James Pethokoukis

Mitt Romney, Going Rogue

March 12, 2010

The rap on Mitt Romney is that he is the protean presidential candidate. Always shifting, always morphing, ever eager to please in relentless pursuit of the Oval Office. If he was a contestant on American Idol, the judges would surely knock him for “not knowing what kind of artist he is.” One week a crooner, the next a rocker. One campaign a moderate,  the next a culture warrior.

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?

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.

Dobbs, 2012 and the ghost of Perot

November 27, 2009

If former CNN anchorman Lou Dobbs decides to make an independent bid for president in 2012, he will probably find the political climate as hospitable for an insurgent run — if not more so — as it was in 1992, when Ross Perot captured a fifth of the popular vote. (It was the best showing by a third-party candidate since Bull Moose Teddy Roosevelt finished second with 27.4 percent of the vote in 1912.)

2012 Watch: Pawlenty the tax cutter

August 31, 2009

How much Tim Pawlenty pay Walter Mondale to say this:

He brings an almost Jack Kemp-like fervor to cutting marginal tax rates; an important predicate for any presidential run may be how Pawlenty handles a recommendation from a task force he appointed that the state replace some corporate and individual taxes with consumption levies. His emphasis on taxes rankles many Minnesota Democrats. “There is a long line of progressive Republican governors in Minnesota who are big supporters of education,” says Walter Mondale, the former vice president and U.S. senator. “He is much more interested in tax-cutting and has broken with that tradition.”

John Wayne Syndrome: Americans like tall, square-jawed presidents during tough economic times

August 18, 2009

Will Americans go big in 2012? President Obama is a smidgen under 6’2″, Mitt Romney is 6’2″, Sarah Palin is 5’5″ … Tell us more, New Scientist:

2012 Watch: Mark Sanford visits DC

June 4, 2009

I had the pleasure this morning of attending a small breakfast gathering with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, a potential contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Sanford talked a lot about his legal fight to reject stimulus money from the federal government. Well, not so much about the legal details, but more the philosophy behind his stand. He says he is extremely concerned that the government’s debt problems are approaching a “tipping point” that will lead to higher inflation and a weaker dollar — all characteristics of “banana republic economies.”  Sanford also said that Obama’s stiff-arming of GM creditors is an assault against private property rights and the rule of law, creating uncertainty in America’s business community about ” what the rules are” and potentially freezing business invesment here. ( He added that a meeting with folks on Wall Street confirmed his suspicions on this matter.)