Overnight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018

Overnight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018
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Trump says government shutdown 'could happen': President Trump said Wednesday a government shutdown could happen and argued that Democrats should shoulder the blame if Congress fails to pass a funding bill.

"It could happen," Trump said when asked about the chances of a shutdown. "The Democrats are really looking at something that is very dangerous to our country. They are looking at shutting down."

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump accused Democrats of impeding talks on a spending deal with demands on immigration.


"They want to have illegal immigrants pouring into our country, bringing with them crime. Tremendous amounts of crime," the president said.

"We don't have to have that. We want to have a great, beautiful, crime-free country. And we want people to coming into our country, but we want them to come on our basis."

Trump's warning came as lawmakers on Capitol Hill are scrambling to pass a funding measure before the Dec. 8 shutdown deadline. Here's more from The Hill's Jordan Fabian: http://bit.ly/2AZOjUs.


House conservatives, Ryan inch closer toward spending deal: The conservative House Freedom Caucus and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 At indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates MORE (R-Wis.) are inching closer toward a deal to avert a shutdown and fund the government through Dec. 22, though some sticking points still remain.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsAnxious Democrats amp up pressure for vote on COVID-19 aid Pelosi hopeful COVID-19 relief talks resume 'soon' The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - GOP closes ranks to fill SCOTUS vacancy by November MORE (R-N.C.) and the group's former leader, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanHouse panel pulls Powell into partisan battles over pandemic Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election House passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus MORE (R-Ohio), emerged from a meeting in Ryan's office Wednesday morning saying they are making progress on a deal and have had productive discussions with leadership.

"We're still working hard to try to get to an agreement. We're making good progress," he added. "Nothing's decided yet."

While the conservative bloc had pushed for a continuing resolution that funds the government past Christmas, they appear to be open to a spending bill through Dec. 22. Current funding for fiscal 2018 runs out Friday at midnight.

But now, Meadows said, the debate is centered on the game plan after Dec. 22, when Congress will likely need to pass another short-term spending bill to keep the government's lights on into the new year. The Hill's Melanie Zanona and Scott Wong report: http://bit.ly/2AZFlH7.


Senate approves motion to go to tax conference: The Senate on Wednesday voted to go to conference with the House on tax-reform legislation, setting up negotiations to resolve the differences between the two chambers' bills.

The motion to go to conference passed by a vote of 51-47. Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGraham: GOP has votes to confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy This week: Supreme Court fight over Ginsburg's seat upends Congress's agenda MORE (R-Tenn.) and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenGOP Senate candidate says Trump, Republicans will surprise in Minnesota Peterson faces fight of his career in deep-red Minnesota district Getting tight — the psychology of cancel culture MORE (D-Minn.) did not vote.

"The American people deserve taxes that are lower, simpler and fairer," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump faces backlash after not committing to peaceful transition of power MORE (R-Ky.) said, adding that voting to go to conference makes the Senate "one step closer to getting it done."

The House voted to go conference on Monday. Unlike the House vote, where some conservatives initially held out on voting for the motion to push for a longer stopgap government funding bill, the Senate vote went smoothly.

GOP lawmakers are confident that they will be able to reconcile the House and Senate tax bills and send a final bill to President Trump's desk by Christmas.

Still, there are a number of differences between the House and Senate measures that will have to be addressed. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda explains: http://bit.ly/2AYGYok.


McConnell 'almost certain' GOP will pass tax reform: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Wednesday that it's "almost certain" Republicans will be able to pass a tax-reform plan, as lawmakers are gearing up for negotiations over the House and Senate bills.

"Well, almost certain. I mean, I can't imagine having come this far we're not going to finish the job," he told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. 

The Senate voted Wednesday to go to conference on their tax legislation, after the House held a similar vote on Monday.

McConnell reiterated that Republicans will be able to get a bill to President Trump's desk before Christmas, noting the House and Senate versions "are really very similar."

"We'll have to have a conference with the House yet ahead of us and work out the differences, but the core of the two bills are really very similar. And I think we'll be able to do that in fairly short order," he said: http://bit.ly/2AZFlH7.


Happy Wednesday 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.


Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday said House Republicans will aim to cut spending on Medicare, Medicaid and welfare programs next year as a way to trim the federal deficit.

"We're going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit," Ryan said during an interview on Ross Kaminsky's talk radio show.

Health-care entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid "are the big drivers of debt," Ryan said, "so we spend more time on the health care entitlements, because that's really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking."

Ryan said he's been speaking privately with President Trump, who is beginning to warm to the idea of slowing the spending growth in entitlements.

During his campaign, Trump repeatedly promised not to cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.

"I think the president is understanding choice and competition works everywhere, especially in Medicare," Ryan said: http://bit.ly/2AXKXS0.


Private-sector employers added 190,000 jobs in November: U.S. businesses added a robust 190,000 jobs in November as the job market maintained a solid pace of growth amid tightening labor conditions, a private survey showed on Wednesday.

The pace of hiring last month slowed from October's 235,000 jobs after a surge of activity followed a sharp drop in jobs due to the hurricanes that slammed into Texas and Florida, according to data released by payroll processor ADP.

Job growth fell to 96,000 in September when the storms disrupted the labor market. 

But the labor market got back on track in November. 

"The job market is rip-roaring," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics who works with ADP to analyze the data.

"It would take an awful lot to derail it at this point," Zandi said. The Hill's Vicki Needham explains: http://bit.ly/2AYJKd9.


Study says wealthiest 1 percent owns 40 percent of country's wealth: The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans now own 40 percent of the country's wealth, the highest share in the last 50 years, according to a new study.

The Washington Post reported on the study from economist Edward Woolf, which uses data from the federal Survey of Consumer Finances.

According to Woolf's paper, the gap between the wealth owned by the top 1 percent and the wealth owned by the bottom 90 percent has been steadily widening over the past few decades as the wealthiest become wealthier and the majority of households lose their share.

The average net worth of households in the top 1 percent is $26.4 million. The top 20 percent of households own 90 percent of the country's wealth, and the bottom half of the top 20 percent have an average net worth of $740,800, according to Woolf.

The wealth inequality gap is worse in the U.S. than in any other country around the world, according to the Post's analysis of data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with the next highest being Germany, where the top 1 percent owns 25 percent of the wealth: http://bit.ly/2AYZtZE.

Bush-era tax official: GOP tax bill will have many 'unintended consequences' A former George W. Bush Treasury Department official warned there will be "unintended consequences" from the Republican tax bill due to the speed at which it has been pushed through Congress.

"We will be dealing with unintended consequences for months to come because the bill is moving too fast," Greg Jenner told Politico in an article published on Wednesday. 

"The more you read, the more you go, 'Holy crap, what's this?'" he continued. 

Jenner's comments come after Senate Republicans fulfilled a major campaign promise on Friday to overhaul the U.S. tax code. The House passed their measure in November.

Critics, like Jenner, say Republicans are not allowing taxpayers enough time to adjust to the major changes in the tax policy. http://bit.ly/2AWBtq6.


US health-care spending hit $3.3 trillion in 2016: Overall health-care spending in the U.S. topped $3.3 trillion last year, according to a new report released by the Trump administration.

The report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) shows that health-care spending slowed in 2016. Spending grew by 4.3 percent last year, compared to 5.1 percent and 5.8 percent growth in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

"Basically, we saw two major things happening in 2014 and 2015. We had the enrollment expansion that impacted Medicaid and private health insurance with 10.2 million and 8.7 million people gaining coverage," a CMS official told reporters Wednesday. 

"In addition, in 2014 and 2015 we saw strong and rapid spending growth in retail prescription drugs," the official added.

The CMS official attributed the slowdown in 2016 to people using medical goods and services when initially added to Medicaid and private insurance: http://bit.ly/2AZ1YLs.


Businesses urge Congress to expedite passage of tariff bill: A diverse group of nearly 200 businesses and associations are calling on Congress to expedite passage of a bill that would eliminate duties on imported raw materials needed for production that aren't readily available in the United States.

In a letter sent to Congress on Wednesday, the groups argued that the long-overdue Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), which expired five years ago, will collectively save their businesses millions of dollars a year while making them more globally competitive.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which spearheaded the letter, has maintained steady pressure on Congress to pass new legislation even before the last bill expired in 2012.

"Congress now has the opportunity to address this self-imposed tax on U.S. competitiveness," the letter says.

NAM estimates that the legislation would eliminate import tariffs of more than $1.1 billion over the next three years and boost U.S. manufacturing output by more than $3.1 billion: http://bit.ly/2AYfWO0.


Dem gives McConnell's tax reform op-ed a failing grade: A California lawmaker took a red pen to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) Wall Street Journal op-ed on the GOP tax bill, giving it a failing grade.

Rep. Mark TakanoMark Allan TakanoOvernight Defense: Nearly 500 former national security officials formally back Biden | 40 groups call on House panel to investigate Pentagon's use of coronavirus funds Congress missed the point when it came to helping veterans During Suicide Prevention Month, Trump needs to do more for troops' mental health MORE (D), a former public high school English teacher for two decades, critiqued McConnell's piece in a post on his Facebook page.

"I thought we agreed you can't keep doing this last minute," Takano wrote at the top of the page next to a circled "F" grade.

Throughout the three-page piece, Takano crossed out sections, underlined phrases and left notes in the margins slamming the substance of the op-ed: http://bit.ly/2AZIu9T.


From The Hill's opinion pages:

Alcohol industry will get boost from Senate tax plan

Consumers need a hero, not a hack, to head the CFPB

US-South Korea trade deal must be held to its lofty standards

CVS-Aetna merger is a robber baron's dream come true


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