On The Money: Robust economy drowned out by Trump's midterm message | Trump downplays talk of Dems demanding tax returns | Iran sanctions take effect | IRS sparks fight over school donations

On The Money: Robust economy drowned out by Trump's midterm message | Trump downplays talk of Dems demanding tax returns | Iran sanctions take effect | IRS sparks fight over school donations
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Happy Monday 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--Robust economy drowned out by Trump's midterm message: The latest employment report from the Labor Department was as impressive as any president could hope for just days before voters head to the polls.

But adding a quarter-million jobs to the economy in October and keeping the unemployment rate at a 48-year low of 3.7 percent is unlikely to move the needle much on Election Day.

Pollsters say that while the economy is an important predictor of election outcomes, it's far from the only one. The Clinton-era adage that elections are about "the economy, stupid," is too narrow in this day and age, they say.

Other data points, such as a president's approval rating and whether people think the country is on the right track, now play a similarly influential role. And those indicators aren't pointing in the same direction for President TrumpDonald John TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks MORE. The Hill's Niv Elis and I explain why the economy isn't keeping Republicans safe in the midterm elections.

 

The breakdown:

  • While many Republican candidates want to keep their focus on the robust economy, Trump has focused much of his rhetoric on immigration, which he believes is a stronger motivator when it comes to voter turnout.
  • Most recently, Trump has raised alarms over a migrant caravan largely comprised of refugees headed toward the U.S. border, calling them invaders and warning of criminal elements in the group.
  • When Trump does mention the economy, it's usually to warn that it would tank if Democrats take control of either chamber of Congress on Nov. 6.
  • That emphasis on immigration is at odds with efforts to protect vulnerable House Republicans in moderate suburbs where many voters are averse to Trump's culture wars. GOP lawmakers are instead betting the House on the strong economy and eagerly touting the economic figures.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW

  • Election Day is finally here. Check in at TheHill.com during the day and as polls close for the latest results.

 

LEADING THE DAY

Trump on prospect of Dems demanding his tax returns: 'They can do whatever they want':  President Trump on Monday downplayed the possibility that Democrats could demand his tax returns if they retake control of the House in Tuesday's elections.

"I don't care. They can do whatever they want and I can do whatever I want," Trump said when asked if he was concerned Democrats may go after his tax returns if they win the majority.

Trump spoke to reporters upon arriving in Fort Wayne, Ind., for one of three campaign rallies he held on Monday. He suggested that a Democratic majority would force the White House to "have to work a little bit differently."

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiJohn Lewis joins Ocasio-Cortez on climate change push Dem House newcomers split on supporting Pelosi for Speaker Reelection campaign starts now, like it or not MORE vowed that Democrats would seek Trump's tax returns if they win control of the House in tomorrow's elections. That task would fall to the would-be chairman House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealLeft wants a vote on single-payer bill in new Congress Progressive group launches petition to urge Dems to investigate Trump's taxes Seniors are big winners in House elections MORE (D-Mass.), who is one of two members of Congress empowered to subpoena Trump's taxes. The other is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which is likely to remain under Republican control.

 

Rouhani says Iran faces 'war situation' as US sanctions take effect: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday said Iran is facing a "war situation" as the final round of U.S. sanctions against Tehran takes effect. 

Rouhani, during remarks made on state television, compared President Trump to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, saying there is "no difference" between the U.S. president and the man who led a war against Iran in the 1980s.

"We are in the war situation," Rouhani said, according to The Associated Press. "We are in the economic war situation. We are confronting a bullying enemy. We have to stand to win." 

The Trump administration on Monday reimposed the last set of sanctions lifted under the Iran nuclear deal. In addition to hitting Iran's energy sector, Monday's sanctions will target Iran's shipping, shipbuilding and financial sectors.

The sanctions could be particularly harmful to Iran's vital oil industry, which Trump said he'd like to derail entirely. But the administration is granting waivers to eight nations to import Iranian oil in order to prevent severe price hikes.

"I could get the Iran oil down to zero immediately, but it would cause a shock to the market. I don't want to lift oil prices," Trump told reporters Monday.

Trump touted the sanctions as the toughest ever imposed by the U.S., and National Security Advisor John Bolton said Monday that more could be on the way.

"We're gonna have sanctions that even go beyond this," said Bolton, a notorious Iran hawk. "We're not simply going to be content with the level of sanctions that existed under Obama in 2015." 


Further reading:

  • CNN: "Tough talk, despair divide Tehran's streets as sanctions strike"
  • Bloomberg: "Iranians Dread the Pain of New Sanctions"

 

Xi promises lower tariffs, increased US imports: Chinese president Xi Jinping vowed to lower tariffs, broaden market access and increase imports on Monday.

Xi made the comments at a trade expo designed to demonstrate goodwill in the midst of the U.S.-China trade war, Reuters reports.

Echoing previous pledges, Xi said China would increase foreign access to its education, telecommunications and cultural sectors, protect foreign companies' interests and punish violations of intellectual property rights.

All three are major sticking points for the Trump administration in its efforts to strike fairer trade terms with China.

 

IRS sparks new fight over school donations: Education advocates clashed at an IRS hearing on Monday as the agency considers proposed regulations that could have major implications for private education scholarships.

The agency proposal is pitting advocates for private schools against supporters of public schools. At issue are proposed rules designed to prevent blue states from circumventing the cap on state and local deductions in President Trump's tax law.

At Monday's hearing, school-choice advocates and religious organizations argued the IRS should limit the scope of its proposed rules. They worry the guidance as drafted would lead to fewer donations to organizations that provide scholarships or vouchers for students to attend private schools. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda takes us there

 

GOOD TO KNOW

 

ODDS AND ENDS

  • "Boycott Amazon and Souq.com" were trending in Saudi Arabia on Monday amid Saudi criticism of the Washington Post's coverage of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for the newspaper owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.