Trump Vows to Take On NRA, Boasts of Willingness to Rush Shooter

President Donald Trump said Monday that he’s willing to take on the National Rifle Association though he doubts they will resist his response to the high school massacre that killed 17 people in Florida earlier this month.

Trump, in a freewheeling discussion with governors at the White House that lasted more than an hour, also said he would have run into the school unarmed to try to confront the attacker, contrasting his hypothetical response with sheriff’s deputies who didn’t enter the building during the rampage.

The president’s evolving responses to the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, have been largely consistent with the outlook of the NRA, particularly an emphasis Trump has put on arming school teachers. The organization has been a strong political ally of the president, spending $31 million in the 2016 election either to support Trump or attack his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“Don’t worry about the NRA, they’re on our side,” Trump said during the meeting with state governors, adding that he had lunch over the weekend with NRA Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre and top lobbyist Chris Cox. “But sometimes we’re going to have to be very tough and we’re going to have to fight them.”

Businesses are rushing to cut ties to the NRA. Among the companies that severed deals with the NRA: Avis Budget Group Inc., Best Western International Inc., Chubb Ltd., Delta Air Lines Inc., MetLife Inc., Symantec Corp. and United Continental Holdings Inc. Others are under intense social media pressure to follow.

Trump suggested the country also should make it easier to involuntarily commit people to psychiatric institutions and open more such facilities.

“In the old days you’d put him in a mental institution, a lot of them, and you could nab somebody like this,” Trump said, referring to the accused Florida shooter, Nikolas Cruz. “Hopefully he gets help or whatever, but he’s off the streets.”

QuickTake: The U.S. Gun Debate Explained

“We’re going to have to start talking about mental institutions,” Trump said, complaining that states had closed too many “because of cost.”

Trump reiterated disparaging comments about the armed sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school who didn’t enter the school while the shooting was taking place, saying he “choked” under the pressure of the situation. He also referenced a CNN report that several other armed sheriff’s deputies who were among the first officers to arrive at the school didn’t initially enter.

"I really believe, you don’t know until you’re tested, but I think I’d, I really believe I’d run in even if I didn’t have a weapon,” Trump said.

Monday’s meeting at the White House was a wide-ranging discussion of ideas to address gun violence at schools. Suggestions ranged from a possibly new rating system for violent videos to arming teachers to filling schools with smoke during an attack to make it harder for a shooter to find targets.

Trump has called for changes in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting at the Parkland high school. He has voiced support for expanding the background check system to include more mental health information, raising the age for the purchase of some guns to 21 from 18, and regulatory action ending the sale of “bump stocks.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders injected a bit of uncertainty on the president’s backing for raising age limits, saying the president is “supportive of the concept” but the idea is “still being discussed” and the president’s position will depend on the final form of legislation.

Trump has signaled support for a bipartisan bill from Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, known as Fix-NICS. It would penalize federal agencies that fail to report relevant criminal records that would bar someone from purchasing a firearm under current law to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Trump told the governors the administration is “going to strengthen” the measure.

Concealed Weapons

The background checks legislation stalled in a Senate committee, but elements of it passed in the House, paired with a requirement opposed by gun-control advocates that every state recognize licenses to carry a concealed handgun issued by other states. NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said the concealed carry law is the group’s top priority but the NRA would support the background check bill even without the added provision.

The House is waiting for the Senate to act, according to a senior Republican aide. Senate leaders haven’t indicated plans for considering the legislation.

Trump has been most vocal about a controversial proposal to allow some “talented” teachers to carry concealed firearms in schools. He has indicated that state governments might take the lead. Trump says “hardening” the schools would make them less attractive targets for a potential assailant.

“Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them,” Trump posted on Twitter last week. “Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again – a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States.”

‘Less Tweeting’

Trump on Monday reiterated his call for states to move forward without federal action.

“States can do most of this and we’ll back you up,” Trump said. “We’ll help you no matter what your solution is,” adding “my attitude is get it done and get it done properly.”

The White House is also considering the idea of using restraining orders to take firearms away from people considered dangerous as part of its response to the Parkland shooting, two people familiar with the matter said.

Jay Inslee, the Democratic governor of Washington, endorsed such an approach, saying his state has had success with so-called extreme risk protection orders. Inslee, though, pushed back on Trump’s idea of arming people at schools. “Educators should educate,” he said, adding that law enforcement and teachers do not support such a move.

“Let’s just take that off the table and move forward,” Inslee said. “I would suggest we need a little less tweeting here and a little more listening.”

Florida Governor Rick Scott unveiled a proposal last week to raise the age requirement for purchasing semiautomatic rifles to 21, and allow some guns to be temporarily confiscated from people deemed mentally unstable by a judge.

Scott has said he’s opposed to arming teachers, but supports increasing the number of law enforcement officials in schools. State legislators in Florida are considering proposals to allow for some school officials to be trained to carry concealed weapons. At the White House meeting on Monday, Scott also noted that students will be able to get more mental health counseling and he aims to have threat assessments in schools.

The Parkland massacre has “created momentum to make sure that something happens this time,” Scott said.

Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP, which operates Bloomberg News, serves as a member of Everytown for Gun Safety’s advisory board and is a donor to the group. Everytown for Gun Safety advocates for universal background checks and other gun control measures.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-26/trump-says-ready-to-take-on-nra-in-response-to-florida-shooting

    Trump Suggests Bonuses for Gun-Trained Teachers, Praises the NRA

    President Donald Trump called for paying bonuses to teachers who carry guns in the classroom, embracing a controversial proposal to curb school shootings hours after offering a full-throated endorsement of the National Rifle Association.

    Trump told state and local officials gathered at the White House on Thursday to discuss school safety that “you can’t hire enough security guards” and teachers could carry concealed weapons and “nobody would know who they are.” He said that teachers would go through “rigorous training” and could get “a little bit of a bonus.”

    His support for arming educators comes a week after the massacre of 17 people at a high school in Florida. The president and lawmakers are now struggling to respond to public demands for action, mindful of the clout gun-rights enthusiasts hold in the Republican Party, which controls the White House and both chambers of Congress.

    Guns in America

    The NRA, which has been one of the most powerful political opponents to gun control, received lavish praise from Trump just minutes before its chief executive officer, Wayne LaPierre, took the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference. LaPierre proceeded to blast school officials, local law enforcement and the FBI for failing to prevent school shootings.

    It was a jarring contrast for Trump just a day after his emotional meeting with students and parents affected by recent school massacres. Earlier Thursday morning, before a tweet praising the NRA, Trump went the furthest he’s ever gone on gun control, saying he’d push for tougher background checks that screen for mental health, raising the minimum age of buyers to 21, and ending the sale of bump stocks.

    Trump also suggested to local officials at the White House meeting that schools concentrate more on hardening facilities to withstand rifle fire. But he opposed mandating active shooting drills — which have become increasingly common — saying that rehearsing for a possibly violent event could upset students.

    “Active shooter drills is a very negative thing, have to be honest with you,” Trump said, “I’d much rather have a hardened school.” He added that he wouldn’t want his son to be told he was going through an active shooter drill. “I think it’s very bad for children.”

    White House spokesman Raj Shah later said that Trump only opposes using the term “active shooter drill” because it could be frightening, and suggested schools instead use the term “safety drill.”

    Children’s exposure to violence on the Internet and in video games and movies also may be contributing to the shootings, Trump added. “Their minds are being formed, and we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it,” he said.

    LaPierre called for more armed security at schools and criticized the notion of making schools “gun-free zones,” which he said are targets for potential shooters, echoing comments Trump has made.

    The NRA chief lashed out at Democrats including Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who has long pushed for tighter gun laws, for “politicizing” the Florida shooting. He said “elites” want to “eradicate all individual freedoms.”

    “They want to sweep right under the carpet the failure of school security, the failure of family, the failure of America’s mental health system, and even the unbelievable failure of the FBI,” LaPierre said.

    The NRA is one of the biggest spenders in elections, ranking 9th among all outside groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2016, the NRA’s political arms spent $54.4 million influencing elections, Federal Election Commission records show, including $19.8 million attacking Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and $11.4 million promoting Trump. The NRA also spent $500,000 or more on 7 Senate races, including in battleground states Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin.

    Trump was endorsed by the NRA and has routinely touted his support for the organization, and his campaign said he opposed expanding the background check system or imposing new restrictions on gun and magazine bans. Trump is expected to speak at the CPAC event on Friday.

    Trump conferred with the NRA’s chief lobbyist, Chris Cox, over the weekend in the aftermath of the Florida shooting, Shah said.

    Gun stocks rose Thursday after declining the two prior days. Shares in American Outdoor Brands Corp. rose 2.8 percent to $10.34 and Sturm Ruger & Co. was up 5 percent to $49.55 at 1:30 p.m. New York time.

    Background Checks

    While Trump said he would push “comprehensive background checks” with an emphasis on mental health, an Obama-era gun rule aimed at preventing people with serious mental illness from buying guns was one of the first targets of Republicans in Congress last year. Lawmakers used a special procedure under the Congressional Review Act to do away with the rule.

    Trump announced Tuesday he would propose regulations to ban “bump stocks” used to allow semi-automatic rifles to fire like automatic weapons. He signaled support for bipartisan legislation to improve data collection for the federal gun-sale background check system.

    Trump said he called many lawmakers Wednesday evening to discuss background checks and that many prior opponents of toughening them have changed their minds.

    But the president isn’t ready to back any specific legislation yet, Shah said. Instead Trump “is proposing ideas, he’s listening right now,” Shah said.

    Click here for more on the debate over guns in America.

    His support for arming teachers would eliminate the gun-free zones in and around schools enshrined in a nearly three-decade-old federal law.

    Trump said in a tweet earlier Thursday that 20 percent of teachers “would now be able to immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this.”

    The idea prompted sharp rebukes from some Democrats and misgivings from at least one prominent Republican.

    Murphy said on CNN that the proposal was “a recipe for disaster,” adding that there was no evidence that it would prevent shootings.

    Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, told a CNN town hall meeting on Wednesday that he opposed arming teachers.

    Trump on Thursday tried to explain his rationale for arming school staff members. “History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes,” Trump tweeted. “It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!”

    “If a potential ‘sicko shooter’ knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there…problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!” Trump wrote.

    Trump has signaled support for a bipartisan Senate bill that would strengthen current laws requiring federal agencies to report information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The House passed a similar bill in December, but added legislation that would require states to recognize concealed carry licenses from other states. House conservatives would likely balk at separating the two issues, while the House version of the bill would likely fail in the Senate.

    A Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday found 97 percent support for universal background checks, while 67 percent backed a ban on the sale of assault weapons.

    Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP, which operates Bloomberg News, serves as a member of Everytown for Gun Safety’s advisory board and is a donor to the group. Everytown for Gun Safety advocates for universal background checks and other gun control measures.

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-21/trump-hears-stories-from-shooting-victims-in-remarkable-meeting

      Trump Proposes to Cut Medicare and Spend Big on Wall, Defense

      President Donald Trump will propose cutting entitlement programs by $1.7 trillion, including Medicare, in a fiscal 2019 budget that seeks billions of dollars to build a border wall, improve veterans’ health care and combat opioid abuse and that is likely to be all but ignored by Congress.

      The entitlement cuts over a decade are included in a White House summary of the budget obtained by Bloomberg News. The document says that the budget will propose cutting spending on Medicare, the health program for the elderly and disabled, by $237 billion but doesn’t specify other mandatory programs that would face reductions, a category that also includes Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare and agricultural subsidies.

      The Medicare cut wouldn’t affect the program’s coverage or benefits, according to the document. The budget will also call for annual 2 percent cuts to non-defense domestic spending beginning “after 2019.’

      At a time when the prospect of rising annual budget shortfalls has spooked financial markets, the White House said in a statement — without explanation — that its plan would cut the federal deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years and reduce debt as a percentage of gross domestic product. Yet, in a break from a longstanding Republican goal, the plan won’t balance the budget in 10 years, according to a person familiar with the proposal.

      The budget, to be released later on Monday, is unlikely to gain traction on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers routinely ignore the spending requests required annually from the executive branch. And Congress passed its own spending bill on Friday, including a two-year budget deal, which the president signed into law.

      According to the summary, Trump will urge an increase in defense spending to $716 billion and a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops. He will request $18 billion to build a wall on the Mexican border, the summary indicates.

      The White House also seeks $200 billion for the infrastructure proposal the administration plans to unveil alongside the fiscal year 2019 budget, as well as new regulatory cuts.

      “This will be a big week for Infrastructure,” Trump said in a Twitter message Monday. “After so stupidly spending $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is now time to start investing in OUR Country!”

      Monday’s document will outline proposed spending reforms the administration says would, if enacted, cut deficits over the next decade — even as recently passed tax legislation and spending caps threaten to drive future annual deficits above $1 trillion.

      Trump May Struggle on $1 Trillion Pledge to Fix Crumbling U.S.

      “Just like every American family, the budget makes hard choices: fund what we must, cut where we can, and reduce what we borrow,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said in a statement. “It’s with respect for the hard work of the American people that we spend their tax dollars efficiently, effectively, and with accountability.”

      A year ago, Trump asked lawmakers to cut $3.6 trillion in federal spending over the next ten years, and identified deep cuts to domestic spending programs. Instead, lawmakers last week passed a two-year government funding deal that would boost military and non-defense spending by $300 billion over the next two years and add more than $80 billion in disaster relief.

      But administration officials argue their proposals, dead on arrival though they may be, is still an important marker of the president’s legislative priorities.

      Immigration Enforcement

      The plan includes a heavy emphasis on immigration enforcement. Trump is requesting $782 million to hire 2,750 new border and immigration officers, and $2.7 billion to detain people in the country illegally. Trump is also asking for $18 billion over the next two fiscal years toward the goal of constructing a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. That’s a key point of contention in the ongoing legislative battle over the fate of young people, known as “Dreamers,” who were brought to the country illegally as children.

      The proposal also includes $13 billion in new funding to combat the opioid epidemic, which Trump has frequently cited as among his top domestic priorities. The administration would provide a $3 billion boost to the Department of Health and Human Services in the next fiscal year, and $10 billion in 2019.

      The proposal takes “money that the Democrats want to put to these social programs and move it to things like infrastructure, move it to things like opioid relief, move it to things that are in line with the president’s priorities so that if it does get spent, at least it get spent to the right places,” Mulvaney said Sunday during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.

      Boost for Veterans

      Other elements include $85.5 billion in discretionary funding for veterans health services, education, and vocational rehabilitation, the OMB said on Sunday. It is not clear how much of that funding would represent an increase from current spending levels.

      The budget also includes $200 billion in federal funds over the next decade that the White House says would spur $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending through partnerships with state and local governments and private developers. That includes $21 billion over the next two years that the White House says would “jump start key elements of the infrastructure initiative.”

      Trump will discuss the public works proposal on Monday with governors, mayors, state legislators and other officials, and he expects to meet with Congressional leaders from both parties at the White House on Feb. 14. The president plans to visit Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 16 for an infrastructure event, and he and cabinet members will also promote the plan at events around the U.S., officials said.

      The White House said its initial approach is to offset the $200 billion in the budget for its infrastructure plan with spending cuts elsewhere, including from some transit and transportation programs the administration doesn’t think have been spent effectively. But Trump is open to new sources of funding, a senior White House official told reporters.

      ‘Robust’ Defense

      The White House also didn’t detail how much money it wanted to devote to new spending on the military, but OMB said the proposal would provide “for a robust and rebuilt national defense.” In last year’s budget proposal, Trump called for a $52.3 billion boost for the Defense Department, while asking for deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department, and Department of Health and Human Services.

      Mulvaney said this year’s documents — theoretical though they may be — would see those agencies targeted again for budget cuts.

      “There’s still going to be the president’s priorities as we seek to spend the money consistently with our priorities, not with the priorities that were reflected most by the Democrats in Congress,” he told Fox News.

      Trump on Friday complained on Twitter that in order to boost military spending, “we were forced to increase spending on things we do not like or want.”

      The budget proposal assumes that the U.S. economy will ramp up over the next decade to his goal of 3 percent growth, according to an administration official on Friday who confirmed figures to be contained in Monday’s budget proposal. Economic growth is projected at 3.2 percent in 2019 and 2020.

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-12/trump-to-urge-wall-opioid-spending-as-congress-sets-own-course

        Cuomo Seeks New York Tax Revisions to Thwart Federal Changes

        New York state would end income taxes on wage earners and make up the revenue with an employer payroll tax that’s federally deductible as part of a restructuring plan that Governor Andrew Cuomo is recommending to mitigate harmful effects of the new U.S. tax code.

        The new federal law limits deductions for individuals’ state and local taxes — raising levies 25 percent on all New Yorkers, no matter where they live, Cuomo said Tuesday. The federal changes could push residents and businesses out of state, the Democratic governor said as he presented a budget for the next fiscal year.

        “We’re doing everything we can to thwart the effects of the federal plan,” Cuomo said. “This is going to be the most difficult challenge that we’ve had to take on because it’s the most complicated, but I have no doubt that this is the fight of New York’s future.”

        Earlier this month, Cuomo said his administration would file a lawsuit seeking to repeal the new federal tax law, arguing that it discriminates against states with high local and state taxes. In his budget speech, Cuomo for the first time fleshed out his plan to further reduce the impact of the federal law by changing the way the state taxes wage earners’ income.

        In the tax-overhaul legislation that President Donald Trump signed last month, the Republican-controlled Congress cut income-tax rates on businesses and individuals across the board. But it also limited the deductions that individuals can take for state and local taxes — including income and property levies — to $10,000.

        That so-called SALT provision is widely viewed as an attack on Democratic-leaning states, which tend to have higher taxes. On Tuesday, Cuomo called the SALT cap “ an economic missile” aimed at New York, which he said pays $48 billion more to the federal government than it gets back each year. The changes will add $14 billion more to that tally this year, Cuomo said.

        New York’s ‘Penalty’

        “It targets New York with a penalty,” he said. Overall, he said 12 states would be targeted by limiting the SALT deductions to help pay for other cuts. “Coincidentally, they all happen to be Democratic.”

        In response, Cuomo said his proposal, the “New York State Taxpayer Protection Act,” would eliminate the state income tax on wage earners. Instead, the state would levy a wage tax on the employer. By doing so, the tax burden would shift from workers — who face new limits on their ability to deduct state income taxes — to employers, who could still take full deductions for such payroll taxes. The legislation would spell out which kinds of companies would be eligible for this treatment.

        “It may actually reduce the liability because it may bring the worker down to a lower income bracket,” Cuomo said. 

        The plan would apply only to wage earners. For other sources of income — including investment gains — the state would continue to run its personal income tax system, Cuomo said. The state Department of Taxation will spell out more details Wednesday, he said.

        Cuomo also said he intends to create state charitable funds for education and health care, which would allow individuals to get state tax credits for their donations. This would mitigate the impact of the federal tax plan on high-income earners, he said. California and New Jersey officials are considering similar proposals.

        The governor also proposed deferring tax credits for companies that receive $2 million or more in credits for one year, which would raise $300 million in state revenue, he said. The federal tax changes — which cut the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent — will more than make up for that change, he said.

        “They weren’t expecting the tax cut; they got the tax cut,” Cuomo said. “It’ll more than offset the deferral of our credits.”

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-16/cuomo-says-new-york-to-alter-tax-law-to-thwart-federal-changes

          Trump Takes On Amazon Again, Urging Much More in Postage Fees

          President Donald Trump said the U.S. Postal Service should charge Amazon.com Inc. more to deliver packages, the latest in a series of public criticisms of the online retailer and its billionaire founder.

          The post office “should be charging MUCH MORE” for package delivery, the president tweeted Friday from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where he’s spending the holidays.

          “Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer?” Trump told his 45 million followers.

          Trump regularly criticizes Amazon and its chief executive officer, Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post newspaper and is currently the world’s richest man. In August, Trump accused the company of causing “great damage to tax paying retailers,” even though the internet giant began collecting sales tax on products it sells directly in April.

          As with prior missives targeting the company, Trump’s message appeared to concern investors. Amazon’s stock had gained the past three days, but dropped 0.6 percent to $1,178.68 at 12:41 p.m. in New York.

          A sudden increase in postal service rates would cost Amazon about $2.6 billion a year, according to an April report by Citigroup. That report predicted United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. would also raise rates in response to a postal service hike.

          Amazon didn’t respond to requests for comment.

          ‘Last Mile’

          Amazon regularly uses the Postal Service to complete what’s called the “last mile” of delivery, with letter carriers dropping off packages at some 150 million residences and businesses daily. It has a network of more than 20 “sort centers” where customer packages are sorted by zip code, stacked on pallets and delivered to post offices for the final leg of delivery.

          While full details of the agreement between Amazon and the Postal Service are unknown — the mail service is independently operated and strikes confidential deals with retailers — David Vernon, an analyst at Bernstein Research who tracks the shipping industry, estimated in 2015 that the USPS handled 40 percent of Amazon’s volume the previous year. He estimated at the time that Amazon pays the Postal Service $2 per package, which is about half what it would pay UPS or FedEx.

          Both shippers were up less than 1 percent Friday. Higher postal service rates would benefit private carriers by making their rates more competitive.

          But the postal service’s losses have little to do with Amazon and more to do with its large health-care obligations and the dwindling use of first-class mail. USPS charges some of the world’s lowest stamp prices.

          The president’s tweet also assumes that Amazon would be forced to pay if the Postal Service increased its rates for packages. But Amazon has been setting up its own shipping operations in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world to minimize costs.

          For more on Trump’s Twitter storms, check out this podcast:

           

          $62 Billion Loss

          The Postal Service reported a net loss of $2.1 billion in the third quarter of 2017 and has $15 billion in outstanding debt. The service has lost $62 billion over the last decade.

          USPS’s chief financial officer, Joseph Corbett, wrote in a post for PostalReporter.com in August that the service is required by law to charge retailers at least enough to cover its delivery costs.

          “The reason we continue to attract e-commerce customers and business partners is because our customers see the value of our predictable service, enhanced visibility, and competitive pricing,” he wrote.

          He said Congress should pass provisions of legislation introduced last year by former Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, that would allow the postal service to raise some rates and discontinue direct delivery to business customers’ doors.

          Amazon is experimenting with a new delivery service of its own that is expected to see a broader roll-out in the coming year. Under the program, Amazon would oversee the pickup of packages from warehouses of third-party merchants and delivery to home addresses.

          Despite the occasional anti-Amazon tweet, Trump is unlikely to target Amazon with any action because the company is creating jobs by building new warehouses around the country. It’s also expected to generate 50,000 new positions with its second headquarters, said James Cakmak, analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co.

          “The interests of Amazon and the administration are largely aligned – even factoring the dislocation to retail – given the positive headline potential around new job creation with fulfillment centers and HQ2,” he said.

            Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-29/trump-says-u-s-post-office-should-charge-amazon-much-more

            Senate Passes Tax-Cut Bill in Milestone Move Toward Overhaul

            Senate Republicans narrowly approved the most sweeping rewrite of the U.S. tax code in three decades, slashing the corporate tax rate and providing temporary tax-rate cuts for most Americans.

            The 51-49 vote — achieved just before 2 a.m. Saturday in Washington and only after closed-door deal-making with dissident senators — brings the GOP close to delivering a much-needed policy win for their party and President Donald Trump. 

            After the vote, Trump said on Twitter that he looks forward to signing a final bill before Christmas. Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that a pre-Christmas tax cut would be a “Middle-Class Miracle!”

            Before it goes to Trump, lawmakers will have to resolve differences between the Senate bill and one the House passed last month, a process that could begin Monday. Although both versions share common top-line elements, negotiations on individual provisions inserted to win votes, particularly in the Senate, may be protracted and difficult. The final product will end up being a central issue in the 2018 elections that will determine control of Congress.

            “We’re going to take this message to the American people a year from now,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the vote.

            Speaking in New York on Saturday, Trump also predicted the tax package would be a winner for Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections. “We got no Democrat help and I think that’s going to hurt them in the election,” Trump said at a fundraising event.

            Read about the sticking points between Senate, House bills.

            Both the House and Senate measures would cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent — though the Senate version would set that lower rate in 2019, a year later than the House bill would. Also, the Senate bill, unlike the House version, would provide only temporary tax relief to individuals, ending tax cuts for them in 2026. Both bills are expected to add more than $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over 10 years, before accounting for any economic growth.

            Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who had cited concerns over the bill’s effects on federal deficits, was the only Republican dissenter. McConnell rejected revenue scores that suggested the bill’s tax cuts would add to the deficit. He predicted it would be a “revenue producer” by stimulating economic growth. Congress’s official tax scorekeeper this week said otherwise.

            The House and Senate bills also align on the contentious issue of individual deductions for state and local taxes: They’d eliminate all but a deduction for property taxes, which would be capped at $10,000.

            Mortgage Interest

            But they differ on the home mortgage-interest deduction; the House bill would restrict that break to loans of $500,000 or less with regard to new purchases of homes. The Senate legislation would leave the current $1 million cap in place.

            They also differ — narrowly — on the tax rates they’d apply to multinational companies’ accumulated offshore earnings. The House bill would tax those profits at 14 percent for earnings held as cash and 7 percent for less-liquid assets. The revised Senate bill contains a lengthy section that has no direct mention of the rates, but a person familiar with the Senate plan said they’d be 14.5 percent for cash and 7.5 percent for less-liquid assets.

            Senate Republican leaders muscled the sweeping legislation through the chamber less than two weeks after releasing the bill draft. Many GOP lawmakers, including Corker and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have expressed concerns that the party has little to show so far before next year’s congressional elections, after the collapse of an Obamacare repeal earlier this year and no action on issues ranging from immigration to infrastructure.

            ‘Working Families’

            Trump expressed gratitude to McConnell and Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch for steering the measure through the Senate.

            “We are one step closer to delivering MASSIVE tax cuts for working families across America,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

            Republicans were able to bring the legislation to a vote using Senate rules that allowed them to approve it with a simple majority, therefore without any Democratic support. The GOP controls just 52 votes in the chamber, eight shy of what’s typically needed to move controversial measures that draw delaying tactics by opponents.

            Narrow Majority

            That narrow majority made it important for Senate leaders to try to hold every member’s vote; moderate Senator Susan Collins of Maine used that leverage to secure various concessions, including an agreement to enhance an individual deduction for large unreimbursed medical expenses through the end of next year. The House bill would eliminate that tax break.

            Democrats decried the bill’s deficit impact and complained they were shut out of the process to help draft the measure. They cited research showing that the legislation primarily benefits the nation’s highest earners and business owners, and will bleed federal revenues in a way that hurts domestic programs.

            “At a time of immense inequality, the Republican tax bill makes life easier on the well-off and eventually makes life more difficult on working Americans, exacerbating one of the most pressing problems we face as a nation — the yawning gap between the rich and everyone else,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York during debate on the bill.

            ‘Back of a Napkin’

            Schumer noted that a set of last-minute revisions to the bill changed it in ways that had yet to be analyzed by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official scorekeeper for the effects of tax legislation. “Is this really how Republicans are going to rewrite the tax code? Scrawled like something on the back of a napkin?”

            McConnell said the bill, the first text of which was introduced on Nov. 20, went “through the regular order.” He dismissed complaints like Schumer’s. “You complain about process when you’re losing,” McConnell said.

            Attention now shifts to a House-Senate conference committee — a specially appointed, temporary panel that will be charged with hashing out the differences in the bills and preparing a final version for both chambers to consider. Party leaders will select a small group of lawmakers, likely from the House and Senate tax-writing panels in each chamber, who would then be approved by each chamber.

            That work could start as early as Monday, with many high-stakes issues to be worked through. The deadline of Dec. 31 is an artificial one, though — aimed partly at securing a victory well in advance of the 2018 congressional elections. Republicans would have until the end of 2018 before they lose their ability to clear final passage in the Senate without a filibuster.

            Expensing Provision

            Both bills share some key central elements: They both almost double the standard deduction for individual taxpayers while eliminating personal exemptions. They both allow companies to fully and immediately deduct the cost of their spending on equipment for five years. But the Senate version would slowly step down the expensing provision after the five-year period — a feature that the House bill doesn’t provide for.

            Yet there are many differences — ranging from the taxation of business income to the amount set for the child tax credit — and Senate negotiators may have the upper hand during talks. That’s because the wafer-thin two-vote majority in the Senate will make it harder to usher a final bill back through that chamber.

            The House bill would consolidate the current seven individual tax brackets to four, leaving the top tax rate at 39.6 percent. The Senate bill would have seven brackets — with lower rates, and a top rate of 38.5 percent. Studies have shown that many of the tax bill’s benefits would go to the highest earners — and some middle-class taxpayers might actually pay more — a finding that could impact the House-Senate talks.

            The Senate bill includes a repeal of Obamacare’s mandate that most Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty. The House bill does not.

            Pass-Through Businesses

            Senators approved a 23 percent tax deduction — subject to certain limitations — on business income earned from partnerships, limited liabilities and other so-called pass-through businesses. The House version would create a 25 percent tax rate for such business income — with restrictions on which businesses could qualify. Small businesses would get extra relief under the House legislation as well.

            The House bill would also eliminate the estate tax, while the Senate version would limit the tax to fewer multimillion-dollar estates, but leave it in place. And after 2025, the limits would lift.

            Under current law, the estate tax applies a 40 percent levy to estates worth more than $5.49 million for individuals and $10.98 million for married couples. The Senate bill would temporarily double the exemption thresholds. The House bill would double the exemption thresholds, and then repeal the tax entirely in 2025.

              Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-02/senate-passes-tax-cut-bill-in-milestone-move-toward-overhaul

              The GOP Tax Plan Is Entering Its Make-or-Break Week

              The $1.4 trillion item on President Donald Trump’s wish list — a package of tax cuts for businesses and individuals that he has said he wants to sign before year’s end — is headed into the legislative equivalent of a Black Friday scrum next week.

              Senate Republican leaders plan a make-or-break floor vote on their bill as soon as Thursday — a dramatic moment that will come only after a marathon debate that could go all night. Democrats are expected to try to delay or derail the measure, and the GOP must hold together at least 50 votes from its thin, 52-vote majority in order to prevail.

              Their chances improved this week when Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she’ll support repealing the “individual mandate” imposed by Obamacare — a provision that Senate tax writers are counting on to help finance the tax cuts. Murkowski had earlier signaled some reservations about the provision; and her support was widely viewed as a positive sign for the tax bill’s chances.

              Trump is scheduled to address Senate Republicans at their weekly luncheon Tuesday afternoon on taxes and the legislative agenda for the rest of the year, according to a statement from Senator John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. 

              The White House previously announced that the president would talk with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders at the White House the same day about an agreement on spending to keep the government open after funding expires on Dec. 8. David Popp, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, both said that meeting is still on the schedule.

              If the tax bill clears the Senate — a step that’s by no means guaranteed — lawmakers in both chambers would have to hammer out a compromise between their differing bills, a process that presents potential pitfalls of its own. For now, though, much of the Senate’s attention will focus on its legislation’s price tag.

              Three GOP senators — Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Flake of Arizona and James Lankford of Oklahoma — have cited concerns about how the measure would affect federal deficits. Independent studies of the legislation have found that — contrary to its backers’ arguments — its tax cuts won’t stimulate enough growth to pay for themselves. Both the Senate bill, and one that cleared the House earlier this month, would reduce federal revenue over a decade by roughly $1.4 trillion, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

              On Wednesday, a report from the Penn Wharton Budget Model at the University of Pennsylvania said the bill would reduce federal revenue in each year from 2028 to 2033. That finding would mean it doesn’t comply with a key budget rule that Senate Republican leaders want to use to pass their bill with a simple majority over Democrats’ objections.

              Budget Rule

              In essence, that rule holds that any bill approved via that fast-track process can’t add to the deficit outside a 10-year budget window. The JCT has already found that the Senate bill would generate a surplus in its 10th year because it has set several tax breaks for businesses and individuals to expire.

              But JCT hasn’t yet weighed in publicly on the revenue effects in subsequent years. Senate GOP leaders have expressed confidence that their proposal will satisfy the rule ultimately.

              Another potential stumbling block stems from the fact that Congress is trying to act on complex tax legislation under a tight, self-imposed timeline in order to deliver on promises from Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and McConnell.

              For example, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has said he can’t support the current Senate bill because it would give corporations a tax advantage — a large rate cut to 20 percent from 35 percent — that other, closely held businesses wouldn’t get.

              ‘Change the Most’

              His concern centers on the Senate’s plan for large partnerships, limited liability companies, sole proprietorships and other so-called “pass-through” businesses. Under current law, these businesses simply pass their earnings to their owners, who pay income taxes at their individual rates — currently, as high as 39.6 percent, depending on how much they earn.

              Read more: A QuickTake guide to the tax-cut debate

              The Senate bill would provide pass-through owners with a 17.4 percent deduction for income — but in combination with other provisions, that would result in an effective top tax rate for business income that’s more than 10 percentage points higher than the proposed corporate tax rate.

              The House bill would use an entirely different approach, setting a top tax rate of 25 percent for pass-through business income, but then limiting how much of a business’s earnings could qualify for that rate.

              Reconciling those differences — and addressing Johnson’s concern — may be a complicated process. “That’s part of the equation that could change the most over the next few weeks,” Isaac Boltansky, senior vice president and policy analyst at Compass Point Research and Trading LLC, told Bloomberg Tax. “No one is planning around it yet. There is uncertainty across the board.”

              Meanwhile, the Obamacare issue looms in the background — threatening at least one GOP senator’s vote. Susan Collins of Maine said earlier this week that tax bill “needs work,” and “I think there will be changes.”

              The 2010 Affordable Care Act — popularly known as Obamacare — contained a provision requiring individuals to buy health insurance or pay a federal penalty. Removing that penalty in 2019, as the Senate tax bill proposes to do, would generate an estimated $318 billion in savings by 2027, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The savings would stem from about 13 million Americans dropping their coverage, eliminating the need for federal subsidies to help them afford it.

              Because many of the newly uninsured would be younger, healthier people, insurance premiums would rise 10 percent in most years, the nonpartisan fiscal scorekeeper found.

                Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-24/trump-s-1-4-trillion-tax-cut-is-entering-its-make-or-break-week

                NFL’s Litany of Excuses Runs Out After Ratings Fall for Second Year

                TV networks are running out of excuses for the dwindling popularity of the National Football League.

                They blamed the election for ratings declines last year, and hurricanes for a soft week one in September. Protests during the national anthem, and President Donald Trump’s criticism of the league, have faded from the headlines. 

                Advertisers are starting to believe a different explanation: the viewers aren’t coming back. Audiences are down an average 7 percent from a year ago through the first eight weeks of the season, excluding last Monday. That’s on top of a decrease of about 8 percent last season that spurred numerous changes in the broadcasts, from shorter commercials to better matchups earlier in the year.

                “There’s just not as many people watching TV the way they used to watch TV,” said Jeremy Carey, managing director of Optimum Sports, a sports marketing agency. “It’s going to be an issue for advertisers when they can’t reach a large-scale audience the way they have.”

                With CBS Corp., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Walt Disney Co. set to report earnings in the next few days, analysts are bound to raise questions. These companies have used the popularity of the games to extract additional fees from cable operators, promote other shows on their networks and sell lots of commercials. Pro football games drew about $3.5 billion in ad spending last year, including the postseason, according to SMI Media Inc.

                Media companies have spent billions of dollars on the right to air football games, which had been immune to the erosion of viewership for other TV programming. Audiences for TV networks have diminished for years as the growing popularity of online alternatives Netflix and YouTube and the availability of most shows on-demand have reduced the appeal of dramas and comedies. Live TV, like sports, was supposed to be immune, but that theory looks highly questionable now.

                Ratings for the NFL suggest the same societal trends are now affecting the league, even if the declines aren’t as dramatic. The drop in game viewership ranges from 5 percent for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” to 11 percent for the CBS Sunday package. “Monday Night Football,” on Disney’s ESPN, has attracted more fans this year than a year ago, but the numbers are still down from 2015.

                Viewership of the four main broadcast networks fell 8.7 percent last year, and 12 percent among adults 18 to 49, an important demographic for advertisers.

                CBS’s 11 percent slump for NFL games is the steepest of the networks. Its parent company, which reports earnings after the close Thursday, is more vulnerable than rivals to the trend because the vast majority of its earnings come from the broadcast network. The declines at CBS reinforce a complaint that has gotten louder and louder in recent weeks: The league got greedy in adding the Thursday night game on broadcast.

                Reserving top games for Thursday night robbed other time periods of good match-ups. After a nosedive in ratings at “Monday Night Football” last season, the league has scheduled better games for that time period, further damaging Sunday afternoon.

                “Ratings declines on both general entertainment and NFL programming could be the single biggest point of focus for investors this quarter, and we’re not sure what media companies can say about the health and tone of the ad market to assuage fears,” Steven Cahall, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note last month.

                Viewership is dropping fast among people under 54 — a key demographic for advertisers — and even faster among those 18 to 34. Audiences for games on CBS, NBC and Fox have slid at least 10 percent among that younger cohort.

                Advertisers aren’t abandoning the NFL, one of the only places they can still reach more than 10 million people at once. But they are growing concerned. John Schnatter, who appears in TV spots on behalf of his Papa John’s Pizza International Inc., laid into the league on a conference call this week, blaming the ratings for his company’s slow revenue growth and calling for the league to put an end to player protests.

                Networks and other advertisers identify a wide range of reasons for the NFL’s struggles. The league has overexposed itself by making highlights available on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat. Identifiable stars like Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers have either retired or gotten hurt. The quality of play has deteriorated. Player protests and concussions have driven away some fans.

                Some executives argue viewership of the league has still improved over the long term while dropping for every other show. Yet the amount of time people have spent watching football this season is at the lowest point since 2011, back when there were fewer televised games, according to Mike Mulvihill, Fox Sports’ head of research.

                “The cumulative effect of everything happening in the world at large is having an impact on NFL viewership,” Mulvihill said. “ The league was defying the laws of gravity.”

                  Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-02/nfl-s-litany-of-excuses-runs-out-as-ratings-fall-for-second-year

                  Opioid Billionaire’s Indictment Opens New Window on Epidemic

                  More than a decade after opioid painkillers first exploded across the U.S., John Kapoor found an aggressive way to sell even more, according to prosecutors: He began bribing doctors to prescribe them.

                  Speakers’ fees, dinners, entertainment, cash — federal charges unsealed Thursday claim Kapoor’s striving company, Insys Therapeutics Inc., employed all of that and more to spur prescriptions of a highly addictive fentanyl-based drug intended only for cancer patients.

                  As President Donald Trump declared at a White House event that opioid abuse represents a public-health emergency, authorities arrested Kapoor in Arizona and painted a stark portrait of how Insys allegedly worked hand in glove with doctors to expand the market for the powerful agents.

                  “Selling a highly addictive opioid-cancer pain drug to patients who did not have cancer makes them no better than street-level drug dealers,” Harold Shaw, the top FBI agent in Boston, said of Kapoor and other Insys executives charged earlier in the case.

                  The story of the 74-year-old billionaire and the company he founded traces the arc of a crisis that claims 175 lives each day. What began with the over-prescription of painkillers in the late 1990s soon became a race by manufacturers to dispense more and more pills.

                  Overdose Risks

                  Charged with racketeering conspiracy and other felonies, Kapoor became the highest-ranking pharma executive to be accused of an opioid-related crime, and his arrest may portend charges against companies far larger than Insys, which has a modest $417 million market capitalization.

                  In Connecticut, prosecutors have begun a criminal probe of Purdue Pharmaceutical Inc.’s marketing of OxyContin. Scores of states, cities and counties have sued companies including Purdue, Endo International Plc, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, alleging they triggered the opioid epidemic by minimizing the addiction and overdose risks of painkillers such as Percocet.

                  But so far, no recent case has been so sweeping as the one against the executives including Kapoor, who made his initial court appearance late Thursday in Phoenix. A U.S. magistrate judge set bail at $1 million and ordered Kapoor to surrender his passport and submit to electronic monitoring. His lawyer, Brian Kelly, said Kapoor posted bail after the hearing.

                  This week, a Rhode Island doctor admitted accepting kickbacks from Insys in exchange for writing prescriptions. Earlier this year, two doctors were sentenced to more than 20 years behind bars for accepting bribes from companies including Insys to sell fentanyl-based medications.

                  The Kapoor indictment pinpoints the start of the alleged scheme.

                  Oral Spray

                  It was early 2012, and Insys’s new oral spray of the opioid fentanyl wasn’t selling well. Because it was so addictive, the pain-relief drug was subject to a tightly controlled distribution system, and regulators demanded to be notified about suspicious orders by manufacturers, wholesalers and pharmacies. And the drug wasn’t cheap, so insurers set up barriers for patients seeking it.

                  That was when Kapoor and others at Insys went to extremes to dramatically boost sales of the painkiller, prosecutors said. Doling out speaker fees, marketing payments and food and entertainment perks, they allegedly began bribing doctors to prescribe the drug, and then tricked insurers into paying for it.

                  One Insys sales executive told subordinates that it didn’t matter whether doctors were entertaining, according to the indictment: “They do not need to be good speakers, they need to write a lot of” Subsys prescriptions, the official said, referring to the brand name of the painkiller.

                  Over a two-year period starting in 2013, Chandler, Arizona-based Insys set aside more than $12.2 million for doctors’ speaking fees, prosecutors said. One doctor received as much as $229,640 in speaker fees for appearing at what amounted to “sham events that were mere social gatherings also attended by friends and office staff,” according to the indictment.

                  Friends, Family

                  The company encouraged doctors to write more prescriptions by hiring their friends and family members to serve as “business liaisons’’ and “business-relation managers,’’ prosecutors said. These support-staff employees worked in the doctors’ offices but were paid by Insys in what the indictment called bribes and kickbacks.

                  Insys even made a video featuring a sales rep dressed as a giant fentanyl spray bottle, rapping and dancing to a song that pushed the idea of getting doctors to prescribe higher doses, prosecutors said.

                  Others previously charged include Michael Babich, Insys’s former CEO, Alec Burlakoff, the ex-vice president of sales, and Richard Simon, once the company’s national sales director. They all deny wrongdoing.

                  Joe McGrath, an Insys spokesman, declined to comment on Kapoor’s indictment in Boston federal court. The company, which wasn’t charged, has reportedly been in settlement talks with the U.S. Justice Department to resolve a probe into its Subsys marketing. The company’s shares fell more than 22 percent to $5.74 in Nasdaq trading.

                  The Lawyer Who Beat Big Tobacco Takes On the Opioid Industry

                  The first person in his family to attend college, Kapoor rose from modest means in India to become a wealthy health-care entrepreneur, after earning a doctorate in medicinal chemistry at the University of Buffalo in 1972, according to a work-history the school posted.

                  He was a plant manager at Invenex Laboratories in New York and later became chief executive officer of LyphoMed, a hospital-products company. He sold LyphoMed to Fujisawa Pharmaceuticals and formed a venture capital firm that invested in health-care companies.

                  In 2010, he merged privately held Insys with NeoPharm Inc. to get access to technology to develop pain drugs for cancer patients. Even though he has stepped down as Insys’s chairman and chief executive officer, he still holds more than 60 percent of its stock.

                  Kapoor and Babich are also accused of misleading insurers about patients’ diagnoses and the types of pain they suffered that were covered by the Subsys prescriptions tied to the payment scheme, prosecutors said.

                  The company’s agents allegedly told insurers that patients were receiving Subsys for “breakthrough pain’’ to secure coverage. They also misled insurers about what other pain drugs patients had tried before being proscribed Subsys, according to the indictment.

                  Some lower-level Insys employees have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors, according to court papers. Elizabeth Gurrieri, a former manager who oversaw insurance reimbursements, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud in June.

                    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-26/insys-therapeutics-founder-charged-in-opioid-fraud-case

                    Key GOP Senator Susan Collins Lays Out Her Demands for Tax Bill

                    Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said Monday she’s opposed to two tax breaks for the wealthy that her party leaders are pushing for, indicating that her vote won’t be easy to win on President Donald Trump’s top legislative priority.

                    “I do not believe that the top rate should be lowered for individuals who are making more than $1 million a year,” Collins said during an interview with Bloomberg News. “I don’t think there’s any need to eliminate the estate tax.”

                    Repealing the estate tax and cutting the individual rate from 39.6 percent for top earners “concern me,” she said, adding that she’s conveyed her opposition to party leaders.

                    Collins, a moderate Republican who played a decisive role in thwarting several iterations of Obamacare replacement legislation, offered her most pointed comments on her priorities for a tax bill to date.

                    She added that the structure of the estate tax — a 40 percent levy applied to estates worth more than $5.49 million for individuals or $10.98 million for couples — means it avoids hitting “the vast majority of family-owned businesses and farms and ranches.” She said she’s open to adjusting the cutoff level slightly upward.

                    The White House and GOP leaders released a tax framework last month that calls for a top individual rate of 35 percent and leaves room for tax committees to add another rate above that. It also proposes the repeal of the estate tax. The House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to release its version of a tax bill on Wednesday. Collins said the Senate will likely offer a tax bill that differs from the House version.

                    Collins’s demands are important because Republicans have only 52 seats in the 100-member Senate and little hope of Democratic support — they can’t afford to lose more than two members to get a bill passed. 

                    Still, she said: “There is far more outreach on the tax bill” than there was on health care.

                    Collins declined to say she’ll oppose a tax bill that adds to the deficit, in contrast to her colleague Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. But she said she cares about the debt and doesn’t want the tax bill to “blow a hole” in the deficit. She argued that “certain tax cuts done right will increase economic growth” and produce revenue.

                    “I hope very much to be able to support a tax reform package," Collins said. "It’s very difficult — I’m not going to say I can guarantee that because I don’t know what’s going to be in it.”

                      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-30/key-gop-senator-susan-collins-lays-out-her-demands-for-tax-bill