Kevin McCarthy won the gavel for Speaker of the House through a desperate and power-hungry agreement to manufacture the debt ceiling crisis. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) told reporters that in order to earn the vote of the Freedom Caucus, it was “non-negotiable” that McCarthy promise he would “shut down the government rather than raise the debt ceiling.” Now they’re holding McCarthy to his word. In a recent article for In These Times, Max Sawicky laid out a compelling case for why the Biden administration needs to hold firm against the GOP. The programs Republicans are attempting to cut are popular, and it’s important to protect them as worthwhile in their own right.
Washington, DC - The 2021 Sanctions Review Report released by the United States Department of the Treasury on October 18 is an ominous warning. This unsigned report should set off international alarm bells among human rights organizations, international health agencies and peace, justice, and community groups , impacted countries and most countries in the United Nations. One of President Biden’s first actions in office was to call for a review of existing US and multilateral financial and economic sanctions to evaluate whether they are “unduly hindering” targeted countries’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ten months after that January 21 National Security Memorandum, the resulting review from the US Treasury Department makes no mention of COVID-19 or its catastrophic toll on human lives over the past 18 months.
Last week the US Treasury and the US Federal Reserve Bank engaged in a rare public disagreement. US Treasury Secretary, Mnuchin, in a letter to Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, last week directed the Fed to return $455 billion that the Fed was holding in reserve should future lending to banks and non-bank businesses become necessary if the US economy and markets further deteriorate in 2021. Fed chair Powell initially balked at Mnuchin’s request, replying that the Fed needed the funds to ensure market stability since the US economy was entering a “difficult period” in late 2020 and early 2021.
Red Lines host Anya Parampil speaks with Pino Arlacchi, the former Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Prevention, about the US decision to charge Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with drug trafficking. Arlacchi explains that in his 40 years of anti-narcotic work, he never came across evidence of Venezuela’s involvement in the drug trade – instead saying that the US and Colombia drive drug production and consumption. As an expert on the Italian mafia, Arlacchi says the US government is actually the party behaving like an organized crime unit in its treatment of Venezuela. Arlacchi also discusses his work at the UN, which included a push to end the heroin trade in Afghanistan. He says his efforts were undermined by US officials after the 2001 invasion of the country.
The latest US Treasury Department data shows that foreign investors slashed their holdings of American debt in November by $105 billion, from a year earlier, to $6.2 trillion. China, the largest foreign holder of US debt, slashed its holdings for a sixth straight month in November. Beijing had $1.12 trillion in US Treasuries, down from $1.138 trillion in October. The decline brought China’s Treasury holdings to the lowest level since May 2017, the data showed.
Do “financial services” include banking? Not according to the Trump administration, whose new rule, issued Wednesday by the Treasury Department, argues there is a difference — and then cites the alleged difference as a means of extending lucrative tax breaks to the banking industry. The new rule represents more than semantic hairsplitting and hands a huge windfall to the banking industry. At issue is the Trump tax bill’s treatment of so-called pass-through income — or income that is gleaned from partnerships, LLCs and S corporations. The 2017 Republican tax legislation dramatically slashed tax rates on income from such entities, generating a firestorm of criticism that it was a giveaway to real estate moguls like Trump, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and other Republican backers of the legislation who have such entities in their personal portfolios.
A previously withheld video has been released showing the near-constant heckling of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during a moderated talk about the economy at UCLA. The university initially balked at releasing the video, saying that Mnuchin "subsequently withdrew" his agreement for it to be posted online. The video shows audience members hissing at Mnuchin throughout the Feb. 26 event in Los Angeles. The hissing was so loud the secretary barely spoke a sentence without commenting about it. Seven minutes into Mnuchin's opening remarks, three different women shouted at him and were either carried or escorted out of the room by police after they ignored warnings to stop. They yelled that the U.S. is bullying North Korea and criticized President Trump's tax legislation.
Treasurer José Cisneros announced today the 16 members of the Municipal Bank Feasibility Task Force. The formation of the Task Force was recommended by the Board of Supervisors to identify and pursue opportunities to extend access to credit for small businesses, provide banking services to the cannabis industry, expand capital for affordable housing, and research the viability and advisability of a municipal bank. “San Francisco has always been a leader in socially responsible banking and investment. I am eager to work with the Task Force to identify new approaches to support our City’s bold vision for inclusive innovation,” said Treasurer José Cisneros. “My primary responsibility is to safeguard City funds, and I am confident that the Task Force will recommend solutions that also meet the stringent fiduciary and investment requirements set by state law.”
By Heather McCreary for Inequality.org - The Senate held confirmation hearings on Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s pick for Treasury Secretary, on January 19. Mr. Mnuchin has had a long career in the financial industry, one which made him extremely wealthy and left behind a trail of financial ruin for tens of thousands of families. My family is one of them. That’s why I flew across the country to Washington, D.C. to watch the confirmation hearing in person and to tell my story at a forum on Capitol Hill hosted by Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In 2006, my husband and I purchased our “dream home” in Sparks, Nevada. When the Great Recession hit, our dream became a nightmare.
By David Dayen for The Intercept - ONEWEST BANK, WHICH Donald Trump’s nominee for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, ran from 2009 to 2015, repeatedly broke California’s foreclosure laws during that period, according to a previously undisclosed 2013 memo from top prosecutors in the state attorney general’s office. The memo obtained by The Intercept alleges that OneWest rushed delinquent homeowners out of their homes by violating notice and waiting period statutes, illegally backdated key documents, and effectively gamed foreclosure auctions. In the memo, the leaders of the state attorney general’s Consumer Law Section said they had “uncovered evidence suggestive of widespread misconduct” in a yearlong investigation.
By Peter Dreier for The American Prospect - Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump criticized Wall Street bankers for their excessive political influence and attacked hedge-fund managers for getting away with “murder” under the current tax code. “The hedge-fund guys didn’t build this country,” Trump said on Face the Nation. “These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky.” Now, however, Trump has tapped Steve Mnuchin, a 53-year-old Wall Street hedge-fund and banking mogul—and, since May, his campaign-finance chair—to be the nation’s secretary of the Treasury. Trump’s earlier rhetoric aside, it’s actually a good match.