James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Jon Huntsman’s pitch perfect presidential speech

Jun 21, 2011 17:36 UTC

When was the last time someone announced for U.S. president with a barn-burner of a speech? I can’t think of one recently, not even Barack Obama in 2007.  And Jon Huntsman’s speech was certainly no worse than Mitt Romney’s or Tim Pawlenty’s. But style aside, what did he say? He seems to want to deal with entitlements sooner rather than later:

We must make hard decisions that are necessary to avert disaster. If we don’t, in less than a decade, every dollar of federal revenue will go to covering the costs of Medicare, Social Security and interest payments on our debt. Meanwhile, we’ll sink deeper into debt for everything else – from national security to disaster relief.

And there is nothing wrong with this chunk:

We must make broad and bold changes to our tax code and regulatory policies; seize the lost opportunity of energy independence and reestablish what it means to be a teacher in society. We must reignite the powerful job creating engine of our economy – the industry, innovation, reliability, and trailblazing genius of Americans and their enterprises — and restore confidence in our people.

Now, we did many of these things in the great state of Utah when I was governor. We cut taxes. We flattened rates. We balanced our budget. We worked very hard to maintain our AAA bond rating status, something few states can claim. And when the economic crisis hit, we were prepared. And by many accounts we became the best state in America for business. We also were named the best managed state in America. You see, we proved that government doesn’t have to choose between fiscal responsibility and economic growth.

Perhaps the most important part:

It’s not that we wish to disengage from the world, don’t get me wrong, but rather that we believe the best long- term national security strategy is rebuilding our core here at home.

And this is the core, I think, of the Huntsman campaign: Rebuilding and retooling America’s economic strength from which our global power flows. Hey, I am dying to hear the technocratic details on this, and hopefully Huntsman will go far beyond keeping the Bush tax cuts and repealing Obamacare. I think he has to. Timidity is not an option for a dark horse candidate. The bolder the better.  But he shouldn’t forget to also make the moral case as to why entrepreneurial capitalism is best for America vs. Obama’s state-managed variety, of which he should be quite familiar from his time in China.

 

Did Obama save U.S. from a depression? Not so much

Jun 21, 2011 13:10 UTC

My old boss John Merline of Investor’s Business Daily eviscerates  President Obama’s recent claim that back in 2009 “we had to hit the ground running and do everything we could to prevent a second Great Depression.”

White House economists forecast in January 2009 that, even without a stimulus, unemployment would top out at just 8.8% — well below the 10.8% peak during the 1981-82 recession, and nowhere near Depression-era unemployment levels.

The same month, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that, absent any stimulus, the recession would end in “the second half of 2009.” The recession officially ended in June 2009, suggesting that the stimulus did not have anything to do with it.

The data weren’t showing it, either.

The argument is often made that the recession turned out to be far worse than anyone knew at the time. But various indicators show that the economy had pretty much hit bottom at the end of 2008 — a month before President Obama took office.

Monthly GDP, for example, stopped free-falling in December 2008, long before the stimulus kicked in, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. (See nearby chart.) Monthly job losses bottomed out in early 2009 while the Index of Leading Economic Indicators started to rise in April.

The stimulus timing is off.

When the recession officially ended in June 2009, just 15% of the stimulus money had gone out the door. And that figure’s likely inflated, since almost a third of the money was in the form of grants to states, which some studies suggest they didn’t spend, but used to pay down debt.

It’s an interesting strategy. Since the White House can’t sell whatever this is as any sort of recovery, they are trying to buy time with voters by inflating the risks the U.S. economy faced when Obama took office.  Of course, there is a rival meme: He made it worse.

COMMENT

The so-called stimulus served the interests of the District of Columbia and state capitals across the country, delaying necessary budget cuts. Texas recently had to close a $27 billion gap, which it would have done earlier had not Gov. Perry accepted billions in stimulus money. Basically all those government workers got an extension of their cushy benefits while the private sector tightened its belt and shed real jobs. Obama has said twice there were no shovel-ready jobs.

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Which GOP 2012er has the best jobs record?

Jun 21, 2011 12:22 UTC

Katrina Trinko at National Review Online puts them through their paces:

According to a National Review Online analysis of seasonally adjusted employment data (looking at the total number of those employed) from the Bureau of Labor website, Gary Johnson has the best record of the official candidates, with a job-growth rate of 11.6 percent during his tenure. … Among the crowd who governed primarily during the 2000s, Huntsman has the best record. During his 2005 to 2009 tenure as governor of Utah, the number of jobs grew by 5.9 percent.

Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have much weaker records. Romney, who governed Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, had an overall job-growth rate of 1.6 percent. During Pawlenty’s time as governor of Minnesota (2003 to 2011), the number of jobs grew by an anemic 0.5 percent.

Rick Perry, who is flirting with a presidential run but has not yet announced his candidacy, had an overall job-growth rate of 12.5 percent from January 2001 (he was inaugurated as governor of Texas in late December 2000) to April of this year, the most recent month for which finalized numbers were available.

Of course, some of these comparisons are apples to oranges; Pawlenty, Huntsman, and Perry, for instance, all were governors during the recession, while Romney and Johnson were not. State population changes could also play a role in determining whether a state’s employment numbers surge or decline.

So, what happens if you compare the governors over the same time period? Well, looking at Romney’s tenure from January 2003 to January 2007 shows that he achieved growth of 1.6 percent. Pawlenty had the same overall rate (1.6 percent) in Minnesota. In Texas, Perry achieved 7.2 percent growth.

During Huntsman’s tenure, January 2005 to August 2009, Utah had the best overall job-growth rate of any state in the nation. In that same time frame, Perry’s job-growth rate was 4.9 percent. Pawlenty’s job-growth rate was negative: The number of jobs in Minnesota decreased by 1.8 percent.

During Pawlenty’s tenure, January 2003 to January 2011, the overall job-growth rate was 0.5 percent. In that period, Perry (the only other governor to fully overlap with the two-term Pawlenty) hiked the number of jobs by 7.2 percent.

 

 

 

COMMENT

Gary Johnson is a breath of fresh air compared to the other republican candidates. I believe Governor Gary Johnson is Obamas biggest threat. Its really hard for Obummers re-election team to paint a pro-choice, pro-gay rights, anti war GOP candidate who wants to legalize marijuana as a right wing extremist. His socially liberal stances will be attractive to democrat and independent voters. Not to mention he was a very successful two term(that’s one more term than mitt romney) republican Governor in new mexico a state that is 2 to 1 democrat. He left office with a billion dollar surplus and was arguably the most fiscally conservative governor ever. He is a true Statesman and practices good stewardship of your tax dollars.

He also will not engage in mud slinging or name calling. He ran two campaigns in NM where he never mentioned his opponent. He will stick to the issues and not try to blame obama. I met Gary Johnson twice last year in my state of MO.. Once when he spoke at UMKC and another event he spoke at Missouri Southern State University. in Joplin Mo. He took the time to answer all my questions and sincerely listened to my concerns.. He is obviously working harder than the other candidates! For this he has earned my vote and support! If you have not heard of Governor Gary Johnson, Google him!

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