Earlier tsunami threat to Puerto Rico and the US and British Virgin Islands is cancelled after powerful and shallow quakeAn earthquake of magnitude 7.6 that struck in the Caribbean sea on Tuesday was felt across northern Central America, briefly prompting a tsunami warning for disaster-hit Puerto Rico and the British and US Virgin Islands.The US Tsunami Center later cancelled the alert but warned some parts of Honduras and Belize were still at risk from waves of up to a metre. Continue reading...
January 17, 2017 The Honorable Mitch McConnell Majority Leader United States Senate Washington, DC 20510 Dear Mr. Leader: As the 115th Congress begins, we write to underscore the need for additional legislation early in this session to address the economic and fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) provided Puerto Rico with important fiscal oversight and debt restructuring tools, and now the Oversight Board and Puerto Rico’s new Governor must take the critical next steps required by this federal legislation. Working with the new Governor, the Oversight Board now must certify a Fiscal Plan and set a path to comprehensively restructure the debt before the expiration of PROMESA’s automatic stay. Treasury has continued to provide both the Oversight Board and the new Governor with technical assistance as requested, and will remain able to do so after the transition to the next Administration. Despite the important progress achieved to date with bipartisan support, the work is not done. As Puerto Rico moves forward on these next steps, Congress must enact measures recommended by both Republicans and Democrats that fix Puerto Rico’s inequitable health care financing structure and promote sustained economic growth. Without congressional action to address these issues, Puerto Rico’s return to growth and opportunity will be a significant challenge. Most urgently, Congress should address Puerto Rico’s “Medicaid cliff” funding issue before April as recommended last month by the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico. Failure to do so would jeopardize health care for up to 900,000 poor U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico. CONGRESSIONAL TASK FORCE REPORT On December 20, the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico, established by PROMESA, released its Final Report. The bipartisan report provides an overview of the economic challenges facing Puerto Rico and a series of potential solutions that, if crafted well and enacted quickly, are necessary for a sustainable economic recovery. It is important that Congress not only turn ideas into action, but in doing so, address Puerto Rico’s significant remaining economic and social challenges in meaningful ways to help put Puerto Rico on a path of sustained economic growth. As the report acknowledges, Puerto Rico faces an imminent shortfall in health care funding that could leave up to 900,000 Americans without coverage if Congress does not act in the near future. Puerto Rico’s already vulnerable health care system is stretched further by a Zika outbreak that, as of January 4, has resulted in over 34,000 cases, and will affect numerous women, children, and families for years to come. It is time to provide a long-term solution to Puerto Rico’s historically inadequate federal Medicaid financing, which threatens the viability of Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program and worsens Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. If Congress fails to craft a long-term solution, immediate action is still needed to ensure full fiscal year 2018 financing to avoid the “Medicaid cliff” identified in the report. Without action before April, Puerto Rico’s ability to execute contracts for Fiscal Year 2018 with its managed care organizations will be threatened, thereby putting at risk beginning July 1, 2017 the health care of up to 900,000 poor U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Puerto Rico continues to suffer from double digit unemployment and a labor force participation rate that is only two-thirds that of the U.S. average. A federally-financed, locally-administered Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in Puerto Rico would create incentives for work and increase participation in the formal economy – just as it has done for decades in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Instead of recommending the immediate enactment of an EITC, the Task Force only suggested Congress further explore the proposal. We strongly encourage Congress to enact this powerful economic driver to bolster Puerto Rico’s future. Our analysis of the situation over the last several years demonstrates that an EITC would be the most effective and powerful tool to address these structural challenges to economic growth. Beyond those two major issues, the Task Force recommended a number of other policies that we agree should be enacted. First, we appreciate the bipartisan recommendation for Congress to continue authorizing Treasury to provide technical assistance to Puerto Rico. Furthermore, while we recommend a different approach to expand the Child Tax Credit to more Puerto Rican families, one that is locally administered, we welcome the Task Force recommendation for Congress to expand the Child Tax Credit in Puerto Rico, to the extent it is well-designed and supplements an EITC program for Puerto Rico. We support the Task Force’s acknowledgment of the importance of data in benchmarking economic growth and fiscal developments in Puerto Rico and the recommendations to improve data quality and timeliness. Finally, we are pleased with the recommendations on small business incentives, and the need to include Puerto Rico in funding and training programs that address Puerto Rico’s differential treatment in some Federal programs. It is time for Congress to move quickly to put these recommendations into law. Last summer, Republicans and Democrats in Congress took decisive action in PROMESA to help improve Puerto Rico’s fiscal position by establishing an independent oversight board and providing it with comprehensive debt restructuring tools. As you know, these tools were provided to Puerto Rico as an alternative to a federal bailout and provide Puerto Rico’s government and the Oversight Board with comprehensive authorities to address the debt crisis. Members of Congress now must work together quickly to enact well-crafted legislation to encourage growth and opportunity for our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. The Treasury Department and the Department of Health and Human Services stand committed to working with you to achieving those goals throughout the remainder of the transition to the next Administration. Sincerely, Jacob J. Lew Sylvia M. Burwell Secretary Secretary Department of the Treasury Department of Health and Human Services Identical letter sent to: The Honorable Charles E. Schumer The Honorable Paul D. Ryan The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Treasury Secretary Lew's Exit Memo: Eight Years of Progress at Treasury and a Look to the Future of American Financial Prosperity
WASHINGTON –U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew has authored a departure memorandum that recounts the progress and work of the U.S. Department of the Treasury over the last eight years. The memo then outlines Secretary Lew’s visions and goals for the future of the Treasury Department. The Secretary closes his departure memorandum with personal reflections on the importance of bipartisan cooperation, his optimism about America’s future, and his hope that future policymakers will take careful stock of the successes of this Administration as they consider the next steps forward. Please see the memo attached. Treasury Exit Memo.pdf The full text of the memo is below: Department of the Treasury Exit Memo Secretary Jacob J. Lew Cabinet Exit Memo │January 5, 2017 Introduction The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) is the executive agency responsible for promoting economic prosperity and ensuring the financial security of the United States. This role encompasses a broad range of activities, such as advising the President on economic and financial issues, encouraging sustainable economic growth, and fostering improved governance in financial institutions. Treasury’s mission was challenged like few times before in our nation’s history during the 2008 financial crisis. As few of us can forget, signs of trouble first emerged in the housing market, which set off a cascade of shocks in 2007 and 2008, including the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, the freezing of credit markets, and the loss of trillions of dollars of wealth held by Americans in their homes, other assets, and businesses. By the time President Obama took office, the United States was in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression. The economy was shrinking at its fastest rate in 50 years and shedding more than 800,000 private-sector jobs per month. Unemployment peaked at 10 percent in 2009, a level not seen in over 25 years. The auto industry, an embodiment of American ingenuity and economic strength, was teetering on the edge of collapse; the deficit had hit a post-World War II high; and homes in neighborhoods across the United States faced foreclosure. Though the financial crisis was perhaps the most pressing challenge the country faced in 2008, it was far from the only one. Health care spending was on an unsustainable path, and millions of Americans lived in fear of facing a significant medical problem without insurance. Middle-class and working family incomes had stagnated for much of the previous three decades. Wealth disparities had grown to levels not seen since the 1920s. And after two major wars in the Middle East and strained relationships in many parts of the world, the standing of the United States around the world was in need of significant repair. We have come a long way as a country since 2008. In the following pages, I will recount the Administration’s record of progress, with a specific focus on the role Treasury has played. I will also articulate a vision for the future, and recommend steps to be taken in the coming years to make progress towards that vision. Finally, I will end with some personal reflections. Eight Years of Progress Economic Recovery Over the eight years since President Obama took office amidst the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes, we have seen a sustained economic recovery and a significant decline in the federal budget deficit. We have cut the unemployment rate in half. Our economy is more than 10 percent larger than its pre-recession peak. U.S. businesses have added a total of 15.6 million jobs since private-sector job growth turned positive in early 2010. Household incomes are rising, with 2015 seeing the fastest one-year growth since the Census Bureau began reporting on household income in 1967. And our financial system is more stable, safe, and resilient, providing the critical underpinnings for broad-based, inclusive, long-term growth. There are many factors that explain why the United States was able to bounce back so strongly from the recession. First and foremost, I credit the resilience of the American people. In addition, our policy response to the crisis was immediate and robust. Led by my predecessor, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, policymakers put in place a wide-ranging strategy to restore economic growth, unlock credit, and return private capital to the financial system, thereby providing broad and vital support to the economy. In February 2009, just 28 days after taking office, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provided powerful fiscal stimulus that resulted in a less severe recession and stronger recovery than we otherwise would have seen. Investments made through our Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) provided stability to our financial system, and the Automotive Industry Financing Program helped prevent the collapse of the U.S. auto industry. TARP also included housing initiatives that helped millions of struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure and lower their monthly payments. These efforts bolstered the housing market and strengthened consumer finances more broadly. And funds expended under TARP have been repaid in full, at a profit to taxpayers: in total, TARP invested $412 billion in financial institutions, large and small, during the financial crisis, and as of October 2016, these investments have returned $442 billion total cash back to taxpayers. Critically, we also acted quickly to reform our financial system, working with Congress to enact the most far-reaching and comprehensive set of financial reforms since the Great Depression: the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Wall Street Reform transformed the way the financial system operates, and Treasury and the financial regulators have continued to work together since its passage to implement important reforms such as the Volcker Rule, risk retention, and resolution planning for large, complex financial institutions. Because of these efforts, our system today is more stable, more transparent, and more consumer-focused. Wall Street Reform also created the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a body that looks across the entire financial system to identify future threats to financial stability, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a watchdog agency that is working hard to protect Americans from unfair, deceptive, or abusive financial practices. The progress we have made on implementing reform has resulted in a safer, stronger, and more stable American financial system—one better positioned to support growth rather than work against it, more likely for consumers to get fair treatment in their interactions with financial institutions, and less prone to major failures of financial firms that can harm Americans on Main Street. This progress must be sustained through continued follow-through, to avoid allowing a return to the recklessness and abuse that predated the worst global financial crisis of the last 80 years. A More Inclusive Economy Beyond working to bring our economy back from the brink and to spur growth, we also undertook efforts to ensure that more citizens have a fair shot at sharing in our nation’s prosperity. One of the Administration’s most significant achievements was the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which extended health insurance to millions of Americans who had not previously had it, allowed young adults to stay on the health plans of their parents, barred insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions, and strengthened Medicare’s solvency. Once the legislation was signed into law, Treasury implemented the law’s many new tax provisions. Beyond the ACA, the Administration made a number of other key changes to the tax code that has made our tax system significantly fairer and more equitable. Through programs like the Community Development Financial Institution Fund and myRA, and through extensive stakeholder engagement, Treasury has worked to promote access to the financial system for underserved and vulnerable populations. We also successfully worked with Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to enable Puerto Rico to undergo a financial restructuring. With continued commitment from policymakers in both the Commonwealth and the United States, this legislation will begin to put Puerto Rico on a fiscally sustainable path so that the 3.5 million Americans living there are not denied essential services and economic opportunity. Leading in the Global Economy As we put into place the financial regulatory framework to prevent future crises in the United States, we also led the international response to the crisis. We worked through the G-20 to help mobilize $5 trillion in fiscal stimulus, expand the resources of the international financial institutions by $1 trillion, and establish new institutions like the Financial Stability Board to prevent future crises. Our approach elevated the G-20 as the premier platform for international economic cooperation and put in place a demonstrated mechanism for international response. Following the financial crisis, many countries turned to policies of fiscal austerity, and Treasury vigorously advocated for a more balanced use of policy levers. Over the next several years, Treasury engaged closely with our partners and through the G-20 and other multilateral bodies to emphasize the need for short-term growth and longer-term structural reforms to put the global economy on stronger footing. Through our sustained engagement, we achieved a number of commitments from the G-20, including moving away from austerity-only fiscal policy and avoiding competitive currency devaluation. We have used the G-20 to advance a global growth agenda, and the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue to foster increased bilateral economic coordination and engagement with China. Our sustained engagement with China has allowed us to exert positive pressure on Chinese exchange rate policy—whereas China once intervened in foreign exchange markets to drive down the value of its currency, in the past year, we have seen China intervene to prevent a rapid depreciation in the renminbi, which would have had negative consequences for the Chinese and global economies. Treasury also worked to solidify U.S. leadership by modernizing the international economic architecture to ensure that it would remain relevant in a changing world. In particular, securing the passage of International Monetary Fund (IMF) quota reform sustained U.S. leadership on the global stage. Our leadership in the IMF in turn enabled us to work through it to promote policies that supported U.S. economic and security objectives, such as economic stability in Ukraine and Greece. Promoting a Safer World Treasury has also continued to use its unique financial capabilities to address a variety of national security and foreign policy threats posed by terrorists, criminals and other bad actors. To address the changing threat posed by terrorism, including the threat posed by ISIL, we have worked with our international partners to deny terrorist financiers, fundraisers, and facilitators access to the international financial system with financial measures and targeted actions. Treasury’s sanctions against Iran played a critical role in forcing Iran to the table to negotiate a deal that cuts off the country’s pathways to a nuclear weapon. To hold Russia accountable for its aggression in eastern Ukraine and its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, we imposed sanctions that led to tighter financial conditions, weaker confidence, and lower investment in Russia. We also secured new domestic and multilateral sanctions measures against North Korea in the face of Pyongyang’s continued provocative behavior with regard to nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. All the while, we have worked to craft a cohesive vision for the use of sanctions, in which sanctions are informed by financial intelligence, strategically designed, and implemented with our public and private partners to focus pressure on bad actors and create clear incentives to end malign behavior, while limiting collateral impact. In the face of emerging cyber threats, we have also made significant progress in coordinating cybersecurity efforts among financial regulators and the private sector, both domestically and internationally, to improve the financial sector’s resilience and to establish best practices for industry and government. A Vision for the Future Looking across the next five years, 10 years, and beyond, I see four major goals that mirror the progress above. Treasury should focus on: (i) continuing to promote more inclusive growth; (ii) moving from recovery to long-term fiscal health, (iii) remaining a leader in the global economy; and (iv) adjusting to the new threats in our world. Each of these goals brings with it major challenges that we must collectively overcome in order to reach them. Continuing to Promote Inclusive Growth Through the work of this Administration, the U.S. economy is growing again. But working families have not shared fully in the benefits of economic growth over the past decade, and there is evidence that our society has undergone structural changes that have fundamentally altered the basic social compact. It is crucial that the next Administration builds on the work already done to ensure that our prosperity is broadly shared. There are many aspects to inclusive growth, including: investing in infrastructure to create good middle-class jobs and lay the foundation for future growth, giving workers a stronger voice, enacting progressive tax policies, making quality education more available and affordable, and investing in retraining programs for those who have lost their jobs. One component most directly within Treasury’s purview is increasing access to the financial system; currently, many low-income and minority families are effectively locked out, operating without a credit card or banking history. Finding creative ways to increase access to the financial system—such as fostering new technologies—will help individuals and families transfer money and make payments safely and affordably. Financial inclusion allows people to manage life’s unexpected financial shocks, build long-term financial security, and take advantage of economic opportunities, like starting a business. Our inclusive growth agenda should not, however, be limited to domestic issues: more than 2.6 billion people live in poverty around the world, and more than two billion people rely solely on cash transactions. Moving underserved populations from a cash economy to formal banking not only increases their economic opportunity but also strengthens our ability to combat illicit and dangerous finance. Moving from Recovery to Long Term Fiscal Health The actions of this Administration, and the economic recovery those actions helped support, have sharply reduced deficits since 2009. However, both the Administration and the Congressional Budget Office project that, absent any changes in policy, the deficit will rise steadily over the next decade and beyond. Thus, while the actions of this Administration have put the country on a solid fiscal footing today, we must also focus on the long-term fiscal health of our nation. In recent years, the Administration has proposed a combination of smart investments and policy reforms that would keep the deficit under three percent of GDP for the next 10 years and nearly eliminate the fiscal gap over the next 25 years. Tax reform to curb inefficient tax breaks for the wealthy, close loopholes, and reform the taxation of capital income and financial institutions would make the tax system fairer and lower the deficit. Comprehensive immigration reform would boost labor force participation, productivity, and ultimately growth, directly addressing key fiscal challenges. Continued focus on health policy to further improve health care quality and control cost growth remains critical. This policy vision shows that investments in growth and opportunity are fully compatible with putting the nation’s finances on a strong and sustainable path. It also shows that responsible deficit reduction can be achieved without endangering vital support to poor Americans or undermining commitments to seniors and workers. Under President Obama’s leadership, there has been substantial economic and fiscal progress, showing what is possible when strategic investment to grow the economy is paired with smart reforms that address the true drivers of long-term fiscal challenges. While there is some scope for additional borrowing to finance smart investments in the next few years, ever-increasing borrowing is not sustainable as a long-run strategy, particularly when used to finance spending that does not generate higher growth or improvements for the middle class and in the case of deficit-increasing tax cuts, which deepen income and wealth disparities that are already a serious concern. Instead, the long-term fiscal health of the nation depends on smart investments in the middle class, tax reforms that close loopholes for the wealthy and ensure that everyone plays by the same set of rules, comprehensive immigration reform, and health reforms that build on our progress to date without sacrificing coverage or quality. Remaining a Leader in the Global Economy The United States must continue its long history of international economic leadership. Such leadership benefits American workers and families and enables the United States to project its values abroad to achieve its larger foreign policy objectives. Of course, the world has changed since the creation of our international financial architecture after World War II, and we must change with it. Perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, our influence internationally will increase if we share the benefits, as well as the responsibilities, of managing the global economic and financial system with emerging economies, such as China. Our influence, however, cannot be sustained if we either back away or insist on protecting the status quo. But we face a host of challenges. Our relationship with China is one of the most important in the world. While we have made much progress over the past eight years, the degree to which China is willing to takes the steps necessary to follow through on commitments to reorient its economy toward more sustainable growth, open up to foreign businesses, and be a partner in global governance, remains to be seen. As we saw from the example of Chinese exchange rate policy, engagement between the United States and China is an important means of maintaining pressure for China to implement policies that are necessary for China’s own medium and long-term economic health and to create a level playing field for the world economy. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union sent shockwaves through Europe and the world, and we must closely monitor the situation and continue to argue for the benefits of continued integration post-Brexit. Japan’s economy faces the ongoing challenges of an aging population and high public debt hampering the government’s ability to foster growth. We must also keep a watchful eye on emerging economies and the unique challenges they face. In particular, in recent years, we have made progress in our relations with Latin America, particularly with Mexico and Argentina, and we should build on that progress. Adjusting to the New Threats in Our World With the rise of state-sponsored and lone wolf terrorism, rogue nations, and international strongmen, we must address the reality that we live in a dangerous world. Making it safer means using every tool available—including the financial tools available to Treasury—to defeat and degrade terrorist organizations like ISIL. We must continue to leverage our ability to impose crippling sanctions on states and individuals to change behavior. We must seek to eliminate the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Cyber attacks on our financial system represent a real threat to our economic and national security, and maintaining vigilant and coordinated efforts to keep pace with and respond to these threats has been and will remain a crucial piece of Treasury’s work. And we must recognize global climate change for the economic and existential threat that it is and band together with the rest of the world to avert catastrophe. How to Make Our Vision a Reality How do we accomplish the goals laid out above? To be sure, there are a host of paths policymakers might take to do so, but I believe the following steps, which range from specific policy prescriptions to more general advice, are the most immediate. Infrastructure Spending Moving forward, we must redouble our efforts to make investments in our country’s transportation infrastructure, which help create middle-class jobs in the short term and drive broad-based economic growth in the long term. Indeed, by fixing our aging roads, bridges, and ports, we will help lay a foundation for widely shared economic expansion. The President’s business tax reform framework, discussed in more detail below, would generate substantial one-time revenues to fund new infrastructure investments. Paying for these investments by taxing overseas business profits would both be fiscally responsible and would help fix the perception that our tax system is not a level playing field. Continuing to come up with fresh, new ways to deploy capital will help the country achieve these goals. Effective partnerships between government and the private sector can play an important role in developing innovative solutions that efficiently leverage resources. And taking advantage of historically low interest rates to fund high-return public investments is simply smart fiscal policy. This Administration has long advocated for the creation of a national infrastructure bank, which would provide critical financing and technical support to foster public-private partnerships in U.S. infrastructure and establish a predictable source of long-term financing that would allow U.S. infrastructure to be consistently improved. Business Tax Reform Over the last eight years, Congress and the Administration have taken important steps to make the tax code fairer, support working families, and roll back unnecessary and unaffordable tax cuts for high-income families. In addition, using its administrative tools, the Administration has made substantial progress over the past eight years in combatting abusive tax practices. However, our business tax system remains in need of reform. As I have emphasized repeatedly throughout my time as Treasury Secretary, only Congress can enact business tax reform, which is necessary to remove incentives for businesses to relocate overseas, raise one-time revenues to promote infrastructure spending, and simplify tax compliance for smaller businesses. President Obama’s proposed plan for business tax reform sets out a framework for modernizing our business tax system. Among other elements, it would prevent companies from using excessive leverage in the United States to reduce their tax burden, impose a minimum tax abroad to help fight the global race to the bottom, impose a one-time tax on unrepatriated foreign profits, and reform the taxation of financial and insurance industry products. It also would close loopholes and special credits and deductions to lower rates without shifting the tax burden to individuals. Enacting such a plan would enhance our competitiveness and create an environment in which business rather than tax considerations drive decision-making. The President’s framework is also fiscally responsible, ensuring that business tax reform does not add to deficits over the long-term. I am hopeful that this framework will help to equip the new Congress to take responsible action on business tax reform. Housing Finance Reform Fixing our housing finance system remains the major unfinished work of post-financial crisis reform. Though the housing market has made significant strides thanks to efforts on the part of the Administration to help struggling homeowners, stabilize the housing finance system, and restore broader economic growth, many homeowners and neighborhoods continue to struggle. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac remain in conservatorship and continue to rely on taxpayer support. Only legislation can comprehensively address the ongoing shortcomings of the housing finance system. A starting point for such legislation should be the principles President Obama laid out in 2013, which stressed a clearly-defined role for the government to promote broad access to consumer-friendly mortgages in good times and bad. While private capital should bear the majority of the risks in mortgage lending, reform also must provide more American households with greater and more sustainable access to affordable homes to rent or own. Global Economic Integration Global economic integration, including high-standards trade, leads to better economic outcomes than isolation and protectionism. High-standard trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership can expand U.S. economic growth, open markets for American exports, and strengthen labor and environmental safeguards so that American workers can compete on a level playing field. But economic uncertainty, both domestically and abroad, threatens this framework. Whether driven by trade, technological advances, or the changing structure of the markets for labor and capital, these anxieties are real and deeply felt. In order to continue to enjoy the benefits of an integrated world, we need to focus on policies that address the real issues of inequality, such as slowing wage growth and increasing disparities in pay, to ensure that the benefits of trade are broadly felt. Strengthening the rules, alone, is not enough. To preserve this important engine of economic growth and international integration the United States and other advanced economies must also design and implement policies—including fiscal and tax policies—that advance the cause of inclusive, sustainable, and broad-based growth. Not all countries have the fiscal space sufficient to meet these needs, but after years of urging by the United States, policies of austerity are one-by-one giving way to policies designed to grow demand and improve incomes. The United States must continue to be an active voice in the global discussion of these issues. The United States must also maintain its leadership in the international financial architecture and ensure that the U.S.-led international financial system is adapting to best preserve U.S. interest in a changing world. This includes continued governance reforms of the IMF and multilateral development banks to reflect a changing world. Clear global rules create opportunities and incentives for innovation, invest, and work, which are critical to the United States and drive economic progress in other regions of the world. Continued Engagement with Challenging Partners Just as global economic integration has fueled economic growth, that integration—and our economic strength—provides us with additional tools to advance our priorities on the international stage. We should continue to use these tools judiciously to maintain pressure on those countries that take aggressive and destabilizing actions, such as Russia and North Korea, and provide sanctions relief when the targeted malign behavior changes, as with Iran and Burma. And, as we chart new courses with other countries, such as Cuba, we should be mindful of how we can use our economic tools to create the conditions for a changed relationship. We must always take care to avoid the overuse of sanctions, particularly our most unilateral tools like secondary sanctions that extend to non-U.S. persons. If we overuse these powerful tools, we risk lessening their impact when they are most needed and ultimately threaten our central role in the global financial system. Looking Forward with Optimism We have learned the hard way that deadlock does not produce good results—government shutdowns and near default on our debt cost the United States both economically and in standing around the world. It did not work in the 1990s, and it did not work over these past eight years. What has worked is finding opportunities in the sometimes quiet periods when bipartisan cooperation can lead to honorable compromise. In recent years, we have seen that targeted budget agreements could pave the way for more orderly and economically beneficial outcomes. We have seen that, on issues like creating a path forward for Puerto Rico and multi-year funding for our surface transportation programs, bipartisan compromise is still possible. But there is much more that requires this kind of progress. Treasury plays a critical role in finding areas where bipartisan solutions are possible. In a period when many thought little could be accomplished legislatively, we reached agreement on IMF Quota Reform, an approach to deal with Puerto Rico, and a permanent extension of expansions to the earned income tax credit and child tax credits that will reduce the extent or severity of poverty for millions of families with children. We have also used our existing authorities to limit corporate tax inversions, shed greater light on beneficial ownership to limit tax avoidance, realize tax parity for same-sex spouses, and opened relations with Cuba. And we have used our sanctions authorities to bring Iran to the negotiating table and limit the resources available to terrorist regimes and groups. I am proud of the record we have built over the past eight years. But during calmer economic times, policy makers are often tempted to roll back regulations, weaken reforms, and reduce oversight. I hope that future policymakers will take careful stock of the successes of this Administration as they consider the next steps forward. I remain an optimist about America’s future and wish the next team entrusted with responsibility for governing much success as it tackles the many challenges that remain and the new challenges that will present themselves over the coming years. Margaret Mulkerrin is the Press Assistant at the U.S. Department of Treasury. ###
TALLAHASSEE — President Donald Trump invited Florida Gov. Rick Scott to join him for breakfast/lunch on Sunday at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, the White House and governor's office announced Saturday. Scott and Trump are set to dine at the Trump-owned private club, dubbed the "Winter White House, where the president has been staying during the holiday season. The two have remained close since the 2016 election cycle when Scott chaired Rebuilding America Now Super PAC, which was dedicated to electing Trump as president. They ate lunch in August at another Trump-owned resort in New Jersey. Scott then said he pressed the president for funding for repairs to the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee. Trump and Scott have remained tethered politically. Scott now runs the New Republican PAC, which is branded as a pro-Trump super PAC. It is working to “re-brand” the Republican party in Trump’s image, including appealing to Hispanic voters. “Donald Trump’s election was a complete shock to the system in Washington,” reads the group’s website. “This is the perfect opportunity to do things differently.” Though the super PAC is branded as pro-Trump, the site features Scott and has become the landing spot for political contributions from Florida donors that generally give large amounts of money in state — not federal — races, a fact that has led many to speculate the group will play a large role in backing Scott’s likely 2018 Senate bid against Democrat Bill Nelson. Among the donors since Scott took over the super PAC are Gulf Coast Health Care, a Pensacola-based company that owns 35 nursing facilities across the state that won a heated intra-party funding fight last session ($40,000); and the holding company of The Villages, a politically powerful retirement community in Central Florida ($100,000). The committee’s treasurer is Mori Hosseini, a longtime Florida Republican rainmaker that Scott appointed to the University of Florida Board of Trustees in 2016, and one of its top advisers is Melissa Stone, a former Scott chief-of-staff and longtime political consultant.
NEW YEAR’S EVE EDITION -- TRUMP to lunch with RICK SCOTT -- NYT: How Russia inquiry began -- PETER BAKER on Trump’s reinventing of the presidency -- ADAM CONNER engaged -- B’DAY: Don Trump Jr.
WELCOME TO THE DOORSTEP OF 2018 -- @realDonaldTrump at 8:36 a.m.: “Why would smart voters want to put Democrats in Congress in 2018 Election when their policies will totally kill the great wealth created during the months since the Election. People are much better off now not to mention ISIS, VA, Judges, Strong Border, 2nd A, Tax Cuts & more?”-- FRONT PAGE OF THE L.A. TIMES (and other Tronc-owned papers like the Hartford Courant): “GOP faces Democratic wave in ‘18: For all their successes, Republicans end 2017 confronting bad signs for keeping control after midterm vote” http://bit.ly/2C0O213 Happy New Year’s Eve! SPOTTED LAST NIGHT, at Wilbur Ross’s birthday party in Palm Beach: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and wife Louise Linton, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Tom Quinn and Lynly Boor, David Koch, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and wife Mila, Christopher Ruddy and Talbott Maxey, Dr. Mehmet Oz and wife Lisa Lemole, Bret and Amy Baier, David Rubenstein, U.S. Ambassador to Morocco David Fischer, Ken and Jackie Duberstein and Nelson Peltz.THE PRESIDENT will eat lunch today with Florida Gov. Rick Scott and they will “discuss ongoing hurricane recovery efforts, the need to improve the nation’s aging infrastructure and other matters important to Floridians,” per the White House, via WSJ’s Mike Bender.THE STORY EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT … NYT’S SHARON LAFRANIERE, MARK MAZZETTI and MATT APUZZO: “How the Russia Inquiry Began: A Campaign Aide, Drinks and Talk of Political Dirt”: “During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton. About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign. Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. “But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role. ... The information that Mr. Papadopoulos gave to the Australians answers one of the lingering mysteries of the past year: What so alarmed American officials to provoke the F.B.I. to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign months before the presidential election? It was not, as Mr. Trump and other politicians have alleged, a dossier compiled by a former British spy hired by a rival campaign. Instead, it was firsthand information from one of America’s closest intelligence allies.” http://nyti.ms/2CgehEW-- @tomgara: “Alexander Downer, the Australian diplomat at the center of this new Papadopoulos story, is from my home city, and here’s the best photo of him in his lesser political years (he went on to become Australian foreign minister)” http://bit.ly/2lppSqM THE INVESTIGATIONS … WAPO’S KAROUN DEMIRJIAN: “Devin Nunes, targeting Mueller and the FBI, alarms Democrats and some Republicans with his tactics”: “‘I’m interested in getting access to the information and not the drama,’ Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said earlier this month, when Nunes began threatening contempt citations for FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein in the wake of revelations former Mueller team members had exchanged anti-Trump texts.“More recently, Gowdy said that his ‘heart would be broken’ if Nunes follows through on reported plans to issue a corruption exposé about the FBI, citing concerns that issuing such a report outside the context of a comprehensive investigation of the Justice Department could prove damaging to law enforcement.” http://wapo.st/2CqajJa --POLITICAL FALLOUT -- “Republican Attacks on Mueller and F.B.I. Open New Rift in G.O.P.,” by NYT’s Nick Fandos: “A growing campaign by President Trump’s most ardent supporters to discredit the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and the law enforcement agencies assisting his investigation is opening new fissures in the Republican Party, with some lawmakers questioning the damage being done to federal law enforcement and to a political party that has long championed law and order. ... [S]ome Republican lawmakers are speaking out, worried that Trump loyalists, hoping for short-term gain, could wind up staining the party, dampening morale at the F.B.I. and Justice Department, and potentially recasting Democrats as the true friends of law enforcement for years to come.” http://nyti.ms/2CroevP BULLETIN FROM AP IN TEHRAN at 7:55 a.m.: “Iran state TV says authorities temporarily block Instagram, messaging app Telegram to ‘maintain peace’ amid protests.”-- THE LATEST: “2 protesters in Iran killed as social media apps blocked,” by AP’s Amir Vahdat in Tehran and Jon Gambrell in Dubai: “Iran on Sunday blocked access to Instagram and a popular messaging app used by activists to organize and publicize the protests now roiling the Islamic Republic, as authorities said two demonstrators had been killed overnight in the first deaths attributed to the rallies. The demonstrations, which began Thursday over the economic woes plaguing Iran and continued Sunday, appear to be the largest to strike the Islamic Republic since the protests that followed the country’s disputed 2009 presidential election. “They were fanned in part by messages sent on the Telegram messaging app, which authorities blocked Sunday along with the photo-sharing app Instagram, which is owned by tech giant Facebook. Many in Iran are learning about the protests and sharing images of them through Telegram, a mobile phone messaging app popular among the country’s 80 million people. On Saturday, Telegram shut down one channel on the service over Iranian allegations it encouraged violence, something its moderator denied.” http://bit.ly/2CgHCPB-- REUTERS/LONDON: “Iran warned of a crackdown on Sunday against demonstrators who pose one of the biggest challenges to both the government and clerical leadership in power since the 1979 revolution. Tens of thousands of Iranians have protested across the country since Thursday against the Islamic Republic’s unelected clerical elite and Iranian foreign policy in the region. … “Videos posted on social media showed people chanting: ‘Mullahs, have some shame, leave the country alone.’ ... ‘Those who damage public property, violate law and order and create unrest are responsible for their actions and should pay the price,” state media quoted Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli as saying.’” http://reut.rs/2CuiMsc -- @realDonaldTrump at 8:03 a.m.: “Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”ON THE UPHEAVAL IN IRAN -- @AlirezaNader: “As opposed to 2009, Iranians have this time lost trust in reformists as well. This is also directed at Rouhani. #iranprotests have lost hope in the entire system because conditions in Iran are so terrible and life is so difficult.” … … @farnazfassihi: “A first in #IranianProtests #Rasht crowds chant: ‘Death to Revolutionary Guards.’ #Iran #IRGC”. 1-min. video http://bit.ly/2DCFUnE ... “#Tehran Azadi street today: ‘Death to Khamenei.’ #Iranianprotests #Iran”. 30-second video http://bit.ly/2Crw1MA … @ragipsoylu: “BBC video from a small town Abhar, Iran shows protestors taking down Iran Supreme Leader’s banner”. 41-second video http://bit.ly/2lsoIe1 …… @ColinKahl: “Clearly the Iran Deal didn’t legitimize the ayatollahs, nor was it a sufficient windfall to save the economy from corruption. It didn’t empower reform either. What it DID do was open up Iran more to the world & take away the regime’s ability to blame problems on sanctions.” …… @BillKristol: “Here’s a crazy idea: The foreign policy/Middle East/Iran experts who are taking shots at each other for alleged past Iran policy mistakes might spend just a little of their time helping figure out what the U.S.--the administration, Congress, others--could usefully do now.”IN PUERTO RICO -- “‘We have a big problem’: Puerto Rico seeks aid for tens of thousands of squatters,” by Lorraine Woellert in San Juan, Puerto Rico: “When Hurricane Maria ripped across Puerto Rico, it revealed the damage wrought by years of government neglect. It also exposed an open secret generations in the making: Tens of thousands of island residents are in fact squatters, living illegally on abandoned or government land.“For years, squatters were ignored or used as political pawns as the bankrupt central government swung from crisis to crisis. That changed with Maria, which tore through these low-lying barrios with particular ferocity. Now, with no legal claim to their homes or the land they’re built on, squatters find themselves unmoored from federal aid -- and high on the government’s list of priorities.“Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who took office in January, wants to fix his squatter problem by embracing it. He’s proposed giving 48,000 illegal settlers legal title to their land, a plan that could cost up to $30 million. He needs federal disaster aid to make the project work. ‘Before the emergency, it was something we needed to do; now it’s a more ambitious project,’ said Puerto Rico Housing Secretary Fernando Gil. ‘It would be helping out 48,000 people who thought that they couldn’t get any help.’” http://politi.co/2lyYFB8HIDDEN WINNERS IN TAX BILL -- “Tax cut on booze triggers fears of more abuse and drunken driving,” by Brian Faler: “People hoisting a beer mug or tipping a champagne glass to ring in the New Year have an extra reason to celebrate: Congress just slashed taxes on alcohol for the first time in decades. But public-health advocates fear the effects of the Republican tax law will be dire -- more drunken driving, underage drinking and other alcohol-related programs. ...“Though the issue drew hardly any debate during the dash to pass the once-in-a-generation tax-code overhaul, the alcohol industry is one of the biggest winners of the Republican plan President Donald Trump signed into law Dec. 22. It cuts taxes on wine, beer, whiskey, vodka, tequila and other forms of alcohol. That translates to $1.6 billion in savings next year for MillerCoors; Diageo, the maker of such brands as Captain Morgan rum and Ketel One Vodka; and smaller beer and spirits operators that had pushed for the cut.” http://politi.co/2Chq6dIBIG READ -- NYT’S PETER BAKER, “For Trump, A Year of Reinventing the Presidency” as part of the paper’s “Trump’s Way” series: “When President Trump meets with aides to discuss policy or prepare for a speech, he may ask about the pros and cons of a new proposal. He may inquire about its possible effect. He may explore the best way to frame his case. But there is one thing he almost never does. ‘He very seldom asks how other presidents did this,’ said John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff. ... “Under Mr. Trump, it has become a blunt instrument to advance personal, policy and political goals. He has revolutionized the way presidents deal with the world beyond 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, dispensing with the carefully modulated messaging of past chief executives in favor of no-holds-barred, crystal-breaking, us-against-them, damn-the-consequences blasts borne out of gut and grievance.“He has kept a business on the side; attacked the F.B.I., C.I.A. and other institutions he oversees; threatened to use his power against rivals; and waged war against members of his own party and even his own Cabinet. He fired the man investigating his campaign and has not ruled out firing the one who took over. He has appealed to base instincts on race, religion and gender as no president has in generations. And he has rattled the nuclear saber more bombastically than it has been since the days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.“The presidency has served as a vehicle for Mr. Trump to construct and promote his own narrative, one with crackling verve but riddled with inaccuracies, distortions and outright lies, according to fact checkers. Rather than a force for unity or a calming voice in turbulent times, the presidency now is another weapon in a permanent campaign of divisiveness. Democrats and many establishment Republicans worry that Mr. Trump has squandered the moral authority of the office.” With cameos by Michael Beschloss, Bill Daley, Andy Surabian, Ron Klain, Jon Meacham, Robert Dallek, David Axelrod, Chris Ruddy, Pat Caddell, Stuart Spencer, Eliot Cohen, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Martha Joynt Kumar http://nyti.ms/2q55LCH -- CHANGING D.C.: “How the Trump era is changing the federal bureaucracy,” by WaPo’s Lisa Rein and Andrew Ba Tran: “Nearly a year into his takeover of Washington, President Trump has made a significant down payment on his campaign pledge to shrink the federal bureaucracy, a shift long sought by conservatives that could eventually bring the workforce down to levels not seen in decades. “By the end of September, all Cabinet departments except Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and Interior had fewer permanent staff than when Trump took office in January -- with most shedding many hundreds of employees, according to an analysis of federal personnel data by The Washington Post. ...“The White House is now warning agencies to brace for even deeper cuts in the 2019 budget it will announce early next year, part of an effort to lower the federal deficit to pay for the new tax law, according to officials briefed on the budgets for their agencies. One possible casualty: a pay raise that federal employees historically have received when the economy is humming. ... By the end of September, the federal government had 1.94 million permanent workers, down nearly 16,000 overall since the beginning of the year, according to the most recent OPM data. ...“During the first six months of the administration, 71,285 career employees quit or retired. That’s up from 50,000 who left during the same period in 2009 ... The Presidential Management Fellows program, a prestigious internship for top graduate students, has been unable to place many recruits because of a lingering hiring freeze at many agencies, according to a half-dozen current fellows.” http://wapo.st/2lwGyf3 FROM PALM BEACH -- “Who is using the Trump corporate chopper at Mar-a-Lago?,” by the Palm Beach Post’s Sarah Elsesser and Christine Stapleton: “For over a week, a private helicopter bearing the Trump logo and name has sat on the helipad at Mar-a-Lago -- a helipad that is supposed to be used only for presidential business.“Until Donald Trump became president, aircraft were forbidden from landing in the exclusive island town. But the town agreed to allow a helipad to be built and helicopters to land at Mar-a-Lago with certain conditions: The helipad must be removed when the president leaves office. Until then, the helipad can only be used for official presidential business.“The helicopter currently sitting on the pad is co-owned by DT Connect II and DT Connect II Member Corp. The president’s sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., are executives at those companies, according to state corporate records.“The Secret Service referred those questions to the White House. White House spokesman Raj Shah said on Saturday that neither the White House nor the Marines requested the helipad or were involved in building it or paying for it. Local officials said they don’t know who is using the helipad. ‘I wish I could answer that,’ said Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio about who was using the helicopter and why. ‘If that’s the case and it’s being used for official business, so be it.’” http://pbpo.st/2DBGCBJ --SPOTTED in the lobby at the Breakers yesterday (separately): David Rubenstein and Bret Baier2018 WATCH -- “The top 10 governor’s races of 2018,” by Daniel Strauss: http://politi.co/2q68A6G-- “Former Obama Administration Officials Vie to Unseat House Republicans,” by WSJ’s Natalie Andrews: “At least a dozen former aides and policy staff who worked for President Barack Obama have entered the midterm races, running for office for the first time. The Obama administration alumni are part of a Democratic Party effort to take back control of the House of Representatives and create a counter to President Donald Trump’s efforts to rollback Obama-era policies. In many cases, these new candidates are opposing GOP incumbents who have been identified by House Democrats as potentially vulnerable to a challenge.” http://on.wsj.com/2lz4gXVWAHOO! – Quartz has named Susan Glasser’s “The Global Politico” podcast as the best politics podcast of the year. “The former editor of Foreign Policy and longtime Washington Post foreign correspondent probes an impressive selection of top politicians, diplomats, bureaucrats, think-tankers, and journalists with a subtle, revelatory questioning style.” http://bit.ly/2lx97cj PENCE’S VACATION -- “VP Mike Pence gets message from Aspen neighbors: Make America Gay Again,” by Aspen Times’ Jason Auslander: “‘Make America Gay Again,’ the rainbow banner reads. Neighbors of the home near Aspen where Pence and his wife, Karen Sue, are staying posted the message Wednesday or Thursday on a stone pillar that sits at the end of driveways to both homes, Pitkin County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Buglione said Friday. ... The Secret Service agents were not at all perturbed about the banner, Buglione said. Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said one of his deputies was present when the man who lives in the home came out and first draped the banner over the stone pillar.” With a pic of the sign http://bit.ly/2Cgmwk5 CHANGING TIMES IN OREGON -- COVER OF THE PORTLAND OREGONIAN: “Emboldened white nationalists? Look no further than this liberal Oregon college town,” by Noelle Crombie and Shane Dixon Kavanaugh http://bit.ly/2C1caRa SUCH A FUN STORY -- “Biggest Winner of Famed Buffett Bet? Girls Charity: Charity will be beneficiary of a decade-old wager that an index would top hedge funds,” by WSJ’s Nicole Friedman: “Mr. Buffett bet $1 million in 2007 that an index fund would outperform a basket of hedge funds over a decade. The proceeds would go to charity, and Mr. Buffett designated his local Girls Inc. affiliate as the recipient if he won. When the closing bell rang at the New York Stock Exchange Friday, the famed investor locked in his victory.“Mr. Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has said throughout this year that he is confident he would win. From the start of the bet through the end of 2016, Mr. Buffett’s S&P 500 index fund returned 7.1% compounded annually. The competing basket of funds of hedge funds selected by asset manager Protégé Partners returned an average of 2.2%.” http://on.wsj.com/2CgVnO4 CLICKER – “2017: A very Wuerker year: A look back at 2017’s political cartoons from the desk of Matt Wuerker.” 29 keepers http://politi.co/2C4dWAZ BONUS GREAT HOLIDAY WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman, filing from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico:-- “Revealed: The Secret KGB Manual for Recruiting Spies,” by Michael Weiss in the Daily Beast: “The document is from the Cold War. But the material it teaches is still being used today by Vladimir Putin’s clandestine cadres.” http://thebea.st/2DzYfld -- “‘What Are We Going to Do About Tyler?’” by Sarah Smith in ProPublica – per Longreads.com’s description: “A devastating indictment of America’s failure to treat mental illness. ProPublica reporter Sarah Smith tells the story of Tyler Haire, who was sent to jail at age 16 for a violent crime and then spent years locked away while waiting for a psychological evaluation. Tyler struggled since early childhood, but state services are underfunded and only designed to help when a crisis occurs. His family, frustrated and exhausted, was unable to find a way for him to get the help he needed — until it was too late.” http://bit.ly/2CkwbVX -- “Dr. Phil says he rescues people from addiction. Others say his show puts guests’ health at risk,” by STAT’s David Armstrong and Evan Allen of the Boston Globe: “In its pursuit of ratings, the ‘Dr. Phil’ show has put at risk the health of some of those guests it purports to help, according to people who have been on the show and addiction experts. Guests have been left without medical help as they face withdrawal from drugs, a STAT/Boston Globe investigation has found, and one person said she was directed by a show staff member to an open-air drug market to find heroin for her detoxing niece.” http://bit.ly/2BUiERK -- “The Grand Tour to Florence. Italy Timelapse & Hyperlapse,” by Kirill Neiezhmakov on Vimeo – 3-min. video http://bit.ly/2CnK9Xh -- “Inside China’s Vast New Experiment in Social Ranking,” by Mara Hvistendahl in Wired: “In 2014, the State Council, China’s governing cabinet, publicly called for the establishment of a nationwide tracking system to rate the reputations of individuals, businesses, and even government officials. The aim is for every Chinese citizen to be trailed by a file compiling data from public and private sources by 2020 ... For the Chinese Communist Party, social credit is an attempt at a softer, more invisible authoritarianism.” http://bit.ly/2pVqkl5 -- “Charles Dickens Had Serious Beef with America and its Bad Manners,” by Samantha Silva in LitHub: “He found Americans vulgar and insensitive, braggarts, hypocrites, and acquisitive beyond all imagining.” http://bit.ly/2CkrDPv -- “How Facebook’s Political Unit Enables the Dark Art of Digital Propaganda,” by Bloomberg’s Lauren Etter, Vernon Silver, and Sarah Frier: “Some of [the] unit’s clients stifle opposition, stoke extremism.” https://bloom.bg/2DyTl7Y -- “Longform Podcast: Maggie Haberman, New York Times White House Correspondent”: “If I start thinking about it, then I’m not going to be able to just keep doing my job. I'm being as honest as I can — I try not to think about it. If you’re flying a plane and you think about the fact that if the plane blows up in midair you’re gonna die, do you feel like you can really focus as well? So, I’m not thinking about [the stakes]. This is just my job. This is what we do. Ask me another question.” http://bit.ly/2zNel8O -- “Does Beto O’Rourke Stand a Chance Against Ted Cruz?” by Eric Benson in the Jan. issue of Texas Monthly with the print headline “What Makes Beto Run?”: “The El Paso congressman is waging a long-shot campaign to prove a Democrat can win in Texas.” http://bit.ly/2ljN5ug (h/t Longform.org)-- “Prodigies’ Progress: Parents and superkids, then and now,” by Ann Hulbert in the Jan.-Feb. issue of Harvard Magazine: “In her new book [‘Off the Charts: The Hidden Lives and Lessons of American Child Prodigies’], Ann Hulbert ’77 explores the fascination with child genius over the past century in America. She probes the stories of 16 exceptionally gifted young people, including two precocious students who arrived at Harvard in 1909.” http://bit.ly/2pXnNqA ... $27.08 on Amazon http://amzn.to/2zRc1h7 -- “Sex and intellect,” by Naomi Wolf in the Times Literary Supplement – per ALDaily.com’s description: “Sexual liberation in fiction. Edith Wharton’s writing on sex was informed by Whitman, Nietzsche, and Wilde, and an affair with a journalist.” http://bit.ly/2C9Unep-- “He killed his parents in Omaha at age 16 and escaped from prison nearly a decade later. Then he simply vanished,” by Henry Cordes of the Omaha World-Herald: “What inside the head of a boy could drive him to lash out so violently after his mom had refused to let him take his girl to the drive-in? And how could [William Leslie] Arnold proceed to take her to the movie that night after all? And then to go on living his life the next two weeks as if nothing had happened — going to school, attending church, even showing up to open his dad’s business — until his web of lies finally unraveled?” http://bit.ly/2pU3p9T -- “Kenji Dreams of Sausage,” by Jonah Weiner in Grub Street – per Longreads.com’s description: “A profile of beloved food writer J. Kenji López-Alt, who uses science to perfect cooking methods and is opening a beer hall in Silicon Valley.” http://grb.st/2DyW0hZ -- “The Good Samaritan: how politics transformed the meaning of a biblical story,” by Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, in the New Statesman, in a review of “The Political Samaritan: How Power Hijacked a Parable,” by Nick Spencer.” per TheBrowser.com’s description: “The parable of the Good Samaritan lends an aura of retrospective goodness to Samaritans in general. But relations between Jews and Samaritans were ‘poisonous’ in biblical times. Any story with a Samaritan as a positive character would have been offensive.” http://bit.ly/2CbphDt ... $12.23 on Amazon http://amzn.to/2CkwVdU -- “Murder at the Vatican,” by Catherine Fletcher in History Today: “Cardinal Alfonso Petrucci was strangled in his cell in the Castel Sant’Angelo on 4 July 1517. He was 26. He had been a prisoner in the papal fortress for six weeks, one of five cardinals accused of plotting to poison Pope Leo X. His execution was judicially sanctioned, but in the most dubious of circumstances. Was there really a plot? Or were Petrucci and his colleagues framed by Leo in the interests of his family, the Medici?” http://bit.ly/2CpQrTX -- “‘The World’s Biggest Terrorist Has a Pikachu Bedspread,’” by Kerry Howley in NYMag: “This is perhaps the most surprising thing about the story of Airman Reality Winner, linguist, intelligence specialist, who spent years of her life dropping in on conversations among people this country considers potential enemies: It did not occur to her, in a moment of crisis, that someone might be listening.” http://nym.ag/2BWdUeeENGAGED – Adam Conner, who was most recently Slack’s first employee in D.C. and started Facebook’s D.C. office in 2007, proposed to Lauren Smith, policy counsel who runs the Connected Cars Project at the Future of Privacy Forum and is a former policy adviser in the Obama WH Office of Science and Technology. The couple “spent the week of Christmas on a sailboat with friends exploring the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. On Boxing Day [the couple] were exploring a beautiful place called Urupukapuka Island and hiked to the top of a vista overlooking the bay. Adam got down on one knee, and with the ring he had smuggled into the country, asked Lauren to marry him. She gave an emphatic yes!” Pic http://bit.ly/2Cv1wmN … Instapic http://bit.ly/2Cu5wUk WELCOME TO THE WORLD -- @senjohnthune posts on Instagram: “Scott and Larissa with our newest grandchild, Hewitt Thune Hargens, born [Friday]. He joins big sister Henley. We are very grateful for healthy kids and grandkids. #blessed #grandkidsrock”. Instapic http://bit.ly/2CmZLKC WEEKEND WEDDINGS – “Erica Andersen, Jonathan Donenberg” – N.Y. Times: “The bride, 34, who specializes in patent litigation, is a partner at the Washington law firm Covington & Burling. She graduated from Princeton, magna cum laude, and received a law degree with highest distinction from the University of Iowa. … The groom, 35, is chief counsel and legislative director to Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts. He graduated from the University of Illinois and received a master’s degree in technology policy from the University of Cambridge as a Fulbright scholar; he also received a law degree from Yale.” With pic http://nyti.ms/2lwWLAM --“Marisa Franklin, Raphael Graybill” -- N.Y. Times: “The bride, 28 is the mathematics instructional coordinator at the Montana Office of Public Instruction in Helena, Mont. ... She graduated from Barnard College and received a master’s degree in education from Boston University. ... The groom, also 28, is chief legal counsel to Governor Steve Bullock, Democrat of Montana. He graduated, summa cum laude, from Columbia and received a master’s degree in philosophy from Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He also received a law degree from Yale.” With pic http://nyti.ms/2EpOIyj ANNIVERSARY: Happy 20th anniversary to Politico senior editor David Cohen and Rabbi Deborah Bodin Cohen. BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Josh Rogin, WaPo columnist and CNN political analyst, celebrating in Punta Cana with Ali. A fun fact about Josh: “In 2009 I was hit by a D.C. taxicab near my apartment and then given a ticket for ‘reckless walking.’ I broke my arm, after which I got bipartisan filibuster proof majority of 60 U.S. senators to sign my cast, part of a public awareness campaign for pedestrian safety. In a signing ceremony in his office, Mitch McConnell said, ‘I always wanted to be the 60th vote on something.’” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2lrzgKh BIRTHDAYS: Donald Trump Jr. is 4-0 ... David Wilezol, State Department chief speechwriter ... Pete Souza, former chief official WH photographer for Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, with a new book, “Obama: An Intimate Portrait: The Historic Presidency in Photographs,” is 63 ... Sir Alexander Ferguson, CBE, whose beloved Manchester United sit second in the Premier League at the moment (and is the favorite team of Katie Lillie), is 76 (h/ts Ben Chang) … Brian Danza, CTO of Daily Caller, is 37 (h/ts Blain Rethmeier and Tim Burger) ... WaPo’s Joel Achenbach is 57 ... Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is 55 ... Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) is 8-0 ... former Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) is 46 ... WSJ’s Naftali Bendavid ... Dick Short … Karina Cabrera Bell ... Peter G. Miller ... Wayne Pines, president of APCO’s health care practice ... Nathan Martin is 31 ... Jim Long is 53 … fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is 71 ... Mark Ein, new owner of Washington City Paper along with Capitol Acquisition IV, Venturehouse Group, and World Team Tennis, is 53 (h/t Jayne Sandman) ...... Betsy Barrett is 4-0, and celebrating in Valparaiso, Chile with Adrienne Elrod and Erin McPike … John Davis is 41 ... Henry Hunter, sports law adjunct at Georgetown University (h/ts Jon Haber) … Simon Kennedy, executive editor of Bloomberg Economics in London … Ronnie Cho, Emmy winning former MTV exec and Obama campaign and WH alum, is 35 ... Travis Wolfe ... Nati Nieuwstraten ... Martin J. Kady, WaPo alumnus and father of Politico’s Marty Kady, is 72 ... Wade Atkinson ... Axios’ Shannon Vavra ... Shelby Hodgkins ... Danny Shea, head of global expansion at Thrive Global and a HuffPost alum ... Reuben Johnson ... Meeghan Prunty, a managing director at Blue Meridian Partners ... former Obama WH photographer Lawrence Jackson ... Becca Brukman ... Bill Bagley ... Jeff Milstein ... Jackson Fauvre … Marni Karlin … Darren Reisberg, VP and Deputy Provost at UChicago … Andy Sere … Bob Dietz ... Lisa Lindo ... John Francis Kucera is 58 ... Moody’s Danielle Reed ... Jeff White is 56 ... Patrick Holtz is 42 ... William Morales ... Meg Boland ... Chris Donesa is 51 … Becca Ferguson (h/t Teresa Vilmain)
The island wants U.S. aid to bring generations of illegal settlers into the mainstream in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
По состоянию на 29 декабря телекоммуникационные услуги восстановлены на 93,5 %, работают 88 % АЗС (970 из 1 100), а также 92 % супермаркетов (437 из 471). Все порты работают в обычном режиме.
What mattered and what didn’t in Trump’s first year.
По словам представителя НАСА, изображения, хотя и зернистые, помогли исследователям определить размер астероида и его физические особенности. Согласно отчету, камень имеет околосферическую форму и диаметр 6 километров.
Изображения, полученные обсерваторией Аресибо в Пуэрто-Рико, показывают приближение массивного космического камня к Земле 16 декабря.
Puerto Rico authorities said Friday that nearly half of power customers in the U.S. territory still lack electricity more than three months after Hurricane Maria.
Puerto Rico authorities said Friday that nearly half of power customers in the U.S. territory still lack electricity more than three months after Hurricane Maria, sparking outrage among islanders who accuse ...
Puerto Rico authorities said Friday that nearly half of power customers in the U.S. territory still lack electricity more than three months after Hurricane Maria.
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Johnson Outdoors, Triple-S Management, Comtech Telecommunications, Casella Waste Systems and Sucampo Pharmaceuticals
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Johnson Outdoors, Triple-S Management, Comtech Telecommunications, Casella Waste Systems and Sucampo Pharmaceuticals
As we say goodbye to a record-breaking year, we expect 2018 to be even better as the U.S. economy continues to chug along at impressive growth rates. This calls for investing in growth stocks.
Fluor (FLR) completes work on portions of three priority 38kv power lines located in urban areas of San Juan and a fourth priority 38kv line close to Caguas.
Fluor (FLR) completes work on portions of three priority 38kv power lines located in urban areas of San Juan and a fourth priority 38kv line close to Caguas.
Stocks from the Russell 2000 index have seen exceptional growth on the back of tax cuts, improving domestic economy and a rising rate environment.
Число американцев, подавших заявки на пособие по безработице, сохранилось без изменений на прошлой неделе, оставаясь вблизи исторически низких уровней по мере приближения конца 2017 года. Первоначальные заявки на пособие по безработице, индикатор увольнений по всем штатам США, составили 245 000 с учетом сезонных колебаний за неделю, закончившуюся 23 декабря, оставшись без изменений по сравнению с предыдущей неделей, сообщило в четверг Министерство труда. Экономисты на прошлой неделе ожидали 240 000 новых заявок. Данные о заявках на пособие по безработице могут быть неустойчивыми от недели к неделе, а сезонные корректировки, как правило, особенно сложны в праздничные дни (понедельник был Рождеством). Четырехнедельная скользящая средняя первичных обращений на прошлой неделе выросла на 1750 до 77 750. После подъема из-за нескольких мощных ураганов поздним летом, заявки на пособие по безработице опустились до низких уровней, соответствующих здоровью на рынке труда США. Еженедельные первичные заявки на пособие по безработице остались ниже 300 000 в течение 147 недель подряд - самая длинная такая полоса с 1970 года, когда население и рабочая сила в США были намного меньше, чем сегодня. Последствия ураганов Ирма и Мария все еще ощущаются на некоторых территориях США. Министерство труда в четверг предупредило, что «процедуры рассмотрения обращений продолжают нарушаться на Виргинских островах» и что процесс в Пуэрто-Рико «все еще не вернулся в норму». Количество повторных заявок выросло на 7 000 до 1,943 миллиона за неделю, закончившуюся 16 декабря. Данные о повторных заявках выпускаются с недельной задержкой. Экономика США заканчивает 2017 год с попутным ветром. Уровень безработицы в ноябре составил 4,1%, оставаясь второй месяц подряд на 17-летнем минимуме. Рост производства был солидным во втором и третьем кварталах, а модель GDPNow Федерального резервного банка Атланты на прошлой неделе предсказала прирост валового внутреннего продукта на 2,8% в четвертом квартале. «Расходы домашних хозяйств растут умеренными темпами, инвестиции в бизнес выросли, и благоприятные экономические условия за рубежом оказали поддержку экспорту», - сказала в середине декабря председатель Федеральной резервной системы Джанет Йеллен. «В целом мы по-прежнему ожидаем, что экономика будет развиваться умеренными темпами». Информационно-аналитический отдел TeleTradeИсточник: FxTeam
Уайтхэвен, АвстралияУайтхэвен-Бич — это красивейшая 7-километровая береговая линия вдоль острова Витсандей. Всемирную известность пляж получил благодаря белоснежному песку. Его окрас обусловлен наличием чистого диоксида кремния (98 %), который придает ему такой оттенок. Розовый пляж, БагамыОстров Харбор является одним из самых удивительных мест Багамских островов. Необыкновенный цвет песок приобретает из-за присутствия крошечных частиц раковин Фораминиферы. Это одноклеточные организмы, обитающие на нижней части рифов, под камнями и в пещерах прибрежного дна океана.Плайя-дель-Амор — скрытый пляж острова Мариета, МексикаЕсли бы не шум волн люди, вероятно, даже не знали бы, о скрытом от глаз пляже. Плайя-дель-Амор расположен в нескольких метрах от побережья необитаемого острова Мариета. Только несколько туристов добираются туда. Настоящий рай для любителей уединиться.Наваджо, ГрецияНа греческом острове Закинф находится один из самых прекрасных пляжей в мире. Когда-то здесь потерпело крушение судно Панайотис, которое принадлежало контрабандистам. Корабль так и покоится до сих пор в белопесчаных дюнах.Ипанема, БразилияВ Рио-де-Жанейро 23 пляжа общей протяженностью 72 километра, но Ипанема — самый изысканный и элитный. Этот пляж, прилегающий к богатому району столицы, облюбовала шикарная и модная публика, которая изо дня в день здесь тусуется, играет в волейбол и бегает трусцой. Словом, приходят других посмотреть и себя показать.Махо, Карибские островаДобро пожаловать на Махо — один из самых необычных пляжей в мире. Он находится на Карибах в 300 км от Пуэрто-Рико. И отдыхающих сюда привлекает не теплый песок и синее море. Сюда отправляются за непередаваемыми острыми ощущениями, ведь буквально в 10-20 метрах над пляжем и туристами с грохотом проносятся заходящие на посадку гигантские авиалайнеры. Опасное, но завораживающее зрелище!Стеклянный пляж, СШАНедалеко от города Форт Брэгг в Калифорнии есть интересный пляж, усыпанный разноцветными стекляшками. В начале XX века здесь была городская свалка, потом, в 1967 году власти ее закрыли и в течение многих лет проводили очистку территории. Теперь мусора здесь нет, но берег покрыт мелкими, обточенными волнами стеклянными камушками.Боттом бэй, БарбадосБоттом бэй — лучший пляж на острове Барбадос. Канонический пейзаж этого места является визитной карточкой страны.Хайамс, АвстралияПляж Hyams Beach, который находится в 300 километрах от Сиднея — пляж с самым белым песком в мире. Он такой белый, что, взглянув на него издалека, кажется, что это взбитые сливки.Пляж на острове Ваадху, Мальдивские островаЕсть в мире один пляж, который особенно красив ночью. Планктон выброшенный на пляж острова Ваадху окрашивает берега тысячами огней. Свечение объясняется биолюминесценцией — химическими процессами в организме животных, при которых освобождающаяся энергия выделяется в форме света. Голубые светящиеся волны словно отражают звезды в небе над Мальдивами!Грейс Бэй, Карибские островаВот он рай. Белый чистый и прохладный мелкий песочек манит прилечь и позагорать. Грэйс Бэй не раз признавался одним из самых лучших пляжей в мире.Океанский купол, ЯпонияНу а если все моря вам уже приелись и хочется чего-нибудь необычного, то обязательно посетите Ocean Dome. Пляжи из белого песка, океан с искусственной волной для серфинга, водные каскады, горки и аттракционы, бассейны с гидромассажем и спа, тропическая растительность, яркие экзотические шоу, устраиваемые каждый день, — здесь все создано для полноценного отдыха.