Companies Giving One Time Bonuses Cite New Tax Law

While working on the tax bill late last year, Republican Congressional leaders frequently mentioned this was being done for the middle class.    At the time there was discussion that if was really the goal of the tax plan, there were much simpler ways to accomplish that.

Today, several companies announced one time bonuses, hourly, wage increases, or both.  Those that sold the plan (and those that want to believe in it) were quick to cite the tax bill as the reason and claim success.   Democratic Congressional leaders were equally quick to counter as written in the Business Insider post below.   

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Nancy Pelosi says companies' bonuses to workers because of the tax bill are 'crumbs'

Bob Bryan
Business Insider

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday dismissed as "crumbs" the recent wave of bonuses given to workers by large corporations in the wake of the Republican tax law's passage.

"In terms of the bonus that corporate America received versus the crumbs that they are giving workers to kind of put the schmooze on is so pathetic," Pelosi told reporters. "It’s so pathetic."

Pelosi's comments came as many large companies have announced one-time bonuses for workers and pay increases as a result of the tax bill. Companies including AT&T, Wells Fargo, and Visa have all announced various pay increases, one-time bonuses, or benefits increases, citing the tax bill as a factor.

The White House particularly highlighted an announcement by Walmart on Wednesday. The retail giant said it would increase its minimum hourly wage to $11 an hour and offer long-time employees a $1,000 bonus.

Analyses have shown that companies and wealthier Americans are likely to picket the bulk of the benefits from the tax code changes.

Critics of the moves have dismissed the increases as public relations stunts designed to draw favorable coverage and praise from Republicans. Pelosi, for instance, noted some of the bonuses are coming as firms continue layoffs of employees. <more>

Walmart to raise its starting wage to $11, give some employees bonuses following tax bill passage

Lauren Thomas | Courtney Reagan

Walmart is raising its starting wage to $11 Walmart is raising its starting wage to $11 
7 Hours Ago | 00:46
Walmart's workers will soon reap the benefits of the recent tax law changes, as the world's largest private employer raises its starting wage, creates new benefits and distributes bonuses to eligible workers.

The big-box retailer announced Thursday it will increase its starting wage rate for hourly employees in the U.S. to $11, and expand maternity and parental leave benefits. Currently, Walmart's starting wage is $9 until workers complete a training program. Then, they receive $10.

Walmart will also pay a one-time cash bonus to eligible employees of as much as $1,000. The payouts, which should total roughly $400 million, will result in a one-time charge that the company will take in its fiscal fourth quarter.

The bonuses will be determined by an employee's length of service. Those workers with more than 20 years of experience will qualify to receive the full $1,000. However, workers with less than two years of experience will receive $200, a Walmart spokesman told CNBC.

Employees with 15 to 19 years of service at Walmart will receive $750, while those with 10 to 14 years of work there will receive a $400 bonus, he said. Five to nine years of experience merits a $300 bonus, while two to four years of service will result in a payout of $250. <more>

Florida Off-Shore Drilling Yay or Nay?

Less than a week ago, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a plan to make over 90% of National OCS program (Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program) available for OffShore Drilling.  Now, the Trump Administration is exempting Florida from this plan after a high profile visit by Zinke to Tallahassee and a visit with with Governor Rick Scott, a Trump supporter. 

Scott had been part of a bi-partisan group of Florida officials that were critical of the original decision to expand off-shore drilling.   The decision to exclude Florida from expanded drilling has left political leaders from both parties asking, "Why Not Us" as reported in the Washington Post.  This negative response from both parties  adds one more challenge for Republicans in a mid-term election year.

Decision to exempt Florida from offshore drilling prompts bipartisan uproar

By David Weigel and John Wagner
Washington prompts

The Trump administration’s decision to exempt Florida from expanded offshore drilling kicked off a frenzy Wednesday in other coastal states, with governors from both political parties asking: Why not us?

“We cannot afford to take a chance with the beauty, the majesty and the economic value and vitality of our wonderful coastline,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R), who backed President Trump in his state’s competitive 2016 primary, said in a statement.

“Not Off Our Coast,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) wrote in a tweet. “We’ve been clear: this would bring unacceptable risks to our economy, our environment, and our coastal communities.”

The Florida carve-out, announced Tuesday by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, created new doubts about the fate of the entire offshore drilling decision — and immediately became another challenge for Republicans as they work to hold off Democrats in the midterm elections. Nine of the 11 states that opposed the drilling order have gubernatorial races this year, and many of the most competitive contests for the House of Representatives will unfold in districts that touch coastline. <more>

Overnight Energy: Zinke under fire for exempting Florida from drilling plan 

The Hill

ZINKE'S DRILLING MOVE HITS OPPOSITION: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is catching criticism from numerous corners over his decision late Tuesday to take Florida off the table for offshore drilling.

While Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) welcomed the quick action to protect waters near his state from drilling, officials elsewhere accused Zinke of political favoritism, and wondered if opponents in other states would get the same courtesy.

Scott is a close ally to the Trump administration, and is expected soon to announce his intent to run against Sen. Bill Nelson (D), a long-time drilling opponent. Florida's coasts also host Trump's "Winter White House," Mar-a-Lago.

Zinke said last week he'd consider allowing drilling near all of the nation's coasts.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) was one of the early opponents out of the gate Tuesday, saying that his state met the same standards Zinke used to exempt Florida. <more>

To Avert a Shutdown are DACA and "Border Wall" Linked?

We mentioned in a previous post about averting a government shutdown until that Congress had forestalled this until a fast approaching January 19th deadline.   Negotiations around what it will take to get avert another shutdown are underway.    It appears that President Trump is willing to extend the Obama era DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program.   In return, the President wants tightened border security.   Congressional Republicans that attended the negotiations are saying the Border Wall will look more like a fence.

Trump Appears to Endorse Path to Citizenship for Millions of Immigrants

New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday appeared open to negotiating a sweeping immigration deal that would eventually grant millions of undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship, declaring that he was willing to “take the heat” politically for an approach that seemed to flatly contradict the anti-immigration stance that charged his political rise.

The president made the remarks during an extended meeting with congressional Republicans and Democrats who are weighing a shorter-term agreement that would extend legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. The 90-minute session — more than half of which played out on national television — appeared to produce some progress: Mr. Trump agreed to a framework for a short-term immigration deal to couple protection for young, undocumented immigrants with border security.

But in suggesting that a broader immigration measure was possible next, Mr. Trump was giving a rare public glimpse of an impulse he has expressed privately to advisers and lawmakers — the desire to preside over a more far-reaching solution to the status of the 11 million undocumented immigrants already living and working in the United States. Passage of a comprehensive immigration law would give Mr. Trump success where Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush failed. <more>

Trump: Border wall must be part of DACA deal

The Hill

President Trump said Tuesday that he made clear during immigration negotiations with lawmakers that the country needs “the security of the Wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border and it "must be part of any" deal for certain young immigrants.

"As I made very clear today, our country needs the security of the Wall on the Southern Border, which must be part of any DACA approval," Trump tweeted, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Trump has suggested a wall must be part of a deal that would include a legislative fix for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants affected by the Obama-era program.

The president announced in September that he would rescind the program, which allows certain immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children to stay and work without fear of deportation.

Trump's tweet came hours after he and congressional negotiators outlined the parameters of a potential deal during a meeting at the White House. As part of the outline, Trump and lawmakers agreed such a deal should protect so-called Dreamers from deportation, tighten security along the border, change how family relationships are weighted when granting legal status and reform the diversity visa lottery program. 

“He’s made it clear that he’s not talking about a monolithic structure,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters. “He made the point that this could well be what other people cal a fence. I think he made the point that Border Patrol needs to be able to see through it.”


Mueller to Possibly Interview Trump

While the President has been saying "Fake News" to the world via Twitter, he will have the chance to say this to Robert Mueller.  Mueller has been seeking to interview President Trump for over a month now.   The President's lawyers appear to have been prepping him and the format of the "interview" (in person, written responses, etc.) remains unclear.

Mueller Is Said to Likely Seek to Interview Trump

New York Times

WASHINGTON — The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, told President Trump’s lawyers last month that he will probably seek to interview the president, setting off discussions among Mr. Trump’s lawyers about the perils of such a move, two people familiar with the discussion said on Monday.

No formal request has been made and no date has been set. White House officials viewed the discussion as a sign that Mr. Mueller’s investigation of Mr. Trump could be nearing the end. But even if that is so, allowing prosecutors to interview a sitting president who has a history of hyperbolic or baseless assertions carries legal risk for him. Mr. Mueller has already brought charges against four of Mr. Trump’s former aides. All face accusations of lying to the authorities.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have long expected that Mr. Mueller would eventually ask to speak with the president. Ty Cobb, the senior White House lawyer on the case, has for months pledged full cooperation, saying Mr. Trump has nothing to hide in an investigation into whether his campaign worked with Russian operatives to try to influence the 2016 presidential election.<more>

Possible Trump interview in Mueller probe

By Fox News Staff | Fox News

Fox News: “President Trump’s lawyers are preparing for the possibility that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team will ask to conduct an interview with the president himself as part of the Russia probe, Fox News has learned. There has been no official request by Mueller’s office to interview the president yet, but Trump’s lawyers are anticipating that Mueller may request information from Trump before winding down the investigation into Russia’s attempted meddling in the 2016 election. According to sources, conversations with Mueller’s team about an interview are in the early stage. It is still possible an interview won’t even take place. But the president’s legal team is considering a number of possible options for such an interview, including an in-person interview of Trump, written responses to questions submitted by Mueller’s investigative team or an affidavit signed by the president stating his position on the case. … At Camp David on Saturday, Trump suggested he is willing to speak with Mueller if asked, when asked by a reporter if he’s committed to being interview by the special counsel.” <more>

Clinton Foundation Investigation Is Back On

We have had a constant stream of what did and did not happen during the election cycle of 2016 ever since the election.   Now add one more to that -- a reboot of the investigation into the Clinton Foundation.   The Washington Post article refers to the investigation as having been "dialed back" before the election, while the Fox New post refers to it as "another" investigation.   Regardless of whether or not the investigation was dialed back or stopped altogether, both of these posts are consistent that the current investigation has been underway for a few months.   The Fox New post, relies on several actions by Judicial Watch.   I have spent some time on their web site as I am not that familiar with this organization.   I trust that someone in our One Headline A Day community will educate us about them -- feel free to post a comment here.

The FBI is investigating the Clinton Foundation

By Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett | Washington Post

The FBI has been discreetly investigating the Clinton Foundation for months, reviving a probe that was dialed back during the 2016 election amid tensions between Justice Department prosecutors and FBI agents about the politically charged case, according to people familiar with the matter.

The investigation is being run out of the FBI’s field office in Little Rock, where the foundation has offices in the William J. Clinton Presidential Center, the people said. Agents are trying to determine if any donations made to the foundation were linked to official acts when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, these people said.

It was not immediately clear what specific donations or interactions agents were scrutinizing, and there was some skepticism inside the Justice Department and the FBI that the case ultimately would lead to any charges. <more>

Justice Department investigating Clinton Foundation over 'pay to play' allegations

By Jake Gibson | Fox News

The Justice Department has launched another investigation into allegations the Clinton Foundation used "pay to play" politics while Hillary Clinton was U.S. secretary of state, Fox News has confirmed.

Sources close to the investigation told Fox News the probe, led by the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI in Little Rock, Ark., has been ongoing for months. Fox News has learned that investigators have already conducted multiple interviews associated with the probe.

Fox News also has learned investigators are looking into whether the Clinton Foundation violated tax law. Accusers of "pay to play" have claimed the foundation promised favors in exchange for donations or pledges of cash or gifts.

The Hill, which broke the story Thursday evening, added that FBI agents have taken the lead in the investigation and have interviewed at least one witness in the last month. <more>

Bomb Cyclone Hit the U.S. East Coast

Photo Credit - New York Times
It's often said that the local weather on the U.S. East Coast is always treated as national news.   It may seem easy to think that this current storm is another instance of that norm.    That would be wrong in this case - this storm is different.   It's not the snow, it will be the wind and flooding.  Bombogenesis is the technical term used by meteorologists that is characterized by rapidly dropping atmospheric pressure.  In addition to the wind, the storm surge is already causing flooding concerns as these pictures show.   Both #bombcylone and #bombogensis are trending on twitter.

It's hard to do anything other than to wish the best for all involved so there aren't really two sides to pick for this story.    However, since New York and Boston are frequent sports rivals, we will use reports from those two cities for our side by side presentation.

‘Bomb Cyclone’: Snow and Bitter Cold Blast the Northeast


In Boston, one of the highest tides on record flooded a subway station near the New England Aquarium. Pipes cracked from New Jersey to North Carolina. Even Florida’s iguanas found themselves stunned by the cold.

From the Spanish moss-canopied sidewalks of Savannah, Ga., to icy villages in coastal Maine, emergency officials reckoned with the rages, whims and remains of a storm that shut down schools for more than a million children, flooded roadways, filled homeless shelters and forced the cancellations of thousands of flights.

Yet the storm, notable for a steep drop in atmospheric pressure that prompted some forecasters to describe it as a “bomb cyclone,” was but one act in a prolonged run of misery that had already enveloped millions of people in a wintry torment of Arctic air and snow-blown streets.  <more>

Are these Boston’s highest tides in history?


As Thursday’s nor’easter raged on, it quickly became clear that the flooding was the biggest issue, with storm surge battering the Massachusetts coastline.

When high tide hit around 12:45 p.m. Thursday, it appeared that Boston Harbor saw its greatest tide swell since at least the Blizzard of 1978 and possibly since 1921. (The NOAA will have to confirm those numbers, but they’re within a few tenths of an inch). This is a remarkable statistic considering all the nor’easters that have happened in the four decades since.

Tide predictions are somewhat difficult and because the storm grew so large, so fast, I suspect that this was underpredicted. This means you can expect to see lots more images of flooded shore roads up and down the coast as many locations continue to experience major flooding. <more>

Twitter Diplomacy

With two world leaders acting and using language that would be discouraged in a middle school, one must ask if this is a serious geo-political crisis or just two middle schoolers that will find their next distraction.    Regardless of the outcome, the question of using Twitter to conduct foreign policy has come under increased scrutiny.   The CNN Politics post below gives an overview of what has brought us to "comparing nuke buttons".      There is a growing trend on social media to pressure Twitter to stop President Trump's Twitter use as a violation of Twitter's policies.

The provocation caused Mr Cannon-Brookes to send a tweet to Twitter asking how "threatening to launch a nuclear weapon against millions of people isn't 'abusive behaviour'", according to its guidelines.

While she make think differently in light of current events, Mary Dejevsky made the argument early last year that there might be merit for communicating directly with the entire world.

Trump taunts North Korea: My nuclear button is 'much bigger,' 'more powerful'

By Eli Watkins, CNN

President Donald Trump on Tuesday taunted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, warning Kim about US nuclear capabilities as tensions worsen between the two nations.

"North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the 'Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.' Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"

The evening message followed more than a dozen others Trump had sent throughout the day on issues ranging from The New York Times' coverage of his administration to conflict in the Middle East. <more>

In defence of Donald Trump’s Twitter diplomacy

Mary Dejevsky

There was a widespread belief that once Donald Trump was president, his mode of communication would change. He would think first, speak later. And if he could not bring himself to do that, his wiser aides (or his son-in-law) would ensure that whatever device he used for his quickfire utterances was safely locked up.

Like most forecasts about Trump, this was wrong. Whereas George W Bush – probably the first US politician to reach the presidency in the mobile phone age – was told in no uncertain terms to give it up, and his email habit, too, Trump has either not been so advised, or has treated the warnings with the same disdain he treats so much else. He has carried on with his tweets and gaffes, and in doing so he has earned almost universal disapproval from the political and especially the diplomatic establishments, which regard such heedless commentary as, first, ill-advised in the extreme and, second, plain crass. <more>

Iranian Protests Now in their Sixth Day

With the Iranian protests now in their sixth day one wonders why Americans know so little about it?   Could it be that it has not come across your Social Stream?   It's a good thing that One Headline Day has you covered.    The NPR post below outlines all of the key players in the protests.   As to why Americans know so little about it, the Tablet post below makes the case that it is the American media's inability to cover such an event.

The Key Players In The Iran Protests

Greg Myre, Larry Kaplow

Iran's protests feature demonstrators upset with the country's lackluster economy and nearly four decades of rule by hard-line Islamic clerics.

Those are the basics, but there is much more behind this latest round of unrest.

Iran is a complicated place, marked by multiple factions all trying to pull the country in different directions.

There is one supreme cleric in charge. But there is also an elected president and robust political debate. While not a democracy, neither is Iran a dictatorship.

In addition, most foreign journalists are barred from the country and the Iran government has shut down some social media channels inside the country.

Here's a primer on some of the key players and what's at stake for them: <more>

Why Can’t the American Media Cover the Protests in Iran?

Lee Smith

As widespread anti-regime protests in Iran continue on into their third day, American news audiences are starting to wonder why the US media has devoted so little coverage to such dramatic—and possibly history-making—events. Ordinary people are taking their lives in their hands to voice their outrage at the crimes of an obscurantist regime that has repressed them since 1979, and which attacks and shoots them dead in the streets. So why aren’t the protests in Iran making headlines?

The short answer is that the American media is incapable of covering the story, because its resources and available story-lines for Iran reporting and expertise were shaped by two powerful official forces—the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Obama White House. Without government minders providing them with story-lines and experts, American reporters are simply lost—and it shows. <more>