Joel Kotkin writes a great, great piece for The American on why Red State economies have better long-term prospects than Blue State economies. But this excerpted hunk is especially insightful:
Just how much trouble is President Obama and his economic agenda in? Allies will point to the president’s still-robust 55 percent approval rating, according to pollster Gallup, but that number has been declining steadily from a high of 65 percent in early March. (He’s actually a point lower than George W. Bush at similar points in their presidencies.) And while the House of Representives has passed historic cap-and-trade legislation, the bill seems to be going nowhere in the Senate and the president may have little to crow about at the December climate change conference in Copenhagen. Even his plan for a consumer financial protection agency looks like it’s in doubt. Then, of course, there’s healthcare reform, which Obama again will be making the case for during a prime-time news conference tonight.
Pelosi seems upbeat, but Arkansas Democrat Mike Ross less so:
The Blue Dogs share the President’s goal of providing the American people with quality, affordable health care reform that’s deficit neutral, and we have put forth a number of substantive policy proposals over the past several months aimed at achieving this goal.
The chances of sweeping healthcare reform have dropped dramatically over the past month or so. (I still think the president will have something to sign by year end.) Mark Halperin of The Page gives his reasons why healthcare reform still has a good chance of happening, though what “healthcare reform” means is left undefined — and that is kinda important:
Bobby Jindal takes a shot at a Republican alternative for healthcare reform in the WSJ today: 1) IT-driven consumer choice; 2) health savings accounts; 3) medical lawsuit reform; 4) insurance reform; 5) pools for small business; 6) pay for performance rather than procedures; and 7) tax credits to help low-income working Americans buy health insurance. Fine, fine, I guess. But wouldn’t it better to describe how a real plan would work in people’s day to day lives and what it might cost or how it might reduce costs? Does this really change the debate at all, or merely show Jindal as wonky potential presidential contender?
This from Mike Feroli of JPMorgan (bold is mine):
Beyond the issues surrounding the economy and exit strategies, another aspect of the testimony that was of interest was the political angle. Bernanke made his strongest case to date that Fed actions have helped prevent what could otherwise have been an economic catastrophe. His very first sentence of the testimony read “Aggressive policy actions taken around the world last fall may well have averted the collpase of the global financial system.” After listing the notable imporvements in credit markets, he goes on to say “Many of the improvements in financial conditions can be traced, in part, to policy actions taken by the Federal Reserve to encourage the flow of credit.” These statements should be seen in the context of the whithering criticism of the Fed’s conduct of policy, some of that criticism coming from within Congress.
IHS Global on Bernanke’s talk-talk:
Bernanke wanted to send the message that Congress needs to prepare its own “exit strategy” from unsustainable budget deficits. His formal remarks made no mention of a possible second stimulus package (under questioning he said that the idea was “premature”), and he said that policymakers should begin planning “now” to restore fiscal balance. He didn’t offer prescriptions on what to do (whether to raise taxes or cut spending), but said that postponing choices would only make them more difficult. He said that agreement on a sustainable fiscal path could lower long-term interest rates and boost confidence – the implication being that lack of agreement would do the opposite.
The PR folks working for Big Oil have to be breathing a sigh of relief these days. All the populist outrage that is usually spewed at the Exxons and Halliburtons of the world is being redirected at Goldman Sachs — and its gleaming, glittering $2.7 billion second-quarter profit amid the wreckage of the American financial system.