On The Money: Trump reverses North Korea sanctions imposed by Treasury | Trump to nominate Stephen Moore to Fed | Monthly deficit hits record $234 billion | IRS expands penalty relief for taxpayers

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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All eyes today are on Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE, who delivered his confidential report, ending a two-year investigation that has dominated Washington. Check in at TheHill.com for the latest on this breaking story. But worry not. There's also plenty of news on the finance front below.

 

THE BIG DEAL--Trump says he's reversing North Korea sanctions imposed by his Treasury Department: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE said Friday he would reverse sanctions against North Korea that were recently announced by the Treasury Department, a surprise declaration that sparked confusion in Washington and raised fresh doubts about the White House's policy process.

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In a tweet, Trump wrote that "it was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions" would be imposed in addition to "already existing Sanctions on North Korea."

"I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!" the president added.

 

Confusion abounds:

  • White House officials did not specify which sanctions Trump was reversing, but the Treasury Department on Thursday announced it was imposing new penalties on two Chinese shipping companies accused of helping North Korea evade existing sanctions.
  • That announcement, however, was not made within the timetable suggested in Trump's tweet.

 

Remarkable break from protocol:

  • Regardless of the target, it was remarkable that Trump would publicly rebuke an effort by his own Treasury Department to sanction a major U.S. adversary.
  • Trump's rationale for reversing the sanctions appeared to directly contradict his own national security adviser, John Bolton, who argued Thursday that they were a significant step toward ensuring North Korea remains isolated over its nuclear ambitions.
  • In a brief statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attributed the decision to Trump's relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
  • "President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn't think these sanctions will be necessary," she said.

 

LEADING THE DAY

Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed: President Trump said Friday he is appointing Stephen Moore, an economic adviser to his 2016 campaign, to a spot on the Federal Reserve Board.

Trump told the White House pool he would be making the appointment.

"It is my pleasure to announce that @StephenMoore, a very respected Economist, will be nominated to serve on the Fed Board," Trump tweeted Friday. "I have known Steve for a long time – and have no doubt he will be an outstanding choice!"

Moore has been one of the fiercest defenders of the president's economic agenda. He authored a book released last year entitled "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy," with prominent conservative economist Arthur Laffer.

Moore thanked Trump in a tweet "for the opportunity to serve & for your zealous commitment to freeing the American economic engine from government overreach & oppressive taxation!"

The appointment of Moore will be seen as an effort to add a loyal supporter of the president's agenda to the Fed, as well as a figure opposed to interest rate hikes. I explain why here.

 

Monthly deficit hits record $234B: The federal deficit hit $234 billion in February, according to new data from the Treasury Department, an apparent record for a one-month time period.

According to Bloomberg, the previous monthly record was set seven years ago, at $231.7 billion.

Five months into the fiscal year, which began in October, the deficit has already surpassed a half-trillion dollars, reaching $544 billion.

The GOP tax law, which went into effect last January, has been projected to cost $1.9 trillion over a decade.

Spending, in the meantime, was up by $145.6 billion in comparison to the same five-month period last year, following a bipartisan agreement to boost both defense and nondefense discretionary spending.

 

Treasury expands penalty relief to more taxpayers: The Treasury Department announced Friday that it will provide penalty relief to more taxpayers who didn't have enough taxes withheld from their paychecks in 2018 after pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to do so.

The department announced that it will waive penalties for people who paid at least 80 percent of their tax liability during the year through withholding or estimated tax payments.

The usual threshold is 90 percent. The IRS said in January that it would lower the threshold to 85 percent and is now lowering it even further. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda tells us why.

 

ON TAP NEXT WEEK

Tuesday:

 

Wednesday:

  • The House Ways and Means Committee holds a hearing entitled "The 2017 Tax Law and Who It Left Behind," 10 a.m.
  • The Senate Banking Committee holds the second of two hearings on a housing finance reform outline authored by Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).
  • The House Small Business Committee holds a hearing entitled "Unlocking Small Business Retirement Security," 11:30 a.m.

 

GOOD TO KNOW

 

ODDS AND ENDS

  • General Motors on Friday announced it is adding 400 jobs to and investing $300 million in a Michigan plant to produce a new Chevrolet electric vehicle.
  • The European Union (EU) will not require its member countries to ban Huawei from their wireless networks, spurning U.S. warnings that the Chinese telecom poses an intelligence threat, according to Reuters.