James Pethokoukis

That $250 check for seniors is a bad idea

October 15, 2009

The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities comes out against that $250 payment to seniors:

Actually, you don’t have to raise taxes to pay for healthcare

October 15, 2009

Great piece of analysis from the Tax Foundation:

A new analysis by us finds that over a 20-year period, the health care bill written by Sen. Baucus and passed Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee includes enough spending cuts in Medicare and other current government health programs to reduce the budget deficit over the long term, even without a proposed excise tax on “Cadillac” health plans.

Would Obama’s new regulator ban ObamaCare?

October 15, 2009

Would the Baucus healthcare reform plan pass muster with the Consumer Financial Protection Agency? That’s the new regulator the Obama White House wants to create to protect Americans from deceptive or confusing mortgages, loans and credit card agreements that contain hidden fees, costs, rates or other time bombs potentially harmful to one’s financial health.

VAT Attack! The perfect tax … or maybe perfectly awful

October 14, 2009

Greg Mankiw does a good explaining the value-added tax. But this is ominous:

From a strictly economic standpoint, a VAT is great. It is essentially a flat consumption tax, like the so-called FairTax, but implemented in a way to reduce compliance problems. Because it is collected in stages along the chain of production, rather than all at the retail level, tax evasion is more difficult. … My bottom line: If I could replace our current tax system (including the personal income tax, corporate income tax, payroll tax, and estate tax) with a VAT, I would gladly do it.

50 examples of U.S. government waste

October 8, 2009

Ending or fixing this stuff (via Heritage Foundation) is not going to fill a $1.4 trillion budget gap, but they would be nice confidence builders:

Why the cost of healthcare reform will rise

October 8, 2009

A great analysis of the Baucus healthcare bill by Jim Capretta. Read the whole thing, but this is a key graph:

VAT Attack! Greenspan: Raise taxes with a value-added tax

October 2, 2009

At the Atlantic magazine symposium I am attending, former Federal Reserve chairman again said he thinks taxes are going up and that a value-added tax would be the “least worst” way of doing it.  This dovetails nicely with what I wrote yesterday:

More on America and the VAT

October 1, 2009

The oh-so-smart Andrew Samwick on the chances of a VAT over at the Capital Gains and Games blog:

Why the US budget deficit is worse than you think

September 25, 2009

The great Dan Clifton of the Strategas Research finds this gem:

Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, told the National Economists Club that today’s deficits are more troublesome than in the early 1980’s. Projected deficits are twice the deficit in the early 1980’s but more importantly there is a growing disconnect between current law and provisions set to expire which will eventually be extended. Most notably there is (and will be) growing pressure to extend the expiring stimulus provisions in addition to the usual expiring provisions.

America’s addiction to deficit spending

September 18, 2009

Bruce Bartlett makes the case that a) either taxes need to be raised or spending cut to bring America back to fiscal solvency, b) there is little historical evidence that spending can be cut, and thus c) taxes are headed higher. Certainly Congress has show itself willing to raises taxes (1982, 1991, 1993) by large amounts and not cut spending. Both the 2005 effort by the Bush administration to fix Social Security and the current effort to reign in healthcare costs are further evidence. Yet you certainly wouldn’t want to close the hole purely by raising taxes, would you? I think they would have to rise by 50 percent, IIRC.  We would definitely be on the wrong side of the Laffer curve then. Spending is really Obama’s Nixon-to-China opportunity …