James Pethokoukis

5 scenarios for healthcare reform

September 2, 2009

Former Bush White House economist Keith Hennessey lays some odds on how healthcare reform will proceed from here:

More on the union-Dem plan for new investment taxes

September 1, 2009

I got some really great comments on that post

1) Don’t these idiots realize that a transaction tax makes a market even more volatile? Look at China for example, they have a 1/10 % transaction tax, which severely reduces liquidity. Look how their market girates UP 5% one day, DOWN 8% the next! If you want to generate some fees from trading profits, TAX the profit on on those who earn them. Like Goldman Sachs & Warren Buffet. Don’t let them weasel their way out!

Kennedy’s death and the future of healthcare reform

August 26, 2009

My friend Washington analyst Pete Davis give his always-insightful two cents:

1) Senator Kennedy’s death is quite a blow to hopes for health care reform. No only could Kennedy rally the troops for the tough parliamentary battles ahead, his seat will sit vacant until late January.  Under Massachusetts law, a special election must be held within 145 to 160 days to fill the vacancy and there will be no interim appointment in the meantime.  That robs Senate Democrats of a vote until then, leaving them one short of the 60 they need to overcome a filibuster.

Are Obama’s healthcare troubles actually a good thing?

August 24, 2009

Mickey Kaus gives his theory:

It’s easy to forget that, even if Obama’s health care effort is bogging down, the effort itself still serves his presidency as a crucial time-waster, tying up Congress and giving him a reason to postpone (or the public a reason to ignore) those other divisive, presidency-killers. Obama needs some excuse for putting off unpopular Democratic demands; health care’s a good one. If he keeps failing to pass health care until spring, that might not be such a bad outcome. In fact, even quick passage was maybe never in his interest. There are things more unpopular than struggling. … Cap and trade, immigration legalization, “card check”—these are not what you’d call confidence building appetizers leading up to the main course of Obama’s presidency.

Why the unemployment rate is headed higher

August 7, 2009

There were no high-fives at the White House today because of this probable economic reality, as explained by the guys at RDQ Economics (the great John Ryding and Conrad DeQuandros):

Poll: Obamanomics has too much spending, too much government

July 24, 2009

Notice particularly the the stats for independents …

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Could CIT be a big blow for Dems in 2010?

July 14, 2009

Still wondering about a CIT Group bailout? Maybe the company is not systemically important, but it sure might be politically important for Democrats. This from analyst Jaret Seiberg of Concept Capital (via WSJ):

The bull case for the economy and Democrats

July 13, 2009
Brian Wesbury and Bob Stein of First Trust Advisers give the bull case for the economy. If these smart guys are right, 2010 might well be the third consecutive wipeout for Republicans. Some excerpts (bold is mine):
To be more precise, we are forecasting that real GDP grows at a 3.5% rate in the second half of 2009 and 4.5% next year. But, in all truth, we are much more confident about the overall 4%+ figure for the full 18-month period then about the exact growth rate for any particular quarter. … First, we project business inventories are going to end 2010 about $25 billionlower than they are right now. (But with businesses no longer reducing stockpiles as forcefully as they have been in recent months, inventories will contribute 1.3 points to the real GDP growth rate.) Second, we expect continued declines in the trade deficit, although not as quickly as in the last two years. The trade deficit was 5.4% of GDP in early 2007 and is now only about 2.2% of GDP. If the trade gap declines to 1.1% by the end of 2010, net exports can contribute 0.9 points to the real GDP growth rate. Third, we expect home building to bottom later this year and rise in 2010, contributing 0.4 points to the real GDP growth rate. Housing starts are now only one-third of the long-term trend, justifiably so due to excess home inventories. But excess inventories have already dropped from about 4.5 million a few years ago to 2 million today. We think, realistically, it will take another three or four years to fully eliminate the excess. Fourth, for government, we assume government spending contributes its long-term average of 0.4 points to real GDP growth, despite massive stimulus spending. Fifth, despite our gut instinct that business investment in plant and equipment is going to turn around much faster, we assume an annualized rate of decline of 3.2%, which subtracts 0.3 points from the real GDP growth rate. And last, we expect real consumer spending to rise at a relatively modest 2.1% annual pace, adding 1.5 points to the real GDP growth rate. To put this in perspective, we are forecasting that real consumption will be up at only a 0.6% annual rate from the end of 2007 through the end of 2010, the slowest three-year period for real consumer spending since World War II, including the early 1980s, when the jobless rate went up to almost 11%. It also means consumer spending drops to the lowest share of GDP since 2001.

Independents souring on Obamanomics (Virginia version)

July 9, 2009

Very interesting (via Politico):

A Public Policy Polling survey in Virginia found Obama’s approval and disapproval numbers effectively tied, with independents disapproving of the president’s job performance, 52 percent to 38 percent. “That is fairly consistent with all our polling around the country — Obama tends to be really well-liked personally, but he’s starting to lose a majority of the independents,” said Public Policy’s Dean Debnam. Democrats have “had long enough in some voters’ minds that they’re getting blame for nothing happening, and Republicans are scaring them around health care and tax increases.”

The econ chart that should worry David Axelrod and the Dems

July 9, 2009

Brad DeLong worries that the downturn in bond yields is hinting at an anemic economic recovery.