James Pethokoukis

The surprises of 2011

January 3, 2011

Wall Street veteran Byron Wien, now vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Partners, has issued his annual list of ten surprises as well as ten “also rans” for the next 12 months. Here are a few that I have thoughts on:

Like the economy, Obama is kind of stuck

December 22, 2010

Jay Cost thinks Obama, like the economy, is kind of stuck:

The macro trend, I would say, has essentially been flat for the last few months — as Americans have developed fairly stable opinions of the 44th president by this point that probably are not easily dislodged. In the long term, the way the president gets his numbers up will be to convince the country that he is a good steward of the economy, a view most of his fellow citizens do not hold at the moment.  This is why the tax cut deal was such a sensible compromise for President Obama to make, despite the criticism he received from his left flank.

A brief rundown of the 2012 White House wannabees

December 22, 2010

Jonah Goldberg sizes up the possible GOP presidential contenders (presented in outline form by me):

Net neutrality rules a blow to free markets

December 21, 2010

Milton Friedman had it right. Business is no friend of free markets. The Federal Communication Commission’s “net neutrality” ruling is more evidence of this. What the FCC should have done is called it a year, went on holiday and left the Internet alone.

Obama pivots as liberal dream collapses

December 20, 2010

Well, that was quick. America’s supposed generational shift toward an embrace of high-tax, high-service Big Government didn’t even make it a full two years. The new public policy consensus — built around favorite liberal issues of the environment and income inequality — promoted by Washington elites has been a flop with the public.

US tax deal, budget feud set stage for 2011 cuts

December 17, 2010

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Congress throws a tea party

December 17, 2010

Overall, a pretty good day for those who believe in low taxes and less spending. Here is the money graph from my upcoming Reuters Breakingviews column:

The conservative case for a VAT

December 16, 2010

Over at NRO, Duncan Currie gives it his best shot:

Despite being more efficient than an ordinary sales tax, a VAT carries significant administrative costs, and piling it on top of the present U.S. tax structure would be a mistake. But using the VAT to eliminate a sizable amount of distortionary U.S. income taxes would yield a far more growth-friendly system than the one we have today. Over the long run, America must reorient its economy away from consumption and toward investment while boosting its dangerously low savings rate. A VAT is certainly not the only way to promote those objectives, but it should at least be part of the conversation.

Sarah Palin vs. Simon Johnson and Washington wisdom

December 16, 2010

This is the kind of thing that really burns me. Here is Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the IMF, over the at the NYTimes econ blog: