On The Money: USMCA vote held up as committees review deal | Trump legislation added $4.7T to debt: watchdog | 97 percent of CFOs expect downturn | Trump says 'phase two' China deal could come after election

On The Money: USMCA vote held up as committees review deal | Trump legislation added $4.7T to debt: watchdog | 97 percent of CFOs expect downturn | Trump says 'phase two' China deal could come after election
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Happy Thursday and welcome back to On The Money, where we're wondering if impeachment or USMCA will hit the Senate floor first. 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--Trump trade deal faces uncertain Senate timeline: President TrumpDonald John TrumpStephen Miller: Trump to further crackdown on illegal immigration if he wins US records 97,000 new COVID-19 cases, shattering daily record Biden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll MORE's new North American trade agreement faces an uncertain timeline for approval in the Senate as the upper chamber braces for a lengthy and contentious impeachment trial.

There is wide bipartisan support for Trump's U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which passed the House in December by a resounding 385 to 41 and the deal is also expected to clear the Senate.

Trump is within striking distance of his first significant trade victory with less than a year before the 2020 presidential election. Even so, his looming impeachment trial could prevent the Senate from finalizing the USMCA for weeks.

I explain here what's holding up Trump's trade deal and how long it could take to finalize it.




Trump legislation added $4.7 trillion to debt, watchdog finds: President Trump has signed bills into law that will add $4.7 trillion to the debt through the end of 2029, according to a study by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, an anti-debt advocacy group.

Four pieces of legislation contributed the lion's share of the new debt, the group said. The 2017 GOP tax cut, the largest of the bills, will add $1.8 trillion to the debt by the end of 2029, researchers noted, adding that the bipartisan 2019 budget deal to increase spending caps was a close second, at $1.7 trillion.

The final set of appropriations bills that Congress approved in December added another $500 billion, mostly through the repeal of three taxes that were meant to pay for the Affordable Care Act, the group said.

A smaller 2018 spending deal also added $445 billion.

"Debt is rising on an unsustainable path," the group wrote in the report. The Hill's Niv Elis tells us why here.


Trump says 'phase two' trade deal could wait for 2020 election:

President Trump on Thursday said that he may wait until after the 2020 presidential election to complete negotiations on a so-called phase two trade agreement with China because he could get a "better deal."

"We'll start right away negotiating phase two. It'll take a little time. I think I might want to wait to finish it until after the election because I think doing that we can actually make a little bit better deal, maybe a lot better deal," Trump told reporters Thursday morning in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

Trump also touted the "phase one" deal announced by his administration in December as a robust one, calling it a "phenomenal deal" and saying it could result in up to $50 billion in U.S. farm product sales to China.

Reminder on phase one: Trump administration officials announced that an initial deal had been reached with China last month that includes some tariff relief for Beijing and a commitment by China to purchase more U.S. agricultural products.

The Hill's Morgan Chalfant has more on Trump's remarks here.


97 percent of CFOs expect economic downturn: A whopping 97 percent of chief financial officers think America is heading for an economic downturn in 2020, but just 3 percent expect a full-blown recession, according to a Deloitte's fourth quarter survey of CFOs.

That figure is up from 88 percent who expected a downturn in the first quarter of 2019. Sensing economic troubles ahead, 82 percent of the CFOs said they had already taken some sort of defensive action in anticipation of tougher times, well above the 54 percent who said so at the start of 2019.

The good news: Fears of a recession, typically defined as two consecutive quarters of a shrinking economy, though, have dropped from 15 percent to a paltry 3 percent.

That means that if we do see a downturn, most CFOs expect it to be mild--not debilitating.


Democrats call for appointment of permanent IRS watchdog: Two top Democrats on the House's tax-writing committee are pressing the Trump administration to promptly appoint a new permanent national taxpayer advocate ahead of the opening of the tax-filing season.

  • The national taxpayer advocate leads the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers resolve problems with the agency. 
  • The taxpayer advocate serves as the IRS's internal watchdog and makes recommendations to Congress about how the IRS could be improved so that it better serves taxpayers.

"This will be the first filing season the IRS will start without a permanent National Taxpayer Advocate in place in nearly 20 years," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealLawmakers offer bipartisan bill to encourage retirement savings Democrats express concerns about IRS readiness for next year's filing season On The Money: Kudlow confident that Trump can 'round up' Senate GOP behind coronavirus relief deal | US deficit spikes to record .1T MORE (D-Mass.) and Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman John LewisJohn LewisBrown says Biden's first moves as president should be COVID relief, voting rights Harry Reid: Biden should give GOP three weeks to see if they will work with him NY Times slammed for glowing Farrakhan op-ed: 'You would think he was a gentleman' MORE (D-Ga.) said in a statement on Thursday.

"The Taxpayer Advocate is a lifeline for frustrated or financially distressed taxpayers who cannot resolve their problems through normal IRS channels."




  • President Trump pointed to gains in the stock market on Thursday, imploring Americans to check how their "409K's" were doing in an apparent typo in a since-deleted tweet referencing 401(k) retirement funds.
  • China's top trade official will travel to the U.S. to sign "phase one" of a new trade deal between Washington and Beijing.
  • Two key House Democrats are urging the IRS to create an "expedited process" to provide refunds for nonprofits that paid a tax on their employee transportation benefits.
  • Two black McDonald's executives are suing the fast-food corporation, alleging racial discrimination and a hostile work environment under the company's former chief executive, according to reports.