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