Capitol Alert

California Democrats warn billions could be lost for housing under GOP tax plan

The Speaker of the United States House Paul Ryan (Republican of Wisconsin) makes remarks as US Senate and House Republicans announce the new tax reform plan endorsed by US President Donald J. Trump in the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican of Kentucky) looks on at right.
The Speaker of the United States House Paul Ryan (Republican of Wisconsin) makes remarks as US Senate and House Republicans announce the new tax reform plan endorsed by US President Donald J. Trump in the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican of Kentucky) looks on at right. TNS

The Democratic-led assault on the GOP tax plan is intensifying this week, as California legislators lobby against the bill and activists launch a fresh wave of protests in home districts of congressional Republicans across the state.

Demonstrations are planned Friday in Clovis, targeting Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, as well as Hanford, where tax overhaul opponents will seek to pressure Rep. David Valadao into voting no on a final bill. A similar action was held Wednesday in Modesto singling out Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock. All three voted for the House version of the bill, which passed last month.

Republicans are making an end-of-the-year push to send a final bill to President Donald Trump’s desk by Christmas.

Assembly Democrats, meanwhile, are sounding the alarm over potential harm to California’s economy. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, are actively lobbying against the bill, telling low-income housing developers in San Francisco on Wednesday that it could dampen the state’s efforts to address its unprecedented housing affordability crisis.

“All the work that we did this year ... could be wiped out overnight if Donald Trump and his Republican allies are successful at passing so-called tax reform,” Chiu said Wednesday, referring to the state’s 15-bill package of housing bills passed earlier this year.

Though the House and Senate have not finalized a bill, economic projections show early versions could diminish financial incentives and tax credits used by developers to build low- to moderate-income housing. Proposals also cap the mortgage interest deduction for new home buyers, who face higher housing costs than most other parts of the country.

Quoting figures circulating among housing advocates, Chiu said Republican proposals put forward thus far could cost California more than $2 billion per year in funding for housing, and deter construction of 1 million homes over the next decade.

That’s only part of the the angst. Republican tax blueprints could also deal a significant blow to the Affordable Care Act by scrapping the individual mandate, eliminate the state and local tax break widely used by middle-class Californians, add more than $1 trillion to the national debt and open up drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Some California Republicans are against the bill, including Congressman Darrell Issa of Vista.

“When I voted against the House tax reform proposal, I did so because I feared that many in my district could face higher taxes under its changes. The Senate bill doesn’t do any better,” Issa said in a statement this week.

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WORTH REPEATING: “You need to get out if we say ‘get out,’” – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, telling residents in fire-endangered areas not to ignore evacuation orders.

HOLIDAY CHEER: Gov. Jerry Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown host the tree lighting ceremony at the Capitol today, beginning at 5 p.m. at the west steps. This year’s tree, a white fir from Shasta County, stands 65 feet tall, according to the governor’s office. It is decorated with more than 900 hand-made ornaments created by kids and adults with development disabilities, the governor’s office said. Tonight’s lighting ceremony features 10,000 LED lights and musical performances.

RACE FOR GOVERNOR: Republican John Cox will discuss his 2018 gubernatorial run at an afternoon forum hosted by the Public Policy Institute in San Francisco. The event is from noon to 1:30 p.m. at 500 Washington St., San Francisco. Go here to register.

HOUSING CRUNCH: Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, chairs a hearing in San Diego on how to address California’s housing shortage for the middle-class housing – particularly in cities.

The hearing, titled “The housing needs of employees in metropolitan and urban areas,” is from 10 a.m. to noon at 1122 Broadway in San Diego.

BY THE NUMBERS: State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has released new figures on insurance claims reported across California following October’s deadly Northern California wildfires.

Commercial and residential insurance claims in the North Bay alone amount to $9 billion, the costliest in the state’s history, Jones said. The data was collected from more than 260 insurers, with claim totals current through Dec. 1. The latest figure accounts for damages to more than 21,000 homes, 2,800 businesses and more than 6,100 vehicles. Additional losses were reported for other possessions, including farm equipment.

“The October wildfires that devastated whole communities and tragically cost 44 people their lives have now proven to be the most destructive and deadliest in our state’s history,” Jones said in a statement.

RUSSIA PROBE: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wants to hear from former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and Keith Schiller, a close Donald Trump confidant, as part of ongoing investigations into potential ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.

Feinstein sent the three letters Wednesday, as part of the committee’s Russia investigation and “possible obstruction” of the FBI’s independent investigation, according to a Feinstein news release. She is requesting an interview in January 2018 with all three.

“Dear Mr. Priebus,” Feinstein wrote. “As former chief of staff to President Trump, you were at the president’s side in the early days of the administration, before and during the president’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. Given your role in the White House and your knowledge of the president’s actions, we believe that you have information that would assist the committee in its investigation related to the 2016 presidential election and the dismissal of Director Comey.”

Feinstein on a Sunday interview with NBC News’ “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd,” outlined a possible case in the Trump White House for obstruction of justice, which could be an impeachable offense.

“I think, what we’re beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice,” Feinstein told Todd.

CELEBRATE: Happy birthday to state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, who turns 66 today, and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, who turns 41. Also wishing a happy birthday to Senate President Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, who turns 51 on Sunday, and Rep. Mark Takano, D-Riverside, who turns 57.