Daily Archives: November 29, 2017

The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 is about to become a big effin’ deal

Andrew Rudalevige, the Thomas Brackett Reed Professor of Government at Bowdoin College, has an excellent summary of the legal battle over the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It’s the Game of Vacancies at the CFPB! Watch out for the bureaucratic duel of conflicting statutes.

It’s not exactly “Game of Thrones” – federal budget procedures make it difficult to acquire decent-sized dragons – but there is a monstrous battle over who should be head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

* * *

The Dodd-Frank Act, which created the CFPB, decreed that it should have a single Senate-confirmed director who would serve a fixed term and could not be fired by the president. It also funded the agency via the Federal Reserve instead of the regular budget process, limiting legislators’ ability to slash the CFPB’s budget during annual appropriations.

Most relevant to this week’s drama, the Dodd-Frank Act also states that the agency’s deputy director becomes its acting director in the event of a vacancy at the top. Last Friday, director Richard Cordray resigned, amid speculation that he might run for governor in Ohio. On his way out the door, he named his chief of staff, Leandra English, as deputy director – and thus, in short order, acting director.

FVRA vs. Dodd-Frank: Bureaucratic battle of the giant statutes

Or was she? President Trump turned to a different statute – the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. The FVRA allows a deputy to fill a temporary vacancy, but also provides that the president can instead appoint another executive branch official in that deputy’s place, so long as that official has also been confirmed by the Senate. And so as soon as Cordray’s resignation took effect, Trump named Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney to do double duty at CFPB.

Continue reading

Pima County Sales Tax Advisory Committee’s public meetings re: proposed sales tax increase

If you can’t make any of these meetings, please go online and give your input about this proposed 1/2 cent sales tax increase. Speak up Tucson.

Sen. Bob Corker’s trigger amendment a ‘poison pill’ to GOP tax bill?

Donald Trump is making promises he has no intentions of ever keeping in order to line up enough gullible GOP senators to pass the GOP tax bill.

Yesterday I told you about the mythical moderate from Maine, Sen. Susan Collins. In major policy reversal, Trump now backs bipartisan fixes to ‘Obamacare’ to get Sen. Susan Collins vote on tax bill. She is being played.

Trump apparently also made a promise on Tuesday to his arch nemesis, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, to include a “trigger” provision in the bill that would automatically raise taxes if (read when) the “trickle down” effect does not produce the promised tax revenue in the future (it never has, never will).

If such a trigger provision is actually included in the Senate GOP tax bill to appease Sen. Corker, it should cause conservatives to flee from this bill. There is no chance such a provision would ever be approved in the House by the radical House GOP Freedom Caucus.

The Washington Post reports, Tension over adding ‘triggers’ to the tax bill highlights the Republican identity crisis over deficits:

THE BIG IDEA: Outside groups on the right are furiously mobilizing against an agreement that Republican leaders made with Bob Corker yesterday to get the tax bill through the Senate Budget Committee.

The Tennessee Republican negotiated a budget deal in September that the tax cuts cannot increase the national debt by more than $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Now he’s concerned about various gimmicks and overly rosy assumptions in the bill that would almost certainly mean the true impact on the debt is far greater than that. So the retiring senator has been pushing in recent days to include a “trigger” that would automatically increase taxes down the road if the bill fails to generate the level of economic growth that Republicans leaders keep publicly predicting.

It’s not clear what exactly GOP leaders promised Corker, who declined to share specifics with reporters. He said the amendment will be included in an updated version of the bill that is likely to be released publicly on Thursday.

But the constellation of groups funded by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers – including Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners – came out strongly against any trigger last night. They were joined by Grover Norquist from Americans for Tax Reform, the Wall Street Journal editorial board and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

These right-wing organizations will be scoring this tax bill, so if the bill includes Sen. Corker’s trigger provision for automatic tax increases, presumably these organizations are put in the position of either having to come out against the tax bill, or taking the cynical position to vote yes because the trigger provision will be stripped out in conference committee, in which case they will lose Sen. Corker on the vote for final passage. If Corker’s trigger amendment fails to be included in the Senate GOP tax bill this week, presumably he is a no vote.

This trigger provision sounds like a “poison pill” amendment to me.

Continue reading