POLITICO Playbook: The timing on taxes

BIG AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE — @KensingtonRoyal at 5 a.m.: “The Prince of Wales has announced the engagement of Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle.” Pic of the couple http://bit.ly/2AettOuWEDDING will be spring of 2018.

Good Monday morning. WHAT THE SMART PEOPLE SAY ABOUT TAX REFORM … — If the Senate can get its tax bill through this week, there’s a good chance Congress could get a bill to President Donald Trump’s desk by the end of the year. Everything would need to fall into place, but it’s possible. If the Senate takes more than just this week to get it done, it will likely slip into next year.

Story Continued Below

11 DAYS until the government runs out of funding … 12 LEGISLATIVE DAYS until the end of the year … 34 DAYS until the end of 2017.

WHERE THINGS STAND — “Tax reform hangs in balance in critical week for GOP,” by Seung Min Kim and Bernie Becker: “It’s do-or-die time for Senate Republicans on tax reform. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) doesn’t appear to have locked down 50 votes for his party’s tax overhaul, with at least half a dozen GOP senators showing varying levels of concern about the legislation released earlier this month.

“Yet the GOP leadership has a narrow window to push through its tax bill in the Senate before lawmakers become consumed with spending fights that could trigger a shutdown, not to mention a special election in Alabama that could flip a reliable Republican vote to a not-so-reliable one — or even a Democrat. … The leadership is juggling objections from multiple pockets of the Senate Republican Conference and is running short of time to convince the hold-outs as Republicans try to close out a frustrating year for their policy agenda with a major legislative accomplishment.” http://politi.co/2iTMQVw

WHAT THE WHITE HOUSE AND GOP LEADERSHIP STAFFERS ARE SENDING AROUND — “How Tax Reform Will Lift the Economy,” op-ed in the WSJ: “The present debate over tax reforms proposed by President Trump’s administration and embodied in bills that have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate Finance Committee has raised the basic question of whether the bills are ‘pro-growth’: Would the proposals raise current and future economic activity and generate federal tax revenue that would reduce the ‘static cost’ of the reforms? This letter explains why we believe that the answer to these questions is ‘yes.’” http://on.wsj.com/2zrpVr3 Signed by Robert Barro, Michael Boskin, John Cogan, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Glenn Hubbard, Lawrence Lindsey, Harvey Rosen, George Shultz, John Taylor

— WHY IT MATTERS: The White House and GOP leadership is hoping senators skeptical of how the tax overhaul will impact the deficit will be won over by the party’s thinkers on economics backing the proposal. WHO TO WATCH: Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).

BUT, BUT, BUT — “Senate GOP tax bill hurts the poor more than originally thought, CBO finds,” by WaPo’s Heather Long: “The Senate Republican tax plan gives substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year, while the nation’s poorest would be worse off, according to a report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Republicans are aiming to have the full Senate vote on the tax plan as early as this week, but the new CBO analysis showing large, harmful effects on the poor may complicate those plans. The CBO also said the bill would add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, a potential problem for Republican lawmakers worried about America’s growing debt.” http://wapo.st/2k4V1lv

NEXT UP? — “No one’s sure what’s next for Trump after tax reform,” by Eliana Johnson, Andrew Restuccia, and Ben White: “The White House and Capitol Hill are singularly focused on passing a tax reform bill – but almost no one in Washington seems to know what the Trump administration will bear down on next. White House policy initiatives are typically planned months in advance, with congruent strategies for communications and a view toward working them through Congress. But there is little agreement between White House officials and Republican leaders on the Hill about what should follow tax reform.

“Over the course of conversations with nearly a dozen senior aides in the White House and on Capitol Hill, a range of possibilities surfaced, from welfare reform to the infrastructure program Trump touted on the campaign trail to revisiting Obamacare repeal – an effort that has twice frustrated the Trump administration. The looming vacuum in the Republican agenda underscores how the relative chaos and disorganization of the Trump White House can affect policymaking across Washington.” http://politi.co/2BfpDUp

INSIDE THE HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS — “Conyers allegations put Pelosi in tight spot,” by Kyle Cheney and Heather Caygle: “Rep. John Conyers said Sunday he was stepping down from his post as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee amid accusations of sexual harassment that have put his party’s leaders in a bind. The decision by the Michigan lawmaker — who has held his seat since 1965 and who denies the harassment allegations — followed several days of internal deliberation and pressure from Democratic colleagues, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who wanted Conyers to leave the high-profile post but didn’t want to be seen as forcing him out.

“Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and assistant Democratic leader Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) reached out to some CBC members over the Thanksgiving recess to take the temperature of the caucus, according to multiple sources. The group is arguably the most powerful bloc within the House Democratic Caucus and is fiercely protective of its members, particularly Conyers, who was a founding member.” http://politi.co/2zGsLMO

AL FRANKEN SPEAKS — “Franken ashamed but says he’ll return to work on Monday,” by the Star Tribune’s Jennifer Brooks: “Sen. Al Franken is embarrassed, ashamed … and ready to get back to work. For days, Franken has been out of sight — reflecting, he said, on his behavior and the accounts of women who say he groped and demeaned them. ‘I’ve let a lot of people down and I’m hoping I can make it up to them and gradually regain their trust,’ said Franken, who broke an eight-day silence Sunday to talk by phone about what he’s done and what he’ll be doing next. For starters, he said, ‘I’m looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow.’

“But while the Senate debates Republican tax cuts and vets the Trump administration’s pick for Minnesota’s 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, Franken will face lingering questions about whether he can still do his job when many people now associate him with a grinning face in an 11-year-old photo, hands hovering suggestively over a sleeping woman’s chest. Franken said he hopes his own experiences, and the ethics investigation he has called into his own behavior, will eventually make ‘a positive contribution to the conversation, so I can be a better public servant and a better man.’” http://strib.mn/2Bed3VK

****** A message from PhRMA: How much are hospitals marking up medicine prices? According to new Moran Company analysis, hospitals mark up medicine prices nearly 500 percent. The analysis of 20 medicines also found a hospital is paid 2.5 times what the biopharmaceutical company, who brought the medicine to market, receives. Read more: http://onphr.ma/2hSaqox ******

ABOUT 2020 … — “Bernie makes moves pointing to 2020 run,” by Gabe Debenedetti: “Bernie Sanders is taking steps to address longstanding political shortcomings that were exposed in 2016, ahead of another possible presidential bid in 2020. From forging closer ties to the labor movement to shoring up his once-flimsy foreign policy credentials, the moves have provided the senator inroads into party power structures that largely shunned him in favor of Hillary Clinton last year. They’ve also empowered the progressive icon to harness his newfound political power and help Democrats fight President Donald Trump’s administration. …

“The Vermont independent hasn’t decided whether to run for president again in 2020. To his closest allies, his efforts represent a natural next step in his role as ‘outreach chairman’ for Senate Democrats, a new position created for him late last year by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. Yet the maneuvers could form an important part of a Sanders 2020 effort, a dozen of those allies acknowledged to POLITICO — one that looks markedly different from his surprise 2016 bid, which often suffered from a lack of mainstream political support.” http://politi.co/2k1QZKz

CFPB FIGHT HEADS TO THE COURTS — “Consumer bureau’s top lawyer sides with Trump in leadership clash,” by Lorraine Woellert: “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s top lawyer sided with the Justice Department over President Donald Trump’s appointment of Mick Mulvaney to lead the CFPB as a leadership battle over the controversial watchdog agency escalated. In a memorandum obtained by POLITICO, CFPB general counsel Mary McLeod said Trump had the legal authority to name an acting director to the bureau under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. ‘It is my legal opinion that the president possesses the authority to designate an acting director for the bureau,’ McLeod wrote in the Nov. 25 memo to the CFPB leadership team. …

“[E]ven as McLeod’s memo was circulating, Leandra English, former CFPB Director Richard Cordray’s choice to serve as acting director of the watchdog agency, sued the Trump administration in U.S District Court in Washington. In her lawsuit filed late Sunday, English named Trump and Mulvaney as defendants and asked the court to establish her authority as acting director.” http://politi.co/2zFlfBTMcLeod’s memo http://politi.co/2zrEquOThe lawsuit http://bit.ly/2BfLPOq

TRUMP’S MONDAY — The president will have lunch with VP Mike Pence and Senate Finance Committee members. He is hosting an event honoring Native American “code talkers” and will also meet in the afternoon with Defense Secretary James Mattis.

SUSAN GLASSER interviews AMBASSADOR KURT VOLKER in the latest “Global Politico” podcast: “The United States should send arms to Ukraine to help in its ‘self-defense’ against Russian aggression. It should hold Russia accountable for its illegal ‘occupation’ of territory there, and push for international peacekeepers. Russian President Vladimir Putin bears the blame for this conflict in Europe, and he will be the ‘decision maker’ on whether to end it too. At least, that’s according to Ambassador Kurt Volker, the Trump administration’s special envoy charged with ending the war in Ukraine.

“If this sounds like a perfectly reasonable American policy toward Russia, that’s because it is, and more or less one that either party would pursue. But of course, there’s just one big problem with this: It almost certainly does not fully reflect what the president of the United States actually thinks. In a new interview for The Global Politico, his first extensive one with a U.S. publication since taking on the post this summer, Volker talked at length about just how troubled relations are with Russia these days despite Trump’s hoped-for reconciliation, how the several rounds of talks he’s held with a top Putin adviser have not yet made any progress, and what it’s like to be a special envoy for a secretary of state who’s vowed to get rid of them.” http://politi.co/2BmvTutThe full transcript http://politi.co/2zIeL5rListen to the podcast http://apple.co/2kAoZfH

TURTLE BAY READ — “Israel races to head off UN settlement ‘blacklist,’” by AP’s Josef Federman, Josh Lederman and Jamey Keaten: “Weeks ahead of the expected completion of a U.N. database of companies that operate in Israel’s West Bank settlements, Israel and the Trump Administration are working feverishly to prevent its publication. While Israel is usually quick to brush off U.N. criticism, officials say they are taking the so-called ‘blacklist’ seriously, fearing its publication could have devastating consequences by driving companies away, deterring others from coming and prompting investors to dump shares of Israeli firms. Dozens of major Israeli companies, as well as multinationals that do business in Israel, are expected to appear on the list. ‘We will do everything we can to ensure that this list does not see the light of day,’ Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, told The Associated Press.” http://bit.ly/2ztn7JV

MOOCH! — BOSTON GLOBE: “Tufts postpones Scaramucci event after he threatens to sue student, paper,” by John Hilliard: “An attorney representing Scaramucci demanded in a letter that graduate student Camilo A. Caballero and The Tufts Daily newspaper retract ‘false and defamatory allegations of fact’ about his client and issue an apology.

“In an e-mail to Caballero, Scaramucci said the student had ‘suggested publicly’ that Scaramucci had engaged in unethical behavior. ‘So either back it up or you will hear from my lawyer,’ Scaramucci wrote on Nov. 16. ‘You may have a difference of opinion from me politically which I respect but you can’t make spurious claims about my reputation and integrity.’ In an interview Sunday night, Scaramucci said he is not trying to limit students’ free speech but will defend himself against an “attack” that he called factually inaccurate.

“Scaramucci called on Caballero and The Tufts Daily to retract comments referring to Scaramucci as ‘unethical’ and a ‘man who makes his Twitter accessible to friends interested in giving comfort to Holocaust deniers’ (referring to a story about The Scaramucci Post polling its Twitter followers about how many Jews were killed during the Holocaust) and for stating that Scaramucci ‘sold his soul in contradiction to his own purported beliefs’ for a White House position, according to a letter sent by his attorney.” http://bit.ly/2BocQjw

THE JUICE …

— SPOTTED AT MAR-A-LAGO: Trump and first lady Melania Trump were seated at the main dining table Saturday night with Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter and his wife Laurie, according to a tipster. Trump and former CIA Director James Woolsey had a “lengthy conversation” at his table.

NEARBY DINERS INCLUDED: Eric and Lara Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and his wife Hilary Ross with Howard and Michele Kessler, Chris Ruddy hosting Woolsey and his wife Nancye Miller Woolsey and Kimberly Reed, Lee and Erika Lipton with Jack and Barbara Nicklaus and Bret and Amy Baier, and Robin and Richard Bernstein.

— TRUMP WHITE HOUSE DEPARTURE LOUNGE: JAMES SCHULTZ has left the White House counsel’s office to return to the Philadelphia-based law firm Cozen O’Connor, Josh Gerstein reports. Among the issues Schultz worked on include ethics and financial disclosures. http://politi.co/2Aetn9A

YOU’RE INVITED! — We’ll sit down with SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FLA.) Wednesday at 8 a.m. at the Liaison Hotel on Capitol Hill (415 New Jersey Ave., NW). Sign up! Cameras welcome. http://bit.ly/playbookrubio

PLAYBOOK INBOX – From Roger Stone’s email list: “Seniors Can Collect $480 per Week From This Unusual ‘Side Job’”.

SARAH ELLISON in Vanity Fair’s Holiday issue, “‘She Didn’t Want This Come Hell or High Water’: Inside Melania Trump’s Secretive East Wing: Understanding the most enigmatic First Lady — and unusual marriage — in modern political history”: “Melania’s parents relocated to the United States to live in Trump Tower. They are close to Barron, their grandson, who speaks Slovenian as well as English. (‘He has an accent?,’ Larry King asked the Trumps in 2010, when Barron was just four years old.) Melania’s parents spend time in the area where Barron attends private school, according to a former West Wing aide.

“The idea is presumably to provide Barron with the kind of stability the Obamas sought for their daughters by inviting Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, to live with them in the White House. The aide also told me that since Melania moved to D.C. her ‘focus’ has been on Barron’s school. ‘I think it would be better for [Trump] if she were around more,’ the former aide said.” http://bit.ly/2jpFEA3

BUSINESS BURST — “Inside the Wal-Mart vs. Amazon Battle Over Black Friday,” by WSJ’s Sarah Nassauer and Laura Stevens http://on.wsj.com/2Bfu4i8

THE BALLOT BOX — “The time to hack-proof the 2018 election is expiring — and Congress is way behind,” by Martin Matishak: “Lawmakers are scrambling to push something — anything — through Congress that would help secure the nation’s voting systems ahead of the 2018 elections. But it might already be too late for some critical targets. By this point during the 2016 election cycle, Russian hackers had already been in the [DNC’s] networks for at least three months. Members of both parties insist they can get something done before Election Day 2018, but concede that the window is rapidly closing. Voters in Texas and Illinois will take to the polls in the country’s first primaries in just over three months — a narrow timeline for implementing software patches, let alone finding the funds to overhaul creaky IT systems, swap out aging voting machines or implement state-of-the-art digital audits. …

“Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have proposed a raft of legislative solutions aimed at inoculating future U.S. elections from foreign meddling. But the efforts have been stalled amid partisan fighting, ideological disagreements over who should fund election security and — perhaps most prominently — a packed congressional calendar that has prioritized repealing Obamacare and pushing through a tax overhaul.” http://politi.co/2AAubZh

WOMEN RULE WEEK — POLITICO is partnering with women-led businesses in the D.C.-metro area to offer a full week of exclusive perks in conjunction with the 5th annual Women Rule Summit! Join the fun at participating businesses during Women Rule Week (Nov. 27 – Dec. 1) for exclusive deals and tweet 5 times using #WomenRule for a chance to win two free tickets to the Summit on December 5th! http://politi.co/2zbbyXM

****** A message from PhRMA: According to new analysis from the Moran Company, hospitals mark up medicine prices, on average, nearly 500 percent. The analysis of 20 medicines also found a hospital is paid 2.5 times what the biopharmaceutical company, who brought the medicine to market, receives. While hospital markups lead to higher costs for patients, employers and payers, these markups are often overlooked in conversations about medicine costs. As the provider market continues to become more concentrated and the number of medicines being administered in hospital-owned facilities is growing, the amount hospitals mark up medicine prices needs greater scrutiny. http://onphr.ma/2Ba0TOa ******

MEDIAWATCH — “Meredith Agrees to Buy Time Inc. for $1.85 Billion,” by WSJ’s Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg: “Meredith, based in Des Moines, Iowa, has agreed to pay $18.50 a share for Time, the fabled New York publisher of Fortune, People and Sports Illustrated … That is a 46% premium to Time’s closing price on Nov. 15, before reports of Meredith’s renewed interest in a deal with financial backing from the billionaire Koch brothers. … [Meredith COO Tom] Harty described the Koch investment as ‘passive’ and said the firm ‘won’t have any influence on Meredith’s operations, including editorial.’ Koch Industries, he added, has expressed no interest in acquiring any individual Time Inc. titles.” http://on.wsj.com/2BqjMgb

— “Readers Accuse Us of Normalizing a Nazi Sympathizer; We Respond,” by NYT’s Marc Lacey in Times Insider: “A profile in The Times of Tony Hovater, a white nationalist and Nazi sympathizer in Ohio, elicited a huge amount of feedback this weekend, most of it sharply critical. … We understand that some readers wanted more pushback, and we hear that loud and clear. … We regret the degree to which the piece offended so many readers. We recognize that people can disagree on how best to tell a disagreeable story. What we think is indisputable, though, is the need to shed more light, not less, on the most extreme corners of American life and the people who inhabit them. That’s what the story, however imperfectly, tried to do.” http://nyti.ms/2iTBu3QThe original piece http://nyti.ms/2iV1lbO

— “CBS boss told me to sleep with coworkers to get ahead: suit,” by N.Y. Post’s Julia Marsh: “Erin Gee, 44, who worked for CBS for 17 years … recently filed a Manhattan federal suit alleging rampant sex discrimination at the network. Gee said one of the most offensive incidents occurred in 2011, when she was talking with her boss at ‘CBS Evening News,’ Robert Klug, about a workplace dispute. Klug, now 58, said ‘she should ‘have sex’ with [the] video editor who had been difficult to work with to ‘break the ice,’’ according to court papers.” http://nyp.st/2AAS6HY

— JEFF GLOR takes over the anchor desk of “CBS Evening News” on Dec. 4, the network announced on Sunday.

SPOTTED: Mark Penn on an American Airlines MIA-DCA flight Sunday afternoon. “Scored the upgrade, too from his perch atop the list,” per our tipster.

FROM MARC CAPUTO – SPOTTED: “West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin chatting with fellow wildcard Democrat John Morgan of Florida on Sunday morning at Mike’s Galley in South Daytona Beach, which Morgan says has ‘the best breakfast in all of Florida.’ Morgan says his son, Matt, spied Manchin first, but the two figured the hulking Senator was an area football coach. Manchin stopped by, said Morgan looked familiar and introduced himself as ‘Joe Manchin of West Virginia.’ Said Morgan: ‘I’m John Morgan of Florida.’ They talked briefly about the politics of taxes, minimum wage increases and, of course, college football.”

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, president and CEO of Financial Services Roundtable, is 57. How he got his start in politics: “I was appointed to my local municipal planning commission which was a terrific experience. The commission helped guide the development of a really fast-growing suburb, and I am particularly proud of the efforts to develop a wonderful park and trail system.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2BfwHQV

BIRTHDAYS: Steve Bannon … former Amb. to Japan Caroline Kennedy is 6-0 … Gail Sheehy … Stephen Siciliano … Sam Love … Politico’s Adam Cancryn and Daniel Ducassi … Joe Solmonese … Brian McCormack, chief of staff at DOE … Andrea Koppel-Pollack … Nick Massella, director of audience engagement and comms at PBS “NewsHour” … Mary Vought, who celebrated with a few days in Middleburg (hat tips: Russ Vought and Rachel Semmel) … Politico Europe alum Simon Taylor … Mike Cross … Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) is 59 … former Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.) is 44 … Alex Wagner of CBS News and the Atlantic … Rich Verma, vice chair of the Asia Group, former U.S. Ambassador to India and “fan of all Pittsburgh sports” (h/ts Ben Chang, filing from Asheville en route to Atlanta) … Sean Bartlett … Marie Logsden, director of strategic comms for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (h/t Gordon Bronson) … Barry Stuart Sternlicht, founder, chairman, and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, is 57 (h/t Jewish Insider) …

… Libby Leist, senior producer of NBC’s “Today” … Sam Wainwright, former health policy analyst at New America Foundation, now a resident physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, is 3-0 (h/t Daniel Strauss) … Lisa Vedernikova, special projects manager at the NYT and a Clinton campaign alum (h/t TSG) … Katie Honan … Molly Logan Cox, AtlanticLIVE director of business development (h/t Patrick Garrigan) … John Aravosis … Ashley Robinson, senior PR manager at Amazon Operations North America … Susan Falconer … Kathryn Ciano, senior regulatory counsel at Uber … Dina Cappiello, editorial director and SVP at Edelman and an AP alum … Katie Campo … Kaiya Waddell, business lead for global marketing solutions at Facebook … Christine Taylor … Jess Byrne Knox … Joe Davila … Maryanne Pintar … Chelsie Jeppson … Paul Nasella … Sid Burgess is 36 … Jason Gold, VP for strategic relations and partnerships at S&P Global … Victoria Lai … Jake Boatright … Paul Maslin … Megan Manley (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)

****** A message from PhRMA: According to new analysis from the Moran Company, hospitals mark up medicine prices, on average, nearly 500 percent. The analysis of 20 medicines also found a hospital is paid 2.5 times what the biopharmaceutical company, who brought the medicine to market, receives. While hospital markups lead to higher costs for patients, employers and payers, these markups are often overlooked in conversations about medicine costs. As the provider market continues to become more concentrated and the number of medicines being administered in hospital-owned facilities is growing, the amount hospitals mark up medicine prices needs greater scrutiny. http://onphr.ma/2Ba0TOa ******

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