On The Money: House to vote on $15 minimum wage this summer | Sanders doubles down on democratic socialism | May deficit surges | Democrat puts hold on Treasury nominees in fight over Trump tax returns

On The Money: House to vote on $15 minimum wage this summer | Sanders doubles down on democratic socialism | May deficit surges | Democrat puts hold on Treasury nominees in fight over Trump tax returns
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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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Write us with tips, suggestions and news: slane@thehill.com, njagoda@thehill.com  and nelis@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @SylvanLane, @NJagoda and @NivElis.

 

THE BIG DEAL -- House to vote on $15 minimum wage by August: The House will vote on the first federal minimum wage increase in over a decade this summer, according to a senior Democratic aide.

The legislation to be considered is the Raise the Wage Act backed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). It would more than double the $7.25 minimum wage to $15 by 2024. The current minimum wage has been in place since July of 2009 after Congress passed a bill to raise it in 2007.

The proposal:

  • The legislation would boost wages in three steps, starting with an increase to $8.55 this year.
  • In addition, the bill would also phase out the $2.13 minimum wage for tipped workers, meaning employers would eventually have to pay employees such as waiters the full minimum wage, though they could still collect tips.

The snag:

The Hill's Niv Elis looks at the bill and what's next.

 

LEADING THE DAY

Sanders doubles down on democratic socialism, taking aim at Trump: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive takeaways from Trump's 2020 kickoff rally Five takeaways from Trump's 2020 kickoff rally Sanders tears into Trump in response to campaign kickoff rally MORE (I-Vt.) delivered a forceful defense of democratic socialism on Wednesday, pitching his signature -- and at times controversial -- ideology as the ultimate counter to President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE's brand of nationalism.

Sanders tore into Trump, accusing him of espousing a philosophy of "corporate socialism" and aligning himself with authoritarian leaders in Russia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.

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"While President Trump and his fellow oligarchs attack us for our support of democratic socialism, they don't really oppose all forms of socialism," he said. "They may hate democratic socialism because it benefits working people, but they absolutely love corporate socialism that enriches Trump and other billionaires."

The address at George Washington University came as Republicans try to cast Sanders and the Democratic presidential field at large as akin to propagating the same brand of socialism touted by authoritarian governments in Venezuela and elsewhere. The Hill's Max Greenwood tells us more about the speech and what it means for the Democratic primary.

Read more: Sanders knocks JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon for criticizing socialism

 

May deficit surges to $208 billion, 42 percent higher than last year: The federal deficit in May reached $208 billion, surging 42 percent over last May's monthly deficit figure, according to new Treasury Department data released Wednesday.

The figure put the cumulative deficit for the eight months of fiscal 2019 at $739 billion, within range of the full 2018 deficit, which amounted to $779 billion, according to the Treasury figures. Treasury estimates that the full deficit will exceed $1 trillion by the time the fiscal year wraps up at the end of September. The Hill's Niv Elis has more.

What happened? The deficit's precipitous rise follows the 2017 GOP tax law, which the Congressional Budget Office projected would add some $1.9 trillion to the debt over a decade, as well as bipartisan plans to increase spending on both the defense and domestic sides of the ledger.

What's next: There's little reason to think that Washington will make meaningful progress on reducing the deficit in the near future. Lawmakers and the White House are working on a deal that would lift budget caps to prevent mandatory spending cuts and raise the federal debt limit to avoid an October shutdown.

Republicans are pushing for more military spending while Democrats want more funding for domestic programs. Neither party nor the president are pursuing entitlement reform before the 2020 election, which could alter the country's fiscal future in countless ways.

If you're a deficit hawk, it's a rough time to be in Washington.

 

Top Democrat puts hold on Treasury nominees: Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress | Kudlow denies plan to demote Fed chief | Waters asks Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project On The Money: Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress | Kudlow denies plan to demote Fed chief | Waters asks Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project Critics say Interior's top lawyer came 'close to perjury' during Hill testimony MORE (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, announced on Wednesday that he is placing a hold on Treasury Department nominees, arguing that the department has not sufficiently responded to his requests for information about its handling of Democrats' request for President Trump's tax returns.

"Congress has a constitutional obligation to conduct oversight of the executive branch, so I am placing a hold on Treasury Department nominees," Wyden said in a statement, which came two weeks after he had threatened to place the hold.

What Wyden wants: Wyden in May sent letters to Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, asking them about Treasury and IRS communications related to the House Ways and Means Committee request for Trump's tax returns, including communications made before the request. Earlier this month, Wyden sent another letter to Rettig, asking for information about a draft IRS memo prepared last fall that found that the agency had to comply with congressional tax committees' requests for returns unless executive privilege was invoked.

Treasury's response: Treasury responded to the May letter by saying the House request was different than past congressional requests for tax returns, and by sending Wyden copies of Mnuchin's past correspondence with Ways and Means Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealHouse Dems release bills to renew tax breaks, expand tax credits for workers and families House Dems release bills to renew tax breaks, expand tax credits for workers and families Trump: My 'financial statement' will probably come out 'at some point' MORE (D-Mass.) and an annual report that the IRS prepares for the Joint Committee on Taxation about requests for tax return information. The IRS did not respond to Wyden's June 4 letter to the agency by the senator's June 11 deadline.

More from The Hill's Naomi Jagoda on the latest salvo in the tax return fight.

 

GOOD TO KNOW

 

ODDS AND ENDS

  • The Trump administration on Wednesday announced sanctions against an Iraqi company and two individuals that allegedly trafficked weapons for Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force.
  • The name of the new bank formed by the BB&T-SunTrust merger will be Truist.
  • Former Republican lawmakers are becoming the face of a new marijuana lobbying blitz