Sep 12, 2017

Mnuchin says he's not sure a 15% corporate tax rate is achievable

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said today that the White House is hoping tax reform can rally bipartisan support, but "if we can't get 60 votes we're prepared to use reconciliation to get it done... tax reform is Trump's number one priority."

At CNBC's Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha conference Tuesday morning Mnuchin also said he isn't sure the administration will be able to get the corporate tax rate down to 15%, as President Trump has vowed to do, given budget issues, but said they will get it lower. Meanwhile, he's "incredibly hopeful" they'll pass tax legislation by the end of the year.

Other takeaways:

  • On his relationship with Trump: "I feel comfortable telling him my ideas on things... he doesn't always agree... but I work for him."
  • On CEOs ditching Trump's business councils: "I personally think it was a mistake that the councils were disbanded." A Treasury Department spokesman later emailed Axios to say Mnuchin was referring to CEOs quitting councils due to disagreements, not to President Trump's decision to disband the councils.
  • Trump's debt ceiling deal with Democrats: "I give the president a lot of credit. We were in the middle of two hurricanes, we needed to get money to the states... he got out there and showed the American public we can put politics aside."
  • Hurricanes Harvey and Irma: "There clearly is going to be an impact on GDP in the short run," said Mnuchin, adding that the first round of aid was only a "down payment... we'll see what we need to spend."
  • Fed chair changes: Mnuchin dodged questions over whether Gary Cohn is being considered. Instead said the president hasn't made any decisions, but Janet Yellen "is being considered."
  • Health care reform: "The president still very much wants to get health care done. It's not the major focus at the moment."

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Ivanka Trump plans focus on coronavirus recovery for small businesses

Ivanka Trump speaks at yesterday's White House videoconference with bank and credit card executives. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Ivanka Trump personally lobbied top bank executives to line up the $1.5 billion in commitments to small business that were announced yesterday at a videoconference among the bank executives and President Trump — stoking competitive juices among the execs to drive up their commitments.

The state of play: Ivanka, who has had workforce development in her portfolio going back to 2017, plans an increasing emphasis on small businesses in the weeks ahead as they navigate the rescue bill’s Payroll Protection Program, sources tell me.

Public transit's death spiral

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Public transit systems across the country are experiencing a painful trifecta: Ridership has collapsed, funding streams are squeezed, and mass transit won't bounce back from the pandemic nearly as fast as other modes of transportation.

Why it matters: Transit agencies could see an annual shortfall of as much as $38 billion due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to TransitCenter. At the same time, they're more important than ever, with more than 36% of essential workers relying on public transportation to get to work.

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World coronavirus updates: London mayor says U.K. nowhere near lockdown lifting

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered hope in the fight against the novel coronavirus, saying she believes New Zealand has "turned a corner" after two weeks of strict lockdown measures. But London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the U.K. is "nowhere near" lifting restrictions.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed over 82,000 people and infected 1.4 million others globally as of early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Global recoveries have surpassed 301,000. Spain has reported the most cases outside the U.S. (more than 141,000) and Italy the most deaths (over 17,000). Half the planet's population is on lockdown.

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