James Pethokoukis

Obama budget skips pain for now, chooses growth

February 14, 2011

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Why Fannie and Freddie are sticking around

February 11, 2011

The Obama White House finally has a kinda-sorta housing plan. But here is the thing: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, seized by the U.S. government back in 2008, don’t possess the political clout they used to. But the two mortgage finance giants still have a network with shared interests. That lingering influence is a big reason why they — or possibly similar-looking replacements — will be around for a while longer.

Geithner’s odd attack on Toomey debt ceiling bill

February 8, 2011

All kinds of economic policy ideas are floating around Capitol Hill at any given moment. Very few of their congressional authors receive a direct rebuke from Team Geithner over at the Treasury Department.

Obama tells business to share the wealth

February 8, 2011

A few thoughts on President Obama’s speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

1. Would it be too much trouble for him to be more specific about how deeply he wants to cut corporate tax rates? I hope he doesn’t see the OECD average of 25 percent as a floor. Canada’s rate will be dropped to just 15 percent next year. And if he really wants more of company profits to be “shared” with workers, then he ought to propose abolishing corporate taxes altogether since 70 percent of the tax burden is passed along to workers.

When states go bust

February 7, 2011

That is the headline for my piece in the latest Weekly Standard about letting US states declare bankruptcy. Here’s a taste:

Obama’s big shift?

February 7, 2011

The president told Fox’s Bill O’Reilly that he hasn’t shifted to the center. “I’m the same guy,” Obama says.  Right, he’s the same guy — a guy who will try and push through as much of his left-of-center agenda as he can.  If he had the votes,  for instance,  Obama would certainly be pushing a cap-and-trade energy plan or higher income taxes. But he doesn’t, so it’s time for Plan B.

Just how badly broken is the U.S. economy?

February 4, 2011

This bit on the January jobs report from Bankofamericamerrilllynch worries me:

In the Household Survey, the unemployment rate plunged 0.4ppt for the second month in a row bringing it to 9.0% – the lowest since April 2009. The unemployment rate has not dropped this far, this fast since the 1950s. So, we question whether this decline will be sustained. The household measure of employment rose just 117,000 while the labor force participation rate dropped 0.1 ppt to a fresh cycle low of 64.2%. Never before has such a sharp decline in the unemployment rate been predicated on an ongoing drop in the labor force. The participation rate has crumbled 1.5ppts since the recovery began.

Gen. Paul Ryan launches his war on Big Government

February 4, 2011

In the context of World War II, this was the Doolittle Raid. D-Day still awaits in the future.

Reagan at 100, Reaganomics at 30

February 4, 2011

President Ronald Reagan, Feb. 5, 1981:

Good evening.

I’m speaking to you tonight to give you a report on the state of our Nation’s economy. I regret to say that we’re in the worst economic mess since the Great Depression.