James Pethokoukis

Study: Democratic healthcare plan could cost $300 billion a year

June 4, 2009

I just attended a healthcare symposium at the American Enterprise Institute where Prof. Stephen Parente of the University of Minnesota revealed the results of a complex healthcare cost simulation model.  What did the number crunching show? The Democratic healthcare plan under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee would cost $300 billion a year if it wanted to reduce the number of uninsured Americans by three quarters. (Hello VAT!) And just to show how hard it is to do healthcare reform within current parameters of public policy, a conservative Republican alternative plan would cost $150 billion a year, though it would achieve the same results.  Or America could try this approach.

Gibbs: TARP gave us authority to take over GM

June 4, 2009

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, was asked by CNS News where the U.S. government’s authority to take a 60 percent stake in General Motors came from.  His answer: “Well, I think the money is based on the Troubled Asset Relief [Program], and is related to money that was approved in the prior administration through that program to deal with, as they had in the past administration, they were dealing with loans to cover–basically to bridge the operating costs.”

The Democrats’ 2010 unemployment trap

June 4, 2009

In the WSJ today, Karl Rove notices that the unemployment rate may still be really, really high on Election Day 2010: “The difficulty for Mr. Obama will be when the public sees where his decisions lead — higher inflation, higher interest rates, higher taxes, sluggish growth, and a jobless recovery.”

Asia, the dollar and gold

June 4, 2009

OK, so it looks like Rising Asia is trying to get on the same currency page. Now lots of people think rumblings of the region dumping the dollar are empty threats. Where are they going to go, right? The euro? Please. David Goldman of the fantastic  Inner Workings blog thinks he has it figured out bold is mine):

America’s high-tax future

June 4, 2009

Francis Cianfrocca has an interesting post over at Contentions called “Our High-Tax, Low-Growth Future.” Like me, he also saw Ben Bernanke’s testimony yesterday as a harbinger of tax hikes to come:

2012 Watch: Mark Sanford visits DC

June 4, 2009

I had the pleasure this morning of attending a small breakfast gathering with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, a potential contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Sanford talked a lot about his legal fight to reject stimulus money from the federal government. Well, not so much about the legal details, but more the philosophy behind his stand. He says he is extremely concerned that the government’s debt problems are approaching a “tipping point” that will lead to higher inflation and a weaker dollar — all characteristics of “banana republic economies.”  Sanford also said that Obama’s stiff-arming of GM creditors is an assault against private property rights and the rule of law, creating uncertainty in America’s business community about ” what the rules are” and potentially freezing business invesment here. ( He added that a meeting with folks on Wall Street confirmed his suspicions on this matter.)

Bernanke’s deficit warning helps Obama

June 4, 2009

obama– James Pethokoukis is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

Why Obama loves Bernanke’s big deficit warning

June 3, 2009

Ben Bernanke seemed to buy into the “bond vigilante” theory today in his House testimony as an explanation for the recent backup in long yields:

A ‘what if’ on GM, Hummer and China

June 3, 2009

Daniel Ikenson of the Cato Institute makes a great point on the Hummer deal:

The willingness of this Chinese company to purchase Hummer serves as a stark reminder of what could have been. Had George W. Bush not allocated TARP money to GM last December, in circumvention of Congress’s rejection of a bailout, then GM likely would have filed for bankruptcy on January 1. At that point, there would likely have been plenty of offers from foreign and domestic concerns for individual assets to spin off or for equity stakes in the New GM. There would have been plant closures, dealership terminations, and jobs losses, as there is under the nationalization plan anyway. But taxpayers wouldn’t be on the hook for $50+ billion, a sum that is much more likely to grow larger than it is to be repaid. It is also a sum that will serve as the rationalization for further government interventions on GM’s behalf.

Taming the bond market vigilantes

June 3, 2009

Whatever the politics, fixing Social Security is easy conceptually.  And if Team Obama is starting to get a bit anxious about an adverse reaction from the bond market to its fiscal policies, why not offer a fix as evidence of its seriousness about America’s entitlement woes? Here is Ed Yardeni on this very topic: