On The Money: Trump tells Treasury to review universities’ tax exempt status | Trump to impose tariffs on French products | Fed official: Economy would improve ‘if we all wore a mask’

On The Money: Trump tells Treasury to review universities’ tax exempt status | Trump to impose tariffs on French products | Fed official: Economy would improve ‘if we all wore a mask’

Happy Friday and welcome back to On The Money, where we’re pouring one out for Tortilla Coast. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL — Trump tells Treasury to review universities’ tax exempt status: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump on Kanye West’s presidential run: ‘He is always going to be for us’ Marie Yovanovitch on Vindman retirement: He ‘deserved better than this. Our country deserved better than this’ Trump says Biden has been ‘brainwashed’: ‘He’s been taken over by the radical left’ MORE on Friday threatened the tax-exempt status of and funding for universities and colleges, claiming that “too many” schools are driven by “radical left indoctrination.”

“Therefore, I am telling the Treasury Department to re-examine their Tax-Exempt Status and/or Funding, which will be taken away if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues,” Trump tweeted. “Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!”

Trump did not name specific institutions whose tax-exempt status he wants the Treasury Department to review. Most private and public colleges and universities are exempt from taxes because they qualify as 501(c)(3) organizations.

The problem: This may not be legal. It would fall to the IRS, a bureau of the Treasury Department, to conduct the review that Trump described. However, federal law prohibits the IRS from targeting groups for regulatory scrutiny “based on their ideological beliefs.”

The background: Trump’s latest remarks come amid his escalating battle over schools’ plans for learning during the coronavirus pandemic. The president has sought to pressure schools to physically reopen come fall, even suggesting he could withhold federal funding from those that do not comply with his demands.

The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant explains here.



Trump administration to impose tariffs on French products over digital tax: The Trump administration on Friday announced plans to impose 25 percent tariffs on about $1.3 billion worth of French products in response to the country’s digital service tax that impacts major U.S. technology companies.

The tariffs are set to take effect Jan. 6, 2021. Products that are set to be subject to the tariffs include makeup, soap and handbags, according to a notice issued by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

The announcement of the tariffs comes after USTR in December determined that France’s digital tax is discriminatory and burdensome to U.S. commerce under section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974. At that time, USTR proposed tariffs of up to 100 percent on $2.4 billion of French products.

The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda breaks it down here.


Fed official: Economy would improve ‘if we all wore a mask’ A top Federal Reserve official said Friday that widespread mask-wearing is the best way to help the economy recover from the downturn driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

Kaplan, one of 10 Fed officials on the central bank’s policymaking committee this year, is the latest economist to call for the widespread adoption of mask-wearing. Read more here.



  • A Senate panel will vote later this month on whether to advance President Trump’s controversial nomination of Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve board despite earlier doubts about her viability.
  • Stocks rallied on Friday as good news emerged from drug companies on potential COVID-19 treatments.
  • President Trump on Friday indicated a phase two trade deal with China is unlikely, saying the relationship between the two countries “has been severely damaged” by Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus.
  • The House Appropriations Committee on Friday voted to block a controversial Trump Administration transparency rule that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) own independent board of science advisers criticized.
  • The U.S. Roman Catholic Church received at least $1.4 billion in federal COVID-19 relief aid, making it one of the largest beneficiaries of federal assistance during the pandemic.