Schumer fires back over debt limit: Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThis week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Red-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (D-N.Y.) is firing back at Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), warning that decoupling the debt ceiling from funding for the government would backfire on Republicans.

Pushing the debt-ceiling vote into 2018 "sure doesn't benefit them" or the country, the New York Democrat said, referring to Republicans.

"If they used extraordinary measures to extend the debt ceiling, there would be two cliffs instead of one," Schumer told reporters during a conference call.

His comments come after McConnell appeared to try to claim a win over the recent debt-ceiling fight, telling The New York Times that Democrats "spiked the ball in the end zone a little too early."

McConnell argued the end-of-the-year discussions will be focused on spending levels and hurricane relief, not the debt ceiling.

But separating the two issues could force Republicans to take two tough votes. Delaying the debt-ceiling fight into 2018 also pushes it into the heart of the midterm election campaign.

Jordain Carney again breaks it down: http://bit.ly/2wZji00


McConnell expects Congress will stick with debt limit: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) predicted on Tuesday that Congress would stick with the debt ceiling.

"Getting Congress to give up a tool like that would probably be quite a challenging undertaking. My assumption is that the debt ceiling will continue," he told reporters during a weekly leadership press conference.

McConnell didn't directly say if he would support getting rid of the debt limit.

Conservatives often try to use debt ceiling votes to try to get spending cuts or entitlement reforms.

President Trump has floated the idea of getting rid of the debt ceiling, a move that puts him at odds with some GOP lawmakers, including Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Trump told reporters late last week that "there are a lot of good reasons" to get rid of the debt limit.

The Hill’s Jordain Carney has more: http://bit.ly/2jmYiLX


Hoyer: Dems not expecting debt-limit fight in December: A top House Democrat said Tuesday that he's also not expecting another vote on the debt limit this year.

"I don't think the Republicans will have to deal with the debt limit extension in December," Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip, told reporters in the Capitol. "I think what they're going to be dealing with is simply keeping the government open and funded."

Hoyer's remarks are the latest part of a tango on Capitol Hill over who won the most leverage in last week's surprise deal, which saw President Trump agree with Democrats to a short-term debt limit hike and government-funding deal, which were packaged with legislation to help communities hit by Hurricane Harvey.

Democrats hailed the deal last week, arguing they'd scored a major victory since Republicans had gone in asking for an 18-month debt limit extension. The GOP then lowered their offer to six months, only to see Democrats demand a three-month deal that was then agreed to by Trump. The Hill's Mike Lillis reports: http://bit.ly/2xYecPo.


Bannon thinks tax law changes probably won't happen until next year: Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon said in Hong Kong that changes to the U.S. tax code are unlikely to happen until 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

An attendee at an investment conference organized by CLSA told the Journal that Bannon said that he doesn't think tax changes are likely for at least the next three months.

Bannon's prediction contrasts with the assertion from administration officials and key GOP lawmakers that tax-reform legislation will be enacted in 2017.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday at a conference hosted by CNBC that policymakers are "going to get this done by the end of the year."

White House officials said that President Trump made a deal with Democrats on a three-month debt limit and spending package in order to "clear the decks" for tax reform: http://bit.ly/2xYjb2x.


GOP senator calls for caps on ex-presidents' benefits: Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOnly all-male state Supreme Court set to get female justice GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE The real reason Scott Pruitt is gone: Putting a key voting bloc at risk MORE (R-Iowa) has renewed her push to cap the benefits former presidents receive after leaving office, arguing that their excessive perks are an unnecessary burden on the nation's taxpayers.

"With the national debt quickly approaching $20 trillion, we cannot afford to generously subsidize the perks of former presidents to the tune of millions of dollars," Ernst said in a statement Monday

"The reality is that post-presidential life already provides fruitful opportunities on its own, with former presidents raking in tens of millions of dollars from book deals, speaking engagements, and more."

Ernst and Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) on Monday reintroduced the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2017, legislation that attempts to cut down on "post-presidency benefits by establishing first-ever limits on the taxpayer support they receive." http://bit.ly/2xXOfzB.


Median income rises second straight year: The median American household took home just over $59,000 in 2016, the highest figure ever measured — with an asterisk — by the U.S. Census Bureau and up 3.2 percent over the previous year.

Census Bureau officials cautioned that improvements and updates to the way they collect data about household income makes direct comparisons difficult. The Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, said median household income still lags behind the high watermark set in 2000, and the median set in 2007, just before the onset of the recession.

Still, the bureau said household incomes are up notably in the years after the recession.

The Hill’s Reid Wilson crunches the numbers: http://bit.ly/2wYOE74


Good reads from around the web

Marketwatch: Dimon calls bitcoin 'a fraud' and may have delivered the biggest blow to the digital currency

CNBC: IRS delays tax deadlines for Irma victims

WSJ: A 100-year bond for a 99-year-old country

Bloomberg: Equifax breach complicates banks' efforts to fend off lawsuits


Write us with tips, suggestions and news: slane@thehill.com, vneedham@thehill.com, njagoda@thehill.com and nelis@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @SylvanLane,  @VickofTheHill, @NJagoda and @NivElis