(Bloomberg) — A group of Republican senators sent a letter to the Trump administration Wednesday outlining their opposition to a proposed deal between Oracle Corp. and ByteDance Ltd. that would allow the Chinese company to maintain majority ownership of TikTok, despite an order by the U.S. president that the popular video app sever its ties to China on national security concerns.
The lawmakers are trying to get ahead of a ruling expected this week by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or Cfius, on a plan that includes Oracle as a “trusted technology partner.” TikTok sent a proposal to the U.S. Treasury Department over the weekend and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the committee’s members would deliver a verdict to President Donald Trump this week.
The deal, which needs the blessing of Trump and the Chinese government to become final, would create what Mnuchin called “TikTok Global.” It would see a newly structured global company headquartered in the U.S., with Oracle and other U.S. investors taking minority stakes in the business.
The proposal stands in stark contrast to the original outlines of a deal requested by Trump, which required TikTok’s Chinese parent to sever ties with the app in the U.S. and agree to an outright sale of the U.S. operations. Now, lawmakers are questioning how any deal in which ByteDance Ltd. remains the majority owner of the app and retains control over TikTok would address the U.S. government’s national security concerns.
“We remain opposed to any deal that would allow China-based or controlled entities to retain, control or modify the code or algorithms that operate any U.S.-based version of TikTok,” wrote the group, which included senators Marco Rubio, Thom Tillis, Roger Wicker, Rick Scott, Dan Sullivan, and John Cornyn.
“We are heartened that this deal still requires government approval, and if reports indicating this proposed deal will retain links to ByteDance or other Chinese-controlled entities, we strongly urge the Administration to reject such a proposal on national security grounds,” they said.
Republican Senators Josh Hawley and Marsha Blackburn have also pushed back against the deal. “If we’ve got American ownership and there’s a new platform built out from top to bottom and the backdoors in the code are closed, I think that’s fine,” said Hawley. If the U.S. agrees to a deal that doesn’t include those things, he added, “we’ve got a big problem.”
In a speech to the National Democratic Institute on Wednesday, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, criticized how the Trump administration has handled the TikTok deal in ways that will invite retaliation.
“When we draw lines to prohibit certain technologies that don’t meet those principles from entering the U.S., it must be done honestly or else it smacks of the kind of protectionism that we have fought against in managed economies,” Warner said. “To this end, the Trump administration’s Clean Network Initiative and haphazard actions on TikTok fail that test and will only invite retaliation against American companies.”
(Updates with Josh Hawley comments in the seventh paragraph.)
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Donald Trump’s Much-Hyped Health Care Plan Isn’t Much of a Plan at All
President Donald Trump delivers a speech about health care on Sept. 24, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina, less than six weeks before the November election. Credit – Brian Blanco—Getty Images
President Donald Trump, who has long promised a “beautiful” and “phenomenal” health care plan, announced a series of largely meaningless actions on Thursday during a speech in North Carolina that effectively served as a campaign event.
The most tangible proposal Trump unveiled was a vow to send $200 prescription drug discount cards to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries “in the coming weeks.” However, the President said the $6.6 billion outlay needed to fund this program would have to come from savings from his “most favored nations” drug pricing proposal, which he announced on Sept. 13, and which experts say would be close to impossible to implement before the November election.
The Trump Administration recently tried and failed to convince the pharmaceutical industry to fund a similar plan, according to the New York Times. It’s unclear if the version announced Thursday will see a different fate.
Trump also announced two non-binding executive orders on Thursday, one addressing the topic of surprise out-of-network medical bills and the other addressing the topic of protecting pre-existing conditions. These are two of Americans’ biggest complaints with the country’s health care system. But neither of these orders will have any immediate effect on the problem at hand.
The first non-binding executive order is simply a promise. It declares that “it is the policy of the United States that people who suffer from pre-existing conditions will be protected,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on a press call with reporters before Trump’s speech. This does not create a policy or a law. Administration officials and the President himself said this would cover the same protections already established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—the health care law passed by former President Barack Obama, which the Trump Administration is currently trying to overturn in court.
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a challenge to the ACA on Nov. 10, one week after Election Day. If the High Court overturns the law, the American health care system would be sent into chaos. (That prospect is now more likely since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died and Trump has vowed to appoint a new judge to replace her as soon as possible.) The protections for those with pre-existing conditions that Trump is touting would evaporate, tens of millions of Americans would lose health insurance coverage and the current system of insurance marketplaces would disappear. Health care and legal experts noted that it’s unlikely the White House could put in place similar protections for people with pre-existing conditions without passing a law through Congress.
Trump, though, did not seem deterred. He told the often-cheering audience on Thursday that he was glad his Administration has been able to keep the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions even as Republicans successfully eliminated other provisions, like the so-called individual mandate. “We were able to terminate the individual mandate, but kept the provision protecting patients with pre-existing conditions,” Trump said.
This statement likely made the Trump Administration’s own Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers squirm. In the current ACA case before the Supreme Court, DOJ lawyers are backing an argument that is at odds with the President’s words—that the Justices must find the entire ACA no longer constitutional since the individual mandate is no longer in effect.
And while Trump has often talked about protecting people with pre-existing conditions, his Administration has repeatedly taken actions that would have the opposite effect. The Administration has supported Congressional Republicans’ many attempts to repeal the ACA, which would eliminate protections for those with pre-existing conditions, and it championed cheaper, skimpier health insurance plans that allow insurers to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
The second non-binding executive order also does not commit Trump to taking action. Rather, it directs Azar to work with Congress to ban surprise out-of-network medical bills. If Congress does not pass legislation by Jan. 1, Azar told reporters, then Trump will direct him to take other actions. (Azar said he did not have other details on what those actions would be.)
Trump’s announcements Thursday failed to match his pledge of a “full and complete” health care plan. They also failed to make good on senior officials’ claims, made on the press call just ahead of Trump’s speech Thursday, that the President would present an “historic” proposal. But none of this came as much of a surprise to those in Washington or in the health care industry. Trump’s speech, less than six weeks before an election in which he’s trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in most polls, was widely viewed as another attempt to change the national conversation.
Trump is particularly lagging behind Biden on most health care issues, and surveys show that most Americans still disapprove of the President’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. A new survey released by the Commonwealth Fund on Thursday found that the majority of likely voters in 10 battleground states said Biden is more likely to protect insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions. And a poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation this month found that the majority of voters trust Biden over Trump on a variety of health care issues, with the President only leading narrowly on prescription drug prices.
Trump’s top advisers, while striking an upbeat note before his event in North Carolina, demurred when asked for the details on how the President’s new plans would become reality. “It is what it is,” Azar said.
Gold Forecast – Gold Prices Nearing Major Buy Signal
3 ‘Strong Buy’ Stocks With Over 7% Dividend Yield
Markets are volatile, there can be no doubt. So far this month, the S&P 500 has fallen 9% from its peak. The tech-heavy NASDAQ, which had led the gainers all summer, is now leading the on the fall, having lost 11% since September 2. The three-week tumble has investors worried that we may be on the brink of another bear market.The headwinds are strong. The usual September swoon, the upcoming election, doubts about another round of economic stimulus – all are putting downward pressure on the stock markets.Which doesn’t mean that there are no opportunities. As the old saw goes, “Bulls and bears can both make money, while the pigs get slaughtered.” A falling market may worry investors, but a smart strategy can prevent the portfolio from losing too much long-term value while maintaining a steady income. Dividend stocks, which feed into the income stream, can be a key part of such a strategy.Using the data available in the TipRanks database, we’ve pulled up three stocks with high yields – from 7% to 11%, or up to 6 times the average dividend found on the S&P 500 index. Even better, these stocks are seen as Strong Buys by Wall Street’s analysts. Let’s find out why.Williams Companies (WMB)We start with Williams Companies, an Oklahoma-based energy company. Williams controls pipelines connecting Rocky Mountain natural gas fields with the Pacific Northwest region, and Appalachian and Texan fields with users in the Northeast and transport terminals on the Gulf Coast. The company’s primary operations are the processing and transport of natural gas, with additional ops in crude oil and energy generation. Williams handles nearly one-third of all US commercial and residential natural gas use.The essential nature of Williams’ business – really, modern society simply cannot get along without reliable energy sources – has insulated the company from some of the economic turndown in 1H20. Quarterly revenues slid from $2.1 billion at the end of last year to $1.9 billion in Q1 and $1.7 billion in Q2. EPS in the first half was 26 cents for Q1 and 25 cents for Q2 – but this was consistent with EPS results for the previous three quarters. The generally sound financial base supported the company’s reliable dividend. Williams has been raising that payment for the past four years, and even the corona crisis could not derail it. At 40 cents per common share, the dividend annualizes to $1.60 and yields an impressive 7.7%. The next payment is scheduled for September 28.Truist analyst Tristan Richardson sees Williams as one of the midstream sector’s best positioned companies.“We continue to look to WMB as a defensive component of midstream and favor its 2H prospects as broader midstream grasps at recovery… Beyond 2020 we see the value proposition as a stable footprint with free cash flow generation even in the current environment. We also see room for incremental leverage reduction throughout our forecast period on scaled back capital plans and even with the stable dividend. We look for modestly lower capex in 2021, however unlike more G&P oriented midstream firms, we see a project backlog in downstream that should support very modest growth,” Richardson noted.Accordingly, Richardson rates WMB shares as a Buy, and his $26 price target implies a 30% upside potential from current levels. (To watch Richardson’s track record, click here)Overall, the Strong Buy analyst consensus rating on WMB is based on 11 Buy reviews against just a single Hold. The stock’s current share price is $19.91 and the average price target is $24.58, making the one-year upside potential 23%. (See WMB stock analysis on TipRanks)Magellan Midstream (MMP)The second stock on our list is another midstream energy company, Magellan. This is another Oklahoma-based firm, with a network of assets across much of the US from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi Valley, and into the Southeast. Magellan’s network transports crude oil and refined products, and includes Gulf Coast export shipping terminals.Magellan’s total revenues rose sequentially to $782.8 in Q1, and EPS came in at $1.28, well above the forecast. These numbers turned down drastically in Q2, as revenue fell to $460.4 million and EPS collapsed to 65 cents. The outlook for Q3 predicts a modest recovery, with EPS forecast at 85 cents. The company strengthened its position in the second quarter with an issue of 10-year senior notes, totaling $500 million, at 3.25%. This reduced the company’s debt service payments, and shored up liquidity, making possible the maintenance of the dividend.The dividend was kept steady at $1.0275 per common share quarterly. Annualized, this comes to $4.11, a good absolute return, and gives a yield of 11.1%, giving MMP a far higher return than Treasury bonds or the average S&P-listed stock.Well Fargo analyst Praneeth Satish believes that MMP has strong prospects for recovery. “[We] view near-term weakness in refined products demand as temporary and recovering. In the interim, MMP remains well positioned given its strong balance sheet and liquidity position, and ratable cash flow stream…” Satish goes on to note that the dividend appears secure for the near-term: “The company plans to maintain the current quarterly distribution for the rest of the year.”In line with this generally upbeat outlook, Satish gives MMP an Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating, and a $54 price target that implies 57% growth in the coming year. (To watch Satish’s track record, click here)Net net, MMP shares have a unanimous Strong Buy analyst consensus rating, a show of confidence by Wall Street’s analyst corps. The stock is selling for $33.44, and the average price target of $51.13 implies 53% growth in the year ahead. (See MMP stock analysis on TipRanks)Ready Capital Corporation (RC)The second stock on our list is a real estate investment trust. No surprise finding one of these in a list of strong dividend payers – REITs have long been known for their high dividend payments. Ready Capital, which focuses on the commercial mortgage niche of the REIT sector, has a portfolio of loans in real estate securities and multi-family dwellings. RC has provided more than $3 billion in capital to its loan customers.In the first quarter of this year, when the coronavirus hit, the economy turned south, and business came to a standstill, Ready Capital took a heavy blow. Revenues fell by 58%, and Q1 EPS came in at just one penny. Things turned around in Q2, however, after the company took measures – including increasing liquidity, reducing liabilities, and increasing involvement in government-sponsored lending – to shore up business. Revenues rose to $87 million and EPS rebounded to 70 cents.In the wake of the strong Q2 results, RC also started restoring its dividend. In Q1 the company had slashed the payment from 40 cents to 25 cents; in the most recent declaration, for an October 30 payment, the new dividend is set at 30 cents per share. This annualizes to $1.20 and gives a strong yield of 9.9%.Crispin Love, writing from Piper Sandler, notes the company’s success in getting back on track.“Given low interest rates, Ready Capital had a record $1.2B in residential mortgage originations versus our $1.1B estimate. Gain on sale margins were also at record levels. We are calculating gain on sale margins of 3.7%, up from 2.4% in 1Q20,” Love wrote.In a separate note, written after the dividend declaration, Love added, “We believe that the Board’s actions show an increased confidence for the company to get back to its pre-pandemic $0.40 dividend. In recent earnings calls, management has commented that its goal is to get back to stabilized earnings above $0.40, which would support a dividend more in-line with pre-pandemic levels.”To this end, Love rates RC an Overweight (i.e. Buy) along with a $12 price target, suggesting an upside of 14%. (To watch Love’s track record, click here)All in all, Ready Capital has a unanimous Strong Buy analyst consensus rating, based on 4 recent positive reviews. The stock has an average price target of $11.50, which gives a 9% upside from the current share price of $10.51. (See RC stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for dividend stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.
Parents knowingly sent kids with coronavirus to school, Wisconsin officials say
Parents are knowingly sending their children who have coronavirus back to classes in Wisconsin, health officials said on Thursday, which could lead to potential school district shutdowns.
“The health department has worked with school districts since spring to make a plan to reopen,” Kirsten Johnson, Washington-Ozaukee public health director, told NBC News. “Never in a million years did we imagine or think to account for parents deliberately sending their sick or symptomatic child to school.”
In Washington and Ozaukee counties, which sit right above Milwaukee, there is a patchwork of fall reopening plans. Johnson said that while many schools offered students the option to go to school five days a week, all of them have been “proactive” in implementing preventative measures like staggered start times, reduced classroom capacity, and required face coverings.
More than two dozen schools in the counties are under investigation where at least one student or staff member has tested positive for Covid-19, according to the Washington-Ozaukee Public Health Department’s dashboard. Out of the 15 school districts, 11 are currently under investigation.
There has been at least one positive or suspected case in all school districts, according to Johnson.
Wisconsin, which has recorded 1,268 deaths, isn’t the first state facing difficulties with parents refusing to follow public health protocols. Connecticut has already sent some school districts back home due to outbreaks. A high school student in Massachusetts tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday, forcing all students and staff in the positive individual’s classes to quarantine for the next 14 days.
Health officials are advising parents not to send their children to school if they’re sick or showing symptoms, and for schools to continue using attendance tracking software to tally students who test positive for the virus.
Johnson said that the counties would hire more contact tracers and consider advising schools to close their doors if there is an upward trend in cases.
“The human behavior aspect of sending sick and positive children to school is not something we can control, and we never accounted for people completely disregarding basic health guidance,” Johnson said. “We have no tools left, and we just want everyone to be safe.”
“A handful of irresponsible parents could be responsible for closing down entire school districts,” she said.
- Giants’ Devonta Freeman believes he still has ‘a lot in the tank’
- Nuggets’ Jamal Murray stuns NBA Twitter with Michael Jordan-esque layup vs. Lakers
- “Wouldn’t Like to Say What I Think”- Sebastian Vettel Reacts to Stefano Domenicali Becoming F1 CEO
- Kings ‘pretty confident’ in who they’ll take No. 2 in the NHL draft
- Donald Trump’s Much-Hyped Health Care Plan Isn’t Much of a Plan at All
- Gold Forecast – Gold Prices Nearing Major Buy Signal
- “I Am Not Putting Anything Past Them”: Former Nuggets Player Weighs In On Team’s Chances Against Lakers
- Louisville protests continue in wake of Breonna Taylor decision
- Jaguars’ Cam Robinson tossed on stunningly weak ejection
- Parents knowingly sent kids with coronavirus to school, Wisconsin officials say
Entertainment5 days ago
Danish TV show ‘Ultra Strips Down’ records kids eyeing naked adults
Sports News3 weeks ago
Fantasy Football Auction Draft strategy: Tips, advice for spending your 2020 player budget wisely
Sports News3 weeks ago
NBA 2K21 Cover Star Damian Lillard Reveals His Issues With the Game
Sports News3 days ago
Fantasy Football Buy-Low, Sell-High Stock Watch: Leonard Fournette, Stefon Diggs among movers heading into Week 3
Sports News3 weeks ago
NBA playoff bracket 2020: Updated standings, seeds & results from each round
Tech3 days ago
iOS 14 basics: how to add widgets to your iPhone’s home screen
Sports News2 weeks ago
NFL Analyst Takes a Cheeky Dig on Browns Stars Odell Beckham Jr. and Baker Mayfield
Sports5 days ago
What just happened? Danny Lee six-putts 18th green, withdraws from U.S. Open