NFIB Weekly NewsLeading the News Cassidy: “48 Or 49” Republicans Back Plan To Replace ACA With Block Grants. (09/19/2017)
The Washington Times (9/17, Howell) reports that with time running out to replace the Affordable Care Act with just 50 votes, Senators pushing a plan to replace the law with state block grants “are making real noise...insisting they are just one or two votes shy and that President Trump can nudge their last-gasp bill to victory.” Sen. Bill Cassidy, who co-wrote the legislation with Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday, “We are thinking that we can get this done by Sept. 30.” Cassidy “said his informal whip count stands at ‘48 or 49’ Republican votes.” However, Sen. Rand Paul “announced Friday that he is staunchly opposed to the bill, lengthening the odds of success.” Democrat leaders, meanwhile, “are rallying Obamacare’s defenders to stamp out a revived threat to their signature law.” In a tweet over the weekend, Senate Minority Leader Schumer wrote, “Trumpcare is back & Senate GOP has until Sept 30 to pass their bill. ... We need your voices more than ever!”
Hatch: Big Six “Will Not Dictate” Finance Committee Approach To Tax Reform. (09/19/2017)
Reuters (9/14, Morgan) reports, “In a defiant statement coming as Republican leaders from the Trump administration and Congress prepare to unveil their tax reform framework,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch “said his panel would not be ‘anyone’s rubber stamp’ and that its legislation would reflect the consensus views of its members.” Referring to the “‘Big Six’ negotiators from the White House, Senate and House of Representatives,” Hatch added, “The group...will not dictate the direction we take in this committee. ... The Finance Committee will not be bound by any previous tax reform proposal or framework when we start putting our bill together.”
Small Business Optimism Continues “Historically High” Run. (09/12/2017)
In its latest Small Business Optimism Index, the NFIB reports that small business owners are “planning to make capital expenditures in the next three to six months” at their “highest level since 2006.” NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan called it “a sign of economic health that we’ve been expecting based on the soaring optimism that began last year,” adding the growth in capital investments has followed “higher employment activity.” The Index grew to 105.3, a gain of 0.1 points as five components of the Index increased overall and five declined overall, keeping “intact a string of historically high performances extending back to last November.” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said the August numbers are indicative of a growing economy as they are “a real sign of strength, and it will be interesting to see if the August result becomes a trend.”
Trump Calls For Republicans To Take Action On Tax Reform. (09/12/2017)
The Hill (9/8, Delk) “Briefing Room” blog reports President Trump in his weekly address “focused his attention on tax reform, a campaign promise his administration has set its sight on accomplishing in the coming months.” The President asserted, “My administration is working closely with Congress to develop a plan that will deliver more jobs, higher pay and lower taxes for businesses of all sizes and most importantly for middle-class families all across America.”
Treasury Secretary: Detailed Tax Plan Will Be Released In Coming Weeks. (09/05/2017)
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Wall Street Journal (8/31, Rubin, Davidson, Subscription Publication) that the Trump Administration and lawmakers will release a more detailed tax plan in the coming weeks. While the bill is being written by congressional committees, Mnuchin indicated the Administration will remain engaged in the debate and will stand by its push for an overhaul of the tax code this year.
CNBC (8/31, CNBC) reported that Mnuchin said he “couldn’t be more excited” about the tax plan’s prospects. “It’s going to go through a process, and we expect the House and the Senate will get this to the president to sign this year, and we couldn’t be more excited about the progress we’ve made,” he said. CNBC explained that the Administration’s “plans thus far have been short on details, but they generally seek to lower the corporate tax rate from the highest in the world at 35 percent to as low as 15 percent.” Mnuchin “said the 15 percent rate is ideal, but he did not commit to that level.” He stated: “Wherever we end up, the objective is to get a competitive business rate.”
Trump To Kick Off Tax Reform Push With Visit To Missouri. (08/29/2017)
Bloomberg News (8/24, Talev) cites “an administration official familiar with the plans” who said President Trump “will kick off a campaign to overhaul U.S. tax policy” this week “with a visit to Missouri.” Trump’s visit to Springfield “was expected to be the first of several presidential stops around the country in the coming weeks, said the official,” who added that the President “is not expected to set forth his own plan or many specifics.” Rather, Trump “sees his role as leading a public campaign to rally support as a group of House, Senate and administration officials seek to develop a unified approach.” Politico (8/24, Wilhelm) reported that White House officials said in July that President Trump would use the month of August “to lay the groundwork for tax reform before administration and congressional negotiators wrapped up their high-level work in September.”
Business Climate US Economic Growth Hampered By Recent Hurricanes. (09/19/2017)
The Wall Street Journal (9/15, Chaney, Subscription Publication) reports that the damage from hurricanes Harvey and Irma stands to hinder US economic growth, which was already in a state of decline before the storms as August saw a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent drop in US industrial production and a 0.2 percent decline in spending at US retailers. The storm reportedly decreased Americans’ perceptions of the economy as well, seeing as sentiments in this regard were the highest before the storms since 2000 and are now 1.5 percent lower, according to the University of Michigan.
Fed Faced With Dilemma To Address Low Inflation (09/19/2017)
The Wall Street Journal (9/13, Ip, Subscription Publication) reports that low unemployment and inflation in the US economy is presenting the Federal Reserve with a dilemma as it contemplates which policy measures can be implemented to raise inflation to its 2 percent target. The Journal says the Fed can deliberately overheat the economy for years to boost inflation and potentially induce a recession to stop it from overshooting, or give up its 2 percent target, which could influence its ability to combat future recessions.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma Could Cost US Economy $290B. (09/12/2017)
MarketWatch (9/10, Murphy) reports that “the one-two punch from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma could cost the U.S. economy up to $290 billion, according to a prediction by AccuWeather on Sunday.” The article quotes AccuWeather Founder, President and Chairman Joel Myers explaining the estimate, saying, “The size of the storm combined with its slow movement means that hurricane-force wind gusts in some places will occur over a time period of 12 or more hours, so the damage will be compounded.” Myers adds, “We believe the damage estimate from Irma to be about $100 billion, among the costliest hurricanes of all time. This amounts to 0.5 of a percentage point of the GDP of $19 trillion.” He also states, “We estimated that Hurricane Harvey is to be the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history at $190 billion or one full percentage point of the GDP. Together, AccuWeather predicts these two disasters amount to 1.5 of a percentage point of the GDP.”
Low Inflation Could Make Fed Policymakers Hesitate Over More Rate Hikes In 2017. (09/12/2017)
The Wall Street Journal (9/7, Timiraos, Subscription Publication) reported that several Federal Reserve officials have suggested they will announce at their September meeting that next month they will begin shrinking the central bank’s balance sheet and leave rates unchanged. However, the bigger question is how many officials will again predict one more interest-rate increase this year, as well as what Fed Chair Janet Yellen says on the topic after the meeting.
US Economy Grew 3% In Q2, In “Best Quarterly Showing In Two Years.” (09/05/2017)
The New York Times (8/30, Schwartz, Subscription Publication) reported that the Commerce Department said “that the economy had expanded at an annual rate of 3 percent in the second quarter of the year, better than initially estimated, and a substantial acceleration over the first quarter’s lackluster 1.2 percent pace.” This was “the economy’s best quarterly showing in two years,” the Times noted.
Treasury Secretary: Hurricane Harvey Could Make US Hit Debt Ceiling Sooner. (09/05/2017)
Reuters (8/31) reported that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Hurricane Harvey “could bring forward the deadline by which the nation’s debt ceiling needs to be raised and that he is open to the borrowing cap being dealt with as part of a wider bill.” Mnuchin told CNBC, “We obviously have now the hurricane spending, which is an issue. So that’s going to have some impact on our September spending.” In July, Mnuchin said the debt limit would need to be raised by September 29.
Small Business Marketing Facebook IQ Revamps Site As One-Stop Research Portal, With “Discovery Engine.” (09/19/2017)
AdWeek (9/12, Cohen) reports that Facebook IQ has revamped its website to create “an easy-to-access portal for all of its research,” including its “data, white papers and success stories on insights, marketing and measurement from Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Facebook Audience Network.” A new Insights to Go “discovery engine” is designed to allow users “to filter, find and share relevant insights and data.” The feature also produces slides that “can be shared or downloaded, and the text contained within them can be copied and pasted.”
LinkedIn Survey Finds Members Engage With Brand Content That Helps Them. (09/19/2017)
Social Media Today (9/13, Hutchinson) posts an infographic that shows how professionals engage with content on the LinkedIn platform, based on that company’s own survey of some 9,000 of its members. LinkedIn’s infographic shows that companies and brands have nearly as good a chance of driving engagement at the levels of a LinkedIn member’s own peers if those brands share good content that cuts to the chase. To a LinkedIn member, “good” means “inspirational, relevant content that either makes [them] smarter or helps them perform better at their jobs.” Bucking the mobile trend, LinkedIn content is still consumed primarily on desktops or laptops.
LinkedIn Will Begin Serving Ads To Members On Third-Party Sites, Apps. (09/12/2017)
Advertising Age (9/6, Slefo) reported LinkedIn announced its Audience Network last week, which is designed to reach LinkedIn members on third-party apps and websites. The company said the network was tested by about 6,000 advertisers, who “saw an increase in unique impressions ranging between 3% and 13%.” LinkedIn said it “is working with ad exchanges like MoPub, Sharethrough, Rubicon, Google and Appnexus” and that “advertisers will be able to download performance reports that provide insights on clicks, impressions and engagement.”
Pivotal Research Analyst Says Facebook Inflates Its Reach With Younger Groups. (09/12/2017)
Reuters (9/6) reported that Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser said in a client note that Facebook is inflating its reach in two younger US demographic groups because census data show fewer people than Facebook counts. Facebook responded that its numbers “estimate” its reach and “are not designed to match population or census estimates.” Facebook said it reaches 41 million people in the 18-to-24 age group, but the census recorded only 31 million people in that group, according to Reuters, which added that Facebook also says it reaches some 60 million people ages 25 to 34, although the census says there are only 45 million people in that group.
Brands Will Have To Reject New Google Ads If They Don’t Want Them To Run. (09/05/2017)
Search Marketing Daily (8/31, Sullivan) reported that “Google is preparing to run tests in which its platform will create variations of the brand’s existing AdWords ads and run them across its network.” Starting in October, “marketers will begin seeing alerts in AdWords and will receive a corresponding email each time the platform suggests new ads. Advertisers will have 14 days from the notification to review them. After this time, the ads will become live unless the marketer chooses to remove them.” Search said “some agencies and brands feel they will lose control of their campaigns.”
Snapchat Adds New Manual Controls For Ad Placement, Brand Safety. (08/29/2017)
AdWeek (8/24, Johnson) reported that Snapchat is responding to brand safety concerns and “adding new tools that let advertisers manually weed out where their ads appear.” The platform already has agreements with DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science, and Moat for brand safety standards, but the new controls are “meant to appeal to advertisers with more stringent concerns about specific types of content like news,” which “can often include graphic and unsavory content.”
Wages and Benefits Median Household Income Rose By 3.2% In 2016. (09/19/2017)
The Census Bureau said last week that the median US household income increased 3.2 percent in 2016 to $59,039, marking is second straight yearly increase “as the long-running economic recovery generated broad gains in prosperity,” the New York Times (9/12, A1, Appelbaum, Subscription Publication) reports. For the American middle class, the Washington Post (9/12, Long) says, 2016 was the “highest-earning year ever.” According to the Census Bureau, “the uptick in earnings occurred because so many people found full-time jobs – or better-paying jobs – last year.” The Post adds that the poverty rate “also fell to 12.7 percent, the lowest since 2007, the year before the financial crisis hit.” The Wall Street Journal (9/12, Leubsdorf, Subscription Publication) reports that the percentage of Americans lacking health insurance also declined from 9.1 percent in 2015 to 8.8 percent in 2016. USA Today (9/12, Davidson) says the Census Bureau report “underscores that in the final two years of the Obama administration, low- and middle-income Americans made noticeable progress after struggling in the early years of the economic recovery.”
Initial Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Down By 14K To 284K. (09/19/2017)
Bloomberg News (9/14, Chandra) reports the Labor Department announced initial jobless claims “unexpectedly settled back last week,” falling by 14,000 to 284,000 and “underscoring a resilient labor market even as the Atlantic hurricane season introduces added volatility to the figures.” Economists had predicted 300,000 new claims. The less-volatile four-week average “rose to 263,250 – highest since August 2016 – from 250,250.” Bloomberg says, “Applications for unemployment insurance last week were estimated for Florida, Georgia and South Carolina – states that were impacted by Hurricane Irma. Meanwhile, Texas reported an unadjusted 11,800 decrease in filings, following a Hurricane Harvey-related 51,683 surge in the week ended Sept. 2.”
Q2 Productivity Revised Up To 1.5%. (09/12/2017)
MarketWatch (9/7, Bartash) reported the Labor Department announced that it has revised second-quarter productivity upward to a 1.5% annualized rate of increase, from an original estimate of 0.9%, “though the long-term trend remained weak.” MarketWatch added, “The upward revision stemmed entirely from workers producing more goods and services. Output was revised up to show a 4% increase instead of 3.4%.” MarketWatch said, “Although productivity has risen four straight quarters, it’s only increased 1.3% over the past year,” whereas “productivity rose an average of 2.6% a year from 2000 to 2007. And since World War Two productivity has risen by an average of 2.1%” per year.
Meadows: New Obamacare Replacement Bill “Most Promising” Option For Repeal. (09/12/2017)
The Hill (9/8, Sullivan) reported that House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that a new Obamacare replacement bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) “is the ‘most promising’ option for repealing the law.” The legislation “would replace ObamaCare with block grants to states instead of the law’s current spending on subsidies and Medicaid expansion.”
Federal Judge Strikes Down Labor Department Rule On Overtime Pay. (09/05/2017)
The Hill (8/31, Bowden) reported that “a federal judge in Texas has struck down a rule from the Department of Labor that would have extended overtime pay to more than 4 million workers, effectively erasing one of former President Obama’s biggest regulatory initiatives.” The article added that the judge, Amos Mazzant, “wrote that the agency improperly looked at salaries instead of job descriptions when determining whether a worker should be eligible for overtime pay.”
Reuters (8/30, Wiessner) reported that the Trump Administration has blocked an Obama-era rule “requiring US employers to report detailed pay data broken down by gender and race echoing business groups by saying it would not have the intended effect of addressing wage gaps.” OMB said in a memo that “the rule was burdensome to companies and could pose privacy and confidentiality issues.” A Wall Street Journal (8/30, Subscription Publication) editorial criticized the rule and said that the decision to block it is good news for employers and workers who want their pay to be based on merit rather than government mandates.
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