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On The Money: Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority | Grassley opts for Finance gavel, setting Graham up for Judiciary | Trump says China eager for trade deal | Facebook reeling after damning NYT report

On The Money: Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority | Grassley opts for Finance gavel, setting Graham up for Judiciary | Trump says China eager for trade deal | Facebook reeling after damning NYT report
© Matt Litman

Happy Friday 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--Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority: The biggest accomplishment for congressional Republicans -- passing a sweeping new tax law at the end of 2017 -- didn't end up saving the GOP majority in the House.

The economy wasn't the biggest issue of the midterms, according to exit polls, which found that a plurality of voters think the new tax law has not had any impact on their personal finances.

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Democrats claimed victory on the issue, but Republicans are divided.

Some say the law helped prevent the GOP from losing even more seats because it boosted the economy, blaming other factors for the Democratic wave. Other GOP lawmakers, however, expressed concerns that a provision in the law hurt Republicans in high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey -- where the GOP ended up losing a total of six seats, with two races still uncalled.

The Hill's Naomi Jagoda unpacks the legacy of the tax law and its impact on the midterm elections here.

 

The campaign:

  • Republicans did spend time on the campaign trail touting the tax cuts and arguing that Democrats would raise taxes if elected. But other issues, such as immigration, often featured more prominently in their campaigns.
  • Health care was a bigger part of Democratic campaigns, though the two issues were linked to some extent, with Democrats often arguing that the tax law's increase in the debt would lead Republicans to pursue cuts in Medicare.

 

The election:

  • Democrats ended up gaining more than 30 House seats. These gains involved defeating four Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee and flipping a number of seats in high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois.
  • "Certainly, I think it would have been better if we had complete deductibility of SALT," said Rep. Leonard LanceLeonard LanceThomas Kean wins GOP primary to take on Rep. Tom Malinowski Gun debate to shape 2020 races GOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs MORE (R-N.J.), who voted against the tax law because of its limits on deductions for state and local taxes. Lance lost his race for reelection.
  • The affluent districts that contain many voters who claim the state and local tax deduction also are areas where Trump was unpopular, and some strategists see the overall displeasure at the president as a bigger reason why these districts went for Democrats.

 

LEADING THE DAY

Harris tax credit would help low, middle-income families at cost of $3T: A new tax credit proposed by Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSenate GOP's campaign arm rakes in M as Georgia runoffs heat up Biden, Harris to sit with CNN's Tapper in first post-election joint interview The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Capital One — Giuliani denies discussing preemptive pardon with Trump MORE (D-Calif.) would primarily help low- and middle-income households but would reduce federal revenue by almost $3 trillion over the next decade, according to an analysis from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (TPC) released this week.

"Harris' bill is extremely ambitious and, in many ways, an improvement over the today's [earned income tax credit]," Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at TPC, wrote. "But it also would be very expensive at a time when next year's budget deficit is expected to top $1 trillion."

Harris, a possible 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, rolled out legislation last month that would create a new refundable tax credit of up for low- and middle-income families. Naomi Jagoda breaks it down here.

 

Facebook reeling after damning NYT report: Facebook is being hit with fresh criticism from Capitol Hill as lawmakers reacted harshly Thursday to a New York Times investigation that detailed the company's efforts to wield influence in Washington after becoming aware of Russia-linked activity on its platform during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The explosive article laid out how Facebook's leadership was reluctant to confront the Russian efforts on its platform and was unprepared for the subsequent firestorm and fallout, which involved the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

"It's alarming, it's appalling," Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzTech CEOs clash with lawmakers in contentious hearing Bitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Senate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination MORE (D-Hawaii) told The Hill. "It shows that they were not behaving like a neutral platform. It shows that they were engaged in information operations. That they have engaged in a strategy to avoid any oversight or regulations. This is what you get when an American corporation gets so big and is exempted from any meaningful oversight."

The Hill's Harper Neidig and Ali Breland tell us more about Facebook's latest controversy.

 

Graham set to take over Judiciary as Grassley takes Finance. Crapo staying at Banking: Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBarr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel Democracy is the MVP in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms MORE (R-S.C.) is poised to become the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee after Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyCriminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot Capitol physician advises lawmakers against attending dinners, receptions during COVID-19 spike Congress ends its year under shadow of COVID-19 MORE (R-Iowa) announced Friday that he would step down to take over the chairmanship of the Finance Committee.

Grassley, who was fiercely criticized by Democrats for his handling of Kavanaugh's nomination, said he's looking forward to working on economic issues. He said he will focus on passing additional tax relief, expanding market access for farmers, manufacturers and service providers, and reforming health care.

Grassley's move also all but ensures that Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoMcConnell in tough position as House eyes earmark return Mnuchin to put 5B in COVID-19 relief funds beyond successor's reach Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed MORE (R-Idaho) will remain chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

More on the changes here.

 

Trump says China eager for trade deal: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE on Friday said "China wants to make a deal" with the U.S., but noted that any deal would have to be reciprocal.

"China wants to make a deal," the president told reporters Friday in the Oval Office. "They sent a list of things that they're willing to do, which was a large list," he added, referencing a list of items on which China said it was willing to compromise.

"I think we'll have a deal. We'll find out very soon," he continued. "We have to have reciprocal trade. We can't have trade that's meant for stupid people, and that's the way they took advantage of our country."

Context: Trump's comments on Friday come one day after China's Commerce Ministry said the country had resumed trade talks with Washington.

The Hill's Chris Mills Rodrigo has more.

 

NEXT WEEK'S NEWS, NOW

 

GOOD TO KNOW

 

ODDS AND ENDS

  • T-Mobile predicted that its $26 billion merger with Sprint could close as early as the first quarter of next year, despite significant opposition to the deal from consumer and labor groups.
  • Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly (D) said she believes the state will expand Medicaid next year and will put together a proposal to do so.

 

RECAP THE WEEK WITH ON THE MONEY