James Pethokoukis

How ObamaCare is killing free trade

March 10, 2010

Brazil’s threat of tariff retaliation over U.S. cotton subsidies is only the latest eruption of rising protectionism around the world. President Barack Obama isn’t doing much to quell protectionist sentiment in the U.S., either. His passivity could prove costly.

The Obama Boom?

March 10, 2010

This Bloomberg story gives it the old college try with “Obama Defies Pessimists as Rising Economy Converges With Stocks.” It points out that the economy is expanding, job losses are down and stocks are up.

5 obstacles for ObamaCare

March 10, 2010

How is the healthcare reform endgame shaping up? The always insightful Dan Clifton of Strategas Research boils it down (as outlined by me):

ObamaCare’s budget chicanery

March 9, 2010

David Brooks in the NYT outlines many of the way Democrats are trying to game the CBO budget analysis of ObamaCare:

Senator Supply-Side?

March 9, 2010

Former Bear Stearns economist David Malpass is considering a run for US Senate in New York. If you believe in the wonder-working power of lower taxes, economic freedom and entrepreneurship, then you would probably find his candidacy an interesting one. The Washington Consensus, of course, is that spending cannot be cut so taxes must rise dramatically. Thus, Malpass would be a contrarian voice inside the Beltway.

US debt approaches danger zone

March 9, 2010

The CBO analysis of the Obama budget finds that America’s debt-to-GDP ratio will hit 90 percent in 2020. Uh-oh. Research by Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart finds that level to be problematic:

A storm is coming

March 8, 2010

Looks like British civil servants are striking over budget plans to cap severance pay (via Clusterstock). A sign of things to come in the United States, where tight government budgets are going to force spending cuts and layoffs. The dissatisfaction over American education plays into this, too. The political impact of this will be fascinating since the public employee unions may be the most important Democratic interest group.

Obama picks a great battle

March 8, 2010

As welfare was for Bill Clinton, education could be for Barack Obama — an issue that shows independence from his liberal base and allows for compromise with Republicans. Obama’s decision to support the authorities at the poorly performing Rhode Island school that fired its entire faculty has enraged teachers unions, as this NYTimes story documents. But it is hard to argue with the president’s reasoning: “If a school continues to fail its students year after year after year, if it doesn’t show signs of improvement, then there’s got to be a sense of accountability.”

Losing patience with public sector workers and unions

March 5, 2010

This USA Today story has the kind of numbers that stick with people:

Overall, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist in both government and the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008, the most recent data available. These salary figures do not include the value of health, pension and other benefits, which averaged $40,785 per federal employee in 2008 vs. $9,882 per private worker, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.