Happy Tuesday 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.
THE BIG DEAL--Labor secretary under fire for Epstein plea deal: Labor Secretary Alex AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaOn The Money: Trump slams relief bill, calls on Congress to increase stimulus money | Biden faces new critical deadlines after relief package | Labor rule allows restaurants to require broader tip pooling Labor rule allows restaurants to require broader tip pooling Federal litigator files complaint alleging Labor secretary abused his authority MORE is facing calls for his resignation amid growing controversy his role in a non-prosecution agreement with wealthy investor Jeffrey Epstein in a sex-crimes case.
Epstein was charged this week by federal prosecutors in Manhattan with running a sex-trafficking ring that involved underage girls. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The decision to pursue a fresh case against Epstein has been viewed as an implicit rebuke of Acosta. As a U.S. attorney, Acosta offered Epstein a deal in 2008 that included limited jail time with work-release that has been criticized as too lenient.
Acosta defended the deal Tuesday, saying in a series of tweets that the agreement offered to Epstein was based on the available evidence, but that the new charges against him could "more fully bring him to justice."
"With the evidence available more than a decade ago, federal prosecutors insisted that Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator," Acosta said.
"Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the NY prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice."
But Acosta's explanation wasn't enough to pacify the slew of Democratic politicians, --including the House speaker, the top three Senate Democrats and several presidential candidates--calling for him to resign.
- "[Acosta] must step down," House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden pushes back at Democrats on taxes Yarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed Of partisan fights and follies, or why Democrats should follow Manchin, not Sanders MORE (D-Calif.) tweeted. "As US Attorney, he engaged in an unconscionable agreement w/ Jeffrey Epstein kept secret from courageous, young victims preventing them from seeking justice. This was known by [Trump] when he appointed him to the cabinet."
- "I am calling on Secretary Acosta to resign," said Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.). "It is now impossible for anyone to have confidence in Secretary Acosta's ability to lead the Department of Labor. If he refuses to resign, President TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims MORE should fire him."
- Senate Minority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema MORE (D-Ill.) told Politico that Acosta's past with Epstein is "serious enough for him to resign," while Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayFaith leaders call on Congress to lead the response to a global pandemic Conservation group says it will only endorse Democrats who support .5T spending plan Support the budget resolution to ensure a critical investment in child care MORE (D-Wash.), the No. 3 Senate Democratic leader, said developments in the case make it "clear it is time for [Acosta] to step aside."
Trump, GOP senators rally behind Acosta: The president and Republicans stepped up to defend Acosta amid the controversy, offering a mix of support for the embattled secretary and apathy about his role in the case.
Trump told reporters at the White House that Acosta has been a "very good" Labor secretary and that Acosta probably wished he had handled the Epstein plea deal "a different way."
The president also sought to distance himself from his onetime friend Epstein. The two men used to socialize together in Palm Beach, Fla., and Trump's relationship with Epstein has been a subject of rampant speculation among some observers.
"He was a fixture in Palm Beach. I had a falling out with him a long time ago. I don't think I've spoken to him for 15 years. I wasn't a fan," Trump said.
Several Senate Republicans also brushed off the criticism, signaling that they won't publicly pressure the Labor chief to step down.
- Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderAuthorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, told reporters that they had "looked into that thoroughly."
- Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal Capito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet GOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization MORE (W.Va.), a member of GOP leadership, said Monday that she talked to Acosta "several months ago about this and so I'm satisfied."
- Asked if Acosta should resign after she stopped to take a photo of an out-of-order clock near the Senate floor, Sen. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerAustin, Milley to testify on Afghanistan withdrawal After messy Afghanistan withdrawal, questions remain House Democrats press leaders to include more funding for electric vehicles in spending plan MORE (Neb.), a member of GOP leadership, sidestepped. "I don't know. Why do you people ask this stuff?" she asked. "Don't you realize that we're working on tough legislation."
The stakes: Acosta has played a critical role in Trump's workforce and deregulation agenda, loosening federal overtime requirements and legal obligations for franchise corporations while spearheading a new apprenticeship effort. But that threatens to be overshadowed by scrutiny over his role in the Epstein plea deal.
LEADING THE DAY
Biden releases tax returns showing steep rise in income since leaving office: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Senate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Biden pushes back at Democrats on taxes MORE on Tuesday released his tax returns from 2016 to 2018, showing his income increased significantly after leaving office.
Biden's federal tax return for 2016, his last full year as vice president, showed adjusted gross income of nearly $400,000, while his 2017 federal tax return reported adjusted gross income of more than $11 million.
His 2018 federal tax return reported adjusted gross income of $4.6 million. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda has more on this developing story here.
Tech giants to testify at House antitrust hearing: Executives for Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple will testify before Congress next week as part of the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust investigation into Silicon Valley.
They will appear for a hearing July 16 that will examine the "impact of market power of online platforms on innovation and entrepreneurship," the panel's antitrust subcommittee announced Tuesday.
The hearing comes as the tech giants have been put on the defensive by regulators around the world concerned over their market power and collection of personal data.
How it will work: The subcommittee will hear from two panels of witnesses.
- One will feature Adam Cohen, Google's economic policy director; Nate Sutton, Amazon's associate general counsel; Matt Perault, the head of global policy development at Facebook; and Kyle Andeer, Apple's chief compliance officer.
- The other panel will be comprised of experts and some of Big Tech's biggest critics. Maureen Ohlhausen, a Republican who recently served as acting chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, will testify, along with Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia University who has advocated for the government to be more forceful in enforcing antitrust law against Silicon Valley's titans.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Chief White House economic adviser Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE gave rare praise to Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, saying she's been "terrific" on talks surrounding the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
- The highest 1 percent of earners in the United States saw their share of income grow roughly 70 percent between 1979 and 2016, even after taxes and government transfers are taken into account, according to new data released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and analyzed by The Hill.
- Nina Olson has served as the IRS's in-house watchdog for close to two decades, earning praise from lawmakers across the political spectrum, but now she says the time has come to step down from her role of national taxpayer advocate.
- David Marcus, the head of Facebook's new cryptocurrency project, Libra, assured Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersAdvocates call on top Democrats for 0B in housing investments Cori Bush hits her stride by drawing on activist past Cawthorn to introduce resolution condemning political violence after warning of 'bloodshed' if elections are 'rigged' MORE (D-Calif.) that the company is "taking the time to do this right" after a group of Democratic lawmakers, including Waters, called for Facebook to halt its plans.
ODDS AND ENDS
- France introduced an "eco-tax" on airline tickets departing from the country starting next year, The Associated Press reported.
- Republican Senators and Trump administration officials met Tuesday morning to debate a potential deal to lower drug prices, with some attendees raising concerns about a possible agreement with Democrats.