Here comes summer, and vacation inflation is cramping Americans’ style.
AAA forecasts that 37.6 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over Memorial Day weekend, a mere 0.9 percent increase over 2005.
Driving remains the favorite travel mode despite high gas prices. A typical summertime trip will cost $50 more this year, the Travel Industry Association of America predicts. That and general worries about the economy has the trade group expecting less than 1 percent growth in summertime travel.
AAA’s Sandra Hughes says 31.4 million of us, or 84 percent of travelers during the kickoff Memorial Day weekend, will drive, but she adds that our destinations may be closer to home to hold down costs all summer long.
The June 1 start of the hurricane season stirs a flurry of federal activity. Mindful of ongoing Katrina cleanup and the upcoming 2006 National Hurricane Center forecast:
_ The Treasury Department calls on Gulf and Eastern Seaboard residents to sign up for direct deposit of Social Security checks ASAP.
_ The Small Business Administration, fresh from processing $2 billion in 2005 disaster loans, flags firms on ways to batten the hatches in 2006.
_ The Federal Emergency Management Agency bolsters calls for flood insurance. New research from the Rand Corp. shows that half the residents of high-risk floodplains have no coverage, while 1 in 4 claims come from low-to-moderate-risk areas.
New White House spokesman Tony Snow got high marks his first week for his willingness to admit, “I don’t know,” in on-camera briefings, so he devised a “bupkis list” to let him answer questions that reporters raise at his early-morning off-camera “gaggle.”
The spelling eluded Snow and White House scribes, but “bupkis” (the Random House and Oxford dictionary spelling) is Yiddish for “nothing,” “nada,” “zilch,” as in: “You don’t know bupkis.”
In “The Joys of Yiddish,” the late Leo Rosten also offered “bubkes,” literally “little beans” in translation. As in: “White House spin left the press with bubkes.”
Snow’s first week also saw President Bush visit one of the nation’s busiest border crossings near Yuma, Ariz. The trip out on Air Force One was uneventful, according to the press pool report: Reporters watched “King Kong”; the Secret Service watched Senate confirmation hearings for CIA nominee Michael Hayden on _ what else? _ Snow’s former Fox Network.
E.T., phone home: A June 9-11 conclave in Hawaii is billed as “the first in the world to focus on the nuances of international diplomacy with extraterrestrial civilizations that may be now or may soon be visiting the Earth.”
While the new tax-cut law had Republicans and Democrats at each other’s throats for months, Congress was singing in rare bipartisan harmony over one $20 million provision: the Songwriters’ Capital Gains Tax Equity Act.
Offered by the Tennessee and Kentucky delegations at the Nashville Songwriters Association International’s urging, the tax break was championed by Senate GOP leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and No. 2 Senate Democrat Richard Durbin of Illinois.
The change lets songwriters pay tax on sales of catalogs of collected works at the same maximum 15 percent capital gains rate that their music publishers pay.
A Brownie Moment: “We’re doing a heckuva lot better job.” _ Bush deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, praising the White House record to a conservative D.C. think tank.