U.S. Republicans move on tax reform; Fed officials see economic threats
Congressional Republicans moved to hasten an overhaul of the U.S. tax code on Thursday, while Federal Reserve officials warned in rare public remarks that President Donald Trump’s tax plan could lead to inflation and unsustainable federal debt.
In a procedural step forward, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved by a 219-206 vote a fiscal 2018 spending blueprint to help advance an eventual tax bill. The blueprint contains a legislative tool that would let Republicans pass a tax bill by a simple majority vote in the Senate, where they hold 52 of 100 seats, allowing them to bypass Democrats.
Separately, the Senate Budget Committee approved its own budget resolution and sent it to the full Senate for a vote, expected after Oct 16.
Trump and top Republicans in Congress hope to enact a package of tax cuts for corporations, small businesses and individuals before January, pledging that sharply lower taxes will boost U.S. economic growth, jobs and wages.
Wall Street rose on the steps taken, with major market indexes rising to record high closes again on Thursday as investors warmed to the notion that a sweeping tax overhaul could be in place by the first quarter.
“It sounds like they’re serious about drafting tax reform legislation and that gives everyone greater confidence that this might actually happen,” said Phil Orlando, chief equity strategist at Federated Investors in New York. He predicted tax reform could lift economic growth and corporate earnings for 2019 and send the benchmark S&P 500 .SPX index above 3,000. The index on Thursday finished at 2,552.07.
But Federal Reserve officials questioned the rosy Republican scenario, saying that proposed tax cuts could deliver a short-term growth surge but also bring high inflation, burdensome government debt levels and an eventual return to sub-par economic growth.
As carried in R