Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is planning to launch an investment fund that will be backed by sovereign wealth funds in the Persian Gulf region and other investors, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
Citing two people familiar with the matter, the Washington Post said the fund will invest in areas including financial technology and entertainment, among other potential sectors.
The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia control some of the Persian Gulf region’s largest investment funds, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.
Mnuchin traveled to the region frequently during his time as the head of the US Treasury, usually in relation to the treasury’s mission to combat terrorism financing.
Christmas could be coming late for many Americans, with $600 stimulus checks to be direct deposited in their accounts as early as tonight, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday.
Paper checks could be mailed out as early as Wednesday, he added.
Included as part of the $900 billion coronavirus relief package signed by President Trump over the weekend, the checks – though deemed meager by most Democrats and the president himself – will provide a needed boost to an economy that has been slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 337,000 in the US.
The checks may also prove not to be the last round of economic assistance, however.
On Monday, House Democrats, joined by 44 Republicans, passed a standalone bill that would provide $2,000 stimulus checks to US adults.
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, under pressure from Sen. Bernie Sanders and other progressives who threatened to stall the upper chamber’s work, on Tuesday said he will is willing to consider the measure – provided it is attached to two unrelated and potentially poisonous measures: one creating a commission to investigate the president’s baseless allegations of voter fraud, and the other repealing a law that grants social media companies legal immunity for the content shared on their platforms.
The draft version of the COVID-19 stimulus package has a tax break for corporate hospitality lobbied for personally by President Donald Trump, according to The Washington Post.
The measure would allow businesses to deduct the full cost of a business meal from their federal taxes, as opposed to the current 50%, the paper reported.
Although Congressional leaders struck a deal for a stimulus package late Sunday, the details have not been made public, leaving reports like the Post’s as the best source of what may have made the cut.
According to the paper, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had included the tax break as a White House priority in the negotiations.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
Summaries of the overall package released by Democrats – as well as statements from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday – make no direct mention of it.
But a Democratic aide told the Post that Democrats accepted the measure in exchange for GOP agreeing to expanded tax credits for the working poor and low-income families.
Meanwhile, there has been public backlash to the planned distribution of direct stimulus checks of $600, half the amount of the last round in April.
Trump brought the corporate dining suggestion to the table in April as a way to boost the restaurant industry, the Post reported.
“They’ll send their executives, they’ll send people there, and they get a deduction,” the Post reported him as saying. “That is something that will really bring life back to the restaurants, I think make them hotter than before.”
It was included in the GOP’s $1 trillion draft Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools Act (HEALS Act) in July, along with corporate pandemic liability protections. Both measures have been fiercely resisted by Democrats, and the HEALS Act did not pass.
Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden slammed Republicans for having “held up aid” in order to pass the measure in the most recent negotiations.
Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, wrote in May that the measure is unlikely to boost the economy effectively.
“Since the president has a long history in the hospitality business, his affinity for this tax subsidy isn’t surprising,” he wrote. “But as a tool to stimulate the current troubled economy, this tax break is, as the president himself might say, a total loser.”
He argued that it “won’t do much more than increase the reward for business execs who game the system,” noting that the current 50% business meal deduction is already often used for tax avoidance.
Congress is expected to vote on the package on Monday, after a long tug-of-war between more generous proposals favored by the Democratic Party and leaner deals put forward by Republicans.
Democrats are rejecting a White House proposal to fund new $600 stimulus checks by slashing money for the unemployed.
On Tuesday evening, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin proposed a new $916 billion COVID-19 stimulus package that would offer aid to state and local governments in exchange for “robust liability protections” for businesses, protecting them from employee lawsuits over the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Mnuchin’s proposal, welcomed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, also includes money for a new round of $600 stimulus checks – the funds coming, in part, by slashing a proposed $300-a-week boost in unemployment benefits.
“That is unacceptable,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement.
The Democratic lawmakers noted that a bipartisan stimulus package calls for providing $180 billion in new funding for unemployment insurance, a figure that would be slashed to $40 billion under the White House offer.
A $3 trillion stimulus package passed by House Democrats in May calls for $1,200 stimulus checks.
“While it is progress that Leader McConnell has signed off on a $916 billion offer that is based off of the bipartisan framework, the president’s proposal must not be allowed to obstruct the bipartisan congressional talks that are underway,” they said.