On The Money: Consumer bureau reels from racial controversy | Top Dem asks IRS to probe Trump taxes after NYT bombshell | US firms hire 230K in September | Sanders offers bill to break up big banks

On The Money: Consumer bureau reels from racial controversy | Top Dem asks IRS to probe Trump taxes after NYT bombshell | US firms hire 230K in September | Sanders offers bill to break up big banks
© Greg Nash

Happy Wednesday and welcome back to On The Money. 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--Trump official's past racial comments spark revolt at agency: Controversial blog posts written by a senior Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) official have plunged the already divided agency into a bitter battle over its mission and handling of racial discrimination.

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Eric Blankenstein, CFPB's director of supervision, enforcement and fair lending, has come under fire for anonymous blog posts he wrote in 2004 dismissing hate crimes and questioning whether using the n-word was racist.

The discovery of Blankenstein's posts sparked backlash among Obama-era officials at the agency who say he's unfit to oversee CFPB's efforts to curb racial discrimination.

Top bureau managers and CFPB union representatives have called on acting Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump telling aides to look at potential spending cuts if he wins reelection: report Budget talks between White House, Pelosi spill into weekend Trump says Democrats shouldn't use debt ceiling as leverage MORE to fire Blankenstein and abandon a planned reorganization of the agency that would give him more authority over fair lending cases.

"People are pretty dumbstruck at the moment," a senior CFPB official told The Hill. "This is forcing people to confront what should the bureau be doing in regards to race and [that] the bureau is not a place where we haven't had our own problems in the past." I explain what's going on here.

 

The latest: Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee asked Mulvaney today whether he knew about the controversial blog posts before he hired Blankenstein, how he vets potential hires and whether the fair lending office has confidence in its polarizing director.

"It is unclear whether his appointment is due to a failure to investigate Mr. Blankenstein's background prior to his appointment, Mr. Blankenstein withholding information from you and the CFPB, or an informed decision on your part to ignore his public comments," the senators wrote in a letter to Mulvaney.

 

LEADING THE DAY

Top Finance Dem urges IRS to investigate Trump tax allegations: Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTech critics on both sides have it wrong: Section 230 is not a special privilege Democrat: Treasury 'acknowledged the unprecedented process' in Trump tax return rejection Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid MORE (D-Ore.) on Wednesday urged the IRS to investigate findings of New York Times article that President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE and his family engaged in "dubious" and possibly criminal tax schemes in the 1990s.

"These media reports represent serious and credible allegations of potentially illegal tax fraud, based on extensive documentation," Wyden wrote in a letter Wednesday to new IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

The bombshell Times story, published Tuesday afternoon, reported multiple schemes that the president and his father, Fred Trump, engaged in to minimize estate and gift tax bills. These included the establishment of a "sham" company used to hide gifts of millions of dollars, as well as undervaluing properties. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda has more here.

 

  • Why it matters: Tax experts say that the statute of limitations for criminal charges has likely expired for the events described in the Times story, but that there is no statute of limitations for civil tax fraud.
  • Midterm implications: If Democrats take control of the Senate in November, Wyden would take the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee. That would give him power to subpoena Trump's tax returns and other financial forms that could help the panel expose and investigate the president's past dealings.
  • Speaking of which: The White House said Wednesday there are no plans for President Trump to release his tax returns.
  • And just in case you missed it: Trump called the story an "old, boring and often told hit piece on me."

 

US businesses add 230,000 workers in September: U.S. businesses added a robust 230,000 jobs in September, the highest level since February and a sign that employers are hiring in the growing economy.

The latest jobs data was significantly better than the 168,000 jobs created in August, according to payroll processor ADP's national employment report released Wednesday.

"The job market continues to power forward. Employment gains are broad-based across industries and company sizes," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, whose firm oversees the numbers. The Hill's Vicki Needham breaks down the report here.

 

GOOD TO KNOW

 

ODDS AND ENDS