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Dec 8, 2010

Estate plan needed even without a tax.: MarketWatch - Personal Finance Daily:

MarketWatch
Personal Finance Daily
DECEMBER 08, 2010

Wednesday's Personal Finance Daily

By MarketWatch



Don't miss these top stories:

Thinking about your own demise tends to be low on the list of priorities — unless it involves considering what will happen to your hard-earned money and real estate once you die. That's what tends to arouse passions about what should go to whom and how much, and, of course, how to avoid giving an outsize chunk to Uncle Sam.

The tax deal that President Obama announced Monday and that looks likely to pass Congress contains a less-than-onerous federal estate tax. Even so, you might have to pay more attention to the inheritance tax rates imposed by your state to protect your heirs, writes Robert Powell. Check out his story for four other ways the new estate-tax deal could affect your financial planning.

Plus, don't miss our stories honoring MarketWatch's CEO of the Decade, determined by the editorial staff after a three-month process, and our annual CEO of the year, awarded by reader votes this time. It was a tough race in both categories, but two separate candidates in vastly different businesses rose to the top. See who they are and why they had the right stuff.

Finally, today's Health Matters blog examines how frank talk about health care may be Elizabeth Edwards's biggest public legacy after her death from cancer on Tuesday. And a pair of personal reports from Marshall Loeb in New York and Lisa Twaronite in Tokyo reflects on the 69th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Kristen Gerencher , Reporter/Health-Care Columnist

Five ways the new estate tax deal affects you

Americans — rich and not-so-rich — can breathe a sigh of relief about estate taxes. At least for now.
Read more on five ways new estate tax deal affects you.


Apple's Jobs: Rock star of Corporate America

Steve Jobs is known as both mercurial and visionary, part rock-star CEO and part master salesman, a meticulous micromanager who can drive his employees to distraction — and one of the most important figures in American industry in the past half-century.
Read more on Apple's Jobs: Rock star of Corporate America.


Ford's Mulally wins CEO of the Year award

IPad, schmi-pad. Citigroup? Pfft. Amazon.com and Netflix? Nah. This one wasn't even close.
Read more on Ford's Mulally wins CEO of the Year award.


Legacy of Elizabeth Edwards includes frank talk about health

It's hard to find a public figure as candid and compelling as Elizabeth Edwards, a lawyer and health-reform advocate best known as the estranged wife of former Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards. She died Tuesday morning at her home in Chapel Hill, N.C., only a day after announcing her decision to end cancer treatment on doctors' advice that it wouldn't be productive, according to a family statement. She was 61 years old.
Read more on legacy of Elizabeth Edwards includes frank talk about health.


Pearl Harbor metaphor lives on in infamy

Sixty-nine years ago, on this day that still lives "in infamy," more than 2,000 lives abruptly ended and a metaphor was born.
Read about Pearl Harbor metaphor lives on in infamy.


Pearl Harbor and the ‘last good war'

Flashbulb memory. That's what psychologists call a memory one has of what he was doing when he heard of an indelible event.
Read more on Pearl Harbor and an America triumphant.

Shove It' Indicator Turns Positive: More People Quitting: CNBC Evening Brief:




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NYT: Afternoon Business News: A Bond Rush as Treasury Prices Fall.


BUSINESS:

A Bond Rush as Treasury Prices Fall

By CHRISTINE HAUSER
Extension of the Bush tax cuts has stoked concerns in the bond market over Washington's ability to control its budget deficit.
App Smart

10 Apps That Make Magic on Your iPad

By BOB TEDESCHI
Apps that work wonders by making life easier and more fun.
DealBook

J&J Bids $2.3 Billion for Biotech Firm

By CHRIS V. NICHOLSON and ADRIENNE CARTER
The U.S. healthcare giant on Wednesday made a formal offer for the 82.1 percent of the Dutch biotech that it doesn't already own.
DealBook

Where Are the Financial Crisis Prosecutions?

By JESSE EISINGER
Some banks went down innocently. Surely some housed bad actors who broke laws.

E.U. Suggests Jail Time for Insider Trading

By JAMES KANTER
The measures are aimed at bolstering market confidence, despite many European countries' aversion for sending white-collar offenders to prison.

Call to overhaul auditors' duties | Financial & Forex Info News | The Australiajn Business Briefing







Call to overhaul auditors' duties
KPMG Tracy Lee AUDITORS should include assessing a company's business case and boards should disclose the activities of the audit subcommittee.
$71m share incentive for Kloppers
share incentive Matt Chambers BHP Billiton chief Marius Kloppers will earn a hefty $71 million worth of share bonuses if he stays in the top job for the next five years.
Wall St buoyed by gains in bank shares
Wall St Jonathan Cheng US shares ended higher, as surging financials offset a broad decline in the stockmarket and the 10-year bond yield hit a six-month high.
Container ships slow as demand slumps
China containers David Robertson NINETY per cent of the container ships heading to Northern Europe from Asia have been forced to slowe to the speed of a "fresh breeze".
Rio seals finance deal on Oyu Tolgoi
Oyu Tolgoi mine Alex MacDonald IVANHOE Mines says it has reached an agreement with Rio Tinto to raise up to $US6.5 billion to develop Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi project.
Rinehart denounces heir-brained journos
gina rinehart Andrew Burrell AUSTRALIA'S richest woman chided the media for labelling her a "mining heiress", describing journalists who use the term as "stupid".
ANZ defends extra rate rises
ANZ Richard Gluyas ANZ Bank has strongly defended out-of-cycle interest rate hikes, arguing it had to pass on higher funding costs.
China giant tips $78m into coal seam gas
China Michael Sainsbury, China correspondent CHINA is stepping up its bid for a large slice of Australia's gas reserves.
Financial Markets
Wall St buoyed by gains in bank shares
Wall St Jonathan Cheng US shares ended higher, as surging financials offset a broad decline in the stockmarket and the 10-year bond yield hit a six-month high.
Gold price falls on inflation bets
Bourse fades as resources ease
Financial Markets Coverage

Financial & Forex Info News | Reuters - Daily Investor Update




FROM: REUTERS - DAILY INVESTOR UPDATE


Financials, semiconductors help Wall Street advance
Recession risk without tax deal - Summers
BABs fears sting municipal bonds again
Fed to unveil debit card fee rules December 16: sources
Costco profit helped by sales, fees
Airlines see improvement but JetBlue cuts outlook
EU's Juncker, Germany clash over euro zone bonds
Fortune Brands to split company, hold its liquor
Yum says China will be top profit driver this year
Financial literacy won't fix everything

RTTNews Evening Market Wrap: Stocks Eke Out Modest Gains On Light Trading Day - U.S. Commentary .


Evening Market Wrap Wed Dec 8  2010

Commentary

Dec 8, 2010 Stocks Eke Out Modest Gains On Light Trading Day - U.S. Commentary Stocks were able to scrounge together modest gains amid another largely choppy outing on Wednesday, with corporate news guiding the majority of moves on a day offering no first-tier economic reports. Meanwhile, concerns regarding the strength of the U.S. economic recovery and the European debt contagion remained a cloud over market sentiment. Full Article

Economic News

Dec 8, 2010 MBA: Mortgage Applications Slip As Rates Creep Higher U.S. mortgage applications declined slightly last week, following a huge drop the week before, according to a closely watched housing survey, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's latest survey. For the week ending December 3, the Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 0.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 Survey Finds Most Americans Expect To Work Through RetirementMiddle-class Americans are largely unprepared for retirement, according to a survey conducted by Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), leading most to say they expect to work through their retirement years. Wells Fargo said its sixth annual Retirement Fitness Survey found that while respondents expect to need a nest egg of $300,000, they have saved just $20,000 of that amount. Full Article

Corporate News

Dec 8, 2010 Costco Profit Tops EstimatesMembership warehouse club operator Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) reported Wednesday a profit growth for the first quarter, above market projections, mainly reflecting improved comparable sales performance. Topline increased from last year, beating market view. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 Fortune Brands Plans To Split Into Three BusinessesFortune Brands, Inc. (FO), a maker of distilled spirits, home and security products, and golf products, Wednesday announced an initiative to spin off the home and security and golf products businesses and continue as an independent, publicly-traded company focused solely on the distilled spirits business. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 McDonald's November Comparable Sales Up 4.8% Fast food giant McDonald's Corp. (MCD) announced Wednesday that sales at all restaurants in operation for at least thirteen months grew 4.8% in November, driven primarily by strength in the US and European markets. Meanwhile, the company's system-wide sales for the month rose 4.7%, and grew 6.1% in constant currencies. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 Home Depot Lifts OutlookHome improvement retailer Home Depot, Inc. (HD) on Wednesday raised its earnings and sales growth outlook for fiscal year 2010, and provided sales growth outlook for fiscal year 2011 in line with analysts' estimates. The company also said it targets $2.5 billion of share repurchases in 2011, using its excess cash. Full Article

Political News

Dec 8, 2010 Most Americans Support Key Elements Of Tax Cut AgreementThe two major elements of the tax compromise reached by President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans have the support of a majority of Americans, according to the results of a Gallup poll released on Wednesday. Under the deal, Obama agreed to a two-year extension of all of the Bush tax cuts, including the tax cuts for the wealthy, in exchange for an extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 Obama Presses Congressional Democrats To Accept Tax DealPresident Barack Obama Wednesday continued his efforts to persuade reluctant Democrats to accept a deal he had reached with Congressional Republicans to extend a series of tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year. As part of the deal, Obama agreed to extend Bush-era tax cuts for all income levels for two years, including the tax cuts for the wealthy, in exchange for a series of other targeted tax cuts and a 13 month extension of unemployment benefits. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 Murkowski Becomes 3rd GOP Senator To Publicly Support Repeal Of DADTSen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Wednesday became the latest Republican senator to publicly support repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces. Full Article

Stocks To Watch

Dec 8, 2010 Semi and Solid…A recent IPO, this company is a niche player in the semi industry, specializing in high-growth applications like Near field technology that is used for contactless payments. Competitive manufacturing Full Article


FINANCIAL & FOREX INFO NEWS | The Australian Capital Circle : One of the most pragmatic politicians in the ALP




Capital Circle Newsletter

One of the most pragmatic politicians in the ALP
 
The latest revelations from Wikileaks are driving the day, with Senator Mark Arbib now under the microscope.

First off: FEDERAL minister and right-wing Labor powerbroker Mark Arbib has been revealed as a confidential contact of the United States embassy in Canberra, providing inside information and commentary for Washington on the workings of the Australian government and the Labor Party.
An embassy profile on Senator Arbib written in July 2009 says: "He understands the importance of supporting a vibrant relationship with the US while not being too deferential. We have found him personable, confident and articulate.''  (more from Philip Dorling)
Senator Arbib has responded to the cables this morning in a statement:
"I am publicly known as a strong supporter of Australia's relationship with the United States. I am an active member of the well known Australia-American Leadership Dialogue which meets regularly. I, like many members of the Federal Parliament, have regular discussions about the state of Australian and US politics with members of the US mission and consulate.''
And in a further report, the embassy recorded that Victorian Labor senator David Feeney had told embassy officers that '' there is no longer any intellectual integrity in the factions'' and that ''there is no major policy issue on which he, a Right factional leader, differs from Gillard''.
Kevin Rudd has blamed the United States for the leaked cables, not Julian Assange.
By his side: THE mother of WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange might travel to the UK to support her son. Christine Assange, who lives on the Sunshine Coast, told The Courier-Mail yesterday she had not heard from her son since his arrest and was concerned he would not get a fair trial.
The Elvis of the internet: SAY what you like about
Read more...

The Washington Post Afternoon Edition: Most Read Articles

Washington Post

1) Obama's disastrous path

Ronald Reagan famously quipped that the Democratic Party left him before he left the party. Like many progressive supporters of Barack Obama, I'm beginning to have the same feeling about this president.

2) Fired worker soaks in Supreme Court case mirroring his own discrimination battle

Legal dramas don't do much for Kelly Ashley, who would much rather listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Peter Frampton at very high volume than watch "Law and Order: Los Angeles" or read some John Grisham legal thriller.

3) Albert Haynesworth era ends for Washington Redskins, who suspend him without pay for rest of regular season

Albert Haynesworth came to Washington with a promise.

4) Haynesworth era ends for Redskins

Albert Haynesworth came to Washington with a promise.

5) SpaceX rocket, capsule launched in test for commercial space industry

The first of what NASA hopes will someday be a fleet of privately built rockets and capsules to supply the international space station launched from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday morning in a major test for the commercial space industry.

6) FCC's pay-as-you-go Internet plan raises video, access questions

As details emerge about the Federal Communications Commission's controversial proposal for regulating Internet providers, a provision that would allow companies to bill customers for how much they surf the Web is drawing special scrutiny.

7) Sally Jenkins: The Redskins couldn't make Albert Haynesworth care

Get this straight: there is no "managing" Albert Haynesworth. There is no way to make this guy perform. No amount of coaxing, or cute psychological ploys, can make him play hard for the Redskins. No concession can soothe his swollen ego, and no scheme will make him happy. Redskins Coach Mike Shan...

8) Angry Democrats rebel against Obama's tax-cut deal with Republicans

President Obama on Tuesday faced an uprising among angry Democrats who strongly opposed his deal with Republicans on tax cuts, opening a public rift that could prevent the White House from ending the year with a fresh dose of stimulus for the economy.

9) Elizabeth Edwards dies lived her pain on a public stage

Elizabeth A. Edwards, who captured the nation's sympathy and admiration for her forthright grace in coping with her struggle with breast cancer and the infidelity of her husband, presidential candidate John Edwards, died Dec. 7 at her home in Chapel Hill, N.C., after a six-year battle with cancer.

10) Step increase breakdown for federal workers

Income for many federal employees would continue to grow under President Obama's proposal to freeze their pay, because that plan would not affect longevity raises knows as step increases. Step increases are paid, except to poor performers, every one to three years, depending on salary system and ...

GATA : THE GATA DISPATCH : CFTC's Chilton wants more oversight of high-frequency trading.

CFTC's Chilton wants more oversight of high-frequency trading

By Christopher Doering
Reuters
Wednesday, December 9, 2010
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6B72GF20101208
WASHINGTON -- A top official at the U.S. futures regulator said Wednesday he supported tougher oversight of the high-frequency trading market, including measures that would require exchanges to review and monitor these computer programs.
Bart Chilton, a commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said in prepared remarks that traders responsible for high-frequency or algorithmic trades that damage the market and consumers should be held accountable.
"One way to address the matter is to include such a provision in our new anti-disruptive trading practices authority," Chilton said in a speech obtained by Reuters.

 "We should prohibit certain conduct that is specific to algo robots and high frequency trading. Taking into account what happened on May 6, this certainly seems like a reasonable proposition," he said.
The May 6 crash sent the Dow Jones industrial average down some 700 points in a matter of minutes, before it sharply recovered. Although a government review did not blame high-frequency traders, the Securities and Exchange Commission and CFTC are under pressure to rein in the rapid traders, who use computer-driven algorithms to buy and sell shares at lightening speed.
Economists at the CFTC estimate high frequency traders account for roughly a third of all trading volume on regulated U.S. futures exchanges.
In his remarks, Chilton said the CFTC, as part of its core principles, should require exchanges to have "certain due diligence" and review these computer programs from the start.
"I'd also like to ensure that all exchanges have the ability to monitor individual programs trading and aggregate and slice, dice and chop up data to get a better handle on what is and could go on in market," he said.
Chilton said high-frequency programs are a key part of trading today, but he added commercial firms trying to hedge their risk have complained the number and speed of high-frequency trades has made it difficult for them to enter the market. Without commercial firms, Chilton said price discovery and risk management will suffer.
He proposed the idea of adopting a definition of what high-frequency trading is, and even creating a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval." But Chilton said questions remain including whether in fact it is a good idea and who should be put in charge of doing it.
Chilton also supported limits on high-frequency trading. "We certainly should not allow some situations to exist," he said.

* * *

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Financial & Forex Info News : Mastercard Attack hits payments | BBC News

 FINANCIAL & FOREX INFO NEWS

 

Mastercard attack 'hits payments'

Web attacks by a group of hacktivists targeting firms that withdrew services from Wikileaks have disrupted Mastercard payments, the BBC learns. 

More from BBC News

MarketWatch: Special Financial Services .- Appetite strong for IPO Youku, DangDang

MarketWatch
SPECIAL FINANCIAL SERVICES

IPO Report: Appetite strong for Chinese IPOs Youku, DangDang

By Rex Crum MarketWatch


Online companies’ shares post huge gains in public-market debuts. 
See full story

NFA takes emergency enforcement action against Dallas firm, Profitstars Intl and its principal





Stocks May See Lackluster Start Amid Light Economic Calendar - U.S. Commentary . RTTNews Reuters Market Briefing

Morning Market Briefing Wed Dec 8 , 2010

Commentary

Dec 8, 2010 Stocks May See Lackluster Start Amid Light Economic Calendar - U.S. Commentary Stock futures are pointing to a lackluster open Wednesday morning amid another day lacking any first-tier economic reports. Corporate news, the pace of the U.S. economic recovery, the debt contagion in Europe and China's next move regarding its robust growth are the chief issues on traders' minds. Full Article

Economic News

Dec 8, 2010 German Exports Suffer Unexpected Fall German exports recorded a surprise fall in October, suggesting the rising euro and waning global demand are starting to hurt firms in Europe's largest economy. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 German Industrial Output Picks Up In October German industrial production recovered in October, offsetting the fall seen in September, due to improvement across all sectors. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 Australian Home Lending Picks UpHome loans extended by commercial lenders in Australia rose for the fourth month running in October, official figures showed on Wednesday. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 Japan Core Machinery Orders -1.4% In OctoberCore machinery orders in Japan were down a seasonally adjusted 1.4 percent in October, the Cabinet Office said on Wednesday, standing at a value of 745.7 billion yen. The figure declined for the second straight month after four straight months of gain. Full Article

Earnings News

Dec 8, 2010 McDonald's Nov. Comps. increaseMcDonald's Corp. (MCD) on Wednesday reported a 4.8% rise in its November global comparable sales, driven by growth across all its markets. The company's system-wide sales for the month improved by 4.7%, or 6.1% in constant currencies. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 Spectra Energy sees FY11 EPS below market viewSpectra Energy Corp. (SE), a natural gas infrastructure company, Wednesday said it expects an increase in ongoing earnings per share for fiscal 2011, but lower than analysts' estimates. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 Costco Q1 Profit UpWarehouse-club chain Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) Wednesday reported higher earnings for the first quarter in fiscal 2011, as same-store sales increased with the inclusion of the company's Mexico operations. The results topped the Street View. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 Home Depot Lifts FY10 Outlook; Guides on FY11The Home Depot Inc. (HD) Wednesday raised its fiscal year 2010 sales growth and earnings per share outlook and also issued guidance for fiscal year 2011. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 Starwood Hotels to reaffirm FY10 outlookStarwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (HOT) said it will reaffirm its full-year 2010 outlook at its Investor Day in New York City Wednesday, along with its three-year financial scenario. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 Fortune Brands Board Okays tripartitionConsumer brands company, Fortune Brands, Inc. (FO) announced Wednesday its Board's approval to separate the company's “three strong consumer businesses”. While the Home & Security business will be spun-off, and the Golf business spun-off or sold, Fortune Brands will continue as a publicly-traded Distilled Spirits business. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 TI tightens Q4 viewSemiconductor company Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN) said Tuesday it narrowed its fourth-quarter expectations, in line with analysts' estimates. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 Men's Wearhouse Q3 results beat estimatesThe Men's Wearhouse (MW), a specialty men's apparel retailer, reported Tuesday, increased fourth-quarter profits, a result of higher comparable store sales for its MW and Moores canada units. Both earnings per share and revenues beat the Street view. The company expects loss for the fourth quarter, much wider than analysts' estimates. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 H&R Block Q2 Loss ShrinksTax service provider, H&R Block Inc. (HRB), Tuesday reported narrower-than-expected loss for the second quarter, helped by lower expenses. Revenues fell slightly and came below the street view. Full Article
Dec 8, 2010 Southwest Airlines Nov. load factor risesAirline operator Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) reported Wednesday a 3.6 percentage points year-over-year increase in load factor for the month of November, with a 10.7% rise in traffic and a 5.7% growth in capacity. Full Article

Corporate News

Dec 8, 2010 Omnicare picks John Figueroa as CEOOmnicare Inc. (OCR), a provider of pharmaceutical care for the elderly, Wednesday said John Figueroa would be the new Chief Executive Officer, effective January 1. He will replace James Shelton, currently also interim President. Full Article

Todays WS Events

Dec 8, 2010 Salesforce.com Acquisition Conference Call At 8:30 AM ET Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM) will host a conference call at 8:30 AM ET, December 8, 2010, to discuss its acquistion of Heroku. To access the live webcast, log on to www.salesforce.com/company/investor/ To participate in the live call, dial +1-866-901-7332 (US) or +1-706-902-1764 (International) with passcode #30166445. For replay, dial +1-800-642-1687 or +1-706-645-9291.
Dec 8, 2010 Intel To Present At Barclays Capital Conference; Webcast At 10:40 AM ET Intel Corp. (INTC) CEO, Paul Otellini, will present at the Barclays Capital 2010 Global Technology Conference in San Francisco. The event is scheduled to begin at 10:40 AM ET, December 8, 2010. To access the live webcast, log on to www.intc.com
Dec 8, 2010 US Bancorp To Present At Goldman Sachs Conference; Webcast At 10:50 AM ET US Bancorp (USB) will present at the Goldman Sachs Financial Service Conference 2010 in the Goldman Sachs Conference Center in New York City. The event is scheduled to begin at 10:50 AM ET, December 8, 2010. To access the live webcast, log on to usbank.com
Dec 8, 2010 Yahoo To Present At Barclays Global Conference; Webcast At 2:00 PM ET Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) will present at Barclays Global Technology Conference. The event is scheduled to begin at 2:00 PM ET, December 8, 2010. To access the live webcast, log on to http://yhoo.client.shareholder.com/events.cfm?CalendarID=5
Dec 8, 2010 JDS Uniphase To Present At Barclays Capital Conference; Webcast At 2:00 PM ET JDS Uniphase Corp (JDSU) CFO, Dave Vellequette will make a presentation on behalf of the Company at the Barclays Capital 2010 Global Technology Conference in the Palace Hotel, in San Francisco, California. The event is scheduled to begin at 2:00 PM ET, December 8, 2010. To access the live webcast, log on to www.jdsu.com/investors
Dec 8, 2010 HP To Present At Barclays Capital Conference; Webcast At 3:00 PM ET Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ) will make a presentation at the Barclays Capital Global Technology Conference. The event is scheduled to begin at 3:00 PM ET, December 8, 2010. To access the webcast, log on at www.hp.com/investor/calendar

Financial & Forex Info News | Reuters Before The Bell : Futures mixed as bond yields rise


FROM: REUTERS - BEFORE THE BELL

Futures mixed as bond yields rise
Costco profit tops forecast on higher sales
Fannie, Freddie in talks with government on mortgages: report
Home Depot ups 2010 outlook; sees sales up in 2011
U.S. fiscal health worse than Europe's: China adviser
J&J eyes vaccine market with Crucell bid
Fortune Brands announces plans to break up company
Madoff trustee sues Tremont, seeks $555 million more from UBS
Despite volatility, 2010 set to be record IPO year
Middle class falls short on retirement funds

The Washington Post : Ezra Klein's Wonkbook .- Remembering Elizabeth Edwards; tax deal fallout


Back in 2008, one of the choices Democratic voters were presented with was a candidate that wasn't much beloved by the base and wasn't known for inspiring speeches, but who had the long experience in government and realistic view of the legislative process necessary to succeed at the inside game. They rejected that choice, turning instead to an inspiring newcomer who had little experience -- or evident patience for -- Washington's ways, but seemed a once-in-a-generation communicator, and was beloved by the progressive base.
But the presidency of Barack Obama has been more inside game than outside game. The tax cut deal is yet another example. On the face of it, it's not a bad deal. Republicans gets $130 billion in tax breaks for the wealthy, and Democrats get about $300 billion in more stimulative, more progressive breaks and unemployment benefits. That's more than anyone thought Obama likely to get from these negotiations. But it was a deal struck in a back room, without buy-in from the president's base, and then sold at a press conference were Obama lectured liberals about the compromises required to pass Social Security, Medicare, and the founding of this country, and the dangers of "sanctimony." As you might imagine, that didn't go over too well with liberals, and now we're in another of the occasional flare-ups between Obama and his base.
As of yet, Obama hasn't proven very effective at building support for liberal legislation. There are lots of reasons of this, only some of them relating to his sales job, but the fact of the matter is that neither stimulus nor health-care reform nor a more activist government are particularly popular right now. But Obama has proven extremely effective at passing liberal legislation: Though the bills are imperfect and filled with difficult compromises, Obama passed health-care reform, has gotten, at this point, well more than a trillion dollars in stimulus, and leads a more activist and engaged government than this country has seen in many years. I don't think anyone, looking at the Obama campaign in 2008, would expect his presidency to have shown both the strengths and the weaknesses that it has.
But Wonkbook leads today with sadder news: The passing of Elizabeth Edwards. I spent some time with Edwards over the years, and I've never known a policy wonk so capable of explaining to people why the country needed to make the choices it needed to make, nor a communicator so able and eager to grasp the specifics of the policies she was talking about. She will be terribly missed.
Remembering Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards has died at 61 following a long battle with cancer: http://wapo.st/ep1S0G
From her final message to supporters: "The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious."
The team at Think Progress outlines her policy legacy: "During the 2008 presidential campaign, Elizabeth — a regular contributor to the Wonk Room throughout the health care reform debate and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress — took to our blog and challenged conservatives for releasing a health care plan that would have excluded millions of Americans who suffered from pre-existing or chronic conditions. “Why are people like me left out of your health care proposal,” Elizabeth asked Republicans, pointing out that market-based proposals would leave millions of Americans “outside the clinic doors” and allow insurance companies free reign to continue excluding sicker beneficiaries."
Read an archive of Elizabeth Edwards writings at Wonk Room: http://bit.ly/hQRa5Z
Jonathan Cohn remembers her policy acumen: http://bit.ly/ijgFjZ
James Fallows remembers meeting her during Edwards' 2004 campaign: "The longer the evening went on, the more people kept deferring to and asking questions of Elizabeth Edwards. By the end, it was like a seminar that she was conducting for the rest. She was talking mainly not about her husband's campaign but about her assessment of the larger shape of the presidential race. Where Bush and Cheney would be most vulnerable in the general election; what Karl Rove had figured out; how the New Hampshire results would position the Democrats for 'mini-Tuesday' the next week and 'super-Tuesday' a month later; how Democrats could talk about economic justice without sounding like big-government spendthrifts; what to say and do about Iraq.There was nothing 'brave' or tragic about it, just someone who was intelligent, clear-eyed, and tough. I would like to remember that accomplished side of her."
Jonathan Alter remembers their friendship, and shared struggle with cancer: http://bit.ly/f5ZhVz
Brit-pop interlude Kate Nash plays "Paris" live in Paris.
Still to come: Congressional Democrats are in revolt over the tax cut deal; health care reform is leading to cuts to children's hospitals; the FCC's net neutrality proposal could hurt online video; Rep. Fred Upton will chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee; and cats with Santa beards.
Economy

Congressional Democrats are resisting the administration's tax cut deal, report Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery: "Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) was among those who emerged unconvinced. 'I'm just staggered by the enormity of this package,' she said. Others were in full revolt. Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) was one of three senators who interrupted Biden's presentation. Afterward, he vowed to 'do everything I can to defeat this proposal,' including staging a filibuster... House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) ignored the deal in a statement that lambasted Republicans, saying they have 'held the middle class hostage for provisions that benefit only the wealthiest 3 percent.'"
Obama chastised liberals for resisting the deal: http://wapo.st/ewgZrz
House Democrats especially object to its estate tax provisions, reports Brian Beutler: "Incoming Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) needs to see some movement as well. 'I have very serious reservations about this package primarily because of the [estate tax] provision we're talking about,' he told reporters. Before the meeting, during a House vote, Pelosi ally Henry Waxman (D-CA) told reporters, 'They put out this compromise, and I notice Senator Reid says it needs some modifications.... if it's open to modifications, I'd certainly like to see some as well,' Waxman said. 'I particularly am not happy about the estate tax.' 'It's the biggest of the problems,' Rep. Anthony Wiener (D-NY)."
Jim DeMint and the Club for Growth oppose the deal: http://bit.ly/fHZD5L
Replacing Making Work Pay with a payroll tax cut harms the poor, reports David Kocieniewski: "The proposal does not include an extension of Mr. Obama’s signature tax cut, the Making Work Pay credit, which provided a credit of up to $400 for individuals and $800 for families of low and moderate income. Instead, the plan creates a one-year reduction in Social Security payroll taxes, which are generally levied on the first $106,800 of income. For an individual earning $110,000, that provision would reduce payroll taxes by $2,136. Although the $120 billion payroll tax reduction offers nearly twice the tax savings of the credit it replaces, it will nonetheless lead to higher tax bills for individuals with incomes below $20,000 and families that make less than $40,000. That is because their payroll tax savings are less than the $400 or $800 they will lose from the Making Work Pay credit."
The White House cut a pretty good deal -- but lost its base," writes Ezra Klein: "If you look at the numbers alone, the tax cut deal looks to have robbed Republicans blind. The GOP got around $95 billion in tax cuts for wealthy Americans and $30 billion in estate tax cuts. Democrats got $120 billion in payroll-tax cuts, $40 billion in refundable tax credits (Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and education tax credits), $56 billion in unemployment insurance, and, depending on how you count it, about $180 billion (two-year cost) or $30 billion (10-year cost) in new tax incentives for businesses to invest."
"[But] the White House disappeared into a closed room with the Republicans and cut a deal that they'd made no effort to sell to progressives. When the deal was cut, the president took an oblique shot at their preferences, saying 'the American people didn’t send us here to wage symbolic battles or win symbolic victories.' And this came a mere week or two after the White House announced a federal pay freeze. The pattern, for progressives, seems clear: The White House uses them during elections, but doesn't listen to, or consult them, while governing. In fact, it insults them, and then tells them to quiet down, they got the best bargain possible, even if it wasn't the one they'd asked for, or been promised."
Obama's tax deal should be viewed as his second stimulus package, writes David Leonhardt: "Tellingly, economists and Democratic policy experts were largely pleased with the deal. Forecasting firms on Tuesday upgraded their estimates for growth and job gains over the next two years. Economists at Goldman Sachs, who have been more negative and more accurate than most Wall Street forecasters lately, called the deal 'significantly more positive' than they had anticipated. And left-leaning policy experts said the package did more to create jobs than they had thought possible after the Republicans’ midterm election victories. Robert Greenstein, Lawrence Mishel and John Podesta -- who run prominent Washington research groups that range from liberal to staunchly liberal -- all offered praise for the package."
Liberals should back the tax deal, writes Dean Baker: http://bit.ly/esGjjs
The tax cut deal is weak economic policy, writes Steven Pearlstein: "Economists generally agree that extending unemployment insurance and providing tax breaks for business investment are fair and cost-effective ways to add juice to a lackluster economy. But I'm less convinced about the wisdom of additional payroll tax cuts to stimulate spending by American households that, after decades of over-consumption, are finally beginning to save again. Democrats rightfully complained that the tax cuts were the least-effective parts of the original stimulus package, and there is no reason to expect they will work any better this time...The bigger problem with the tax deal is that it represents a big step backward on the road to getting deficits under control."
The South Korea trade deal could face trouble in the Senate, reports Tom Barkley: "Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont), chairman of the Finance Committee that has jurisdiction over trade, has said he is 'deeply disappointed' with the deal and will reserve judgment until further progress is made on opening Korea's market to U.S. beef. The revised pact contains new protections for U.S. auto makers, but didn't change the original 2007 pact significantly when it came to beef. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah), who will take over as the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee next year, also expressed reservations about some aspects of the deal, but said he would support its passage."
Adorable animals being festive interlude: 40 cats with Santa beards.
Health Care

Children's hospitals are losing money for "orphan drugs", reports Robert Pear: "Over the last 18 years, Congress has required drug manufacturers to provide discounts to a variety of health care providers, including community health centers, AIDS clinics and hospitals that care for large numbers of low-income people. Several years ago, Congress broadened the program to include children’s hospitals. But this year Congress, in revising the drug discount program as part of the new health care law, blocked these hospitals from continuing to receive price cuts on orphan drugs intended for treatment of diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the United States...Children’s hospitals say the change is costing them hundreds of millions of dollars."
Republican support for anti-health care reform lawsuits is hypocritical, writes Michael Kinsley: "If there is one thing your typical Republican politician does not care for (I have always been given to understand), it is an 'activist judge.'...If there is one more thing your typical Republican politician does not care for, it is frivolous lawsuits that clog the courts and unfairly burden innocent doctors and small-business persons as they go about trying to create jobs...So it is puzzling to learn that 32 Republican senators have filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking a U.S. District Court judge to invalidate President Barack Obama’s health care reform."
Domestic Policy

The FCC's Internet rules could hamper online video, reports Cecilia Kang: "As details emerge about the Federal Communications Commission's controversial proposal for regulating Internet providers, a provision that would allow companies to bill customers for how much they surf the Web is drawing special scrutiny. Analysts say pay-as-you-go Internet access could put the brakes on the burgeoning online video industry, handing a victory to cable and satellite TV providers. The practice is legal, but had been discouraged by the FCC and by protests from consumers and public interest groups. But wireless companies are moving rapidly in that direction - all major cellphone providers offer subscribers tiered data plans for Internet service."
GAO has adjusted its report on for-profit schools: http://wapo.st/dSYdAx
Democrats may pair the DREAM Act with an agricultural jobs bill, report Jonathan Allen and Scott Wong: "In an attempt to round up more votes on the DREAM Act immigration bill, House leaders are looking at adding an agriculture jobs bill that would ease rules for farm laborers. Several senior Democratic aides said the two bills were discussed in conjunction with each other at a leadership meeting Tuesday afternoon, though no final decision had been made...The House is expected to vote on the DREAM Act Wednesday, with the Senate holding a test vote on the measure later in the day. The agriculture bill, known as AgJobs, is designed to lure the votes of more rural members of the House."
Harry Reid wants to use the tax cut package to legalize online poker: http://politi.co/h7vxqN
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor unions are teaming up to fight an Arizona immigration law, reports Jess Bravin: "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is in an unusual alliance with liberal groups in Wednesday's Supreme Court case challenging an Arizona law that penalizes employers who hire illegal immigrants. The chamber has teamed up against the Legal Arizona Workers Act with allies including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Service Employees International Union and a Latino group that Justice Sonia Sotomayor once helped lead. The Obama administration is sending the government's top litigator to assist the chamber's lawyer. 'It's a rather compelling story to have all these groups that usually are on opposite sides come together,' said Robin Conrad, who heads the chamber's litigation arm."
Cocktail party prep interlude: Scientific party tricks.
Energy

Rep. Fred Upton will chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee, reports Felicia Sonmez: "Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.) will be the next leader of the Energy and Commerce Committee...among the slate of new committee chairs elected by the 34-member steering committee, according to House GOP aides. The full House Republican Conference is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to ratify the panel's recommendations, a step that is largely a formality...Upton...won out over Reps. Joe L. Barton (Tex.), John Shimkus (Ill.) and Cliff Stearns (Fla.) for the Energy and Commerce chairmanship."
The White House is open to counting nuclear power as "clean energy", reports Patrick Reis: "The Obama administration may consider caving to GOP demands to include nuclear and some coal production in a 'clean energy standard,' Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday. A national 'clean' or 'renewable' energy standard would require utilities to purchase a percentage of their electricity from nonfossil fuel sources and is seen as one of the administration's few options for a broad energy policy after the death of the cap-and-trade bill...Senate coalition championed by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) has pushed for a standard focused on renewable sources favored by environmental groups, including wind, solar and geothermal, and the Obama administration and House Democrats are on board as well."
Sen. Jay Rockefeller wants to strip the EPA's climate regulating power in the omnibus spending bill: http://bit.ly/hSL05s
Ralph Hall, a climate skeptic, will chair the House Science Committee, reports Robin Bravender: "Ralph Hall is poised to become the next chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee after fending off a challenge from California Republican Dana Rohrabacher...Hall told POLITICO in a recent interview he’s not a climate skeptic. 'If they quote me correctly, I've never said it's outrageous to even think about global warming. I want some proof,' he said. 'If I get the chair and have the gavel, I'm going to subpoena people from both sides and try to put them under oath and try to find out what the real facts are.' But he said he does want to question all sides of the issue, including the scientists at the center of the so-called 'Climategate' controversy surrounding e-mails stolen from climate researchers last year in England.
Closing credits: Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Dylan Matthews, Mike Shepard, and Michelle Williams.