James Pethokoukis

The EPA and Obama’s Uncertainty Tax

December 8, 2009

Here’s the theory about the new U.S. position on greenhouse gases. The official finding by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the emissions endanger human health sets the stage for permit requirements on power plants, factories and automobiles. It also supplies President Barack Obama with more evidence at the Copenhagen summit of a “new normal” in America when it comes to climate policy. And back home, it supposedly gives a nudge to the Senate where cap-and-trade legislation is stuck on the back burner.

The White House and jobs stimulus

December 3, 2009

From Marc Ambinder:

Really: the White House does not seem to believe that (a) anything sensible to meanginfully reduce the unemployment rate can be proposed, completed and paid for — and executed — by next November. Nothing, in any event, that wouldn’t jeopardize recovery in the long-term. This frustrates people in the party to no end, as well it might.

How Obama is freezing the job market

December 3, 2009

Let’s assume that the much-hyped White House “jobs summit” turns out to be a free-flowing exchange of ideas and views. Could happen. If that’s the case, then President Barack Obama shouldn’t be shocked if a few CEOs dare suggest that the sweeping-yet-stalled Obama agenda might … actually … you know … no offense, Mr. President … be contributing to the jobless recovery. (The union and academic invitees will protest mightily, natch.)

Is the ambitious Obama agenda freezing the US labor market? CEOs think so

December 1, 2009

Just took a break from the Innovation Economy Conference sponsored by the Aspen Institute. Particularly interesting was a joint Q&A with GE’s Jeff Immelt and Intel’s Paul Otellini.  The latter said he was concerned about the “amount of variability in the system” created by Washington. Fluctuating policy when it comes to healthcare, energy, taxes. “It is very difficult for anyone to make a hiring decision” when the future is so uncertain, he said. Immelt added he would just like to “know what the rules are.” About ObamaCare, Immelt said healthcare “costs probably aren’t going to be coming down.” He is also worried about cost shifting due to proposed Medicare cuts

6 healthcare taxes that violate Obama’s tax pledge

November 20, 2009

These seem pretty indisputable. From Keith Hennessey:

1. The clearest violation is the 5% excise tax on cosmetic surgery and similar procedures (including teeth whitening). I assume that cosmetic surgery and similar procedures are skewed toward the high end of the income distribution, but there certainly are many people getting these treatments with annual family income less than $250,000.

‘A whole mess of crazy’ coming from Capitol Hill

November 20, 2009

That is how one Congress watcher from the financial industry describes the current state of affairs, from the Fed audit bill to calls for a transaction tax. I think this William Greider piece gets at the heart of it:

How the economy is killing the Obama agenda

November 20, 2009

The less popular Obama gets, the less political capital he has to push forward his agenda. I think this chart from Nate Silver nicely encapsulates things:

Healthcare reform update: It’s all about 60 votes

November 18, 2009

My sources tell me that reconciliation — pushing through HC in the Senate with 51 votes with a special parliamentary procedure — isn’t going to happen. So the big votes will need 60, including just opening debate. And rest assured that if Reid thinks he has 60 to pass, the debate will immediately come to an end.