James Pethokoukis

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.

The Afghanistan war surtax gambit

November 24, 2009

Why is passing healthcare reform so difficult? One big reason is that Democrats are trying to pay for a broad-based new entitlement without enacting a broad-based new tax.

Why panicky Dems are bailing on Tim Geithner

November 23, 2009

One residual from Timothy Geithner’s rough confirmation back in January — “Turbo Tax Tim” and all that — is that his political position is probably a bit more precarious than that of the typical newbie treasury secretary.

PAYGO and pretend fiscal responsibility

November 23, 2009

Ed Yardeni calls it on PAYGO:

Too bad that there are so many devils in the details. Obama’s proposal for fiscal discipline totally exempts “discretionary spending” for defense, education, environmental protection and many other programs. Normal increases in entitlement spending (more beneficiaries, higher health costs, etc.) also aren’t covered. In other words, the increase in Social Security and Medicare spending resulting from the impending retirement of baby boomers doesn’t count. Congress did operate under self-imposed PAYGO rules during FY1991-FY2002, and frequently skirted them. The statute was then allowed to expire. So here we are with Mr. Obama paying lip service to fiscal disciple with yet another campaign speech.

Might the Bush tax cuts be repealed before 2011?

November 23, 2009

I have to admit, this scenario does make a lot of sense:

In a word, yes. Back in August 1993, President Clinton passed the largest tax increase in history – the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA) – and made it retroactive to January of that year.

The politics of the bailout

November 23, 2009

From the Times:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn told the CBI annual conference of business leaders that another huge call on public finances by the financial services sector would not be tolerated by the “man in the street” and could even threaten democracy.

Fight for the Fed: Ben Bernanke vs. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid

November 23, 2009

Ron “End the Fed” Paul:

If you want to be a strict constitutionalist, there’s a lot more defense of having Congress involved with defending the value of the currency than delivering this responsibility over to the Fed.

Geithner Resignation Watch: Jamie Dimon Edition

November 23, 2009

Here is what I know, or at least what I think I know after talking with slew of folks today (and an expanded take to come in a bit):