Editor in Chief
The Wall Street Journal
Biggest Tax Cut Ever?
President Trump on Wednesday released a tax plan calling for deep reductions in business tax rates and major changes to the individual tax system. His proposal includes a 15% tax rate for all businesses, lower individual rates, a bigger standard deduction to benefit middle-income households and the repeal of the estate and alternative minimum taxes. Mr. Trump hopes to speed up economic growth and make his mark as a historic tax cutter, but the plan faces a narrow path to passage through Congress. For individual and households, the overhaul would simplify the system with fewer tax brackets, but cut some popular deductions that could cost some taxpayers. For businesses, details may prove far more important as the broad plan sets up trade-offs for industries. And already, the tax cut for so-called pass-through businesses is drawing criticism over potential abuse. For investors, the proposal lacks details but provides some insight into the contours of what an eventual tax cut might look like. While tax was the topic du jour, House Republicans gained significant momentum in their latest effort to repeal large portions of the Affordable Care Act. The House could vote on the bill as early as this week, aides said.
Producers of some of America’s most recognizable consumer products are struggling to give shoppers what they want. Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo posted lackluster results on Wednesday for the most recent quarter, each pointing to slowed spending in the U.S. cutting into profits. The results highlight the challenges makers of food, beverages and other consumer staples are facing as they try to adapt to changing tastes. Overall purchases of consumer packaged goods in the U.S. declined 2.5% in unit terms in the first quarter, according to Nielsen, and big brands are struggling the most. But the makers of consumer staples aren’t the only ones under pressure. Quiet shopping centers and vacant properties have some investors wagering that many malls across America are doomed. Meanwhile, researchers at S&P warned that some retailers continue to face financial distress, citing Sears as being among those most at risk of default.
Wall Street billionaires, their fortunes built by investing other people’s money, increasingly are putting some of their own into sideline investment ventures, while continuing to operate their hedge funds or private-equity funds for clients. Such side businesses often use investment strategies similar to those of the firms their owners run for clients. That not only poses a variety of conflict-of-interest hazards, but also raises concerns about diluting asset managers’ time and energy. “It’s a distraction at best and a conflict at worst,” says Jonathan Grabel, chief investment officer of the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association. Many side businesses take the form of “family office” structures, which are being used more and more by clans with fortunes of $250 million and up for personal investing. They are largely unregulated entities, providing secrecy and flexibility. And increasingly, they invest not just in stocks and bonds but directly in companies.
Proper Prom Procedure
The rules of prom used to be simple. Get a date, rent a tux or buy a dress, pick up a corsage, and maybe splurge on a limo. Today, things are a little more complicated, as more schools impose bans on short hemlines, baggy pants and even ponytails. At Boylan Catholic High School in Illinois, the do’s and don’ts of prom-wear stretch to 21 pages. Melissa High School in Texas requires preapproved prom dresses, while some districts require background checks on dates. Administrators say the guidelines are helpful to parents and address safety concerns, but students see them as a buildup of rules that can at times target certain groups.
As homeless populations have soared across the Western U.S., cities that once resisted constructing tiny houses to address homelessness are now embracing the trend—and in some cases even paying for it.
What I saw and how we responded will haunt me forever. I should have responded with my humanity and values, I got caught up in the facts when I should have responded to the raw emotions of the event. And that’s on me.
Oscar Munoz, United Continental’s chief executive, in an interview addressing the April 9 incident of a passenger getting dragged off a United flight by aviation police. A new report released by the airline concluded that a litany of failures in customer service and training contributed to the incident.
Going back to our story above, what are your thoughts on Mr. Trump’s proposed overhaul to the tax code? Send your comments, which we may edit before publication, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and location.
—Compiled by Cynthia Lin
Responding to yesterday’s question on Mr. Trump’s plan to cut taxes for pass-through businesses, Roy Farrow of Nevada wrote: “Finally, a tax cut for Main St. All of Congress, by all rights, should rally behind a move that will energize employment, enhance productivity, spur wage growth and encourage capital investment.” Slade Howell of North Carolina weighed in: “Changing the treatment of ‘pass-through’ taxation would produce a path to an even more complicated system of taxation as business owners would accommodate such changes with a shift in accounting to receive less pay but a greater business distribution.” Frank Janecek of Alabama said: “I hope Congress gets in line with this proposal and gives us a clean proposal—not one mucked up by a House or Senate committee. We need to let the president own this plan.” Tom Lott of Nevada shared: “As a small business S corp, I favor lowering the pass-through rate. But it should come along with a rewrite of the tax code.”
This daily briefing is named "The 10-Point" after the nickname conferred by the editors of The Wall Street Journal on the lead column of the legendary "What's News" digest of top stories. Technically, "10-point" referred to the size of the typeface. The type is smaller now but the name lives on.
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