‘Cancel Order!’

Tuesday, December 6, 2016Screen Shot 2016-12-07 at 9.37.15 AM

Good afternoon.
President-elect Donald J. Trump set the political and business world spinning Tuesday when he tweeted his desire to cancel  the order for a new Air Force One. This afternoon, he boarded his own plane (which has 24-karat gold fixtures) to head to Fayetteville, N.C., on the outskirts of Fort Bragg, for the latest leg of his “thank you” tour. Mr. Trump is expected to formally announce James N. Mattis, a retired general, as his pick for secretary of defense. What else he will say, in front of a large, enthusiastic crowd, is anyone’s guess.
The president-elect will be back in New York City on Wednesday, kicking off the day at a $5,000-a-head fund-raiser over breakfast in Midtown Manhattan. He’ll be joined by deep-pocketed transition officials and even deeper-pocketed cabinet picks, Steven Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross, and the funds will go toward supporting his transition committee.
Later, Mr. Trump will continue the business of building his coming administration. Visitors to Trump Tower are expected to include Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina, who finally conceded defeat in his re-election bid on Monday. Mr. Trump has yet to name choices for secretary of labor, homeland security and state, among others. [See a list of Mr. Trump’s appointments as well as open positions here.]
Back in Washington, the House is moving toward bringing a bill needed to fund the government after Friday to the floor but a potential new obstacle has emerged — efforts by Republicans to use the bill to grant a waiver to Mr. Mattis. Current law says that an ex-military officer cannot serve as the secretary within seven years of retiring without the waiver to preserve the tradition of civilian control of the military. Democrats say that using the spending measure to push through the exemption is unwise.

What We’re Watching

Vice President-elect Mike Pence gives a speech Tuesday night at Trump International Hotel in Washington during an event sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.
The Senate will vote Wednesday on the 21st Century Cures Act, after Democrats objecting to the bill refused to surrender their debate time on Tuesday. The legislation is expected to pass by a wide margin.
Bipartisan accolades: Lawmakers, including the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, will offer tributes this afternoon to Vice President Joseph R. Bidenfrom the floor of the Senate, where he spent much of his career in Washington.
Mr. Trump will start his Wednesday at a fund-raising breakfast in New York City. Tickets are $5,000 a piece
An AT&T store in the East Village of Manhattan.
An AT&T store in the East Village of Manhattan. Christian Hansen for The New York Times

A Shift on Megamergers?

There is much speculation over how the Trump administration will view megamergers. On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump promised to be tough on mergers. But after he tweeted positive comments about his meeting on Tuesday with Masayoshi Son, the founder and chief executive of Softbank, which owns Sprint, investors immediately speculated that the administration may be open to more big acquisitions. Shares of Sprint and T-Mobile moved higher, with speculation that Mr. Son would again bid for T-Mobile USA.
One test of the temperature in Washington on mergers will begin on Wednesday, when top executives for AT&T and Time Warner are expected to defend their proposed $85 billion merger to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Lawmakers will challenge AT&T’s chief executive, Randall Stephenson, and Time Warner’s chief executive, Jeffrey Bewkes, to explain how the union of video distribution and a wireless powerhouse with a company that produces premium channels like HBO and CNN can be a good deal for consumers. The companies are expected to argue that together they are able to provide an affordable streaming video service for wireless customers.
The hearing’s surprise witness, however, is the internet entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” star  Mark Cuban, who has voiced his support of the merger, which he said is a good counterweight to powerful internet firms like Facebook and Google, which are eating up the media landscape.
Mr. Trump had initially voiced objections to the proposed merger but there have been signs the new administration is softening its objections. This hearing should provide a good gauge of whether momentum is shifting toward letting the deal go through.
Air Force One waiting to take President Obama to Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday. President-elect Donald J. Trump appeared to cancel a pending order for a new plane, saying on Twitter that the upgrade would cost too much.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

In a message that seemed to come out of the blue, the president-elect took to Twitter to object to Boeing’s plans for a next-generation plane.

Former Senator Bob Dole, shown in November 2015, has been working as a lobbyist with the Washington law firm Alston & Bird.

Gary Cameron/Reuters

The former senator turned lobbyist helped establish the high-level contacts that led to the call between the president-elect and the president of Taiwan last week.


A look at two years’ worth of messages suggests he’s using Twitter much the way he was before becoming a candidate: to react to whatever’s in front of him.

Robert O. Work, the deputy defense secretary, in June 2015.

Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A Defense Department spokesman said a summary of a report identifying ways to lower costs by streamlining operations has been publicly available online.

What We’re Reading

Mr. Trump’s choice to be the next attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, has been a longtime opponent of relaxing marijuana laws. In his new position, he could be a big obstacle to the states that have voted to legalize medical and recreational use of pot. [Politico Magazine]
The Wall Street Journal published a big, multi-part look at innovation and the American economy. Have science, medicine and technology in the United States run out of big ideas? [The Wall Street Journal]
In the weeks since he was elected, Mr. Trump’s freewheeling style on Twitter and at his “thank you” rallies seems to indicate that the tactics that worked for him in his campaign may well continue into his presidency. [The Atlantic]
Michael G. Flynn, left, and his father, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, at Trump Tower in Manhattan last month.

Trump Fires Senior Adviser’s Son From Transition for Sharing Fake News


Michael G. Flynn, the son of the pick for national security adviser, had posted on Twitter about a fake Hillary Clinton story that led to an armed encounter in a pizzeria.

Shanette Smith and her daughter Madison.

Life in Obamacare’s Dead Zone


Excluded from the Affordable Care Act because of politics, thousands of poor Americans grapple with the toll — physical and psychological — of being uninsured.


What America Can Learn About Smart Schools in Other Countries


The U.S. fared poorly, as usual, in a worldwide ranking of students’ test scores, but it showed significant gains among disadvantaged teenagers.


The Problem With One-Size-Fits-All Health Insurance


Rich and poor mostly must buy the same sort of plan, even though income affects how much health care you might be willing to pay for.

A hilltop overlooking Kabul, where a $100 million Saudi-funded mosque and education complex was to be built. Construction was scheduled for completion this year, but the hilltop site remains a dusty lot where boys fly kites and drug addicts crouch beside a cemetery wall.

Saudis Bankroll Taliban, Even as King Officially Supports Afghan Government


Saudi Arabia has voiced support for American efforts to nourish Afghanistan’s democracy, but it has also lavishly funded Sunni extremism under various guises.

Samantha Cadena and her daughters await free back-to-school supplies in Los Angeles.

A Bigger Economic Pie, but a Smaller Slice for Half of the U.S.


In 35 years, the U.S. economy has more than doubled, but new research shows close to zero growth for working-age adults in the bottom 50 percent of income.

President Obama’s policies raised taxes on the rich, but still managed to increase the slice of income going to the poorest fifth of families by just 0.6 of a percentage point, to a grand total of 4 percent.

Zach Gibson/The New York Times

Drawing on history, Walter Scheidel of Stanford argues in a coming book that only all-out war might fundamentally alter how resources are distributed.

Hillary and Bill Clinton at her concession speech in New York on Nov. 9.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Twitter announced the year’s biggest topics and tweets in news and politics, but matters of identity and safety were also prominent.

Jevic Transportation trucks at the company’s Delanco, N.J., headquarters in 2008. The company filed for bankruptcy two years after a leveraged buyout by Sun Capital Partners, which former employees say heaped too much debt on its books.

Mel Evans/Associated Press

In a widely watched case, some fear a decision could lead to situations where stronger creditors gang up to squeeze out others

Outside the Supreme Court in Washington. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said that a 1983 ruling helped determine the court’s decision on an insider trading case on Tuesday.

Andrew Mangum for The New York Times

The court has recognized the rights of officials to prosecute trading cases involving business executives who pass along information to relatives.

Doug Mills/The New York Times
Flying West With the President-Elect
Doug Mills went with the press pool to photograph President-elect Trump on his trip to Indiana and Ohio. Here’s what he saw.