Inspector general: Zinke used taxpayer-funded travel for his wife

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke violated department travel policies by bringing his family members in government-owned vehicles, the agency’s internal watchdog concluded on Thursday.

The Interior Department’s inspector general (OIG) found in a new report that Zinke and his wife Lolita brought a Park Police security detail on a vacation, costing more than $25,000, though there was no policy prohibiting it.

Despite a policy stating that people not engaged in government business cannot ride in Interior vehicles, “we found that Secretary Zinke’s wife and other family members had occasionally ridden with him in government vehicles,” OIG investigators said in a their report late Thursday.

The report said that despite the prohibition, the Interior solicitor’s office approved Zinke’s family’s travel “on a case-by-case basis.”

OIG investigators also found that Zinke had asked Interior employees to designate Lolita Zinke as a volunteer for the agency, which would allow her to travel in official vehicles without approval or reimbursement.

Zinke decided against the appointment due to the “optics,” but denied that it was to get around travel rules, OIG said.

The OIG report came the same day that Interior denied that the Trump administration planned to install a political appointee from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to oversee the inspector general’s office. HUD Secretary Ben Carson had previously said that the appointee, Suzanne Israel Tufts, would be the new acting inspector general at Interior, which would effectively demote Mary Kendall, the current highest-ranking employee in the watchdog office.

Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift framed the Thursday report as an exoneration.

“The Inspector General report proves what we have known all along: the secretary follows all relevant laws and regulations and that all of his travel was reviewed and approved by career ethics officials and solicitors prior to travel,” she said.

“Additionally, the secretary received the same exact legal advice from the solicitors as previous secretaries and he acted consistently. The report even said so.”

After investigators started looking into the issue, Interior changed the travel policy to allow family members on official trips.

In the four official trips that investigators probed, Lolita Zinke and another family member reimbursed Interior for the costs of her travel.

Interior said an unidentified person in the solicitor’s office approved the family travel, despite knowing that internal policies prohibited it.

“She explained that other DOI employees could use personal vehicles for government travel, but because Secretary Zinke had a security detail that used government vehicles, he did not have that option. She said she generally deferred to a secretary’s security detail to decide who should be allowed in the vehicles,” the report said, paraphrasing the solicitor’s office employee.

In addition, Zinke brought a number of non-government travelers on a National Park Service boat for a trip to California’s Channel Islands. Interior designated them as “stakeholders,” meaning they did not have to reimburse the agency for travel.

Two of those travelers had hosted a fundraiser for Zinke’s congressional campaign in 2014, and the family of one used to own property on one of the Channel Islands, investigators said, facts that ethics officials were not aware of prior to the trip.

[The Hill]

Trump says ‘who cares’ after Warren takes DNA test, denies $1 million offer

President Donald Trump claims he “didn’t say” that he would pay $1 million to Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren for taking DNA test to review her Native American heritage, after she released the results of one on Monday morning.

“Who cares?” Trump said when asked about the DNA test. When pressed on the once-promised $1 million payment, Trump responded: “I didn’t say that. You better read it again.”

In fact, Trump did promise $1 million, during a July rally, but only if the test showed she was “an Indian.”

At a rally in July, Trump said: “And we will say, ‘I will give you a million dollars, paid for by Trump, to your favorite charity if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian … we’ll see what she does. I have a feeling she will say no but we will hold it for the debates.”

Warren has released the results of a DNA analysis showing she has distant Native American ancestry in an apparent attempt to pre-empt further questions and attacks should she run for president in 2020.

Warren first faced scrutiny for her purported Native American heritage during her 2012 Senate race. But Trump has revived and amplified the controversy as he eyes Warren as a possible rival, frequently mocking her with the nickname “Pocahontas.”

But Warren now has documentation to back up her family lore — a analysis of her genetic data performed by Carlos Bustamante, a professor of genetics at Stanford and adviser to Ancestry and 23 and Me.

Bustamante’s analysis places Warren’s Native American ancestor between six and 10 generations ago, with the report estimating eight generations.
After his initial “who cares” response, Trump said Monday he hopes Warren runs for president because she will be “easy” to beat.

“I hope she’s running for president because I think she’d be very easy. I do not think she’d be very difficult at all,” Trump said, adding: “I don’t want to say bad things about her because I hope she’s one of the people that get through the process.”

Trump added that Warren would turn the US into Venezuela.

[CNN]

Reality

Here is the video of Trump promising to donate $1 million if Warren proved ‘Indian’ ancestry:

Trump: Saudi Journalist Could Have Been Murdered By ‘Rogue Killers’

President Donald Trump spoke out on Monday about his call with the Saudi King to discuss allegations his government killed and dismembered Washington Post writer and dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn Monday, Trump repeatedly noted Saudi Arabia’s denial of alleged killing was “very strong,” even adding that Khashoggi could have been murdered by “rogue killers.”

“I just spoke with the King of Saudi Arabia, who denies any knowledge with what took place,” Trump said. “And he firmly denies that.”

Trump added that he has sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with Saudi King Salman.

“The king firmly denied any knowledge of it, he didn’t really know, maybe, I don’t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers,” Trump said. “Who knows, we’re going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial.”

“He told me in a very firm way that they had no knowledge of it,” Trump continued. “He said it very strongly.”

“His denial to me could not have been stronger,” Trump added.

Turkish officials say they have proof that Khashoggi — missing since he entered the Saudi consulate on October 2 — was murdered by a team of Saudi agents. Trump has repeatedly stressed that the Saudis vehemently deny their involvement in his disappearance. In a tweet on Monday morning, he emphasized that U.S. resident Khashoggi is a “Saudi citizen,” and that King Salman “denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened.”

The disappearance and possible murder of Khashoggi poses a problem for Trump administration attempts to build a closer relationship with Saudi Arabia, notably through Jared Kushner‘s relationship with young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

[Mediaite]

Reality

Trump & Saudi Business:
•1991: Sold yacht to Saudi Prince
•2001: Sold 45th floor of Trump World Tower to Saudis
•Jun 2015: I love the Saudis…many in Trump Tower
•Aug 2015: “They buy apartments from me…Spend $40M-$50M”
•2017: Saudi lobbyists spent $270K at Trump DC hotel

Data for millions of Trump supporters up for rent

Consultants close to President Trump are offering to rent a list with the email addresses and cellphone numbers of millions of his supporters to GOP candidates and conservative groups, according to a report by The New York Times.

The highly prized database is even being made available to businesses, according to the Times.

Trump’s campaign recently signed a contract with Excelsior Strategies, which is based in Virginia, to rent its list at the rate of $35 per 1,000 addresses, according to the Times.

Eighty-five percent of the money earned from the rental will go to the Trump campaign, according to the report.

“Republicans have suffered from being behind in small-dollar fund-raising, and the president, over the course of the campaign and his presidency, has built the largest Republican first-party data list,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told the Times. Parscale is responsible for the agreement, according to the paper.

“So giving other candidates and groups access to that data through a legal means to rent it was one of the best things I could do for the Republican ecosystem. And the campaign makes a little money, too. It’s a win-win,” he added.

The renting of political lists is common practice in politics.

In 2017, the Democratic National Committee agreed to pay $1.65 million to access voter data compiled by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The Federal Election Commission requires campaigns that receive such lists pay fair market value for them.

Trump is already gearing up for his reelection race with more than two years remaining in his first term.

As he boarded Marine One, the presidential helicopter, on his way to a political rally in Kentucky on Saturday, Trump told reporters outside the south portico of the White House that he’s getting flashbacks to 2016.

He said 93,000 people applied for the 10,000 spaces available at Saturday evening’s rally.

“There’s something going on,” he told a gaggle of reports. “This reminds me of ’16. It reminds you of ’16, too.”

[The Hill]

Trump’s golf cart rentals cost taxpayers more than $300K

President Trump‘s golf cart rentals in the U.S. have cost taxpayers $300,675 since he took office, TMZ reported.

Federal documents indicate many of these expenses come from Trump’s time at Mar-a-Lago, according to the online tabloid. Secret Service uses the golf carts to follow Trump on his golfing excursions.

The total expense of Trump’s golf outings, including Secret Service protection, comes out to an estimated $77 million, according to TMZ. The more than $300,000 figure only refers to Trump’s domestic golf outings, the news outlet reported.

Critics have often slammed Trump over the cost and frequency of his golf trips. Most recently, the president was met with large protests when he played at a Virginia golf course on the day of the late Sen. John McCain‘s (R-Ariz.) funeral at the beginning of September.

Democratic lawmakers in July penned a letter to the acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security demanding details on Secret Service expenses during Trump’s trip to his golf course in Scotland earlier that month. The Democrats were responding to a report that indicated Trump’s time on his Turnberry golf course cost taxpayers up to $1.2 million.

Some have accused the president of profiting from his golf trips personally, as he typically visits his own clubs, an accusation that the Trump Organization has pushed back on.

“For United States government patronage, our hotels charge room rates only at cost and we do not profit from these stays,” George Sorial, the Trump Organization’s executive vice president, said in a statement to People Magazine.

[The Hill]

Trump Weighs in on New Kaepernick Ad: Nike is a ‘Tenant’ of Mine Paying ‘A Lot of Rent’

President Donald Trump appeared to explain why he hasn’t attacked Nike yet for partnering with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernicktoday, as he told the Daily Caller that “Nike is a tenant of mine.”

Over the weekend, Nike announced that it’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign would focus on Kaepernick, who claims he was forced out of the league for protesting police brutality by kneeling during pregame national anthems. Conservative were quick to attack Nike for the advertisement push — which shows Kaepernick alongside the quote, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” — with some even burning their Nike shoes and cutting the swoosh logo off their socks and shorts.

Surprisingly, Trump did not immediately join in on the attacks, but told the Daily Caller today, “I think it’s a terrible message. Nike is a tenant of mine. They pay a lot of rent.”

The former real estate investor remark about Nike paying him rent is a reference to the location of Niketown New York.

Trump continued:

“But I think it’s a terrible message that they’re sending and the purpose of them doing it, maybe there’s a reason for them doing it, but I think as far as sending a message, I think it’s a terrible message and a message that shouldn’t be sent. There’s no reason for it… As much as I disagree with the Colin Kaepernick endorsement, in another way — I mean, I wouldn’t have done it.”

“In another way, it is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn’t do,” he added. “But I personally am on a different side of it.”

Trump sparked a mini culture war last year after he attacks NFL players for protesting police brutality while in uniform, calling the athletes that do kneel for the anthem sons of bitches.

[Mediaite]

Reality

Donald Trump is breaking the law. Specifically 18 U.S. Code § 227, “Wrongfully influencing a private entity’s employment decisions by a Member of Congress or an officer or employee of the legislative or executive branch,” which includes the President or anyone else in the Executive Branch.

Trump was involved in scuttling FBI building across from Trump’s DC Hotel: Inspector General report

The Inspector General of the General Services Administration on Monday released an in-depth report showing President Donald Trump was involved in scuttling plans by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to build a new headquarters.

The president was mentioned over three dozen times in the report.

The Inspector General report found that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy’s testimony before Congress on the scandal, “was incomplete and may have left the misleading impression that she had no discussions with the President or senior White House officials in the decision-making process about the project.”

The Trump administration invoked executive privilege to prevent the inspector general from learning exactly what was said when President Trump allegedly intervened in the rebuilding process.

The FBI plan would have created a large construction zone across the street from Trump’s luxury DC hotel.

The investigation was initiated by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), the Vice Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“This IG report demonstrates that Administration officials obscured the White House’s involvement in the FBI headquarters project,” Connolly concluded.

“When we began this investigation, the prospect that President Trump was personally involved in the government-led redevelopment of a property in close proximity to the Trump Hotel was dismissed as a conspiracy theory,” he added. “Now, the president’s involvement in this multi-billion-dollar government procurement which will directly impact his bottom line has been confirmed by the White House Press Secretary and government photographs.”

Connolly also urged further investigation.

“This IG report is only the beginning. We must develop a comprehensive understanding of the President’s involvement in this procurement and what it has cost the United States in terms of both national security and taxpayer dollars. I am calling on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to convene immediate hearings on this matter and to subpoena any GSA officials who are suspected of misleading Congress,” he demanded.

[Raw Story]

Trump offers White House staffers a special perk at his golf club

There’s an under-the-radar perk being offered to staffers in President Donald Trump’s administration — discounts on Trump-branded merchandise sold at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club.

White House staffers who have a Secret Service hard pin identifying them as administration officials can flash it at the pro shop — where Trump-branded driver headcovers retail for $40 and a Trump golf polo tee sells for $90, according to the online Trump store — and receive the same discount available to club members, who pay a reported $350,000 to join the club.

Those discounts range from 15 percent off of any merchandise sold in the store, to 70 percent off clearance items, according to two staffers and a receipt reviewed by POLITICO.

The practice is the latest indication that being a public servant in this administration comes with special perks to sweeten the deal. The discounts available at the Bedminster club were originally pitched by the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and the president himself as a nice gesture to aides, according to the recollection of someone familiar with the setup. (White House officials denied Ivanka Trump’s involvement and said she was not even aware the discount existed.)

But ethics experts say the arrangement only highlights how Trump remains more entangled in his commercial properties than any president in American history. Those blurry lines between his government work and his private business, from which he never divested, are perhaps most fuzzy when the president is spending time with government officials on the grounds of his own properties.

Virginia Canter, chief ethics counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and a former associate counsel in the Obama and Clinton administrations, said the practice of offering any discounts to people identified by their Secret Service pins was “absolutely wrong.”

Discounts are not prohibited by the Office of Government Ethics if they are available to all government employees, or if it’s a standardized discount. But if they are not, the discount is considered a gift. Federal officials are also prohibited from accepting gifts in excess of $20 and are urged to decline any gifts “when accepting them would raise concerns about the appearance of impropriety.”

“It’s prohibited under the standards of conduct for any government employee to accept a gift because of their official position,” said Canter. “The fact is, people’s access to that facility is extremely limited. It’s not open to all government employees. It’s limited to staff who have access to the facility and second of all, who are given access to the Secret Service pin. It’s not OK.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would not comment about the discount.

But getting perks in the pro shop goes beyond White House staffers.

Trump has pilfered his own store to charm Republican lawmakers and their aides, whom he frequently invites to join him for rounds of golf at his properties in Sterling, Virginia, and Palm Beach, Florida. GOP aides have been directed to the pro shop to pick up golf apparel — gratis — when the president saw they were not outfitted for golf. It was not clear whether Trump later personally picked up the tab or the business ate the extra expense.

The discounts remain under the radar even within the White House. One former senior administration official said he never knew about the price chop and had always paid full price for pro-shop merchandise. “I overpaid, big time,” the former official said. “Part of me wishes I knew. Part of me is glad I didn’t.” Other aides said they learned of the discount through the grapevine only after having paid full price.

The discounts are also not available across-the-board at all Trump clubs — each pro shop sets its own rules, and staffers who recently shopped at the Turnberry resort in Scotland while working for the president on his most recent foreign trip said they were expected to pay full price for the goods they brought home.

POLITICO reviewed a recent receipt that showed a current White House official receiving a 70 percent discount on a piece of merchandise that was a clearance item, and a 30 percent discount on an item from the current collection.

Norm Eisen, who served as the ethics czar under former President Barack Obama, said Trump’s habit of doling out discounted goods from his personal business is an abuse of office.

“It does have an effect on how Trump tries to secure personal loyalty and woo people away from what should be their primary and their only loyalty — to the Constitution, to public service and to the people of the United States,” Eisen said. “This is another small inducement, apparently contrary to federal law, that he uses to bind his staff to him personally.”

Trump, who throughout his life has been accused of regularly stiffing contractors and failing to pay his debts, is often a fan of generous gestures when he’s relaxing at one of his own properties. If he sees a table of staffers dining, he’ll often send over a dessert on the house, or pick up the check, another aide said.

Those gestures would be allowed if he, himself, is paying out of his own pocket to cover the meal. But they would also be prohibited by federal gift rules if he simply charged those meals to the club.

A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, Amanda Miller, did not return calls and emails for 12 days.

Trump Wants You to Choose a Space Force Logo… for the Merch He’ll Sell You

No one but defense contractors and their accountants knows why America needs a Space Force. But moments after announcing the new U.S. military branch, the Trump campaign gave us a hint at this arguably idiotic idea’s true purpose: Lining the campaign’s pockets.

At this point, it’s a tired cliche to claim the president is just trying to distract us from his scandals when he does something really stupid. As we speak, he’s trying to make it easier to poison our kids, his secretary of commerce appears to be a world class grifter, his former campaign manager is probably going to jail for what can best be described as “crimes,” and he can’t stop building an obstruction of justice case against himself. That’s just stuff that happened this week. But no, I don’t believe the Space Force initiative—which will only happen if Congress funds it—is a calculated distraction. It appears to be more of a fundraising con game.

In an email sent out to supporters following Vice President Mike Pence’s speech announcing the formation of the agency dedicated to protecting space (?), the Trump campaign team asked people to vote for their favorite Space Force logo. Six options are displayed and one would be forgiven for thinking this is a great chance to be a part of history. After all, what if you had cast the deciding vote that made the NASA logo what it is today?

Alas, the details are in the fine print—or in this case, the non-bold print in an easy to read, four-sentence email. “As a way to celebrate President Trump’s huge announcement, our campaign will be selling a new line of gear,” the line reads. It’s followed by, “first we have to make a final decision on the design we will use to commemorate President Trump’s new Space Force—and he wants YOU to have a say.” Choosing a logo takes you to a confirmation page that gets a little data from you, and it finally lands on a donation page asking for some money now before you have that sweet new line of gear.

The worst part of this is that not only is Trump, once again, personally profiting from the federal government, but he’s cutting into NASA’s merch game. In fact, the only logo that doesn’t look like it was made by Dan Scavino’s intern using MS Paint is one that is a direct ripoff of NASA’s logo.

A final logo looks suspiciously like some art from the video game No Man’s Sky and tells us “Mars Awaits.” We don’t know what Space Force has to do with Mars—it’s a defense agency tasked with protecting U.S. satellites, not traveling to other planets—but the planet is out there, just waiting to get its ass kicked.

We reached out to the Trump campaign to ask when this “line of gear” will be available to the public, if the logo will become the agency’s official seal, and how the profits of sales will be used. We did not get an immediate response, and we don’t expect one. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, “We choose to grift! We choose to grift and do the other things, not because it is hard, but because it is easy.”

[Gizmodo]

Trump Administration Mulls a Unilateral Tax Cut for the Rich

The Trump administration is considering bypassing Congress to grant a $100 billion tax cut mainly to the wealthy, a legally tenuous maneuver that would cut capital gains taxation and fulfill a long-held ambition of many investors and conservatives.

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said in an interview on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit meeting in Argentina this month that his department was studying whether it could use its regulatory powers to allow Americans to account for inflation in determining capital gains tax liabilities. The Treasury Department could change the definition of “cost” for calculating capital gains, allowing taxpayers to adjust the initial value of an asset, such as a home or a share of stock, for inflation when it sells.

“If it can’t get done through a legislation process, we will look at what tools at Treasury we have to do it on our own and we’ll consider that,” Mr. Mnuchin said, emphasizing that he had not concluded whether the Treasury Department had the authority to act alone. “We are studying that internally, and we are also studying the economic costs and the impact on growth.”

Currently, capital gains taxes are determined by subtracting the original price of an asset from the price at which it was sold and taxing the difference, usually at 20 percent. If a high earner spent $100,000 on stock in 1980, then sold it for $1 million today, she would owe taxes on $900,000. But if her original purchase price was adjusted for inflation, it would be about $300,000, reducing her taxable “gain” to $700,000. That would save the investor $40,000.

The move would face a near-certain court challenge. It could also reinforce a liberal critique of Republican tax policy at a time when Republicans are struggling to sell middle-class voters on the benefits of the tax cuts that President Trump signed into law late last year.

“At a time when the deficit is out of control, wages are flat and the wealthiest are doing better than ever, to give the top 1 percent another advantage is an outrage and shows the Republicans’ true colors,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “Furthermore, Mr. Mnuchin thinks he can do it on his own, but everyone knows this must be done by legislation.”

Capital gains taxes are overwhelmingly paid by high earners, and they were untouched in the $1.5 trillion tax law that Mr. Trump signed last year. Independent analyses suggest that more than 97 percent of the benefits of indexing capital gains for inflation would go to the top 10 percent of income earners in America. Nearly two-thirds of the benefits would go to the super wealthy — the top 0.1 percent of American income earners.

Making the change by fiat would be a bold use of executive power — one that President George Bush’s administration considered and rejected in 1992, after concluding that the Treasury Department did not have the power to make the change on its own. Larry Kudlow, the chairman of the National Economic Council, has long advocated it.

Conservative advocates for the plan say that even if it is challenged in court, it could still goose the economy by unleashing a wave of asset sales. “No matter what the courts do, you’ll get the main economic benefit the day, the month after Treasury does this,” said Ryan Ellis, a tax lobbyist in Washington and former tax policy director at Americans for Tax Reform.

Liberal tax economists see little benefit in it beyond another boon to the already rich.

“It would just be a very generous addition to the tax cuts they’ve already handed to the very wealthy,” said Alexandra Thornton, senior director of tax policy at the liberal Center for American Progress, “and it would play into the hands of their tax advisers, who would be well positioned to take advantage of the loopholes that were opened by it.”

The decades-long push to change the taxation of investment income has spurred a legal debate over the original meaning of the word “cost” in the Revenue Act of 1918, and over the authority of the Treasury Department to interpret the word in regulations.

“I think we ought to look at not penalizing Americans for inflation,” said Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the Republican chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, who said he would like to see the Treasury Department make the change through regulation.

Mr. Bush’s Treasury Department determined that redefining “cost” by regulatory fiat would be illegal — a conclusion buttressed by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which found that “cost” means the price that was paid for something.

But conservatives have disputed this conclusion. Pushing Mr. Trump to make the change, Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, has cited a 2002 Supreme Court decision in a case between Verizon Communications and the Federal Communications Commission that said regulators have leeway in defining “cost” to make the case that the Treasury Department can act alone.

“This would be in terms of its economic impact over the next several years, and long term, similar in size as the last tax cut,” Mr. Norquist said, suggesting that making the change would raise revenue for the government by creating new economic efficiencies and faster growth. “I think it’s going to happen and it’s going to be huge.”

He and others said last year’s tax cut would also pay for itself, but despite strong economic growth, corporate tax receipts have plunged and the deficit has soared.

According to the Penn Wharton Budget Model, indexing capital gains to inflation would reduce government revenues by $102 billion over a decade, with 86 percent of the benefits going to the top 1 percent. A July report from the Congressional Research Service said that the additional debt incurred by indexing capital gains to inflation would most likely offset any stimulus that the smaller tax burden provided to the economy.

“It is unlikely, however, that a significant, or any, effect on economic growth would occur from a stand-alone indexing proposal,” the report said.

Michael Graetz, a tax law professor at Columbia University who worked in the Treasury Department’s tax policy office when the department determined that taxing capital gains could not be changed by regulation, said he still thought that the decision to change the law should fall to Congress.

He pointed out that the department would have to make decisions about what types of assets would be indexed and that it would essentially be picking winners and losers.

“There’s certainly no legal authority for Treasury to choose what assets to treat this way,” Mr. Graetz said.

Two law professors, Daniel J. Hemel of the University of Chicago and David Kamin of New York University, wrote in a paper last month that states, charities and other entities could sue the Treasury Department if it tried to make the change. Mr. Kamin said in an interview that the change would create opportunities for gaming the tax code, in part because other parts of the code, such as interest payments, would still be unadjusted for inflation.

A framework for a second round of tax cuts, released by the Ways and Means Committee last week, did not address taxation of capital gains. It is highly unlikely that Congress will pass another tax bill this year because of the slim Republican majority in the Senate.

Democratic senators have written to Mr. Mnuchin, urging him to stand down.

“Treasury does not have the unilateral authority to take our tax code and expose it to widespread gamesmanship,” said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee. “Indexing capital gains under this regime is a boondoggle for the rich, plain and simple.”

A Treasury Department official wrote Mr. Wyden a two-paragraph reply this month. “We appreciate your taking the time to express the thoughts outlined in the letter,” it read. “We will take them under advisement.”

[The New York Times]

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