Overnight Finance: Mulvaney remark on lobbyists stuns Washington | Macron takes swipe at Trump tariffs | Conservatives eye tax cut on capital gains | Gillibrand unveils post office banking bill | GOP chairman pushes banks on gun policies

Overnight Finance: Mulvaney remark on lobbyists stuns Washington | Macron takes swipe at Trump tariffs | Conservatives eye tax cut on capital gains | Gillibrand unveils post office banking bill | GOP chairman pushes banks on gun policies
© Greg Nash

Happy Wednesday and welcome back to Overnight Finance, your primary source of dragon energy. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL: Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion: Treasury Trump attacks Democrat in Ohio governor's race MORE, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), on Tuesday told bankers that direct engagement with their representatives would bolster their efforts to curtail the bureau's power and loosen financial regulations.

Mulvaney, the White House budget director, told a Washington conference of more than 1,000 bankers that their input on the extensive powers of the CFPB could help rein in the agency long loathed by the financial sector.


"What you do here matters," said Mulvaney, a former GOP congressman, at an American Bankers Association (ABA) conference on Tuesday. "People coming from back home to tell people in Congress what issues are important to them is one of the fundamental underpinnings of representative democracy, and you have to continue to do it."


Ok, here's the controversial part: Mulvaney said he "had a hierarchy in my office in Congress" in which he valued the opinions of his South Carolina constituents over lobbyists who donated to his campaigns.

"If you were a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn't talk to you. If you were a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you. If you came from back home and sat in my lobby, I would talk to you without exception, regardless of the financial contributions," Mulvaney said.


I've got more on his stunning comments here. Critics pounced on the remarks, saying that Mulvaney was suggesting he gave more favorable treatment to lobbyists who had donated to him. And even some Republicans called on him to clarify his comments.




Mulvaney's response

"He was making the point that hearing from people back home is vital to our democratic process and the most important thing our representatives can do. It's more important than lobbyists and it's more important than money." -- Mulvaney spokesman John Czwartacki.





Macron takes swipe at Trump tariffs plan: French President Emmanuel Macron took a swipe during an address to Congress on Wednesday at President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE's plan to levy a variety of tariffs on U.S. allies and China.

Macron insisted that, instead of imposing tariffs, the best way forward is a consensus on trade and using the World Trade Organization to fight against abuses. 

"We need a free and fair trade for sure," he said.

Trump and Macron have met several times at the White House over the past several days. Macron's visit has included a dinner at George Washington's Mount Vernon estate and a state dinner on Tuesday night. 

The leaders have shown warmth toward each other during their public appearances. 

During his speech to Congress, however, Macron said that facing challenges in a growing global economy "requires the opposite of massive deregulation and extreme nationalism."

"A commercial war is not consistent with our mission, with our history with our current commitments for global security," Macron told lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The Hill's Vicki Needham explains here.


Conservatives eye new tax cut for capital gains: Conservatives are making a push to cut taxes on capital gains as a follow-up to the tax-cut measure President Trump signed into law last year.

Republican lawmakers and prominent conservative leaders such as Grover Norquist say they want capital gains to be indexed to inflation, saying it would give the economy a boost. They are pursuing both legislation and regulatory action in an effort to achieve that goal.

It's unclear when or if it will happen, but conservatives are bullish about the possibility of a unilateral move by the Trump administration. They feel the odds have been bolstered by Larry Kudlow's entry into the administration as National Economic Council director.

"It would be phenomenal for the economy," Norquist said. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda breaks down the battle here.


Gillibrand unveils bill to offer banking services at post offices: Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandAffordable housing set for spotlight of next presidential campaign Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Senators seek US intel on journalist's disappearance | Army discharged over 500 immigrant recruits in one year | Watchdog knocks admiral over handling of sexual harassment case Pentagon watchdog knocks top admiral for handling of sexual harassment case MORE (D-N.Y.) is offering a bill to establish retail banking services at every U.S. post office.
Gillibrand's bill would make the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offer checking and savings accounts, small-dollar loans, debit cards, cash withdrawals and money transfer services in each of its roughly 30,000 offices.

The proposal has been popular among liberals for several years, but has earned recent mainstream support from prominent progressive politicians. Supporters of postal banking say it could give millions of Americans in areas without banks access to essential financial tools.

U.S. post offices offered banking services in the early 20th century, and supporters of bringing back the practice say it would help undercut predatory lenders and short-term, high-interest "payday" loans.

"For millions of families who have no access or limited access to a traditional bank, the simple act of cashing a paycheck or taking out a small loan to fix a car or pay the gas bill can end up costing thousands of dollars in interest and fees that are nearly impossible to pay off," said Gillibrand, who is seen as a possible 2020 presidential candidate. Republicans, though, aren't on board. They are skeptical about whether the post office can effectively offer those services.

I dive deeper into the issue here.


MARKET CHECK: Stocks ticked higher Wednesday as strong earnings reports snapped the market back after yesterday's steep losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.25 percent, snapping a five-day losing streak. The S&P 500 inched up by 0.18 percent, but the Nasdaq dropped 0.05 percent.



  • Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting bought financial stocks until he took office in November, according to Reuters.
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook visited the White House on Wednesday to meet with President Trump amid escalating trade tensions between the administration and China that involve the tech industry.
  • Two often-warring trade groups--the Independent Community Bankers of America and the Credit Union National Association--teamed up on an effort to push the House to pass the Senate's bipartisan Dodd-Frank rollback.
  • The National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions is pushing back against efforts kill the industry's tax-exemption.



  • The House voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of a bill to update music licensing laws, a move widely backed by the music industry and lobbying groups representing streaming platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music and Google Play.
  • Facebook's leaders told investors Wednesday that they're sticking by their advertising-based business model despite scrutiny of the company's practices and a new European law that will give users more control over their data.