Thursday, March 17, 2011

ThinkFast: March 17, 2011


Despite a sagging economy, corporate profits are expected to hit an 18-year high. The “third consecutive year of the bull market will see profits increase 8.9% in 2011, which would be the highest level since 1993.”

A powerful House Republican wants to cut the top U.S. tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent, and eliminate many popular deductions. Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is not likely to immediately succeed at the dramatic cut, but “provides Republicans with a position to pitch in the 2012 election.”

Banks have repaid approximately 99 percent of their original bailout from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). According to the Treasury Department, taxpayers have recovered about $244 billion of the $245 billion in TARP funds that were doled out to banks. The TARP program is ultimately expected to “provide a lifetime profit of nearly $20 billion to taxpayers.”

The State Department announced yesterday that it is arranging “voluntary evacuations” from Japan for up to 600 of U.S. diplomats’ family members and dependents because of “growing concern about overheating reactors” at the Fukushima nuclear plant. It also urged U.S. citizens within a 50 mile radius of the plant to evacuate the area while the U.S. government works to facilitate departures.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Egyptians yesterday for their peaceful transition from autocratic rule and scolded Bahrain for what she called its “alarming” crackdown on protesters demanding political reform there. “They are on the wrong track,” she said referring to the Bahraini leaders. “There is no security answer to this.”

During an interview on MSNBC last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that Congress should “leave Social Security alone.” “Two decades from now, I’m willing to take a look at it,” said Reid. “But I’m not willing to take a look at it right now.”

After losing Nevada’s U.S. Senate race to Reid last November, Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle announced yesterday that she will run for a U.S. House seat in Nevada. Angle will run for Nevada’s 2nd House district, which covers most of the state outside of Las Vegas.

The House GOP scheduled a vote today on a bill to bar federal funding for NPR. Though the House voted to cut $50 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — which supports NPR — on Tuesday, today’s bill would ban any of NPR’s affiliate radio stations from “using any federal funds to purchase any programming from NPR.”

And finally: What happens when the President of the United States decides to dine out? David Hagedorn describes the scene first-hand: “A restaurant takes on the vibe of the Peanuts character Pig-Pen: a placid interior surrounded by a cloud of chaos.”

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