Overnight Finance: WH floats Mexican import tax | Exporters move to back GOP tax proposal | Dems rip Trump adviser's Goldman Sachs payout

Overnight Finance: WH floats Mexican import tax | Exporters move to back GOP tax proposal | Dems rip Trump adviser's Goldman Sachs payout
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Today in U.S.-Mexico trade policy: A three-act play:


How it started, 11:57 a.m.: Mexican president scraps visit with Trump: Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said Thursday he will not attend a planned meeting next week with President Trump.

"This morning we informed the White House that I will not attend the work meeting planned for next Tuesday with @POTUS," Peña Nieto tweeted in Spanish, announcing the cancellation.

The move came a day after Trump signed a directive ordering federal agencies to begin building a wall across the southern U.S. border, while insisting Mexico would pay for it.


Speaking to Republican lawmakers at their retreat in Philadelphia, Trump claimed he and Peña Nieto "agreed to cancel our planned meeting."

"Unless Mexico is going to treat the U.S. fairly, such a meeting would be fruitless," the president said.

The move escalates brewing tensions between the two neighboring countries on hot-button issues such as immigration and trade. Here's Jordan again with everything you need to know: http://bit.ly/2jCHPis.


And then, 3:45 p.m.: Trump wants Mexican import tax to fund wall: President Trump will ask Congress to impose a 20 percent tax on all imports from Mexico to pay for a wall along the United States's southern border, the White House said Thursday. 

White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not give out specific details about the new tax or explain how it would be implemented, but he said it could be included in a comprehensive tax reform package. 

"We can do $10 billion a year and easily pay for the wall just through that mechanism alone. That's really going to provide the funding," Spicer told reporters aboard Air Force One. 

Trump has said the wall would cost $8 billion, but independent estimates peg the price tag between $15 and $25 billion.

The Hill's Jordan Fabian has it here: http://bit.ly/2jCBWls.


Where we ended up, 5:32 p.m.: White House: Mexican import tax just one way to pay for wall: The administration quickly backtracked. White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday said imposing a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico is just one option President Trump is considering to pay for a wall along the U.S. southern border. 

Spicer sought to clarify his earlier comments about the plan, saying they were not meant to be an official policy rollout. 

"Our job right now isn't to roll something out or be prescriptive," the spokesman told reporters inside his West Wing office. "It's to show that there are ways that the wall could be paid for. Full stop. That's it."

Asked if he was making a formal policy announcement, Spicer flatly said "no." Here's Jordan again with the walkback: http://bit.ly/2jCL21o.


Exporters forming coalition to support House GOP border tax: A group of domestic manufacturers is putting together a coalition to support House Republicans' "border-adjustment" proposal to tax imports while exempting exports.

A source familiar with the coalition's planning told The Hill that more than 50 exporters and manufacturers have committed to being part of the group or have expressed interest in joining it. The coalition is expected to be announced shortly.

Boeing, GE, Oracle and Dow are among the businesses that are likely to be part of the group, according to reports from Politico and the Financial Times.

The border-adjustment provision is a key piece of the House GOP tax plan, which serves as the basis for legislation being drafted in the chamber. Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE (R-Wis.) said on MSNBC Wednesday that he wants to pass tax-reform legislation by the end of the summer. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda has more: http://bit.ly/2jCGBnB.


Happy Thursday and welcome to Overnight Finance, where we're studying border adjustments harder than we ever have before. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

Tonight's highlights include GOP resistance to renegotiating NAFTA, pressure to confirm Trump's budget pick and a Democratic senator seeking a meeting with Trump.

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.


McCain 'deeply concerned' about Trump renegotiating NAFTA: Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe looming battle over Latino voters Who is 'Anonymous' author Miles Taylor? Why Biden could actually win Texas MORE (R-Ariz.) is raising concerns about President Trump's plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. 

"I'm deeply concerned by President Trump's statements today reaffirming his commitment to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)," the border-state Republican said in a statement. 

He added that while reworking the trade pact could help benefit the American economy, taking any steps that would make it harder to trade with Mexico or Canada could backfire. 

"Any effort to restrict or impose new barriers on our ability to trade with Mexico and Canada could jeopardize the future of this trade agreement and have serious consequences for Arizona and the country," McCain said. Here's more from The Hill's Jordain Carney: http://bit.ly/2jCw8Zk.


Petition for Trump's tax returns gets record number of signatures: A WhiteHouse.gov petition demanding that President Trump release his personal income tax returns has broken the website's record for signatures.

As of 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, the petition had received 369,550 signatures. That's close to 2,400 more than the previous record holder, a 2012 petition urging the government to recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.

The petition was created hours after Trump took the oath of office on Friday, and it attracted the 100,000 signatures it needed to warrant an official response from the White House within 24 hours. Petitions on the website are given a month to get the required number of signatures: http://bit.ly/2jCAlw2.


Conservative nonprofit pressures GOP to approve Trump budget pick: A conservative nonprofit is pushing Republican senators to back President Trump's nominee to lead the White House budget office.

FreedomWorks announced Thursday that it will judge senators' conservative credentials based on whether they vote to confirm Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) to be director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The nonprofit said his confirmation would be a key vote, meaning a vote against Mulvaney would be a negative mark on a scorecard used to track lawmakers who "consistently vote to support economic freedom and individual liberty."

FreedomWorks called Mulvaney "a champion of fiscal conservatism" in the House and touted his career boosting legislation to cut Internal Revenue Service, Environmental Protection Agency and overall federal government spending. I'll tell you where Mulvaney's opposition could come from here: http://bit.ly/2jCswWX.


Red-state Dem senator wants meeting with Trump on outsourcing: Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyBiden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Showdown: Trump-Biden debate likely to be nasty MORE is requesting a sit-down with President Trump to discuss ideas on how to prevent companies from moving jobs overseas. 

The Indiana Democrat sent a letter to Trump on Thursday noting he shares the president's "strong concern about the outsourcing of American jobs and its impact on middle-class families."

"Given our shared commitment, I respectfully request a meeting to discuss my legislative proposals and policy ideas, as well as ways we can work together to protect American jobs and strengthen our economy," Donnelly added in the letter. 

Donnelly is one of 10 Democratic senators up for reelection in 2018 in a state carried by Trump. Here's more from Jordain Carney: http://bit.ly/2jCt9jA.


Obama trade rep heads to Council on Foreign Relations: Former U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael B.G. FromanOn The Money: Sanders unveils plan to wipe .6T in student debt | How Sanders plan plays in rivalry with Warren | Treasury watchdog to probe delay of Harriet Tubman bills | Trump says Fed 'blew it' on rate decision Democrats give Trump trade chief high marks US trade rep spent nearly M to furnish offices: report MORE is joining the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) as a distinguished fellow after eight years in the Obama administration.  

Froman, who spent more than three years heading up President Obama's charge to forge far-reaching trade agreements, will tackle international economic policy, trade and globalization and populism.

"We are thrilled to have someone with Mike's experience and knowledge come to the Council," said CFR President Richard N. Haass.

"It is difficult to imagine someone better positioned to develop ideas for how best to rethink U.S. trade policy and how to rebuild domestic support for it," Haass said: http://bit.ly/2jCm6HG.


Elon Musk floated carbon tax to Trump: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reportedly suggested implementing a carbon tax to President Trump -- and it wasn't received well.

Trump officials did not offer support for Musk's suggestion, a senior White House official reportedly told Bloomberg.

Musk is a member of Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum, a presidential advisory team: http://bit.ly/2jCHyw8.


Dems rip Trump adviser's Goldman Sachs payout: Two Democratic lawmakers on Thursday blasted President Trump's chief economic adviser for reportedly receiving more than $100 million from his former employer, Goldman Sachs.

Reports emerged Wednesday that Gary Cohn, who served as the investment bank's president and COO, would receive the payout via owed bonuses, stock awards and unlocked company shares.

"President Trump promised to 'drain the swamp' but his revolving door between Wall Street and Washington keeps spinning," Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinInfrastructure, energy investments urgently needed to create U.S. jobs Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing Baldwin calls for Senate hearing on CDC response to meatpacking plant coronavirus outbreak MORE (D-Wis.) said in a statement: http://bit.ly/2jCziMB.


'1984' sells out on Amazon: Sales of George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984" have been surging since President Trump's inauguration -- so much so that the book officially sold out on Amazon Thursday.

The iconic novel, published nearly 70 years ago, was listed as the No. 1 best-seller on Amazon Wednesday. Publishers also announced they were printing more copies of the book to keep up with its sales.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway on Sunday defended the White House's false claims about Trump's inauguration crowd size as "alternative facts." Social media users quickly started comparing "alternative facts" to the use of "doublethink," a concept used by the authoritarian government in "1984" to skew and control the truth: http://bit.ly/2jCIel9.


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