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The 10-Point: My Guide to the Day's Top News

The Wall Street Journal
Good morning,
Healthy Convergence
CVS is in talks to buy Aetna for more than $66 billion, as the drugstore giant works to fortify itself against looming competition from Amazon while the health-care industry undergoes a reordering. In a sign of the seriousness of the talks, the companies’ chief executives have met multiple times over a period of roughly six months. CVS has made a proposal to buy the health insurer for more than $200 a share. With Aetna, CVS could lock in a huge number of members for its pharmacy-benefit management arm, as well as customers for its drugstores. That could bolster its leverage in negotiations with drugmakers, while its oversight of health insurance could improve its ability to strike new deals that tie drug prices to patient outcomes. If a deal were to be struck, it would be the year’s largest.

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Tax Demands
The House adopted a budget Thursday that sets the stage for a rewrite of the tax system, as Republicans overcame internal divisions and began a six-day countdown to the release of closely guarded details of their tax plan. The vote on the budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 was 216-212, a slim margin that is an early indication of the difficulty Republican leaders will face in cobbling together the votes for a tax bill packed with trade-offs. Eleven of the 20 Republican no votes came from representatives of the high-tax states of New York and New Jersey, who opposed the budget because of the party’s plan to limit or repeal the federal deduction for state and local taxes. Satisfying their demands presents a challenge. Meanwhile, we report that Democrats are struggling with their own tea-party moment.
Digital Domination
Three of the world’s biggest companies—Google parent Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft—reported booming quarterly growth Thursday, extending their reach in industries from advertising to retail to business software as they drive the economy’s technological transformation. Alphabet said profit rose 33% in the third quarter as users clicked on more ads on smartphones, atop search results and before YouTube videos. Amazon said revenue grew by 34% and its profit inched up, shrugging off concerns that heavy investments in new warehouses and hiring workers would push it to a loss. And Microsoft reported a 12% revenue increase, capitalizing on a shift to cloud computing. The tech industry’s banner day underscored the dominance of a handful of companies in the internet age—and foreshadowed more expansion, including into new businesses.
Love Thee, Notre Dame
Just when you think college football can’t get weird, it gets weird, writes columnist Jason Gay. Notre Dame has bounced back from a 4-8 disaster last season to crack the top 10—and now there’s talk of playoffs. The Fighting Irish are 6-1, but ranked No. 9 in the AP poll with a thick cluster of really good teams in front of them. A lot will have to break South Bend’s way, but it isn’t impossible. It’s easy to pile on the Fighting Irish—they’re treated as a big deal even when they’re not. They refuse to join a conference for football. But vibrant Notre Dame gets everyone riled up. Not every college football fan will like that it has barged its way into the picture, and it may cause trouble for the selection committee, but so what? Trouble’s fun.
TODAY'S VIDEO
A Persistent ‘Problem’
That Was Painless
The line “Houston, we have a problem”—a misquote of the actual 1970 warning from an Apollo 13 astronaut to mission control—comes up frequently in everyday life, which annoys a lot of Houstonians.
TOP STORIES
U.S.

Facebook Steps Up Efforts to Sway Lawmakers

Trump’s Towering Border-Wall Prototypes Unveiled
WORLD

ECB to Scale Down but Extend Bond-Buying Program

Spanish, Catalan Lawmakers to Face Off in Pivotal Day for Crisis
BUSINESS

GE Explores Exiting From the Railroad Business

Clariant, Huntsman Terminate Merger Amid Activist Pressure
MARKETS

SEC Signals Pullback From Prosecutorial Approach to Enforcement

Billionaire Boom: More of Them, With More Billions
NUMBER OF THE DAY
$2 billion
The value of bonds China sold at record-low interest rates that were slightly above what the U.S. pays to borrow in the debt markets, a sign of investors’ confidence in the financial health of the world’s second-largest economy.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.
President Trump declared opioid addiction a “public health emergency” Thursday as he sought to accelerate a federal government response to the crisis.
TODAY'S QUESTION
Going back to our story above, what are your thoughts on CVS’s proposal to buy Aetna? Send your comments, which we may edit before publication, to 10point@wsj.com. Please include your name and location.
—Compiled by Margaret Rawson
READER RESPONSE
Responding to yesterday’s question on our analysis of Morningstar’s mutual-fund ratings, Marshall Zobel of Virginia wrote: “Despite Morningstar’s share of responsibility for profiting off the misuse of their ratings as marketing tools, investors have repeatedly shown a stubborn disregard for the well-known fact that past success is not a predictor of future success.” Dan Greenebaum of New York shared: “As someone who regularly sees Morningstar ratings through online trading interfaces, I am blindsided by the fact that they are a purely backward-facing measure. It would seem to me that there should be some expectation that Morningstar is ensuring that not only their direct customers are aware of the meaning of that rating, but that those entities that share it are including that information in some manner.” And Ron McCollum of Washington weighed in: “This is so simple: Any rating is simply an indicator of past performance. This goes for restaurants, cars and mutual funds. ‘Every event has within itself the seeds of its own destruction’ demonstrated once again.”

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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