Paul Ryan’s pivot to tax reform - Axios
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Paul Ryan’s pivot to tax reform

Evan Vucci / AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan will head to the Buckeye State during this week's Congressional recess to begin his sales pitch for tax reform, according to a source with direct knowledge. After grinding a healthcare bill through the House (a bill that's about to face even more resistance in the Senate), the Speaker should relish the opportunity to change the topic.

  • Ryan travels to Ohio on Wednesday. He'll make the case for tax reform in general and (unsurprisingly) won't emphasize his disagreements with the White House.
  • The Speaker will visit manufacturing companies near Columbus and hold a roundtable discussion with local business leaders.
  • Our source says the event will serve as the beginning of coordinated efforts between House leadership and the administration to sell tax reform.

Between the lines: Ryan obviously favors his own tax plan, endorsed by the rest of House Republican leadership and Ways and Means chair Kevin Brady. The White House also likes a good deal of Ryan's plan, but considers some of its key components politically unfeasible — especially the "border adjustment tax" that would raise more than $1 trillion over ten years by hiking taxes on imports, while cutting taxes on American-made goods that get exported. Private negotiations between the Hill and the White House on the issue will take weeks if not months. In the meantime, Ryan wants to lead a public discussion to generate momentum behind the idea of tax reform.

A big open question: Can Ryan sell tax policy in a way that will appeal to Trump voters across the Rust Belt?

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Senate passes budget, clearing hurdle for tax overhaul

Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The Senate passed a budget bill Thursday night, moving Republicans toward the big tax cuts they hope to pass through Congress late this year or early next year. Having cleared this hurdle, they'll only need a simple majority to pass the tax plan. Rand Paul was the lone Republican voting against the budget, contending it didn't include enough spending cuts.

What's next: It currently appears that the House (which already passed a budget) will vote on the Senate budget as a shortcut to the tax push, though that's not a done deal. If the House declines to do so, a compromise would have to be worked out in conference.

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John Cornyn holds up top White House nominee

Cornyn. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Texas Sen. John Cornyn is frustrating both administration officials and conservative movement leaders by holding up the confirmation of Russ Vought to be Mick Mulvaney's right hand man at the Office of Management and Budget.
Cornyn — a member of Senate leadership who has a strong say over the floor schedule — has made it clear that Vought will be held up until he gets more funding for Texas' hurricane relief, according to three sources close to the situation. It's unclear how Cornyn has phrased his demand or how much extra money, exactly, he's asking for, but his message has been heard loud and clear by top Trump administration officials.

Cornyn's office didn't respond to multiple requests for comment for this story. Sources said the next supplemental bill — and therefore Vought's confirmation — could be held up for at least another month.

Why this matters: Vought is a top White House priority and is considered a leader in the conservative movement. Social conservatives rallied around him and his profile exploded after his confirmation hearing in June when he clashed with Sen. Bernie Sanders over his religious beliefs. Vought wrote a blog post in which he described his Christian faith and said that those who do not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior "stand condemned." Sanders then accused him of "racism and bigotry" because of that post.
A sample of the anger: A senior conservative congressional aide texted Axios: “It is unfortunate Senator Cornyn is holding Russell Vought's nomination hostage for more emergency funding for Texas. That a member of Republican leadership would block such an integral member of the president's team at OMB is disturbing. Congress has already approved two tranches of emergency supplemental appropriations without corresponding offsets - both of which were supported by Senator Cornyn. Yet blocking an important nomination like the nominee for deputy director at OMB only breeds further disdain among the conservative movement and Senate leadership.”
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The allegations against Harvey Weinstein and their fallout

The number of women coming forward with assault allegations against Weinstein is growing. Photo: Richard Shotwell / Invision via AP

The list of women accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment continues to grow. Three women, two named, accuse him of rape in the New Yorker. And CNN reported Monday that a London actress filed a police report claiming Weinstein raped her. On Thursday, the Los Angeles Police Department said it is investigating a 2013 sexual assault claim against Weinstein.

Weinstein's response, from spokesperson Sallie Hofmeister: "Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Mr. Weinstein obviously can't speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual..."

The timeline

  • Oct. 5: The New York Times publishes an investigation detailing numerous on-the-record claims of harassment against Weinstein and at least 8 settlements between Weinstein and his accusers.
  • Oct. 6: The Weinstein Company places Weinstein on indefinite leave. Several Democratic senators announce that they are giving the financial contributions they received from Weinstein to charity.
  • Oct. 7: Lisa Bloom, a civil rights attorney known for defending women in high profile harassment cases, resigns as Weinstein's advisor. She initially received criticism for choosing to defend him.
  • Oct. 8: The Weinstein Company fires Weinstein "in light of new information about misconduct ... that has emerged in the past few days."
  • Oct. 9: The Hollywood Reporter publishes the full text of an email Weinstein wrote to several media executives before he was fired, in which he pleads with them to write letters of support.
  • Oct. 10: The New Yorker publishes a 10-month-long investigation in which 3 women accuse Weinstein of rape. Hillary Clinton and former President Obama come out with statements against the producer. The University of Southern California announces it is rejecting a $5 million donation from Weinstein to its film school. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Weinstein Company is in the process of changing its name as a rebranding move.
  • Oct. 14: In an emergency session, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Oscars' governing body, votes overwhelmingly to expel Weinstein.
  • Oct. 15: Woody Allen, who has been accused of molesting his daughter Dylan Farrow and whose son Ronan Farrow wrote the New Yorker piece about Weinstein, says he feels "sad" for Weinstein. Allen draws criticism for saying. "You also don't want it to lead to a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself." He later clarifies his comments and says he meant to call Weinstein a "sad, sick man."
  • Oct. 15: French President Emmanuel Macron withdraws the Legion of Honor, the nation's highest civilian and military award, from Weinstein.
  • Oct. 16: The Clinton Foundation says it will not return the donations — up to $250,000 — from Weinstein because the money has already been spent on projects, Fox News reports.
  • Oct. 16: The Weinstein Company, sinking from the scandal, says it will receive a rescue investment from Colony Capital, a private investment firm led by Trump confidant Tom Barrack.
  • Oct. 19: The Los Angeles Police Department tweeted that it has interviewed a potential sexual assault victim in a 2013 incident involving Weinstein.

The allegations

The claims of rape, laid out in more detail in the New Yorker article:

  • Lucia Stoller, now Lucia Evans, was trying to make it as an actress in 2004, the summer before her senior year of college, when Weinstein approached her in a New York club. He began calling her late at night, but she wanted to meet in the daytime. She eventually met with him at his office where they discussed roles. Then, Evans said, Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him.
  • Asia Argento, a film actress and director, said Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 1997. Argento said she didn't speak out until now for fear Weinstein would "crush" her.
  • The New Yorker reports a third woman accused Weinstein of raping her, although her story was not detailed and she was not named.

The on-the-record claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the New Yorker:

  • In an NYPD audio recording of a 2015 sting operation, Weinstein admits to groping Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, a model. The day prior, Gutierrez told the NYPD Weinstein had lunged at her, touched her breasts, and tried putting a hand up her skirt. "A source close to the matter" said Gutierrez signed a nondisclosure agreement with Weinstein, including an affidavit stating the acts Weinstein admits to in the recording never happened.
  • Mira Sorvino, an actress who starred in several of Weinstein's films, said Weinstein massaged her shoulders and tried to get more physical in 1995. He later called and told her he was coming over to her apartment, although he eventually left.
  • Emily Nestor, who served as a temporary front-desk assistant at the Weinstein Company, said on her first day two employees told her she was Weinstein's "type" physically and said Weinstein sexually harassed her. She served out her temporary role and left.
  • Weinstein brought Emma DeCaunes, a French actress, to his hotel room, went into the bathroom, and returned naked with an erection and told her to lie down on the bed, DeCaunes said. She refused and left.
  • Rosanna Arquette, an actress, was to pick up a script from Weinstein's hotel room, but said when she arrived he was wearing a bathrobe and pulled her hand towards his visible and erect penis. He allegedly said he needed a massage. She said she wouldn't do that and left.
  • Jessica Barth, an actress, said Weinstein invited her to a meeting at a hotel and invited her to his room, where she said he alternated between talking about roles and demanding a naked massage. She refused and left.
The on-the-record claims of unwanted sexual advances in the NYT:
  • Gwyneth Paltrow told the NYT Weinstein placed his hands on her and asked her to come up to his hotel room for a massage after meeting with her when she was 22 before she began shooting "Emma." "I was expected to keep the secret," she said. Paltrow later told Brad Pitt, her boyfriend at the time, about the experience, and Pitt told Weinstein to never touch Paltrow again.
  • Angelina Jolie said Weinstein made unwanted advances on her in a hotel room before the release of "Playing by Heart" in the late 1990s. Jolie said as a result she "chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did."
  • Judith Godrèche, a French actress, recounted similar unwanted advances to the NYT.
  • Katherine Kendall, who appeared in the film "Swingers," said Weinstein once undressed and chased her around a living room.
  • Weinstein invited Tomi-Ann Roberts, hopeful to start an acting career in 1984, to his hotel to discuss a film. When she arrived he was naked in the bathtub and suggested she get naked in front of him. She wouldn't do it and left.
  • Dawn Dunning, who was doing some small acting gigs in 2003, met Weinstein at a nightclub where she was waitressing, and they set up a meeting together. Under the guise of a meeting running late, she was invited up to his suite. When she arrived Weinsten was allegedly in a bathrobe and said she could only work on his films if she had three-way sex with him. According to Dunning's account, he said, "This is how the business works."
Additional claims of sexual harassment and rape:
  • Cara Delevingne detailed an encounter with Weinstein, during which he allegedly asked her to kiss another woman in front of him and tried to kiss her himself, in an Instagram post Wednesday.
  • Zoe Brock, an actress and model, wrote a Medium post accusing Weinstein of asking for a naked massage in a hotel room and chasing her when she refused to comply.
  • Samantha Panagrosso, a model, told Variety that, when she met him at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003, Weinstein groped her in a pool and then followed her into her room, where he allegedly pushed her onto a bed and tried to grope her.
  • Lysette Anthony, a British actress, filed a police report in London alleging that Weinstein raped her in her home in 1992, per CNN. She is the latest woman to come forward with accusations.

Inside the company

16 current and former executives and assistants at Weinstein's company said they witnessed or knew about unwanted sexual advances in the workplace or at events associated with the company's films. Each of the 16 said his behavior was known widely throughout Miramax and the Weinstein Company.

Suspicions of retaliation: Four actresses, including Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette, said they think that after rejecting Weinstein's advances or complained to the company, Weinstein removed them from projects or dissuaded people from working with them, per The New Yorker. They pointed out Gutierrez's experience, where after she went to the police, negative stories about her sexual history appeared in New York gossip pages. As noted above, Weinstein denies those claims.

Go deeper

NYT's Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey: "Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades"

New Yorker's Ronan Farrow: "From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein's Accusers Tell Their Stories"

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Twitter apologizes for past lapses, issues calendar of planned safety updates

Twitter issued a timeline for planned changes to reduce harassment. Photo: Matt Rourke / AP

Apologizing for past lapses, Twitter pledged to do a better job of keeping users safe on the social media platform and offered a calendar of planned enhancements.

"This won't be a quick or easy fix, but we're committed to getting it right," the company said in a blog post. "Far too often in the past we've said we'd do better and promised transparency but have fallen short in our efforts."

Why it matters: Twitter has a reputation for promising to improve safety, but not for accomplishing much in terms of reducing harassment and hate speech on its platform.

Later this month, the company says it will take action on non-consensual nudity, with a set of new rules planned for Nov. 3 covering hateful imagery, violent groups and unwanted sexual advances. In the middle of next month it says it will update the system it uses to prioritize reports of problematic content.

Here's the full calendar:


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House, Senate GOP moving toward budget deal to skip conference

Trump Pence, McConnell and Ryan in the Oval Office. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

Momentum is shifting towards the House taking up and passing the Senate budget. The House Freedom Caucus and other House conservatives have signaled to leadership that they'd be willing to comply with President Trump's request to move quickly and skip the conference. House and Senate sources were optimistic Thursday evening after working all day on this deal; but nothing is sealed yet.
Why this matters: If they cut this deal it shows that Republicans in both the House and Senate are willing to bend over backwards and make concessions so tax reform can get moving.
  • Top sources in both chambers signal it's likely — though not certain — that the Senate adds a budget amendment that appeases the House. Then the House can pick up and pass the Senate budget, paving the way to get to tax reform. The amendment is expected to be highly technical in nature; and we don't have full details yet.
  • A source close to House Budget Chairman Diane Black: "Chairman Black has been working with the White House and House and Senate leadership on an amendment to the Senate budget that would allow both chambers to be unified and move quickly to tax reform."
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California wildfire losses top $1 billion

Aerial footage of the foundation of a burned-down home in Santa Rosa, California. Photo: Jeff Chiu / AP

The cost of the damage from the California wildfires will top $1 billion, per the state's insurance commissioners initial estimates, AP reports. And that figure is expected to rise.

The backdrop: The devastating fires in Northern California have so far killed at least 42 people and destroyed 5,700 buildings and homes, including entire neighborhoods in the city of Santa Rosa.

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43% of tech workers fear losing their jobs due to age

Nearly half of workers in the technology field fear losing their jobs because of their age, according to survey from Indeed.com. 18% of respondents "worry about it all the time."

  • A growing problem: 22.8% of employment-discrimination complaints filed to the EEOC in 2016 were age related, up from 19.6% twenty years ago. But age discrimination can be difficult to prove, and the Supreme Court made it more difficult in 2009 when it instituted a stricter standard for proving age discrimination than other types of workplace discrimination.
  • Who has it worst: Those facing the harshest economic effects of ageism may be the already unemployed and female. A recent study by economist David Neumark showed that female workers aged 64-66 who applied for an administrative role were 47% less likely to be called back than equally qualified applicants aged 29-31.
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Scoop: Hispanic group threatens action against Verizon over blocked signal

Univision / Verizon

The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) President and CEO Alex Nogales has written a letter to Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam threatening to rally Latino leaders across the country against "Verizon products and services," if Verizon doesn't reinstate access to Univision for East Coast consumers.
Why it matters: The letter, obtained by Axios, shows particular concern over the fact that the signal was pulled Monday night from Verizon's Fios and mobile products without warning and that it was removed at a time when Hispanic viewers need coverage of catastrophic events affecting families and businesses in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Verizon argues in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai that they have offered alternative programming options to consumers and outlined the carriage fee negotiations.
"Despite diligent efforts by Verizon over the last two-plus months to reach reasonable termswith Univision and considerable movement on our own part during those negotiations, Univision has consistently insisted on unreasonable terms that would raise prices and harm our customers," the letter says.
New wrinkles: Fights between Pay-TV providers and cable networks happen often, but this one is different.
  1. Univision says the blackout happened without warning. Typically both parties, the distributor and the content provider, come to terms about next steps before a signal is removed during a dispute. People familiar with the matter say that has not been the case, and that the signal was pulled unexpectedly.
  2. The blackout has humanitarian effects: Univision argues that Verizon is not taking moral considerations when blacking out its signal from Hispanic communities that are reliant on access to Univision for information about the effects of the natural disasters in Puerto Rico and Mexico
  3. The blackout occurred on the distributor side. Often it's the network that threatens to pull a signal because a pay-TV provider refuses to meet their carriage fee demands. This time, Verizon pulled out of the agreement, citing cost.

The bigger picture: The fight is the latest example of what happens when a Pay-TV provider and a cable network can't agree on a new contract, which has been happening at an increasing rate. These disputes have led to more TV blackouts in 2017 than any year prior, per the American Television Alliance. By 2022, SNL Kagan predicts that retransmission fees being charged by TV networks will increase by roughly 50%, reaching a record-high of $11.6 billion.



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Stitch Fix files for IPO

Via Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix, a personal shopping subscription service founded by Katrina Lake, has filed for an initial public offering. The target raise is listed as $100 million, but that's likely a placeholder figure. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker SFIX, with Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan serving as lead managers.

Financials: The San Francisco-based company's S-1 filing lists a net loss of just under $1 million on $977 million in revenue for the year ending July 29, 2017. It also reports having been profitable in both fiscal 2015 and fiscal 2016 on revenue of $342 million and $730 million, respectively. These are particularly strong numbers for a venture-backed e-commerce company coming to market, particularly with a subscription model.

Venture history: Stitch Fix raised around $47 million since being founded in 2011, from firms like Baseline Ventures, Benchmark, Structure Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Western Technology investment.

Partial liquidity: Stitch Fix founder and CEO Katrina Lake sold $1 million of shares back to the company last December, while Julie Bornstein (who stepped down as COO over the summer) sold back $1.9 million in January. The share price tied to those sales would value the company (undiluted) at around $1.97 billion.

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Tech firms' top lawyers will testify in hearings on Russian interference

Facebook and Alphabet's Google are among the companies called to testify. Photo: Mark Lennihan / AP

Google, Facebook and Twitter will all send their top lawyers to testify before Capitol Hill investigators looking into Russian election meddling at public hearings in early November. Google confirms it is sending General Counsel Kent Walker, Twitter has chosen its acting General Counsel Sean Edgett and Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch was confirmed as the company's pick Wednesday morning.

What it tells us: In sending their top legal executives, the companies are acknowledging the seriousness of the investigation at hand.