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October 28, 2020

What to expect in Washington (October 28)

The election is less than a week away. The President was in Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska yesterday (Tuesday), and today campaigns in Arizona. Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Florida on Thursday, then travels to Iowa and Wisconsin on Friday and Michigan on Saturday. The Biden campaign said he wouldn't travel today and "will receive a briefing from public health experts and deliver a speech near his home in Delaware on his plans to combat COVID-19 and protect Americans with pre-existing health conditions," Reuters reported.

A Wall Street Journal story said the map for a Trump victory "would start with the president holding on to five fundamental contested states: Florida, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina and Iowa. If he then could also hang onto Pennsylvania and Arizona, he'd win the Electoral College vote, even if he loses the swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin."

In Georgia yesterday, Biden declared that he would win Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota and said he thought he had a "fighting chance" in Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and Iowa, the New York Times reported.

In remarks to reporters yesterday, President Trump said, "I think we're doing very well. We're going to have an exciting night. It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on November 3rd, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate, and I don't believe that that's by our laws. I don't believe that. So, we'll see what happens."

ABC News/Washington Post polls out this morning have Biden leading President Trump 57%-40% among likely voters in Wisconsin; and 51%-44% in Michigan. More than a third of likely voters in both states say they've already voted. Court rulings bar Wisconsin ballots received after Election Day from being counted.

A New York Times/Siena College poll of Nevada showed Biden leading President Trump 49%-43%.


The towel has been all but thrown in on a pre-election deal for coronavirus relief and stimulus legislation, with outstanding issues bumping up against dwindling time despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin making some progress. Speaker Pelosi said on MSNBC October 26, "we cannot sell our souls, and just say, 'OK, well, let's just do it whatever way they want to do it. We will do it again.' No, we have got to crush the virus. We have got to have our children safely in schools. We have got to insist that, as people are going into poverty, we are asking … them for Earned Income Tax Credit, child tax credit, all these things that take people out of poverty. They're insisting on keeping their big tax cut, $150 billion, for the wealthiest people in the country." That is presumed to refer to CARES Act net operating loss and excess business loss provisions.

The focus turned toward clinching a deal following the election. President Trump said October 27, "After the election we'll get the best stimulus package you've ever seen." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was skeptical of how close Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin came to an agreement. "That was a very complicated negotiation. Depending on who you talk to, I'm not sure they got very close," he said in Politico Playbook PM.

There are doubts about a lame-duck deal too. Bloomberg Tax reported that "months of stalled talks have left those tracking relief efforts cynical about the prospects that a large agreement can happen in most lame-duck scenarios" and "pessimism now abounds for the prospect that a stimulus deal will happen before the end of the year."


A Tax Policy Center post co-authored by former Obama-era Assistant Treasury Secretary for Tax Policy Mark Mazur said that while the Trump campaign has not released a detailed tax plan nor provided sufficient information to estimate the effects of its proposals, the FY2021 budget proposal to permanently extend the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's (TCJA) individual income and estate tax provisions scheduled to expire at the end of 2025 would reduce federal revenues by about $1.1 trillion from 2021 through 2030.


House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) October 27 released the "Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2020," a follow-on to the SECURE Act enacted in December 2019. While the bill is not expected to be considered in this Congress, it is likely to be high on Neal's priority list next year. Key provisions of the bill seek to expand retirement savings coverage, allow Americans to save more and earlier for their retirement. It also makes changes to the Multiple Employer Plan (MEP) provisions that were the centerpiece of SECURE, and would increase the age at which individuals must take required minimum distributions from 72, as provided in SECURE, to 75 and exempts those with less than $100,000 in retirement savings from having to take minimum distributions. Missing is Chairman Neal's Auto-IRA/Auto-401(k) plan to expand coverage by mandating that all employers with more than 10 employees provide a retirement plan.


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