How To Avoid A Shutdown And A Default Without Really Trying?

Expect House action this week on the debt ceiling and government funding. But how? On Friday, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House will vote this week on the debt limit and on a continuing resolution to fund the government to mid-December. The House could roll them into a single bill. But in the Senate, Democrats would need 60 votes, probably including 10 Republicans, to approve such a measure. And Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans will oppose any debt limit increase, even though they voted four times to boost federal borrowing during the Trump Administration.   

And in the Senate… The Finance Committee will hold a hearing on policy options for improving Supplemental Security Income on Tuesday. It will hold a hearing on the nomination of Neal MacBride to serve as General Counsel for the Treasury Department on Wednesday.

National Tax Association awards 2021 Holland Medal to Rosanne Altshuler. The prestigious Daniel M. Holland Medal, created in 1993 in memory of the late MIT economics professor, recognizes lifetime achievement in the study of the theory and practice of public finance. Altshuler, an economics professor at Rutgers University and former director of TPC, is a leading researcher in corporate and international tax and has helped influence public policy in those areas.

How do big accounting firms affect federal tax policies? The New York Times reports on the revolving door between the top accounting firms and the Treasury Department. Accounting firm lawyers briefly go to Treasury, then return to their firms “with the expectation of big raises” according to public records reviewed by Times and interviews with current and former government and industry officials. For example, during the Trump Administration, a senior executive at the major accounting firm RSM took a top job at Treasury, where his office expanded a tax break in ways sought by RSM. He he then returned to the firm.

Speaking of avoiding taxes… The tax bill approved by the House Ways & Means Committee last week would require holders of individual retirement accounts, 401(k) plans, and other retirement portfolios worth more than $10 million to take taxable distributions. For example, Peter Thiel, billionaire cofounder of PayPal, could be required to withdraw all but $20 million from his Roth IRA, currently worth about $5 billion

A (narrow) plastic bag tax is coming to Northern Virginia. Fairfax County, Arlington County and the City of Alexandria approved five-cent plastic bag taxes in recent days. The local measures will take effect on New Year’s Day. The tax applies only to supermarkets, pharmacies, and convenience stores but exempts bags used to carry meat, fish, poultry, or ice cream.


For the latest tax news, subscribe to the Tax Policy Center’s Daily Deduction. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox weekdays at 8:00 am (Mondays only when Congress is in recess). We welcome tips on new research or other news. Email Renu Zaretsky at

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