James Pethokoukis

Unemployment and the 2010 midterms

February 22, 2010

Charlie Cook has it exactly correct in this piece of analysis:

I’ve spent the last couple of days talking to some of the brightest Democrats in the party that are not in the White House. And it’s very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don’t lose the House. It’s very hard. Are the seats there right this second? No. But we’re on a trajectory on the House turning over….
There are nine months, certainly things could happen, but the odds of unemployment being below 9 percent are minimal by the time of this election. We’re probably going to have a year of basically, more or less, 10 percent unemployment, which hasn’t happened since the Great Depression. I mean, in fact, in an even-numbered year there’s only been one month of double-digit unemployment in the post-War era. One month. And now we’re going to have probably about a year.

New Obama health plan moves hard in wrong direction

February 22, 2010

Well, let’s see: It costs $75 billion more than the Senate plan. It delays the one sure-fire cost-control measure, the tax on high-end plans. And it gives the federal government new authority to block insurers from increasing premiums. That last one is particularly wrong-headed. The policy thrust of ObamaCare was supposed to be to reduce costs by changing how healthcare was delivered, not through rationing. But price caps are nothing more than rationing. As Cato’s Mike Cannon puts it:

Obama deficit commission is a path to crisis

February 19, 2010

First, here is a bit from my Reuters Breakingviews column:

President Barack Obama might have stumbled upon a three-step path to financial crisis: 1) admit nation is dangerously in debt; 2) create high-profile deficit commission to find solution; 3) have commission fail. Subsequent market tumult could, of course, force a sudden, dramatic and harsh fix to America’s fiscal ills. But a rush job would be a poor way to solve the country’s long-term financial problems.

Where Obama’s deficit commission is headed

February 18, 2010

So, like, this thing isn’t going to work. You all know that, right? Rs pretty much have zero interest in higher taxes. Zero. And Ds pretty much have zero interest in cutting spending anywhere unless the money is shifted to some new program, as with healthcare. I read Greg Mankiw’s list of what Rs should get into turn for higher taxes

The Volcker Rule: It’s not happening

February 16, 2010

A few points:

1) The much-hyped Volcker Rule proposal is failing fast in the U.S. Congress. But Paul Volcker himself probably isn’t that surprised. The former Federal Reserve chairman joked he was “just a photo op” even after President Barack Obama’s public embrace of his proposal to limit bank proprietary trading. More evidence that the moment for sweeping reform has probably passed.

Nuclear power and crony capitalism

February 16, 2010

Give the POTUS some credit for proposing something, anything on domestic policy that is certain to irk his base. Reuters:

Bayh’s good-bye

February 16, 2010

A few thoughts on Evan Bayh’s stunning retirement announcement:

1) It helps move the prospect of a GOP Senate takeover from a fringe idea to consensus. Not there yet, but getting there.

Insta-analysis

February 12, 2010

BAILOUT BILL: Good piece in Daily Caller by Sam Zamarippa on how financial reform extends TBTF. If financial reform fails, that will be a big reason.

What’s next for financial regulatory reform

February 12, 2010

With healthcare on ice, financial reform is the hottest game in town. Now Dodd is trying to bypass Shelby to somehow gin up a bipartisan bill with Corker –  who takes the issue extremely seriously. A few thoughts:

The jobs bill

February 12, 2010

1) Obama administration economists reckon the jobless rate will hover around 10 percent this year, and now say the U.S. economy will generate an average of just 95,000 jobs a month. That tallies with Team Obama’s forecast of anemic 3.0 percent GDP growth. Monthly job growth of 125,000 to 150,000 is needed to start bringing the unemployment rate down from its current 9.7 percent. That’s what would normally be expected more than two years after the onset of a recession. It’s not happening — at least not yet.