James Pethokoukis

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.)

PAYGO and pretend fiscal responsibility

November 23, 2009

Ed Yardeni calls it on PAYGO:

Too bad that there are so many devils in the details. Obama’s proposal for fiscal discipline totally exempts “discretionary spending” for defense, education, environmental protection and many other programs. Normal increases in entitlement spending (more beneficiaries, higher health costs, etc.) also aren’t covered. In other words, the increase in Social Security and Medicare spending resulting from the impending retirement of baby boomers doesn’t count. Congress did operate under self-imposed PAYGO rules during FY1991-FY2002, and frequently skirted them. The statute was then allowed to expire. So here we are with Mr. Obama paying lip service to fiscal disciple with yet another campaign speech.

Might the Bush tax cuts be repealed before 2011?

November 23, 2009

I have to admit, this scenario does make a lot of sense:

In a word, yes. Back in August 1993, President Clinton passed the largest tax increase in history – the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA) – and made it retroactive to January of that year.

Geithner Resignation Watch: Jamie Dimon Edition

November 23, 2009

Here is what I know, or at least what I think I know after talking with slew of folks today (and an expanded take to come in a bit):

The Fed’s ‘crystal meth’ monetary policy

November 20, 2009

A classic from David Goldman:

The crystal-meth monetary policy at the Fed makes everyone feel better, until they don’t. The nonstop rise in the price of dollar hedges tells us that it can’t last forever. Large balance sheets attached to the Fed’s money pump can show profits, and the price of spread assets (as PIMCO’s Bill Gross keeps emphasizing) is stupid rich. But at the capillary level, through, the economy is dying and gangrene is setting in. … It isn’t just the 17.5% broad-measure unemployment number that we should worry about, but the massacre of smaller businesses, who are concentrated in the most vulnerable sectors: real estate, construction, and retail. Retail sales may get a temporary shot in the arm from cash for clunkers, and a combination of tax credits and (de facto) subsidized mortgage rates may hold up the bottom of the housing market for a short time. But today’s data show how fragile these matters are.

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.

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:

On the calls for Timothy Geithner’s resignation …

November 19, 2009

If Republicans had any fear of the Obama White House on the economy, congressmen wouldn’t be calling for Tim Geithner to resign, much less right to his face as happened today. Then there is Peter DeFazio, the Oregonian Democrat, on MSNBC’s Ed Schultz show when asked if the treasury secretary should resign:

Kudlow: Saving vs. consumption is a phony choice

November 18, 2009

The Great One has little use for the zero-sum politics (and economics) of false choices:

Why cap-and-trade is ‘dead policy walking’

November 18, 2009

Carbon cap-and-trade legislation appears to be Dead Policy Walking in Washington. The devaluation of the Copenhagen climate summit – now the goal is a “politically binding” rather than a “legally binding” agreement — reflects the emerging political reality in the United States. Yes, a bill did pass the House of Representatives in June. Also, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee passed a version earlier this month. So President Barack Obama won’t go to the talks in Denmark with empty pockets next month.