N2K Top 10: Palin Ignites the Field; Corporate Profits Hit New Nominal Record
Friday, May 27, 2011 | 7:35 a.m.
- PALIN IGNITES THE FIELD. While we still don't know if Sarah Palin will run for president, her announcement of a national tour moved many of the other Republican presidential fence-sitters toward the starting line. Within hours after Palin disclosed plans for a buscapade pointed toward New England, three more presidential hopefuls let it be known they'll be revealing their presidential plans next month: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.
- CORPORATE PROFITS HIT NEW NOMINAL RECORD. The recovery is going just fine for corporate profits. Aided by efforts to get more production from labor spending, U.S. companies banked $1.7 trillion in profits for the first three months of 2011, or 1.3 percent higher than the previous quarter. That could be a good sign for the broader economy if companies use that money to hire workers or purchase capital equipment. If they move more toward reinvesting those profits outside the United States, though, ordinary Americans may not end up sharing the wealth.
- BOEHNER BLOCKS RECESS APPOINTMENTS. Prompted by a letter from several Senate conservatives, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, exercised his power to refuse to agree to let the Senate adjourn, which caused the Senate to hold pro forma sessions instead of a formal recess next week, said a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. That means Elizabeth Warren and other nominees cannot win recess appointments next week. The Constitution gives Boehner power to block a Senate adjournment of more than three days, and the Justice Department has previously opined that a recess must be longer than three days for the president to make recess appointments. So unless Democrats test the DOJ opinion, Boehner can block recess appointments whenever he chooses.
- EXPECT A DEBT DEAL IN JULY. After a Thursday meeting of a bipartisan group of six members of Congress led by Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said the group discussed their schedule for the “next six weeks or so.” According to the Treasury Department, Congress must act by August 2 to raise the debt ceiling beyond its current $14.3 trillion and avert a potential default if the United States can no longer finance government operations.
- CAN THE MILITARY MOVE THE CLEAN-TECH MARKET? The U.S. military, the world’s largest industrial consumer of energy, has launched an aggressive campaign to ramp up its use of renewable energy, running fighter jets on biofuels and patrol camps in Afghanistan on solar power. The Pentagon’s goals are twofold: release the front lines from dependence on fuel that must be trucked in at a cost of billions of dollars and risk to human life, and spur a commercial renewable energy market that could unshackle the U.S. economy from dependence on foreign oil. Can the military do for renewable energy what it did for technologies like the Internet? Experts in the worlds of defense, energy, finance, and policy say yes—but the hurdles are high.
- CHINA AND PAKISTAN MOVE CLOSER. The widening rift between the United States and Pakistan over fighting extremists and the operation to kill Osama bin Laden appears to creating a winner: China. The Pakistani government has turned more toward China in recent weeks, and the Chinese government is reciprocating, seeing an opportunity to expand its strategic, military, and economic influence. Foreign-policy experts question what may come from all this, but U.S. lawmakers are watching it closely.
- OBAMA MOVES ON TO POLAND. President Obama is scheduled to wrap up his participation in the annual Group of Eight summit in Deauville, France, on Friday afternoon. In his haste to get to Poland, he’s skipping out of France without the customary post-summit press conference. The stop in Warsaw -- where he will hold a press conference -- is a makeup of a trip planned last year to attend the funeral of the Polish president and much of the Polish civilian and military leadership after a plane crash in Russia. That trip was postponed because of volcanic ash that made air travel too dangerous.
- HOUSING REFORM IN SENATE ON SNAIL’S PACE. Senate Banking Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and ranking member Richard Shelby, R-Ala., made clear at a housing reform hearing Thursday that restructuring the broken government-sponsored enterprises is on a slow track. Johnson said policymakers must be mindful of not upsetting the fragile housing recovery and questioned whether potential homebuyers or renters could afford housing without some kind of government backstop. Shelby said they need a good plan for bringing back the private market, but do not have one yet.
- VISA WAIVERS CAUSING TENSION. One of the few issues clouding an otherwise bright relationship between the U.S. and Poland is the fact that the U.S. has continually refused to include the country in the State Department’s Visa Waiver Program, the only one of 25 countries who signed the Schengen Agreement that isn’t included. Poland’s advocates in Congress say it’s losing the U.S. good tourism money, and the Polish ambassador is adamant that there is no migration pressure from his people. It’s a big issue for the Poles, and one that they will be looking to Obama to address.
- AMA SAYS ACOS KEEP OUT SMALL DOC GROUPS. The American Medical Association says 78 percent of doctors practice in groups with nine or fewer physicians, and those doctors are "effectively prohibited" from contracting with insurance companies to participate in accountable care organizations -- the supposed new structure for health care -- under current antitrust provisions in the regulations.