Balance of Power: Trump Risks Tax-Cut Penalty With NFL Spat

Wall Street and corporate America have always had a sort of implicit deal with President Donald Trump: You get us a big tax cut, and we won’t get too upset if you say stuff that we find off-topic or even offensive.

Trump is coming pretty close to breaking the deal.

The president on Friday said any National Football League player who kneels in protest during the national anthem is a “son of a bitch” who should be fired. (It is usually black players who kneel to protest police violence.) His comments prompted a weekend-long national conversation about patriotism and race that almost no one, apparently except Trump, seemed particularly eager to have.

Trump said all of this on the eve of his tax-cut rollout this week.

So it’s going to be pretty hard for corporate leaders to cheer on Trump the tax-cutter and not look like they’re also cheering on Trump the racial antagonist. After his racially insensitive comments about Charlottesville, they quit his advisory councils en masse. It’s a lot harder to quit this fight, but at some point, even people who want a tax cut may say enough’s enough with Trump.

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Members of the Detroit Lions take a knee prior to the start of their game on Sept. 24 in Detroit, Michigan.
Photographer: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images North America

Global Headlines

Tax plan details | The framework that Trump and Republican congressional leaders plan to release this week would dramatically cut taxes on the wealthy — a departure from recent Trump rhetoric — and lower the corporate tax rate to 20 percent. Although the proposal would provide a measure of relief for the middle class, it would punish some households in Democratic-leaning states like New York and New Jersey and has already drawn fire from the minority party. And that's just one of the litany of challenges ahead. 

Merkel victory sparks opposition split | It didn’t take long for the sheen to rub off the Alternative for Germany’s victorious entry to the Bundestag to oppose Chancellor Angela Merkel. Frauke Petry, the populist party’s co-chairwoman who tried and failed to shift the fractious AfD away from the far-right fringes, announced she wouldn’t join her party’s Bundestag caucus — and walked out of a press conference in Berlin. It might herald a split in the party before the AfD has even taken up its seats.

Obamacare repeal on life support | Senators scrambling to save their bill yesterday circulated a new version aimed at winning over Republican holdouts. With senators from both the conservative and moderate wings of the party opposed — and a Sept. 30 deadline looming — the effort could be destined to die like its predecessors, marking another setback for Trump’s legislative agenda. 

Expanded travel ban | The president opened himself up to a fresh wave of legal challenges with a revised travel ban yesterday that adds three countries — Chad, North Korea and Venezuela — just as his previous restrictions were set to expire. Two groups that are challenging the earlier version of the policy at the Supreme Court said they still see the limits as targeting Muslims.

Japan snap election | Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he’ll dissolve parliament on Thursday for a vote next month, more than a year before the government’s term expires. The Japanese leader has seen his approval ratings improve due to his tough stance against North Korea, and he’s betting now is the best time to challenge a weak opposition. To sweeten his pitch to voters, he also announced an $18 billion economic package.

And finally… Saudi Arabia is nursing a proverbial hangover after (booze-less) street parties to celebrate national day took the kingdom by surprise. In an unprecedented display, Riyadh’s main boulevard briefly turned into a dance floor, with men and women bopping to house music played by a DJ. But while many rejoiced, others were less pleased: A trending hashtag in the kingdom today called for a forceful return of the religious police, highlighting tensions as efforts to loosen up collide with the austere form of Islam preached by government clerics.

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