Overnight Finance

On The Money: House to vote on bipartisan retirement bill in May | Mexico now biggest US trading partner | Mulvaney defends record on cutting spending

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Happy Thursday and welcome back to On The Money, where we can relate to Joe Biden’s deep need for pizza. 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– House to vote on bipartisan retirement bill in May: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Thursday that the House is expected to vote in the next few weeks on a bipartisan bill aimed at encouraging retirement savings, as lawmakers and industry groups are hopeful that legislation on the issue can get enacted this year.

Hoyer said in a letter to House Democrats that the chamber would vote on the retirement bill, known as the SECURE Act, during the May work period, after the House Ways and Means Committee approved it by voice vote earlier this month.

{mosads}The House returns to Washington on Monday after a two-week recess and is scheduled to be in session each week until Memorial Day. The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda breaks down the bill here.


The highlights:

  • The bill includes a variety of provisions designed to help small businesses offer retirement plans and assist individuals putting money aside for retirement.
  • It includes provisions that would make it easier for small businesses to band together to offer retirement plans, allow long-term, part-time workers to participate in 401(k) plans offered by their employers, and repeal an age limit for contributing to Individual Retirement Accounts.


Also on the House agenda–CFPB reforms: The House may vote within weeks on a bill to reverse the Trump administration’s efforts to rein in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and prevent future directors from doing the same.

Introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, the bill would undo several measures taken to reel back the CFPB’s oversight and regulation under former acting Director Mick Mulvaney.

  • Mulvaney, the acting CFPB chief from November 2017 through December 2018, reorganized and weakened the power of the bureau’s Office of Fair Lending, shrank and restaffed several advisory boards and moved toward removing a public database of complaints against banks and lenders.
  • Mulvaney also changed the bureau’s name to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. That move was reversed in December by his successor, CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger, after The Hill reported that the move would cost the agency between $9 and $19 million and cost entities regulated by the agency roughly $300 million.
  • Waters’s bill would reverse changes enacted by Mulvaney and prevent future directors from making similar moves. The bill would also create an Office of Students and Young Consumers focused on student loans, debt repayment and financial product access for young adults and their families.



Mexico now biggest US trading partner, data shows: Mexico has become the biggest U.S. trading partner, jumping ahead of Canada and China that have previously held the top spot, according to recent government data.

Transactions with Mexico made up 15 percent of U.S. trade in February, according to federal data released last week, edging out Canada at 14.2 percent and China at 13.9 percent.

Mexico’s emergence as the largest U.S. trading partner highlights the stakes of President Trump’s push to win congressional approval for a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). I explain why here.


The conflict:

  • The new deal, called the U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA), is pending legislative approval in all three countries and faces long odds in the Democratic-controlled House.
  • Democratic lawmakers, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have demanded tougher labor, environmental and enforcement provisions to prevent future U.S. job losses.
  • While some of these issues could be addressed in follow-up legislation, others would require a renegotiation of the deal itself. The Trump administration has ruled out further talks, and Republicans have called on Democrats to accept the deal proposed by the president.


The stakes:

  • The president has pledged to pull the U.S. out of NAFTA if the USMCA is not approved by Congress, threatening the continent with a massive economic shock.
  • The U.S., Mexican and Canadian economies have become closely integrated since NAFTA’s 1994 enactment. Companies in each country send parts and products back and forth through a continental supply chain that would be severely disrupted without a free trade agreement.
  • Leaving NAFTA would also lead to drastic increases in prices for food and consumer goods, a potential political nightmare for the president as he seeks reelection.


Mulvaney on government spending: ‘At least I’m losing at the very highest levels’ Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney conceded the Trump administration has not always delivered on its promise to slash the size of government, but compared himself favorably to his predecessor, John Kelly.

In an interview with The Atlantic published Thursday, the former Tea Party Republican congressman said he knows the administration is “spending a bunch of money on stuff we’re not supposed to” and said he gets grief about it from some of his former colleagues who have “accused me of ‘losing.'”

“Yeah, but at least I’m losing at the very highest levels,” Mulvaney said, responding to remarks from House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) who once accused him of “losing” after the Trump administration signed a sweeping spending package.

What happened? The national debt hit a record $22 trillion earlier this year, in part due to falling tax revenues under President Trump’s tax law. And Congress has virtually ignored Trump’s budgets that call for large cuts in domestic spending and certain foreign assistance.



  • Americans’ personal financial satisfaction rebounded from a dip in late 2018 to reach a record high in the first quarter of the year, according to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), which tracks the quarterly indicator.
  • McDonald’s is enlisting the aid of AARP to help older Americans join the fast food giant’s workforce, according to CNBC.



  • Vox explains why “the low price of coffee doesn’t affect consumers, and it could seriously hurt coffee growers.”
Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden John Kelly Mark Meadows Maxine Waters Mick Mulvaney Nancy Pelosi Steny Hoyer

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