Posts by Rick Newman

  • This governor is fed up with food stamps, junk food and Jet Skis

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 8 hrs ago

    Here’s a meaty controversy to chew on during the holidays:

    The conservative governor of Maine, Paul LaPage, usually wants government out of the way. But when it comes to food stamps, he wants to prevent recipients from buying junk food or soda with government money. The much-more-liberal Obama administration says it agrees with LaPage and his nanny-state ambitions, but can’t change the rules due to solid opposition from anti-hunger groups.

    Most recently, LaPage has asked Washington to grant a waiver allowing Maine to prohibit the use of SNAP benefits for purchases of soda or candy. Maine isn’t the first. New York City and a handful of states, including Minnesota, have tried to cherry-pick the food people can buy with SNAP cards -- and been squashed by the feds, who fund the program and make most of the rules. It’s not clear that Maine has a stronger case than any other municipality or state that has asked for a waiver. Legislating nutritious eating

  • Nobody really cares if Pfizer stiffs Uncle Sam

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 1 day ago

    Donald Trump hates it. So do Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. That’s a pretty broad swath of the political spectrum opposed to drug giant Pfizer’s purchase of Irish competitor Allergan—a so-called tax inversion that will technically move Pfizer’s headquarters out of its longtime home in the United States.

    What gives? Why is there no real pressure on politicians to stop a practice many Americans find odious? And why don’t companies fear any kind of backlash from consumers? Here are three theories that explain why inversions continue despite public opposition:

  • These candidates are getting rich running for president

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 2 days ago

    Ben Carson fashions himself a political novice, but he’s an expert at one crucial political skill: cashing in on public exposure.

    Carson, perhaps more than any other presidential candidate, is profiting handsomely from the fame he has gained as a popular upstart contender for the Republican nomination. And unlike most candidates who put their business interests on hold while campaigning, Carson has continued to earn lavish speaking fees as a candidate, while also raking in book royalties and income from other sources.

    Right behind Carson in the presidential windfall sweepstakes is Donald Trump, whose new book, "Crippled America," has sold more than 50,000 copies in less than one month, according to Nielsen Bookscan and other sources. Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have also penned timely books that are selling well as they ride the coattails of the campaign.

    Here are rough estimates of the earnings of eight presidential candidates from select book sales in 2015. Totals for each author are highlighted in yellow:

  • Europe is battling ISIS (and Russia) with wimpy defense budgets

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 5 days ago

    Odds are rising that France and other European nations could end up in a Middle East ground war. That’s worrisome in itself, but there are also concerns that years of cutbacks in European defense budgets could leave the continent’s militaries unprepared for a wily battlefield foe like the Islamic State terror group that recently killed 129 people in a spate of Paris attacks.

    The 28 nations that comprise the North Atlantic Treaty Organization agreed last year that every member’s defense spending should total at least 2% of that nation’s GDP. But only five NATO members are likely to hit that threshold this year: The United States, United Kingdom, Greece, Estonia and Poland. A few of Europe’s biggest nations are far below that target. Germany spends just 1.2% of GDP on defense; Italy, 1%; Spain, a paltry 0.9%.

    Here’s a breakdown of defense spending as a percentage of GDP for every NATO member:

  • These presidential candidates depend on Wall Street the most

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 8 days ago

    Ted Cruz may win the Wall Street hypocrisy award.

    Among the presidential candidates saying they’ll get tough on big banks and let troubled lenders fail, Sen. Cruz has accepted the largest percentage of money from Wall Street donors—essentially bashing the very people funding his campaign.

    With most of the Republican and Democratic candidates lambasting Wall Street and seeking to capitalize on public animosity toward bankers, Yahoo Finance analyzed the percentage of each candidate’s funding that comes from the financial industry. Cruz ranks fourth out of 16 major candidates, with nearly 19% of the funding for his campaign coming from Wall Street donors. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham draw a larger percentage of their money from Wall Street, but none have thrashed the financial industry as robustly as Cruz, who said in the latest Republican debate that if the biggest bank in the country were about to go under, he’d allow it.

    Here’s the percentage of funding for each candidate that comes from Wall Street donors:

  • A sketchy pro-Trump super PAC shuts down—after raising $300,000 from donors

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 12 days ago

    Call it the fly-by-night super PAC.

    Patriots for Trump was a political action group established in September to raise money in Donald Trump’s name and spend it, presumably, to help the Republican presidential candidate get elected. But Trump himself foreswore any connection with the group, and in late October, Trump’s lawyers insisted the group stop using Trump’s name to raise money and refund any donations it had collected.

    Patriots for Trump complied with part of that demand: On Nov. 5, it shut down its web site and stopped soliciting donations online. Yet in less than two months, the group raised roughly $300,000—and possibly more—from donors who will end up with nothing to show for their contributions. None of them will get their money back, either: The group’s treasurer, Scott Mackenzie, told Yahoo Finance all the money raised by Patriots for Trump has been spent.

    Getting into trouble

  • 3 Republican myths about jobs and wages

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 14 days ago

    Donald Trump made a curious comment during the latest Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee, when asked if he supported a higher minimum wage. “Wages, too high,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to compete against the world.”

    “Wages too high” hardly has the ring of “make American great again,” or other pithy campaign slogans. But it captures a conundrum faced by both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates: They’re all struggling to explain how to revive prosperity at a time when living standards are falling for many Americans and traditional methods of boosting the economy — such as fiscal and monetary stimulus — aren’t really working.

    There are no simple answers for how to create the millions of good-paying, middle-class jobs needed to jolt America out of its rut. But there are plenty of oversimplified theories and outright fabrications, which complicate the problem and lead policymakers astray. Here are three myths about jobs and wages that surfaced in the latest GOP debate:

  • 5 economic issues that will generate sparks in the 4th GOP debate

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 15 days ago

    The zingers will get most of the headlines, but voters watching tonight’s fourth Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee will also get a chance to learn how the candidates plan to juice the economy and revive growth. Here’s a breakdown of how they differ on 5 key economic issues:

    Taxes. All the GOP candidates want to lower the top individual tax rate, now 39.6%. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Ben Carson would institute a flat tax with a rate between 10% and 15%. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and John Kasich would lower tax rates while also eliminating deductions and loopholes. Bush, Cruz, Rubio, Paul, Kasich and Trump would lower capital gains taxes. And all the candidates would sharply lower the corporate tax rate.

    Rick Newman’s latest book is Liberty for All: A Manifesto for Reclaiming Financial and Political Freedom. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman .

  • Some other presidential candidates likely to drop out soon

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 1 mth ago

    The also-rans are starting to run.

    Lincoln Chafee has now bailed out of the presidential race, following fellow Democrat Jim Webb by a few days. That leaves a total of 17 major candidates left in the running: 14 Republicans and three Democrats. Even Jeb Bush, scion of the Republican establishment, is starting to feel the heat, with his campaign slashing payroll by 40% and taking other measures to cut spending by at least $1 million per month, according to Bloomberg.

    Bush's streamlined campaign will still have plenty of cash to keep on fighting, but many other candidates won't. A Yahoo Finance analysis of  fund-raising data suggests at least five other candidates are running short of the money required to stay in the race: Democrat Martin O’Malley and Republicans George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee. Others, such as Republicans Rand Paul, Chris Christie and John Kasich, may simply find the cost of staying in is too high, given diminishing prospects.

  • Trump’s latest target: Super PACs and rich political donors

    Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance 1 mth ago

    The ties between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are getting stronger.

    Trump, the renowned Republican party-crasher, has fired a new broadside at super PACs, the big-money groups channeling hundreds of millions of dollars into the 2016 presidential elections. Trump called on all presidential candidates to break ranks with super PACs supporting them and insist they return all donations. To set an example, Trump’s lawyers sent letters to seven super PACs purportedly backing the renegade candidate, telling each of them, “your organization is not authorized to use Mr. Trump’s name and likeness in connection with its fundraising activites…. We are formally disavowing such activities.”

    Trump and Sanders have became strange bedfellows in other ways. They’re both entertaining political outsiders from New York (who tend to pronounce “huge” with a silent h), but there are policy similarities as well. Each supports some form of government-sponsored healthcare system that will cover everybody, for instance, while opposing recent free-trade deals. And both have hit a nerve with voters disgusted at the petty antics of traditional inside-the-Beltway politics.