Big data vs. the credit gap

There’s a catch-22 at the core of the U.S. financial system: To get credit, you need to already have established a credit history. Millions of Americans never find a way around the contradiction, and as a result, are locked out of things like credit cards or student loans that the rest of the population can take for granted.

Banks and other financial companies usually rely on the three major credit reporting agencies to decide whether to let you have credit, using something called your FICO score, an algorithm based on your credit history. No credit history; no FICO score. (If you have a thin credit history or a bad score, you might be able to get a car or a loan, but you will pay higher interest rates and fees.)

But not having a credit history is not the same thing as being a credit risk. In fact, Continue reading “Big data vs. the credit gap”

Puerto Rico’s governor plans to privatize electric utility

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he plans to privatize the commonwealth’s beleaguered electric power utility.

In an announcement Monday afternoon, Rosselló said he intends to sell off assets of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. PREPA, as it’s known by its English acronym, has struggled to fully restore power following Hurricane Maria’s devastating landfall on the territory last year.

Rosselló said he plans to prioritize the sale of the electric utility as part of a new fiscal package he will present to the territory’s federal oversight board.

Rubio, Puerto Rico governor spar over tax reform

Sen. Marco Rubio said he is “disappointed” in Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló for calling him out over the new Republican tax bill H.R. 1 (115) suggesting the commonwealth’s leader is blame-shifting because of criticism of his job performance.

The disagreement between the two leaders centers on provisions of the new bill that could put companies in Puerto Rico at a competitive disadvantage because they would be treated as if they’re offshore firms subject to higher taxes than mainland-based corporations.

Rosselló threatened political retribution Monday when he told Rubio’s hometown paper, The Miami Herald, that he was “very disappointed with the fact the Senator Rubio is going to be voting for this tax bill particularly when we had the opportunity to address the potentially devastating effects on Puerto Rico.” Rosselló is a Democrat and a member of the island’s pro-statehood New Progressive Party.

Rubio told POLITICO he was Continue reading “Rubio, Puerto Rico governor spar over tax reform”

Historic tax reform vote lined up with GOP bill finalized

Republicans unveiled on Friday their final, compromise plan to rewrite the tax code, putting them on the brink of a historic victory in Congress that’s sure to reverberate into next year’s elections.

The legislation would cut both business and individual taxes as part of the biggest tax revamp in 30 years. It is poised to be carved into law next week when Congress sends it to President Donald Trump for his signature.

Republicans are trumpeting the increases in take-home pay millions would see under the plan, while Democrats call it a giveaway to the rich while emphasizing some middle-income people would see their tax bills climb.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told Republican lawmakers on a phone call that the House will vote on the plan Tuesday, before the Senate, according to a person on the call.

The agreement came after last-minute haggling in which Republican leaders bowed to Sen. Marco Continue reading “Historic tax reform vote lined up with GOP bill finalized”

GOP makes last-minute tax bill changes to win over holdouts

House and Senate negotiators have agreed on last-minute changes to their sweeping tax measure in order to win over GOP holdouts — although it’s unclear whether it’ll be enough for a pair of Senate Republicans to come on board.

The negotiators have agreed to expand the child tax credit at the behest of Sen. Marco Rubio, who announced on Thursday that he would be a "no" unless the credit was made more generous. The refundable portion of the child tax credit was increased from $1,100 to $1,400, according to a senior Senate GOP aide.

News of the changes leaked out as a joint panel of lawmakers from both chambers began signing the legislative text they intend to be the final version of tax reform. They plan to release that text publicly at the end of the day on Friday.

Still, Rubio and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who also wants a Continue reading “GOP makes last-minute tax bill changes to win over holdouts”

Final tax bill vote in House won’t come next week, GOP leader says

The House will not vote next week on a final agreement to rewrite the tax code, though House and Senate negotiators are expected to work through the weekend.

“It will not come up next week, but if it could, I would bring it up as soon as we come out of conference, because I do believe the American people are waiting for a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told colleagues late Thursday in remarks on the House floor.

His comments come as lawmakers work behind closed doors on a compromise tax plan that they can send to President Donald Trump to sign into law. Lawmakers have provided little guidance as to when they might wrap up their work, beyond saying they want to finish this year.

Dec. 22 has been widely seen as the unofficial deadline in recent days, as that’s the date federal funding Continue reading “Final tax bill vote in House won’t come next week, GOP leader says”

Lobbyists push GOP in last-minute scramble to save tax breaks

Lobbyists have launched an all-out effort to save tax breaks and protect powerful industries as the Republicans’ tax overhaul lurches toward President Donald Trump’s desk.

Builders and real estate interests are pushing to save the mortgage interest deduction. Businesses are fighting to strip out a last-minute provision inserted into the Senate bill that would preserve the corporate alternative minimum tax. And a coalition of trade groups and local government leaders is urging Republicans not to cut the state and local tax deduction.

With Trump pressing Congress to send him a bill before Christmas, lobbyists must decide where they want to focus their efforts over the next week.

Some are working the senators and representatives who will make up the conference committee charged with ironing out the differences between the House and Senate bill. Others are working to persuade Republican leaders or leaning on the members of Congress whose constituents may Continue reading “Lobbyists push GOP in last-minute scramble to save tax breaks”