United Democrats stand, no division, no wall. A group of moderate House Democrats turned down President Trump’s invitation to lunch yesterday. The president hoped to negotiate with rank-and-file Democrats but without Speaker Pelosi. He’s asked Democratic members of the Problem Solvers Caucus to lunch today. The House Democrats have passed spending bills to reopen portions of the federal government but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t bring them to the floor without the president’s backing. The House may cancel next week’s planned recess but it is unclear what it will do with the time.
Treasury employees and other federal workers must work without pay, at least for now. That was the ruling of Federal District Judge Richard Leon who rejected a request by unions representing federal workers to force the government to pay staffers who work during the partial shutdown. The judge said that doing so would be chaotic and perhaps dangerous: "At best it would create chaos and confusion. At worst it could be catastrophic . . . I’m not going to put people’s lives at risk.”
And about 60 percent of IRS workers will be back for filing season. The agency released its long-awaited post-shutdown filing season workplan today, and said that 46,052 of its 80,265 employees would be recalled to work.They will not be paid until the funding impasse is settled.
Speaking of walls and money. TPC’s Howard Gleckman explains why the new IRS Form 1040—now sized to fit on a big postcard—won’t make filing taxes any easier. He called the postcard “the border wall of tax forms—a largely symbolic waste of taxpayers’ money aimed at convincing the public that government has done something that it in fact has not done.”
About that 70 percent top tax rate… The latest The Hill-HarrisX survey finds that 59 percent of those surveyed support Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ idea to raise the highest marginal tax rate to 70 percent. Of voters identifying as Republican, 45 percent favor it, while 60 percent of independent voters support it. More than two-thirds of Democratic voters say they support the higher rate.
One more Ways & Means Democrat. After hearing objections from Hispanic members about the make-up of the tax-writing committee, Democrats added Rep. Jimmy Gomez of California. The panel has one other Hispanic Democrat, Rep. Linda Sanchez, also of California.
Thirsty? Governor Gavin Newsom of California has proposed a tax, or fee, on drinking water (and fertilizer and dairies) to support the state’s Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. California currently has a $14.8 billion budget surplus. A similar plan failed last year. In November In California voters rejected an $8.9 billion water bond that promised $500 million to clean up drinking water.
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