Prior to Wednesday’s presidential visit to St. Paul to pitch a $302 billion infrastructure plan, Michael Shear of The New York Times was writing: “[House Speaker John] Boehner, who has said that Republicans are eager to overhaul and simplify the corporate tax system, nonetheless expressed skepticism to Mr. Obama on Tuesday about the president’s proposal to finance transportation spending with business tax changes, officials said. Mr. Obama argued that the transportation bill will create jobs and help increase economic growth, they said. … ‘So, a tax hike?’ one senior Republican aide on Capitol Hill quipped when asked about the transportation proposals.”
Kathryn Wolfe of Politico says: “[A]fter Obama has made dozens of infrastructure speeches that left transportation boosters feeling disappointed, the one he makes Wednesday afternoon in St. Paul, Minn., should be a breath of fresh air. Obama will propose using $150 billion in ‘one-time transition revenue from pro-growth business tax reform’ to help shore up the next transportation bill.”
The Strib’s Corey Mitchell writes: “Obama will also announce a new $600 million grant competition encouraging investments to create jobs and restore infrastructure. … This would be the sixth round of funding for the federal Transportation Department program first established under Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus bill. The grant program has been generous to Minnesota. It provided $35 million to help fund the renovation of the Union Depot. Last year, the Port of Duluth-Superior won a $10 million grant to rebuild and expand a cargo dock.”
Mitchell also notes: “When President Obama visits St. Paul’s Union Depot today to unveil a $300 billion transportation plan, most of the state’s congressional delegation won’t be in attendance. With Congress in session this week, Democratic U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison were the only members of the delegation that boarded Air Force One with Obama on Wednesday. … Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen invited Obama to visit a Minnesota-based medical device company during his visit, but it’s not part of the president’s posted schedule for today.” And Our Favorite Congresswoman?
Grim day for Target … Tiffany Hsu of The Los Angeles Times writes: “The holiday season was never going to be easy for Target Corp. as it tried to lift foot traffic and keep up with competitors’ discounts. But it was the vast data breach at the Minneapolis retailer in the heat of Christmas shopping season that really knocked the Minneapolis-based chain off its feet. And, the company said Wednesday, the hack may continue to have financial repercussions for months to come. Target’s net income for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 1 slumped 46% to $520 million, or 81 cents a share, from $961 million, or $1.47 a share a year earlier.”
Andria Cheng of the Wall Street Journal writes: “While U.S. comparable store sales declined 2.5%, hurt by decreased store traffic as a result of the data breach, the profit drop’s bigger culprit was Canada, a market that Target entered last year. It ended up denting fourth-quarter result by 40 cents a share. While the U.S. segment’s operating income dropped 22% to $1.4 billion, Canada’s loss more than doubled to $329 million.”
For the PiPress, Tom Webb offers a couple glimmers of light: “The company said its small cluster of City Target urban stores are performing well, and the company will now look at reducing the size of those stores further, which would allow them to enter more markets. Officials also cited the success of Cartwheel, Target’s mobile app that allows shoppers to access discounts and deals on their smartphone. More than 5 million Target shoppers have already signed up for Cartwheel, and it’s especially popular with younger shoppers, officials said.”
Beloved (semi-) hometown airline, Delta has a new way of calculating frequent flier miles. In The Atlanta Constitution, Kelly Yamanouchi reports: “In a major change to its frequent flier program, Delta Air Lines will soon begin awarding free flights based on dollars spent, rather than miles flown. … ‘We’d like to provide more benefits to our premium customers,’ said Jeff Robertson, vice president of the Delta SkyMiles program. ‘A lot of our customers fly us 10, 20 times a year, and we should reward them for that.’ ” You can imagine who receives “less benefits” as a result.
Think about this for a second …. Minnesota ice rinks are facing a crisis over … how to freeze water. The AP reports: “Hockey arenas across Minnesota are facing off against a big challenge: a chemical currently used in ice-making equipment at many arenas is harmful to the ozone layer so federal law is prompting expensive changes. R-22 refrigerant runs beneath the ice at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet and many others statewide, but imports of the chemical will be halted in 2020.” Try opening the doors, and see what happens …