James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

More on where healthcare reform is heading …

Jul 28, 2009 15:23 UTC

From superanalyst Dan Clifton of Strategas Research:

Should the Senate Finance Committee reach an agreement, the plan will likely take the form of an $800bn package inclusive of: a) an individual mandate; b) an employer mandate and a state based cooperative; c) insurance reforms such as guaranteed issue and community rating; d) a health insurance exchange subsidized up to 300 pct. of the poverty limit; and, e) an expansion of Medicaid in the range of 125 to 133 pct. of the poverty line. Notes – The health insurance exchange (part d) and the expansion of Medicaid (part e) are key to getting coverage, but also carry the highest cost – rendering them vulnerable to potential delays in program and eligibility implementation.

Are profits forecasting a V-shaped recovery?

Jul 28, 2009 15:05 UTC

David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff doesn’t think so:

Much is being made of the fact that over 70% of U.S. companies are beating their low-balled earnings estimates, but the majority are still missing their revenue targets (as per Verizon and Honeywell in yesterday’s reports — top-lines down 6.7% and 22% respectively). Even so, a momentum-driven market will always be driven by just that — momentum; and there’s no doubt that investor risk appetite is being whetted. But after paying for the end of the recession in May, the market is now pricing in 40-50% earnings growth for next year, and while costs have aggressively been taken out of the system, this sort of unprecedented profits revival can only occur in the context of a V-shaped recovery, which we give 1-in-50 odds of occurring.

Healthcare endgame on Capitol Hill

Jul 28, 2009 14:54 UTC

A Capitol Hill source tells me that a public healthcare option is dead, dead, dead in the Senate and thus dead overall. While some healthcare reform proponents hope to use the August recess to rally support, more likely it will be that the Dems will be telling the troops and interest groups that if you want some kind of healthcare bill, give up pushing for a public option. At this point, it is a waste of time, energy and money. But this does not mean Dems still might not push through some pretty big changes. As another source put it:

We might end up seeing something similar to what we chatted about before (individual mandate, highly regulated insurance market, major subsidies).  I see this as mostly a symbolic victory, as the Dems can get most of what they want without calling it a public option, frankly. Pretty close (to the Massachusetts model), I’d assume.

COMMENT

Um, the government (ie: congress) does NOT have a “public healthcare” or a “public plan”. Congress gets their insurance through PRIVATE insurance companies, in a co-op, hence it’s less expensive. That is what the Rebuplicans are currently suggesting, giving the American public EXACTLY THE SAME benefits as they currently enjoy!!!

Posted by Tania | Report as abusive

The Fed more unpopular than the IRS

Jul 28, 2009 13:54 UTC

Ben Bernanke isn’t just campaigning for his own reappointment — though that certainly is part of what’s going on. He is also bolstering the public image of the Fed, which could use some help:

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COMMENT

I don’t think anyone could credibly argue that Bernanke should not be re-appointed. He’s done a great job,is genuinely motivated to do the right thing, is the foremost authority on the US Depression & all the permutations. He has held his own in Congressiional hearings — maybe even found his sea legs in that forum. Who knows, maybe he’ll throw out a smart ass answer to some of the boob questions next time ;-)

It boils down to a basic intelligence test. The most critical aspect for America ( and actually the world) is the Fed’s independence. Any other appointment from the current administration, at this juncture, would seriously compromise at the least,the appearance of independence. They may as well nominate Rob Blagojevich or some other bagman.

Larry Summers’s track record (Clinton admin. & Harvard) is crapola and it appears the bubble the Obama admin. floated very early (remember the rumblings right after the election?) on that nomination have popped. Triste ;-)

It seems pretty likely that anyone else the current administration would appoint would be their tool, perhaps with the “appearance” of being independent but with no juice.

Next, and really important, we’ve only seen Bernanke’s opening salvo. Yes, it was a big one, but just as criticsa, he has intimated a plan to relax the quantitative easing. This is the tricky, perhaps surgical part and not a job for the ham fisted or politically indebted.

This decision is really easy, if it’s not Bernanke, we should all worry — alot.

Posted by Siobhan Sack | Report as abusive
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