Thursday Morning Briefing
(Reuters) – The Las Vegas investigation reveals that gunman Stephen Paddock stockpiled weapons over decades, Google unveils new technology as part of its hardware push and the U.S. budget deficit could obstruct the government’s tax reform plans.
The U.S. budget deficit is proving to be a major obstacle to the tax reform plan being offered by President Donald Trump and top congressional Republicans, with one leading Senate hawk saying a week after the plan was introduced that any enlarging of the fiscal gap could kill his support. From proposed infrastructure enhancements to a military build-up, the deficit long ago put the brakes on major new federal spending programs; now Trump’s tax-cut proposal is threatened.
The Las Vegas gunman who killed 58 people and himself in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history stockpiled weapons and ammunition over decades, and meticulously planned the attack, authorities believe. But what led Stephen Paddock, 64, to unleash the carnage he did remains largely a mystery.
There’s a simple way for Republicans to keep their promise to make filing taxes “as easy as mailing a postcard,” writes columnist Bryce Covert. Instead of the bare-bones proposal for tax reform outlined last week, they could follow the example of countries where government tax agencies use already-filed financial information to complete tax returns on behalf of their citizens. Return-free filing could save U.S. taxpayers an estimated collective 225 million hours of tax filing work and $2 billion in costs, writes Covert.
Global stocks came off record highs and the euro held near a seven-week low as investors prepared to parse minutes from the European Central Bank’s last meeting for clues to its exit from ultra-easy monetary policy. Political tensions emanating from Spain, where one of its richest regions Catalonia has pledged to declare ‘independence in days’, was also at the forefront of concerns for European markets.
Google unveiled the second generation of its Pixel smartphone along with new voice-enabled home speakers, redoubling its commitment to the hardware business as it competes with a surge of devices from Apple and Amazon.
The leader of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, said he was not afraid of being arrested for organizing a banned referendum on the region’s independence from Spain, which went ahead on Sunday despite Madrid using force to try to stop people voting. Puigdemont’s government is to ask the regional parliament on Monday to declare independence, after his officials released preliminary referendum results showing 90 percent support in favor of breaking away.