James Pethokoukis

Mitt Romney’s TARP problem

March 4, 2010

The 2008 financial crisis killed John McCain’s chances of becoming president. But will it kill Mitt Romney’s, too?

The Volcker Rule, again

March 4, 2010

President Obama is continuing to push the Volcker Rule to ban prop trading by banks. My sources give me no indication this has a realistic chance of happening. Certainly none of the key members — Dodd, Shelby, Corker, Warner — have warmed to it. So why is Obama pushing it, then? Hey, it is about the only part of his agenda with any popular support. Certainly not healthcare or cap-and-trade or the stimulus. Anti-Wall Street populism works, so more anti-Wall Street populism we will get. This is also why the GOP wants to pass a financial reform bill. It deprives Dems of a political weapon that plays on the stereotype of Republicans as the Party of the Rich.

More signs of a 2010 Republican surge

March 3, 2010

Forget the polls. Look at what the lobbyists are doing. Not only are campaign contributions to Republicans on the rise, advocacy firms are looking to hire more GOPers. So says CQ:

Balancing the budget

March 3, 2010

Blue Dog Democrats have introduced an amendment to balance the federal budget by 2020. How that might happen, they don’t say. To get an idea just how tough that would be, look at Republican U.S.Representative Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future. It gets the budget in balance without raising taxes by huge entitlement spending cuts. In 2020, his plan would produce deficits of close to 4 percent of GDP — and rising. His first balanced budget doesn’t arrive until 2063.

The 20 Percent Solution

March 3, 2010

House Republicans Jeb Hensarling and Mike Pence want a constitutional amendment to limit government spending to 20 percent of GDP, its rough historical average. In their Wall Street Journal op-ed, H&P admit, significantly, that America cannot grow its way out of its debt problem:

Wall Street’s lobbyists deserve their bonuses

March 2, 2010

America’s big banks aren’t being broken up. Nor does it appear there will be strict new limits on their activities. And while lenders may have to cope with a new consumer regulator, its power and scope is evanescing daily. If there is any group from Wall Street deserving of fat bonuses this year, it’s the industry’s lobbyists in Washington.

Romney’s “No Apology”

March 2, 2010

Just started reading Mitt Romney’s book “No Apology.” Actually quite a lot of meat in the economics chapters. The former Massachusetts governor and possible Republican presidential contender wants to cut investment and corporate taxes. Doesn’t like the Fair Tax or value-added taxes. Seems willing to consider a carbon tax/payroll tax swap. Wants to spend a lot more on basic research. No apologies for supporting TARP or RomneyCare.

Obama’s union error

March 2, 2010

The great Ed Yardeni thinks the POTUS is repeating FDR’s mistakes:

In 2016, I expect that Mr. Geithner will make the following speech: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong … somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job … We have never made good on our promises … I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started … and an enormous debt to boot.”

Zuckerman for Senate?

March 2, 2010

Heavens, a Mort Zuckerman bid for US Senate in New York would be great fun. Not a guy who loves to press the flesh, but supersmart and interested in getting things done. I just wonder if these CEOs who want to go to Washington fully realize how incredibly boring being a senator is.

Austerity makes for bad politics

March 1, 2010

It looks like the Conservatives in Britain are getting worried that their emphasis on deficit reduction is hurting the party with voters. Labour seems to be catching up in the polls: