James Pethokoukis

Afternoon speed round

November 17, 2009

Some of the best things I read today:

1) Tyler Cowen gives his version of healthcare reform. Ideas 3-10 are particularly strong.

How about some healthcare federalism?

November 17, 2009

From the astounding Arnold Kling:

The bill I would propose would be one that encourages experimentation at the state level. Offer to support an experiment that allows an individual state to adopt single-payer, while allowing another state to offer deregulated insurance and medical practice.

Is Obama planning a $3 trillion income tax increase?

November 17, 2009

Did I just see a trial balloon launched? Over at a Wall Street Journal conference, Christina Romer, chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers had this to say about deficit reduction:

On gold and asset bubbles and inflation

November 17, 2009

The great David Goldman. First on the US asset bubble:

BOTH bond and stock prices are driven by the dollar. 17.5% unemployment by the broad measure keeps wages down and keeps the CPI low, despite the surge in commodity prices, while the cheap dollar makes US assets a bargain. Well, not exactly: the enormous reserve growth on the part of Asian central banks means that the Treasury’s debt-buying program has been outsourced to America’s Asian trading partners! No-one dares pop the bubble. It’s like what Woody Allen said about death. He wasn’t afraid of it; he just didn’t want to be there when it happened.

Senate prepares cap-and-trade obituary

November 17, 2009

Carbon cap-and-trade legislation appears to be Dead Policy Walking in Washington.The devaluation of the Copenhagen climate summit reflects the emerging political reality in the United States. Yes, a bill did pass the House of Representatives in June. And the Senate Environment and Public Works committee passed a version earlier this month. So President Barack Obama won’t go to the talks in Denmark with empty pockets next month.But it is hard to get a major bill passed in a Democrat-controlled Senate when the Democratic majority leader of the Senate wants the bill to go away. And have no doubt that Senator Harry Reid would like to see cap-and-trade go away — or at least disappear until after 2010.This explains why as many as five different Senate committees will consider the bill, the same recipe for legislative inaction that bogged down healthcare reform. It’s politics. The 2010 midterm elections are shaping up to be tough contests for many Democrats thanks to the anti-incumbent mood of a recession-weary electorate. And most signs point to a sustained level of high unemployment.A new Gallup poll finds that 51 percent of Americans see the weak economy or high unemployment as their biggest concerns. Barely 3 percent mention the environment. And Democrats have been unable to sell cap-and-trade as a job creator. At worst, the public sees it as a jobs killer or a costly energy tax.That charge has particular weight in Reid’s home state, Nevada, a high energy-use state. (All those air conditioners!) So Reid doesn’t want to have to vote for it, which he would be compelled to do as majority leader. And neither do moderates like Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor, Debbie Stabenow and Jim Webb. They noticed the heat that centrist House members who voted for cap-and-trade took from constituents during Congress’ summer break.Webb of Virginia may point to one path forward with a new bill he is co-sponsoring with Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican. It would spend $20 billion on five mini-Manhattan Projects to study various clean energy technologies, including nuclear.It’s a plan that seems more likely to create jobs, grow the economy and help the environment — at least more so than one completely out of sync with the electorate. And it is one also more likely to make it into law.

6 reasons healthcare reform might fail in the Senate

November 17, 2009

“We no longer expect Congress to pass impactful health reform legislation this year, or even in this political cycle.” That is the opinion of Sector & Sovereign analyst Richard Evans:

Who stabilized the U.S. economy, Obama or Bernanke?

November 17, 2009

Ed Yardeni votes for The Chairman, but now he thinks the Federal Reserve need to change course:

Here’s what happened to cap-and-trade, and why it’s in deep trouble

November 17, 2009

I am writing a column on this for later today, but I wanted to toss out a few quick thoughts on the state of cap-and-trade. Other than the die-hard greenies, Dems don’t want this bill anymore than Republicans. It is too easy to frame cap-and-trade as both a jobs killer and a distraction from job creation. Actually, some Rs would love for Dems to push this bill since it makes such a great election issue.