OVERNIGHT FINANCE: Tax day; Ex-Im chief takes hot seat

TOMORROW STARTS TONIGHT: DEATH TO THE 'DEATH TAX?' Bernie Becker reports on Tax Day: "The House is gearing up to vote Thursday on repealing the estate tax, an issue that has energized the base in both parties -- and that Democrats and Republicans see as a political winner. Republicans are making the vote the centerpiece of their agenda during a week when millions of taxpayers face the annual IRS filing deadline and anti-tax groups regularly hold protests. For the GOP, repealing the estate tax -- or the 'death tax,' as they've long called it -- is more than just a proposal favored by their supporters in the business community."

--Democrats: Long live the estate tax: Becker: "Democrats say they're more than happy to have a debate over a repeal proposal that would add $270 billion to the federal debt over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, while affecting only a small fraction of estates in the U.S." http://bit.ly/1CNfsPx

THIS IS OVERNIGHT FINANCE, HAPPY HUMP DAY! Tweet: @kevcirilli; email: kcirilli@thehill.com; and subscribe: http://thehill.com/signup/48

Back to work...

LET'S TALK DODD-FRANK. Have a long commute? Download my 50-minute podcast with the University of Pennsylvania's David Skeel as we discuss Dodd-Frank's impacts on Main Street and Wall Street -- and what it means for your bottom line on UPenn's award-winning podcast "Case in Point." iTunes link: http://apple.co/1FLK5qF

HOCHBERG IN THE HOT SEAT - - CAN HE SAVE THE BANK? My latest: Republicans grilled Export-Import Bank President Fred Hochberg during a hearing on Wednesday, arguing that he has not implemented reforms that Congress mandated in 2012. Ex-Im critics characterized the bank as a form of corporate welfare as they debated whether to renew the organization's charter, which will expire on June 30.

Republicans are badly divided over whether to renew the bank's life, with fiscal conservatives led by Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) arguing the government should end the program. On Wednesday, they also criticized Hochberg's leadership -- just two days after Department of Justice officials charged a former bank employee with bribery. My story: http://bit.ly/1HumRtS

Hearing highlights:

1.) Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to Hochberg: "How do you think the American taxpayer looks at these things? I can tell you -- this is the part of government that just drives them crazy, this kind of coziness, this kind of closeness, this kind of connectedness drives them crazy."

2.) Hensarling to Hochberg: "Perhaps, maybe a little bit more time managing the store and a little less time with the photo-ops lobbying for your reauthorization may lead to fewer indictments."

3.) Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) to Hochberg: "That sound you hear in the background is the tick-tocking of the clock. There are exactly 32 legislative days -- count them -- until it expires... It's way past time to schedule a legislative mark-up on reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. Period."

Moving on...

BEIGE BOOK: ECONOMY GROWING. Sarah Portlock for WSJ: "The U.S. economy expanded across most regions of the country in February through the end of March, with cheaper gasoline boosting retail sales in some districts and travel and tourism rebounding in other areas. Still, a strong dollar, falling oil prices and harsh winter weather slowed activity in some sectors, according to the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report, a survey of regional economic conditions." http://on.wsj.com/1EHApS1

LIBERALS RALLY AGAINST BIPARTISAN TRADE DEAL. Vicki Needham for The Hill: "Organized labor rallied Wednesday on Capitol Hill in its latest blitz against the White House's efforts to obtain trade powers that would move agreements more easily through Congress... Led by the AFL-CIO and the United Steelworkers, the rally punctuated months of nearly continuous campaigning to convince Democrats that opposing so-called fast-track authority is the only way to stop bad trade deals." 

-- WARREN WATCH, via Needham: "Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debt The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon No new taxes for the ultra rich — fix bad tax policy instead MORE (D-Mass.), another outspoken critic, said those canvassing congressional offices should ask two questions -- why is the trade deal being negotiated in secret and who benefits? Warren answered her own second question with 'corporate giants.'" http://bit.ly/1GLri4w

WARREN: I'M NOT FINISHED WITH WALL STREET. Peter Schroeder: "Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) laid out an ambitious legislative and regulatory blueprint for further curbs on the financial sector Wednesday. [She accused] Republicans of engaging in 'pure crony capitalism' by trying to relax rules on Wall Street." Story: http://bit.ly/1awM2ia

Thirsty? Let's drink...

SHOT, ELIZABETH WARREN, speaking earlier today: "First, break up the biggest banks.  There are two structural ways to do this:  We can cap the size of the biggest financial institutions, as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and former Senator Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) proposed during the Dodd-Frank debates.  And we can adopt a 21st century Glass-Steagall Act that rebuilds the wall between commercial banking and investment banking."

CHASER, ELIZABETH WARREN on CNBC in July 2012 in response to a question about whether Glass-Steagall "had anything to do with causing the crisis." Warren's response: "Right. Right, I'll give you that."

QUICK Q - - > IS ELIZABETH WARREN REALLY A POPULIST? Salena Zito for Real Clear Politics: "Democrat Elizabeth Warren's claim to being a Main Street populist is an abuse of the American populist narrative, not unlike the hijacking of the tea party following the 2010 elections.

"Yet that hasn't stopped the freshman U.S. senator from Massachusetts (or Washington's political class) from anointing her as a populist heroine and an antidote to establishment Washington. Populism does not start at the top and work its way down to people; it works from the people up. And it is rarely embodied by the far left, which typically turns populist sentiment into demagoguery...

-- SALENA'S BOTTOM LINE: "Besides sharing a distrust of big corporations and big banks, Elizabeth Warren's Harvard-elite progressive-populism has very little in common with Main Street America's viewpoint." http://bit.ly/1POOilO

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