January 17, 2017 The Honorable Mitch McConnell Majority Leader United States Senate Washington, DC 20510 Dear Mr. Leader: As the 115th Congress begins, we write to underscore the need for additional legislation early in this session to address the economic and fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) provided Puerto Rico with important fiscal oversight and debt restructuring tools, and now the Oversight Board and Puerto Rico’s new Governor must take the critical next steps required by this federal legislation. Working with the new Governor, the Oversight Board now must certify a Fiscal Plan and set a path to comprehensively restructure the debt before the expiration of PROMESA’s automatic stay. Treasury has continued to provide both the Oversight Board and the new Governor with technical assistance as requested, and will remain able to do so after the transition to the next Administration. Despite the important progress achieved to date with bipartisan support, the work is not done. As Puerto Rico moves forward on these next steps, Congress must enact measures recommended by both Republicans and Democrats that fix Puerto Rico’s inequitable health care financing structure and promote sustained economic growth. Without congressional action to address these issues, Puerto Rico’s return to growth and opportunity will be a significant challenge. Most urgently, Congress should address Puerto Rico’s “Medicaid cliff” funding issue before April as recommended last month by the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico. Failure to do so would jeopardize health care for up to 900,000 poor U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico. CONGRESSIONAL TASK FORCE REPORT On December 20, the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico, established by PROMESA, released its Final Report. The bipartisan report provides an overview of the economic challenges facing Puerto Rico and a series of potential solutions that, if crafted well and enacted quickly, are necessary for a sustainable economic recovery. It is important that Congress not only turn ideas into action, but in doing so, address Puerto Rico’s significant remaining economic and social challenges in meaningful ways to help put Puerto Rico on a path of sustained economic growth. As the report acknowledges, Puerto Rico faces an imminent shortfall in health care funding that could leave up to 900,000 Americans without coverage if Congress does not act in the near future. Puerto Rico’s already vulnerable health care system is stretched further by a Zika outbreak that, as of January 4, has resulted in over 34,000 cases, and will affect numerous women, children, and families for years to come. It is time to provide a long-term solution to Puerto Rico’s historically inadequate federal Medicaid financing, which threatens the viability of Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program and worsens Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. If Congress fails to craft a long-term solution, immediate action is still needed to ensure full fiscal year 2018 financing to avoid the “Medicaid cliff” identified in the report. Without action before April, Puerto Rico’s ability to execute contracts for Fiscal Year 2018 with its managed care organizations will be threatened, thereby putting at risk beginning July 1, 2017 the health care of up to 900,000 poor U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Puerto Rico continues to suffer from double digit unemployment and a labor force participation rate that is only two-thirds that of the U.S. average. A federally-financed, locally-administered Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in Puerto Rico would create incentives for work and increase participation in the formal economy – just as it has done for decades in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Instead of recommending the immediate enactment of an EITC, the Task Force only suggested Congress further explore the proposal. We strongly encourage Congress to enact this powerful economic driver to bolster Puerto Rico’s future. Our analysis of the situation over the last several years demonstrates that an EITC would be the most effective and powerful tool to address these structural challenges to economic growth. Beyond those two major issues, the Task Force recommended a number of other policies that we agree should be enacted. First, we appreciate the bipartisan recommendation for Congress to continue authorizing Treasury to provide technical assistance to Puerto Rico. Furthermore, while we recommend a different approach to expand the Child Tax Credit to more Puerto Rican families, one that is locally administered, we welcome the Task Force recommendation for Congress to expand the Child Tax Credit in Puerto Rico, to the extent it is well-designed and supplements an EITC program for Puerto Rico. We support the Task Force’s acknowledgment of the importance of data in benchmarking economic growth and fiscal developments in Puerto Rico and the recommendations to improve data quality and timeliness. Finally, we are pleased with the recommendations on small business incentives, and the need to include Puerto Rico in funding and training programs that address Puerto Rico’s differential treatment in some Federal programs. It is time for Congress to move quickly to put these recommendations into law. Last summer, Republicans and Democrats in Congress took decisive action in PROMESA to help improve Puerto Rico’s fiscal position by establishing an independent oversight board and providing it with comprehensive debt restructuring tools. As you know, these tools were provided to Puerto Rico as an alternative to a federal bailout and provide Puerto Rico’s government and the Oversight Board with comprehensive authorities to address the debt crisis. Members of Congress now must work together quickly to enact well-crafted legislation to encourage growth and opportunity for our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. The Treasury Department and the Department of Health and Human Services stand committed to working with you to achieving those goals throughout the remainder of the transition to the next Administration. Sincerely, Jacob J. Lew Sylvia M. Burwell Secretary Secretary Department of the Treasury Department of Health and Human Services Identical letter sent to: The Honorable Charles E. Schumer The Honorable Paul D. Ryan The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Treasury Secretary Lew's Exit Memo: Eight Years of Progress at Treasury and a Look to the Future of American Financial Prosperity
WASHINGTON –U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew has authored a departure memorandum that recounts the progress and work of the U.S. Department of the Treasury over the last eight years. The memo then outlines Secretary Lew’s visions and goals for the future of the Treasury Department. The Secretary closes his departure memorandum with personal reflections on the importance of bipartisan cooperation, his optimism about America’s future, and his hope that future policymakers will take careful stock of the successes of this Administration as they consider the next steps forward. Please see the memo attached. Treasury Exit Memo.pdf The full text of the memo is below: Department of the Treasury Exit Memo Secretary Jacob J. Lew Cabinet Exit Memo │January 5, 2017 Introduction The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) is the executive agency responsible for promoting economic prosperity and ensuring the financial security of the United States. This role encompasses a broad range of activities, such as advising the President on economic and financial issues, encouraging sustainable economic growth, and fostering improved governance in financial institutions. Treasury’s mission was challenged like few times before in our nation’s history during the 2008 financial crisis. As few of us can forget, signs of trouble first emerged in the housing market, which set off a cascade of shocks in 2007 and 2008, including the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, the freezing of credit markets, and the loss of trillions of dollars of wealth held by Americans in their homes, other assets, and businesses. By the time President Obama took office, the United States was in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression. The economy was shrinking at its fastest rate in 50 years and shedding more than 800,000 private-sector jobs per month. Unemployment peaked at 10 percent in 2009, a level not seen in over 25 years. The auto industry, an embodiment of American ingenuity and economic strength, was teetering on the edge of collapse; the deficit had hit a post-World War II high; and homes in neighborhoods across the United States faced foreclosure. Though the financial crisis was perhaps the most pressing challenge the country faced in 2008, it was far from the only one. Health care spending was on an unsustainable path, and millions of Americans lived in fear of facing a significant medical problem without insurance. Middle-class and working family incomes had stagnated for much of the previous three decades. Wealth disparities had grown to levels not seen since the 1920s. And after two major wars in the Middle East and strained relationships in many parts of the world, the standing of the United States around the world was in need of significant repair. We have come a long way as a country since 2008. In the following pages, I will recount the Administration’s record of progress, with a specific focus on the role Treasury has played. I will also articulate a vision for the future, and recommend steps to be taken in the coming years to make progress towards that vision. Finally, I will end with some personal reflections. Eight Years of Progress Economic Recovery Over the eight years since President Obama took office amidst the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes, we have seen a sustained economic recovery and a significant decline in the federal budget deficit. We have cut the unemployment rate in half. Our economy is more than 10 percent larger than its pre-recession peak. U.S. businesses have added a total of 15.6 million jobs since private-sector job growth turned positive in early 2010. Household incomes are rising, with 2015 seeing the fastest one-year growth since the Census Bureau began reporting on household income in 1967. And our financial system is more stable, safe, and resilient, providing the critical underpinnings for broad-based, inclusive, long-term growth. There are many factors that explain why the United States was able to bounce back so strongly from the recession. First and foremost, I credit the resilience of the American people. In addition, our policy response to the crisis was immediate and robust. Led by my predecessor, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, policymakers put in place a wide-ranging strategy to restore economic growth, unlock credit, and return private capital to the financial system, thereby providing broad and vital support to the economy. In February 2009, just 28 days after taking office, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provided powerful fiscal stimulus that resulted in a less severe recession and stronger recovery than we otherwise would have seen. Investments made through our Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) provided stability to our financial system, and the Automotive Industry Financing Program helped prevent the collapse of the U.S. auto industry. TARP also included housing initiatives that helped millions of struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure and lower their monthly payments. These efforts bolstered the housing market and strengthened consumer finances more broadly. And funds expended under TARP have been repaid in full, at a profit to taxpayers: in total, TARP invested $412 billion in financial institutions, large and small, during the financial crisis, and as of October 2016, these investments have returned $442 billion total cash back to taxpayers. Critically, we also acted quickly to reform our financial system, working with Congress to enact the most far-reaching and comprehensive set of financial reforms since the Great Depression: the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Wall Street Reform transformed the way the financial system operates, and Treasury and the financial regulators have continued to work together since its passage to implement important reforms such as the Volcker Rule, risk retention, and resolution planning for large, complex financial institutions. Because of these efforts, our system today is more stable, more transparent, and more consumer-focused. Wall Street Reform also created the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a body that looks across the entire financial system to identify future threats to financial stability, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a watchdog agency that is working hard to protect Americans from unfair, deceptive, or abusive financial practices. The progress we have made on implementing reform has resulted in a safer, stronger, and more stable American financial system—one better positioned to support growth rather than work against it, more likely for consumers to get fair treatment in their interactions with financial institutions, and less prone to major failures of financial firms that can harm Americans on Main Street. This progress must be sustained through continued follow-through, to avoid allowing a return to the recklessness and abuse that predated the worst global financial crisis of the last 80 years. A More Inclusive Economy Beyond working to bring our economy back from the brink and to spur growth, we also undertook efforts to ensure that more citizens have a fair shot at sharing in our nation’s prosperity. One of the Administration’s most significant achievements was the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which extended health insurance to millions of Americans who had not previously had it, allowed young adults to stay on the health plans of their parents, barred insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions, and strengthened Medicare’s solvency. Once the legislation was signed into law, Treasury implemented the law’s many new tax provisions. Beyond the ACA, the Administration made a number of other key changes to the tax code that has made our tax system significantly fairer and more equitable. Through programs like the Community Development Financial Institution Fund and myRA, and through extensive stakeholder engagement, Treasury has worked to promote access to the financial system for underserved and vulnerable populations. We also successfully worked with Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to enable Puerto Rico to undergo a financial restructuring. With continued commitment from policymakers in both the Commonwealth and the United States, this legislation will begin to put Puerto Rico on a fiscally sustainable path so that the 3.5 million Americans living there are not denied essential services and economic opportunity. Leading in the Global Economy As we put into place the financial regulatory framework to prevent future crises in the United States, we also led the international response to the crisis. We worked through the G-20 to help mobilize $5 trillion in fiscal stimulus, expand the resources of the international financial institutions by $1 trillion, and establish new institutions like the Financial Stability Board to prevent future crises. Our approach elevated the G-20 as the premier platform for international economic cooperation and put in place a demonstrated mechanism for international response. Following the financial crisis, many countries turned to policies of fiscal austerity, and Treasury vigorously advocated for a more balanced use of policy levers. Over the next several years, Treasury engaged closely with our partners and through the G-20 and other multilateral bodies to emphasize the need for short-term growth and longer-term structural reforms to put the global economy on stronger footing. Through our sustained engagement, we achieved a number of commitments from the G-20, including moving away from austerity-only fiscal policy and avoiding competitive currency devaluation. We have used the G-20 to advance a global growth agenda, and the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue to foster increased bilateral economic coordination and engagement with China. Our sustained engagement with China has allowed us to exert positive pressure on Chinese exchange rate policy—whereas China once intervened in foreign exchange markets to drive down the value of its currency, in the past year, we have seen China intervene to prevent a rapid depreciation in the renminbi, which would have had negative consequences for the Chinese and global economies. Treasury also worked to solidify U.S. leadership by modernizing the international economic architecture to ensure that it would remain relevant in a changing world. In particular, securing the passage of International Monetary Fund (IMF) quota reform sustained U.S. leadership on the global stage. Our leadership in the IMF in turn enabled us to work through it to promote policies that supported U.S. economic and security objectives, such as economic stability in Ukraine and Greece. Promoting a Safer World Treasury has also continued to use its unique financial capabilities to address a variety of national security and foreign policy threats posed by terrorists, criminals and other bad actors. To address the changing threat posed by terrorism, including the threat posed by ISIL, we have worked with our international partners to deny terrorist financiers, fundraisers, and facilitators access to the international financial system with financial measures and targeted actions. Treasury’s sanctions against Iran played a critical role in forcing Iran to the table to negotiate a deal that cuts off the country’s pathways to a nuclear weapon. To hold Russia accountable for its aggression in eastern Ukraine and its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, we imposed sanctions that led to tighter financial conditions, weaker confidence, and lower investment in Russia. We also secured new domestic and multilateral sanctions measures against North Korea in the face of Pyongyang’s continued provocative behavior with regard to nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. All the while, we have worked to craft a cohesive vision for the use of sanctions, in which sanctions are informed by financial intelligence, strategically designed, and implemented with our public and private partners to focus pressure on bad actors and create clear incentives to end malign behavior, while limiting collateral impact. In the face of emerging cyber threats, we have also made significant progress in coordinating cybersecurity efforts among financial regulators and the private sector, both domestically and internationally, to improve the financial sector’s resilience and to establish best practices for industry and government. A Vision for the Future Looking across the next five years, 10 years, and beyond, I see four major goals that mirror the progress above. Treasury should focus on: (i) continuing to promote more inclusive growth; (ii) moving from recovery to long-term fiscal health, (iii) remaining a leader in the global economy; and (iv) adjusting to the new threats in our world. Each of these goals brings with it major challenges that we must collectively overcome in order to reach them. Continuing to Promote Inclusive Growth Through the work of this Administration, the U.S. economy is growing again. But working families have not shared fully in the benefits of economic growth over the past decade, and there is evidence that our society has undergone structural changes that have fundamentally altered the basic social compact. It is crucial that the next Administration builds on the work already done to ensure that our prosperity is broadly shared. There are many aspects to inclusive growth, including: investing in infrastructure to create good middle-class jobs and lay the foundation for future growth, giving workers a stronger voice, enacting progressive tax policies, making quality education more available and affordable, and investing in retraining programs for those who have lost their jobs. One component most directly within Treasury’s purview is increasing access to the financial system; currently, many low-income and minority families are effectively locked out, operating without a credit card or banking history. Finding creative ways to increase access to the financial system—such as fostering new technologies—will help individuals and families transfer money and make payments safely and affordably. Financial inclusion allows people to manage life’s unexpected financial shocks, build long-term financial security, and take advantage of economic opportunities, like starting a business. Our inclusive growth agenda should not, however, be limited to domestic issues: more than 2.6 billion people live in poverty around the world, and more than two billion people rely solely on cash transactions. Moving underserved populations from a cash economy to formal banking not only increases their economic opportunity but also strengthens our ability to combat illicit and dangerous finance. Moving from Recovery to Long Term Fiscal Health The actions of this Administration, and the economic recovery those actions helped support, have sharply reduced deficits since 2009. However, both the Administration and the Congressional Budget Office project that, absent any changes in policy, the deficit will rise steadily over the next decade and beyond. Thus, while the actions of this Administration have put the country on a solid fiscal footing today, we must also focus on the long-term fiscal health of our nation. In recent years, the Administration has proposed a combination of smart investments and policy reforms that would keep the deficit under three percent of GDP for the next 10 years and nearly eliminate the fiscal gap over the next 25 years. Tax reform to curb inefficient tax breaks for the wealthy, close loopholes, and reform the taxation of capital income and financial institutions would make the tax system fairer and lower the deficit. Comprehensive immigration reform would boost labor force participation, productivity, and ultimately growth, directly addressing key fiscal challenges. Continued focus on health policy to further improve health care quality and control cost growth remains critical. This policy vision shows that investments in growth and opportunity are fully compatible with putting the nation’s finances on a strong and sustainable path. It also shows that responsible deficit reduction can be achieved without endangering vital support to poor Americans or undermining commitments to seniors and workers. Under President Obama’s leadership, there has been substantial economic and fiscal progress, showing what is possible when strategic investment to grow the economy is paired with smart reforms that address the true drivers of long-term fiscal challenges. While there is some scope for additional borrowing to finance smart investments in the next few years, ever-increasing borrowing is not sustainable as a long-run strategy, particularly when used to finance spending that does not generate higher growth or improvements for the middle class and in the case of deficit-increasing tax cuts, which deepen income and wealth disparities that are already a serious concern. Instead, the long-term fiscal health of the nation depends on smart investments in the middle class, tax reforms that close loopholes for the wealthy and ensure that everyone plays by the same set of rules, comprehensive immigration reform, and health reforms that build on our progress to date without sacrificing coverage or quality. Remaining a Leader in the Global Economy The United States must continue its long history of international economic leadership. Such leadership benefits American workers and families and enables the United States to project its values abroad to achieve its larger foreign policy objectives. Of course, the world has changed since the creation of our international financial architecture after World War II, and we must change with it. Perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, our influence internationally will increase if we share the benefits, as well as the responsibilities, of managing the global economic and financial system with emerging economies, such as China. Our influence, however, cannot be sustained if we either back away or insist on protecting the status quo. But we face a host of challenges. Our relationship with China is one of the most important in the world. While we have made much progress over the past eight years, the degree to which China is willing to takes the steps necessary to follow through on commitments to reorient its economy toward more sustainable growth, open up to foreign businesses, and be a partner in global governance, remains to be seen. As we saw from the example of Chinese exchange rate policy, engagement between the United States and China is an important means of maintaining pressure for China to implement policies that are necessary for China’s own medium and long-term economic health and to create a level playing field for the world economy. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union sent shockwaves through Europe and the world, and we must closely monitor the situation and continue to argue for the benefits of continued integration post-Brexit. Japan’s economy faces the ongoing challenges of an aging population and high public debt hampering the government’s ability to foster growth. We must also keep a watchful eye on emerging economies and the unique challenges they face. In particular, in recent years, we have made progress in our relations with Latin America, particularly with Mexico and Argentina, and we should build on that progress. Adjusting to the New Threats in Our World With the rise of state-sponsored and lone wolf terrorism, rogue nations, and international strongmen, we must address the reality that we live in a dangerous world. Making it safer means using every tool available—including the financial tools available to Treasury—to defeat and degrade terrorist organizations like ISIL. We must continue to leverage our ability to impose crippling sanctions on states and individuals to change behavior. We must seek to eliminate the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Cyber attacks on our financial system represent a real threat to our economic and national security, and maintaining vigilant and coordinated efforts to keep pace with and respond to these threats has been and will remain a crucial piece of Treasury’s work. And we must recognize global climate change for the economic and existential threat that it is and band together with the rest of the world to avert catastrophe. How to Make Our Vision a Reality How do we accomplish the goals laid out above? To be sure, there are a host of paths policymakers might take to do so, but I believe the following steps, which range from specific policy prescriptions to more general advice, are the most immediate. Infrastructure Spending Moving forward, we must redouble our efforts to make investments in our country’s transportation infrastructure, which help create middle-class jobs in the short term and drive broad-based economic growth in the long term. Indeed, by fixing our aging roads, bridges, and ports, we will help lay a foundation for widely shared economic expansion. The President’s business tax reform framework, discussed in more detail below, would generate substantial one-time revenues to fund new infrastructure investments. Paying for these investments by taxing overseas business profits would both be fiscally responsible and would help fix the perception that our tax system is not a level playing field. Continuing to come up with fresh, new ways to deploy capital will help the country achieve these goals. Effective partnerships between government and the private sector can play an important role in developing innovative solutions that efficiently leverage resources. And taking advantage of historically low interest rates to fund high-return public investments is simply smart fiscal policy. This Administration has long advocated for the creation of a national infrastructure bank, which would provide critical financing and technical support to foster public-private partnerships in U.S. infrastructure and establish a predictable source of long-term financing that would allow U.S. infrastructure to be consistently improved. Business Tax Reform Over the last eight years, Congress and the Administration have taken important steps to make the tax code fairer, support working families, and roll back unnecessary and unaffordable tax cuts for high-income families. In addition, using its administrative tools, the Administration has made substantial progress over the past eight years in combatting abusive tax practices. However, our business tax system remains in need of reform. As I have emphasized repeatedly throughout my time as Treasury Secretary, only Congress can enact business tax reform, which is necessary to remove incentives for businesses to relocate overseas, raise one-time revenues to promote infrastructure spending, and simplify tax compliance for smaller businesses. President Obama’s proposed plan for business tax reform sets out a framework for modernizing our business tax system. Among other elements, it would prevent companies from using excessive leverage in the United States to reduce their tax burden, impose a minimum tax abroad to help fight the global race to the bottom, impose a one-time tax on unrepatriated foreign profits, and reform the taxation of financial and insurance industry products. It also would close loopholes and special credits and deductions to lower rates without shifting the tax burden to individuals. Enacting such a plan would enhance our competitiveness and create an environment in which business rather than tax considerations drive decision-making. The President’s framework is also fiscally responsible, ensuring that business tax reform does not add to deficits over the long-term. I am hopeful that this framework will help to equip the new Congress to take responsible action on business tax reform. Housing Finance Reform Fixing our housing finance system remains the major unfinished work of post-financial crisis reform. Though the housing market has made significant strides thanks to efforts on the part of the Administration to help struggling homeowners, stabilize the housing finance system, and restore broader economic growth, many homeowners and neighborhoods continue to struggle. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac remain in conservatorship and continue to rely on taxpayer support. Only legislation can comprehensively address the ongoing shortcomings of the housing finance system. A starting point for such legislation should be the principles President Obama laid out in 2013, which stressed a clearly-defined role for the government to promote broad access to consumer-friendly mortgages in good times and bad. While private capital should bear the majority of the risks in mortgage lending, reform also must provide more American households with greater and more sustainable access to affordable homes to rent or own. Global Economic Integration Global economic integration, including high-standards trade, leads to better economic outcomes than isolation and protectionism. High-standard trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership can expand U.S. economic growth, open markets for American exports, and strengthen labor and environmental safeguards so that American workers can compete on a level playing field. But economic uncertainty, both domestically and abroad, threatens this framework. Whether driven by trade, technological advances, or the changing structure of the markets for labor and capital, these anxieties are real and deeply felt. In order to continue to enjoy the benefits of an integrated world, we need to focus on policies that address the real issues of inequality, such as slowing wage growth and increasing disparities in pay, to ensure that the benefits of trade are broadly felt. Strengthening the rules, alone, is not enough. To preserve this important engine of economic growth and international integration the United States and other advanced economies must also design and implement policies—including fiscal and tax policies—that advance the cause of inclusive, sustainable, and broad-based growth. Not all countries have the fiscal space sufficient to meet these needs, but after years of urging by the United States, policies of austerity are one-by-one giving way to policies designed to grow demand and improve incomes. The United States must continue to be an active voice in the global discussion of these issues. The United States must also maintain its leadership in the international financial architecture and ensure that the U.S.-led international financial system is adapting to best preserve U.S. interest in a changing world. This includes continued governance reforms of the IMF and multilateral development banks to reflect a changing world. Clear global rules create opportunities and incentives for innovation, invest, and work, which are critical to the United States and drive economic progress in other regions of the world. Continued Engagement with Challenging Partners Just as global economic integration has fueled economic growth, that integration—and our economic strength—provides us with additional tools to advance our priorities on the international stage. We should continue to use these tools judiciously to maintain pressure on those countries that take aggressive and destabilizing actions, such as Russia and North Korea, and provide sanctions relief when the targeted malign behavior changes, as with Iran and Burma. And, as we chart new courses with other countries, such as Cuba, we should be mindful of how we can use our economic tools to create the conditions for a changed relationship. We must always take care to avoid the overuse of sanctions, particularly our most unilateral tools like secondary sanctions that extend to non-U.S. persons. If we overuse these powerful tools, we risk lessening their impact when they are most needed and ultimately threaten our central role in the global financial system. Looking Forward with Optimism We have learned the hard way that deadlock does not produce good results—government shutdowns and near default on our debt cost the United States both economically and in standing around the world. It did not work in the 1990s, and it did not work over these past eight years. What has worked is finding opportunities in the sometimes quiet periods when bipartisan cooperation can lead to honorable compromise. In recent years, we have seen that targeted budget agreements could pave the way for more orderly and economically beneficial outcomes. We have seen that, on issues like creating a path forward for Puerto Rico and multi-year funding for our surface transportation programs, bipartisan compromise is still possible. But there is much more that requires this kind of progress. Treasury plays a critical role in finding areas where bipartisan solutions are possible. In a period when many thought little could be accomplished legislatively, we reached agreement on IMF Quota Reform, an approach to deal with Puerto Rico, and a permanent extension of expansions to the earned income tax credit and child tax credits that will reduce the extent or severity of poverty for millions of families with children. We have also used our existing authorities to limit corporate tax inversions, shed greater light on beneficial ownership to limit tax avoidance, realize tax parity for same-sex spouses, and opened relations with Cuba. And we have used our sanctions authorities to bring Iran to the negotiating table and limit the resources available to terrorist regimes and groups. I am proud of the record we have built over the past eight years. But during calmer economic times, policy makers are often tempted to roll back regulations, weaken reforms, and reduce oversight. I hope that future policymakers will take careful stock of the successes of this Administration as they consider the next steps forward. I remain an optimist about America’s future and wish the next team entrusted with responsibility for governing much success as it tackles the many challenges that remain and the new challenges that will present themselves over the coming years. Margaret Mulkerrin is the Press Assistant at the U.S. Department of Treasury. ###
Индийская конкурсантка Мануши Чхиллар стала победительницей конкурса «Мисс мира — 2017», сообщается на странице соревнований в Facebook. Корону победительнице вручила мисс мира прошлого года, представительница Пуэрто-Рико Стефани Дель Валле. Чхиллар уже поблагодарила всех, кто ее поддерживала и посвятила победу Индии. Россию представляла фотомодель Полина Попова из Екатеринбурга. Она вошла в десятку претенденток на победу. Конкурс проходил в Китае, в нем участвовали 118 девушек.
Титул «Мисс мира-2017» в конкурсе красоты, проходящем в китайском городе Санья, завоевала жительница Индии Мануши Чхиллар. Первой поздравила победительницу и вручила ей корону «Мисс мира-2016» Стефани Дель Валле из Пуэрто-Рико. Второе место получила Андреа Мезе из Мексики, третье досталось британке Стефани Хилл. Финал конкурса, в котором участвовали модели из 118 стран в возрасте от 18 до 26 лет, состоял из 15 этапов, на десятом из них были объявлены десять претенденток на победу. В их числе была и представительница России Полина Попова из Екатеринбурга, передает ТАСС. К 13-му этапу осталось только пять претенденток: Великобритания, Индия, Кения, Мексика и Франция, затем жюри осталось выбрать только трех лучших. Напомним, национальный конкурс красоты «Мисс Россия – 2017» выиграла жительница Свердловской области Полина Попова.
The director of Puerto Rico’s power company resigned on Friday amid ongoing blackouts and scrutiny of a contract awarded to a small Montana-based company to help rebuild the electric grid destroyed by Hurricane Maria.
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room 3:00 P.M. EST MS. SANDERS: Good afternoon. Yesterday, momentum continued to build behind our plan to deliver massive tax relief and job creation for the American people. The House passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and the Senate Finance Committee passed its companion tax reform bill. These were important moments as we move closer to a final vote. In recent months, we've heard from American entrepreneurs, workers, and families from every corner of our nation about how this plan will empower them to build a better life. In Pennsylvania, Susie Schlomann said that our plan will be “incredible for me and other fixed-income retirees,” because tax relief is targeted at the middle class. In Ohio, Kristina Port -- a small business owner who raised twins as a single mother while launching her company -- said the increase in the child tax credit would help working mothers. She also said simplifying the complex tax code would ease the burden on entrepreneurs and allow them to devote more of their time to growing their business, rather than wrestling with their taxes. In state after state, story after story, we've heard how our plan will profoundly improve the lives of hardworking Americans. The optimism is coming back, because with this tax plan -- combined with the President’s efforts to eliminate job-killing regulations -- Americans feel like their goals are once again attainable. It’s a reminder of one of the things that made our country unique to begin with. Our people have always been able to visualize a future for themselves and their children and make it a reality. That’s why it’s called the "American Dream,” and this tax plan will make it more attainable for more of our people than ever before. But for this to happen, we need economic growth that makes it possible for businesses to create jobs and raise wages. So to give some perspective on how our tax plan is going to do that, I’ve invited Kevin Hassett, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, to join us in the briefing today. Kevin will say a few words and then take some questions specific to this topic. And, as always, I will come back up to take the rest of your questions after that, which I'm sure will all be on tax reform. (Laughter.) So, with that, I'll turn it over to Kevin. MR. HASSETT: Thanks, Sarah. Thanks. And it's a pleasure to be here to see so many familiar faces. You know, last week I had the honor of chairing the Economic Policy Committee meeting at the OECD in Paris. And the Economic Policy Committee is one of the oldest committees in OECD, and it brings together people, like the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, from countries around the OECD. And, at the meeting, they were going through the staff recommendations of the OECD for creating economic growth in countries around the world. And the three main points of the staff recommendations were tax reform, infrastructure, and deregulation -- that if the government pursues those things, then they can produce more economic growth. In fact, there was widespread acclaim for the President's approach towards corporate taxation in particular, because the OECD has been calling for us to reform our corporate tax code for almost a decade. And so the idea right now that this corporate tax reform is close to the finish line is celebrated not only by us at the White House, but by people around the world who have recognized that us having a non-competitive tax code, the highest corporate tax on Earth, a worldwide system that rewards companies for locating activity elsewhere, is bad not only for us but for the world economy -- because a vibrant U.S. economy is good even for our friends in the OECD. And, with that, I'm pleased to see that the House Ways and Means Committee and then the House have passed this bill, and that it's out of the Finance Committee -- I look forward to the Senate moving forward right after the Thanksgiving break. And, I guess, I promised -- I'm not good at this. I don’t know what the protocol is, but I'll start in the front row and then work back. Q Perfect. (Laughter.) MR. HASSETT: Yeah, that's right. I'm just an economist. Q Kevin, I know you're an economist but there's obviously a political component to all of this. You got at least six senators up on the Hill, including Ron Johnson, saying that they can't support the bill in its current form or they have serious concerns about it. You can only afford to lose two. Are you confident that you can get this passed through the Senate? Or could the President run into another situation, like he did with Obamacare? That he wins the House and then loses everything in the Senate. MR. HASSETT: Look, there's an old joke about economists, that there are three types: those who can count and those who can't. (Laughter.) And it takes a while for that one to sink in. And the fact is that the President has supported, from the beginning, regular order because he doesn’t think that we have to wait until the thing becomes law to learn what's in it; that the right thing to do is to expose the bills to scrutiny and debate. And Senator Johnson -- I met with him yesterday in his office -- has some serious concerns, and it's appropriate at this point in legislative process to bring those forward. And I'm hopeful that people can work it out and that everybody, even Democrats, will end up wanting to vote for it. And so I'm not sure about the etiquette for follow-ups, so I'll try to limit people to one because there's a lot of hands. Q What makes you think trickle-down economics is going to work this time when it hasn’t worked before? MR. HASSETT: So trickle-down economics is something that, I guess, people who criticize the idea that taxes affect the economy will use to characterize approaches like the one that we're pursuing. But I don't think the idea that's celebrated by even the non-partisan staff of the OECD -- that if you have lower marginal rates, you get economic growth -- is voodoo economics or controversial at all. And yeah, the fact is that countries around the world have cut their corporate rates and had broad-based reforms, like we're doing on the individual side, and then seeing economic growth result. I don't think there's anybody who thinks that you'll get no growth or negative growth for this. Maybe there are a few people. But in every economic model I've seen, you get growth -- either a lot of growth, or sometimes if it's a closed economy model, a little growth. But you get positive growth out of this. And that growth will benefit workers, and let's talk about that. So, right now, the way a U.S. firm avoids U.S. tax is they locate activity, say, in a country like Ireland instead of here. And so if you build a plant in Ireland, then you can sell the stuff back into the U.S. And when you sell the stuff back into the U.S., then it increase the trade deficit and doesn’t do anything for American workers, but it does increase the demand for Irish workers and drive up their wages. And so what the President wants to do is cut the rate to 20 percent and build guardrails around the tax code so that people can't transfer price -- everything to Ireland anymore. And if we do that, then the people who benefit will be the workers here in the U.S. who have increased demand for their jobs. Q And the incentive -- MR. HASSETT: I said no follow-ups. So I'm going to back this way and then I'm going to switch sides. I'm sorry I don't know everybody's names here. Q One of Senator Johnson's concerns is that this bill does not do enough for medium-sized and small businesses. Can you talk about what the bill does do for medium-size and small businesses? MR. HASSETT: Sure. And the fact is that I want to remind everybody that the President has, really, three main non-negotiables for this bill: that there is a 20 percent corporate tax rate; that there's a big middle-class tax cut; and that the bill simplified the tax code. And we believe, after analyzing the progress on the Hill, that both approaches satisfy the three main objectives. And so the question then is, moving forward, what do they do about pass-through entities? What do they do about this, what do they do about that? And we at the White House don't want to get ahead of that process. The President supports regular order because that's really how deals get made and how bills become law. The fact is, it's urgent that we get a 20 percent rate for America's workers. And it's urgent that we get a middle-class tax cut for America's workers. And the details about like exactly when the small business things kick in and out are things that we're watching them work out up on the Hill. And we encourage them to pursue regular order because they need to listen to everybody and get the votes they need to make this law. I'll go to the lady, right there. Q One of the major differences between the House and the Senate bill is the elimination of the non-taxable tuition waivers. So while they're trying to reconcile their differences on that tax reform bill, what do you foresee which could potentially move this tax burden to a lot of young Americans? MR. HASSETT: That's the kind of detail that we're letting Congress work out. The fact is that they're finding the coalitions that they need to pass the bills in the House and the Senate. And we support that process. We support regular order. We support the transparency that leading debate about issues like this. Sorry, now I said I'd come over here. Yeah. Q Kevin, thanks for being here. On one of your TV appearances yesterday, you said that an average family, when this is all said and done, could accumulate a savings benefit of $4,000. That's a lot of money. MR. HASSETT: That's a lot of money. Q Can you walk us through that? MR. HASSETT: Sure. And for those of you -- and I see some nerdy-looking people out there, so I'm sure that there's people that want to do this -- (laughter) -- that we've got two CEA reports that go through this in gory detail. And the fact is that you can get to numbers like that four different ways. I won't try to do that now in the limited time that we have, but the basic idea is that back when we increased our corporate tax rate from 34 to 35 percent, we were kind of in the middle of the pack of OECD nations. Subsequently, what happened was that countries around the world found that when they cut the corporate tax, that their economic activity increased and the welfare of their workers improved. And then they very often did it again. A typical country, since our tax increase, has cut its corporate rate two or maybe even three times. And for economists, what that does is it gives us an enormous amount of data to analyze because there are countries that change their rate and countries that don’t. And you can compare the experiences of those two types of countries. There's a big peer-review literature that looks at that, including a paper that's by a German economist -- that's about to come out in the American Economic Review. And what we do is we go through all those papers and we have charts that show, well, if this paper is true, what wage effect do you get. And most of the action is well north of $4,000. And that's where the number comes from. I'll go in the middle, with the orange tie. Q One of the criticisms, Kevin, of the tax reform proposal is that the corporate tax rate is cut permanently. The individual tax rate phases out after 10 years. Why, in your view, is that such a good idea? MR. HASSETT: So the President supports permanent tax cuts for the middle class and permanent tax cuts for corporations. And that's certainly the objective of the planners of this tax bill. But there are also Senate budget rules and reconciliation rules that are required to allow this bill to move forward with 51 votes. Of course, the hope for everybody is that when the time comes for these things to expire, that they get extended, as happens -- I might add -- even for the top marginal rate when President Obama came into office. And so they extended most of the Bush tax cuts. But even the top rate, at the beginning -- which interestingly they must have done because they knew that if you were to increase the top marginal tax rate during a recession, that it would be very harmful for the economy. So, back then, there was bipartisan support for the idea that you should not lift the top marginal rate. And so there should be bipartisan support. There would be economic growth effects of bringing it down right now. I'll go back down into the middle there. Q Hi, Emma Robinson, One America News. The two bills are different in that the House bill repeals or does away with the estate tax and the Senate doesn't. And I know that was a big point for the administration, and Vice President Pence has voiced his support for repealing the death tax, as they call it. What are your thoughts on that? And do you think a final bill will include a repeal of it? MR. HASSERTT: I think that -- again, that's one of the things that the Senate and the House are working out. I know that the President very strongly favors the elimination of the death tax. And if that is in the final bill, I’m sure that he’ll be happy about that. But he’s listed his non-negotiables, and those non-negotiables I cited at the beginning. I’ll go back to the far back now. Q Thank you, Kevin. I appreciate it. Can you talk about this moment earlier in the week at the Wall Street Journal event? Gary Cohn was on stage, and the moderator asked a group of CEOs, "If tax reform passes, who here is going to increase their investment?" And only a couple of hands went up in the room. Gary Cohn said, why aren’t there more hands going up? Can you answer that question? Why aren’t there more hands going up in a room like that? You would assume that CEOs would say, yes, in fact, we are going to invest more if tax reform passes. Is the administration missing something there? MR. HASSETT: So that's a great question. And I went on a little bit after Gary Cohn, and when they asked that question, it was kind of hard for me because, like here, they are really bright lights, but even brighter there, and so I couldn’t quite see how many hands there were. But when I was there, it looked like maybe about half the hands went up. And I think if you go back and look, that it could be that people had time to think about it. But as an economist, if I go back and look at the academic literature, very often people survey CFOs, and they say, hey, if we change the tax code, would you guys do anything? And they tend to always answer "no" in surveys. But if you look at the hard evidence about what they do, imagine if they didn't respond to taxes, then they wouldn’t be pursuing their fiduciary duty to maximize profits for their shareholders. So it would be totally irrational for them to do that. And firms that did act rationally in response to the tax code would put them out of business by taking advantage of the tax code. So the point is -- the hard evidence is that people do respond. In fact, one of my very, very first papers that I ever wrote when I got out of grad school is the Brookings papers where we looked at the 1986 tax act, the changes that it made to the business tax code and how it affected investment. And there were very large effects. Right here in the front. Q Yes, yes. Gene Sperling, who was once in your position in another administration, says that this tax plan -- be it historic -- costs $1.5 trillion and it’s a deficit hole. And he says that basically -- this is in a tweet. I’m just paraphrasing his tweet. He says, it basically doesn't justify that cost for 100 million households for a tax increase. MR. HASSETT: Well, I respect Gene a great deal and consider him a friend, and I disagree with him about that. And I’m sure we’ll at some point have a chance to talk about that. But here’s the way I think about it and what I would say to Gene if he was here: That if you look at the Joint Tax Committee’s score, in the 10th year they say that the tax bill costs about $170 billion. If you look at the CBO projection of GDP, then in the 10th year GDP is about $28 trillion. And so the amount of deficit that you're talking relative to GDP in the 10th year is only 0.6 percent. It doesn't take a heck of a lot of economic growth to cover that hole by the 10th year. And so the idea that right now we have the highest corporate tax on Earth generating almost no revenue -- because people avoid the tax by moving factories to Ireland -- that if we fix that, if we repair it and make the U.S. an attractive place again, that it’s going to blow a hole in the deficit -- it’s just not economically rational. And I know that the Joint Tax Committee score says what it says, and I respect the professionals in that staff, but the fact is that the OECD has a study, which we’d be happy to email you, that says that the U.S. in the corporate tax space is on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve; that we've got such a high corporate tax rate that we're chasing business offshore and losing revenue. And so the idea that this blows a hole in the deficit I think is just incorrect. I’ll go to the purple tie. Q I want to pick up where John, right in front of me, left off when he asked about the phase-out on the individual side. You're an economist; however, the two answers that you gave were both political. One, there’s reconciliation rules. And two, hopefully politicians down the line solve it. But like I mentioned, you're an economist. So can you not make an economic argument as to why this is good economically for people? MR. HASSETT: Oh, is it good for things to expire? Q Correct. Is there an economic argument as to why this is good for the country as it stands right now to expire within eight years or so? MR. HASSETT: If you lower marginal tax rates, broaden the base, lower rates, give the middle class a tax cut, if you cut the corporate rate -- if you do any of those things, they're positive for economic growth. And they're less positive for growth if they expire. Expensing is kind of a strange thing in the sense that if you have expensing for a year, if you go back and look at U.S. history, very often in recessions, they’ll put in expensing for a year to try to stimulate the economy. When expensing expires, it could actually have a short-run stimulus because people try to buy capital before the thing goes away. But for the most part, permanent tax cuts are far more impactful than things that expire -- which is why if you go back and look at the Obama administration, when they were here during the beginning of the Great Recession, they even extended the Bush tax cuts at the top because they understood this. Can I go right here? And then I’ll come to you, and then that might be the last question because Sarah is standing. Q I actually want to follow up on that, though. You all made a value judgment to make the corporate tax cuts permanent and to make the individual tax cuts expire, even though you want all of them to be permanent. What’s the rationale for having corporations have that certainty of knowing that they don't have to worry about what’s going to happen in Washington while families are going to have to worry about what politicians do six, seven years now? MR. HASSETT: Sure. Well, those are the kind of things that are being worked out by Congress in order to create a bill that under Senate and House rules can become law. And the non-negotiables for us are both met in both bills, and we consider that good news. But the choices that the Senate has to make in order to acquire a coalition to make this law are choices that the Senate has to make. And we don't want to get in front of that process. Q You don’t see the value one way or the other, whether the corporate tax cuts versus -- MR. HASSETT: I think tax cuts that are permanent, of course, will have large positive effects. I’ll give you the last. Q Kevin, you've melded politics and economics here quite successfully, and I want to ask you a political and economic question. You've talked about growth covering what the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Tax Committee say could be a deficit hole, a deficit implication of $1.5 trillion. That is going to be measurable over time. There's going to be a means by which either dynamic scoring or static scoring answers that question. And since it's on the mind of some of your undecided Republican senators, is this administration willing to commit to a review five years in to see if the growth models have held along your lines and the deficit implications aren’t as large -- or, if they aren’t, to reassess these tax cuts in order not to blow a hole in the deficit? MR. HASSETT: You know, I have not discussed with the President, and I don’t think Sarah has, what we're willing to commit to in terms of what we do five years from now. But I can tell you -- Q Do you think there would be -- MR. HASSETT: But let me talk about what we can be clear about today, which is that, as the President came into office, the President's opponents were saying that 2 percent growth was inevitable, that we were stuck in a secular stagnation; that the President's policies couldn’t deliver 3 percent growth, and that it was a cockamamie idea to assert it. We've had two quarters in a row of 3 percent growth. If you look at the fourth quarter data, it's suggesting -- at the Atlanta Fed, they have GDPNow, which is about 3.2 as of yesterday. So it's saying that we're growing at 3 percent. If we take that momentum into next year and add a tax cut, then we're quite confident that one should be able to expect sustained growth at that level or above. With that, I think I have to hand it back to Sarah. Thank you so much for being so gracious with your questions. MS. SANDERS: Thank you, Kevin. Major, he's right, I haven’t spoken to the President about that. But I do appreciate that you know that the President will still be here in five years. So, I like that vote of confidence that you would know that we will be here to take that review, and we'll be sure to raise that with him. Let me go back here. Q Thanks, Sarah. I have a non-Roy Moore question for you. Can you say definitively -- I want to ask you about Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri. Can you say definitively, from this podium, that he has not been held hostage by the Saudis? And does the President plan to speak to Prime Minister Hariri at all? MS. SANDERS: I'm not aware of any anticipated conversations. That's something I'd have to check on and get back to you. And I don’t have any further comment beyond that at this point right now. And I would refer you to the State Department on specifics of that. Cecilia. Q Thanks, Sarah. If it's fair to investigate Al Franken and the allegation made by his accuser, is it also fair to investigate this President and the allegations of sexual misconduct made against him by more than a dozen women? MS. SANDERS: Look, I think that this was covered pretty extensively during the campaign. We addressed that then. The American people, I think, spoke very loud and clear when they elected this President. Q But how is this different? MS. SANDERS: I think in one case, specifically, Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing, and the President hasn’t. I think that's a very clear distinction. Major. Q So I want to revisit something we discussed yesterday. You said, one of the ways that Alabama voters might be able to figure out if these allegations against Roy Moore are true is in the court of law. That's a direct quote from you. There's no criminal means by which that could happen. So are you suggesting that Roy Moore sue the accusers in order to hash this out in court? MS. SANDERS: That would be something that I would refer to him to make that decision. That's not something I would be able to advise on. Q But that's the venue you meant when you talked about "in the court of law." MS. SANDERS: I said that's one option, one way to determine that process. But that would be a decision that he would have to make, certainly not one I'm going to make. Q The only reason I raise that is because, during the campaign, as you well remember, then-candidate Trump said, after the election he would sue all the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, and that you have, from the podium, deemed all liars. He hasn’t done that. Why hasn’t he done that? MS. SANDERS: I haven’t asked him that question. I'd have to ask him and let you know why he hasn’t chosen to take that path. I'm simply stating that's an option that Roy Moore has on the table. Jeff. Q Sarah, some critics have said that it was hypocritical of the President to tweet about Al Franken and not weigh in on Roy Moore. MS. SANDERS: He has weighed in on Roy Moore. He did it while he was on a foreign trip in Asia. I did it repeatedly yesterday. In fact, I took about 15 questions on that topic and only one on Al Franken. So to suggest that this White House and, specifically, that this President hasn’t weighed in is just inaccurate and wrong. He weighed in; he said, if the allegations are true, he should step aside. He also weighed in when he supported the RNC's decision to withdraw resources from the state of Alabama. It's just a simply inaccurate statement to make about the President. Sara. Q Can you tell us whether the President believes the women who are making these allegations against Roy Moore? And would he be willing to ask the Alabama governor to delay the election or take a step like that to try to intervene in this electoral process in Alabama? MS. SANDERS: The President certainly finds the allegations extremely troubling. As I stated yesterday, he feels like it's up to the governor and the state -- the people in the state of Alabama to make a determination on whether or not they delay that election or whether or not they support and vote for Roy Moore. Matthew. Q Thank you, Sarah. In light of the national discussion about the importance of taking these kinds of accusations seriously, I wanted to check: Is it still the White House position that all the women who have accused the President of sexual misconduct are lying? MS. SANDERS: The President has spoken about this multiple times throughout the campaign and has denied all of those allegations. Blake. Q Thanks, Sarah. Let me ask you about something else -- the pending potential AT&T and Time Warner merger. The President had said on the campaign trail, back in October of 2016 -- and I quote here -- he said it was a "deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few." Does the President still feel that way? MS. SANDERS: The President was asked about this a few days ago, maybe a week ago, while we were on Air Force One, and I’d refer you back to those comments. April. Q Sarah, is this an uncomfortable conversation about these sexual allegations for this White House be it Al Franken or be it Roy Moore? MS. SANDERS: I think it’s an uncomfortable conversation for the country. I think that this is something that is being discussed pretty widely, and we certainly think that it should be taken very seriously. And it’s one of the reasons I stand up here and answer your questions every day, and will continue to do so and continue to address them. Obviously, it’s something that should be looked at, and I think it should be looked at widespread not just in the political sphere, but in the business atmosphere and across the board in this country. And it’s something we certainly again take seriously. Q A follow-up. MS. SANDERS: Alex. We're tight on time today. Q I talked to Hillary Clinton today about the President’s past -- and going back to what Matthew said, she said, look, I worry about everything from his past because it tells you how he behaves in the present and will in the future. What do you say to that as it relates to these allegations against the President? MS. SANDERS: I think Hillary Clinton probably should have dealt with some of those of her own issues before addressing this President. Alex. Q Two questions. One on taxes, then immigration. A recent Quinnipiac University poll said 61 percent of voters think the Republican tax plan will benefit the wealthy while the White House has pitched this plan as a working-class tax cut. Why the disconnect? And then on immigration -- MS. SANDERS: Let me answer that first question. Q Okay. MS. SANDERS: Look, we've actually argued that this tax plan benefits all Americans. That's the point of it. Specifically, our priority is to target middle-class Americans and make sure that that is addressed first and that those people are prioritized in any piece of legislation for either the House or the Senate. But at the same time, we want all Americans to benefit by a growing economy and a tax system that actually works for our country versus one that penalizes people. We're going to keep moving just because we're tight. John. Q Let me come back and ask you the same thing I asked Kevin. You've got six Republican senators either "no" or seriously on the fence here. Can you win enough over in order to pass this? And if the President gets snookered again by the Senate, what’s his reaction going to be? MS. SANDERS: We certainly are still very confident that we're going to get this package passed, and we’d love to see some of the Democrats come on board and support this historic piece of legislation that we feel will be one of the great legacies of this presidency. Q The fact that you didn't get any Democrats in the House, how does that portend for getting them in the Senate? MS. SANDERS: There’s always hope. We’ll hold out hope that Democrats in the Senate want to put partisan politics aside and put the people of this country first. We haven’t ruled it, and we're certainly going to keep pushing forward. And we're still confident we're going to get it done. Q Safe to say the President will not be pleased if he gets snookered by the Senate again? MS. SANDERS: I think the American people will be the ones that won’t be pleased, because they're going to be the ones that lose out the most if this doesn't go forward. Toluse. MS. SANDERS: Thanks, Sarah. The administration put out a disaster funding request for about $44 billion today. It’s much less than what a number of different governors and officials in the various affected territories and states have requested. Can you explain sort of why the number is so low compared to what the local officials say they need? MS. SANDERS: I don't think $44 billion is a low amount. And my guess is if you ask any average citizen across this country, they wouldn’t feel like it’s low either. But to this point, Texas has not put any state dollars into this process. We feel strongly that they should step up and play a role and work with the federal government in this process. We did a thorough assessment, and that was completed, and this was the number that we put forward to Congress today. Q Are you expecting (inaudible) much more requests forward in the future, specifically for Puerto Rico? MS. SANDERS: Yeah, absolutely. At this point, the request that went in today of the roughly $44 billion primarily addresses Texas and Florida. Those storms took place ahead of Puerto Rico, and the assessment for Puerto Rico hasn’t been completed yet. Once that's done, we fully anticipate that there will be additional requests at that time. Kristen. Q Sarah, thank you. Steven Bannon is sending a strong message to the establishment to back off of Roy Moore. Does the President’s allegiance to Steve Bannon in any way implicate his response? MS. SANDERS: The President doesn't have an allegiance to Steve Bannon. The President has an allegiance to the people of this country and nothing else. Q Has he spoken at all to Steve Bannon or any outside advisors? MS. SANDERS: Not that I'm aware of. Not that I'm aware of. Q How concerned is he, Sarah, about losing this seat to a Democratic candidate, who, right now, according to the polls, is leading? MS. SANDERS: Look, I think that the President is less concerned about the seat and more focused on the policy and the legislation that we're pushing through right now, like tax reform. John. Q Thanks a lot, Sarah. Just in regards to that question regarding the supplemental requests: The President and the administration has put forth $44 million. Puerto Rico has requested $94 million. Are they going to get somewhere along that order? I think half of the island is still without electricity. MS. SANDERS: As I said, we're going to wait until that assessment is complete and we'll make a determination at that point and see what the best path forward is. Q Did the President notify Governor Abbott -- MS. SANDERS: Sorry, I'm going to keep it brief. Q Did the President notify Governor Abbott of the lesser amount that he's put forward? MS. SANDERS: John, I'm going to keep moving. I'm going to try be respectful of your colleagues. Q Yesterday, the joint investigative mechanism was vetoed by Russia at the U.N. Security Council, and Ambassador Haley tweeted afterward that the veto proves that Russia cannot be trusted as a partner going forward in trying to solve the political situation in Syria. Does the President have any response to the veto, first? What is the U.S. view, going forward, of how chemical weapons will be investigated and dealt with in Syria? And is it the U.S. position now that Russia cannot be a partner in trying to solve, or do a next-day political situation by -- MS. SANDERS: I think by the actions that the President's taken specific to chemical weapons, I think he's shown his position on that with a strike in Syria earlier this year. In terms of Russia's veto, it's certainly not one we support. We do hope that, moving forward, they want to get on board and work with us on this. But at the same time, this isn't something that we support their decision on. Steven. Q There's been some extraordinary pushback on the administration's decisions with respect to elephant trophies and hunting of lions and elephants in Africa. Can you shed some light on the decisions the administration has made? And will you make that pushback? MS. SANDERS: Yeah, this is actually due to a review that started back in 2014, under the previous administration, done by career officials at the Fish and Wildlife Service. This review established that both Zambia and Zimbabwe had met new standards, strict international conservation standards that allowed Americans to resume hunting in those countries. A ban on importing elephant ivory from all country remains in place. But again, all of this was based on a study that was conducted -- that started back to the previous administration and done by career officials. Darlene. Q The senate tax bill has a tax break for corporate jets. How does that help the middle class? MS. SANDERS: As Kevin stated before, this administration has laid out the priorities that we want to see reflected in this legislation. We're going to continue to fight for those priorities and let the legislative process work through. In terms of those specific pieces, that's something I would refer you to members of the House and senate on that. But our focus is on making sure these priorities are answered and met. We'll make this the last one. Q Thank you, Sarah. Yesterday -- on Jared Kushner and on his campaign e-mails -- that Senate Committee, they're asking for those e-mails in the Russia investigation. You punted it to the Kushner's attorney. Today, what's the White House reaction to those previously undisclosed e-mails? MS. SANDERS: Look, as I said, they were going to put out a statement; they did. And I would refer you back to that on anything specific to that inquiry. Thanks so much, guys. Hope you have a happy Friday and a good weekend. We'll see you on Monday. END 3:41 P.M. EST
AT&T Drones Are Cleared for Take Off in Puerto Rico
During a rally in Alabama, Kayla Moore, the wife of Senate candidate Roy Moore, said her husband isn’t letting the allegations get to him.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The head of Puerto Rico's indebted utility has resigned following criticism of the slow restoration of power to the island after Hurricane Maria, the U.S. territory's governor said.
Series: SMU72000004244800001, All Employees: Retail Trade: Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores in Puerto Rico
Updated: Nov 17, 2017
Updated: Nov 17, 2017
Series: SMU72000005552000001, All Employees: Financial Activities: Finance and Insurance in Puerto Rico
Updated: Nov 17, 2017
Series: SMU72000004245200001, All Employees: Retail Trade: General Merchandise Stores in Puerto Rico
Updated: Nov 17, 2017
Updated: Nov 17, 2017
Updated: Nov 17, 2017
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