James Pethokoukis

Obama’s reverse stimulus on its way

November 27, 2009

Jed Graham of IBD highlights the coming fiscal drag in a pretty picture:

0112509ibd

Me: What would that mean for GDP growth? A pre-financial crisis analysis by Goldman Sachs predicts, for instance, found that getting rid of all the Bush tax cuts at the end of 2010 would cause a 3 percentage point drop in the economy in 1Q 2011.  In any event, anti-growth fiscal policy is one more reason to believe in the dreary New Normal

Does Washington really get the jobs crisis?

November 27, 2009

David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff doesn’t think so:

These attempts to stimulate consumption at a time when household spending relative to GDP is already at an all-time high are not going to carry much of a multiplier impact. There is a youth unemployment crisis, a skills crisis, a crisis among the ability of small businesses, who have been responsible for 65% of the new hiring in the U.S.A. over the past 15 years — to secure financing for working capital purposes, there is a crisis in terms of a declining manufacturing capital stock, and the programs we get are these old and tired Keynesian attempts at temporary boosts to consumer demand. It truly boggles the mind, and as we show below, American taxpayers are still a long, long way from paying for all these transitory fiscal policies out of Washington.

Cap-and-trade prospects looking dodgy

November 27, 2009

Kim Strassel is right, cap-and-trade looks terminal for 2010 and beyond. Sure, the EPA could try to push its own draconian carbon regulation. But I think that would cause a firestorm on Capitol Hill. Strassel:

More Washington budget gimmickry

November 27, 2009

Karl Rove makes a good point:

The administration says it is now instructing agencies to either freeze spending or propose 5% cuts in their budgets for next year. This won’t add up to much unless agencies use the budgets they had before the stimulus inflated their spending as their baseline in calculating their cuts.

Dubai and the dollar

November 27, 2009

My pal Felix Salmon makes a good point about the dollar and Dubai. The greenback initially slid on the news. But isn’t the greenback supposed to be a safe haven. Felix opines as follows:

Dobbs, 2012 and the ghost of Perot

November 27, 2009

If former CNN anchorman Lou Dobbs decides to make an independent bid for president in 2012, he will probably find the political climate as hospitable for an insurgent run — if not more so — as it was in 1992, when Ross Perot captured a fifth of the popular vote. (It was the best showing by a third-party candidate since Bull Moose Teddy Roosevelt finished second with 27.4 percent of the vote in 1912.)

Economy makes independents’ day

November 27, 2009

If Lou Dobbs decides to make an independent bid for president in 2012, he will probably find the political climate as hospitable for an insurgent run — if not more so — as it was in 1992, when Ross Perot captured a fifth of the popular vote.The dreary economic New Normal that is the aftermath of the Great Recession has created a huge political opening for Dobbs or Michael Bloomberg or Sarah Palin, or some other American with high visibility or deep pockets or both.It was a slow-recovering economy and concern about big deficits that drove the Perot phenomenon. There’s a high probability both factors will be at play three years from now.The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities forecasts annual budget deficits to average $1.2 trillion over the next three years. And the Federal Reserve is forecasting a so-so economic expansion that will leave unemployment over 7 percent in 2012.Then you have a populist, anti-Wall Street sentiment that neither Democrats nor Republicans have been able to capture successfully.The result is that party loyalties are frayed, with the tea party movement one manifestation. According to the Pew Research Center, 36 percent of Americans identify themselves as independents, the highest number since 1992. And they seem to be up for grabs.Barack Obama won 52 percent of the independent vote in 2008. But a recent poll by Rasmussen Reports shows Obama with a 61 percent disapproval rating among the group.None of this means an independent would actually win. Rasmussen has Dobbs at 14 percent in a race with President Obama (42 percent) and Mitt Romney (34 percent.) With the more populist Palin replacing Romney, Dobbs gets 12 percent versus 44 percent for Obama and 37 percent for Palin.Yet without Dobbs in the race, Romney is tied with Obama and Palin trails by just three. So an independent could, at the very least, radically alter the political landscape.And if the New Normal turns out to be worse than expected, with the GOP blamed for the original collapse and Democrats for a bungled remedy, an independent might accomplish much more than that.