James Pethokoukis

Some context on the current budget battle

April 7, 2011

This graphic from the good folks at Hamilton Place Strategies adds some perspective on the billions and trillions at play:

Ryan plan would boost U.S. economic security

April 7, 2011

It’s intriguingly simple: Limit future increases in Medicare and Medicaid healthcare spending to cut debt. That’s the easy-to-understand core of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan, The Path to Prosperity. But the idea risks a voter backlash if medical inflation doesn’t slow, too. Otherwise, quality and service will suffer, badly fraying the social safety net. Republican Ryan thinks injecting some needed market discipline rather than sticking with President Barack Obama’s bureaucratic tinkering will do the trick. And he’s right.

The liberal budget response to Paul Ryan

April 7, 2011

Philip Klein, now at the Washington Examiner, scores a great scoop today with a peek at how the House Progressive Caucus plans on responding to the Ryan Path.  The liberal blueprint claims to balance the budget by 2021, mainly through a laundry list of tax increases that would raise government revenue as a share of GDP to a record high of 22.3 percent — four points higher than the historical average. (This also assume the tax increases have zero impact on growth.)

How the economy may undermine Obama’s 2012 reelection hopes

April 7, 2011

It’s not just the labor market that worries Team Obama:

“We are making progress on jobs and need to make more progress on jobs,” said David Axelrod, a former senior White House aide who is part of Obama’s 2012 campaign team. “But people are also grappling with stagnant wages and rising prices. That’s a legitimate, important concern for people and we have to pay close attention to it.”

Paul Ryan’s revolution would finish Reagan’s

April 5, 2011

Is Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” potentially the most important and necessary piece of economic legislation since President Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts in 1981? Quite likely. The blueprint embraces free markets and individual choice to radically reshape America’s social welfare state for the 21st century and shrink government. Instead of looking for ways to finance an ever-expanding public sector, it would prevent Washington from growing to a projected 45 percent of GDP by 2050 (vs. 24 percent today) and instead reduce it to just under 15 percent by that year. Ryan would downsize government to its smallest size since 1950 and prevent the Europeanization of the American economy. The Ryan Path embraces dynamic growth, not managed decline and stagnation.

Dems may (again) target private equity firms to pay for corporate tax reform

April 4, 2011

Private equity firms could get roped into helping pay for U.S. tax reform. To help offset the budget cost of lower corporate rates, my industry sources tell me, Democrats in Congress are considering an attempt to alter the treatment of publicly traded partnerships. Such a move could bring in several billions of dollars a year from Blackstone, Fortress and Apollo, the latest buyout shop to move to the New York Stock Exchange. A similar legislative effort in 2007 failed, but this one might have legs.

Incomes, not jobs, could sink Obama re-election

April 3, 2011

The Obama 2012 presidential campaign, which has now officially sprung to life, confronts a vexing political puzzle. The unemployment rate is plummeting. After the March jobs report release, White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee pointedly noted that the full percentage-point decline over the past four months is the largest such drop since 1984.

What the March jobs report means for Obama 2012

April 1, 2011

OK, the unemployment is now down to 8.8 percent, and the economy added 216,000 jobs last month. Here is the political economy of the situation, which is not as good for Team Obama as you might think:

No April Fools’ joke, U.S. now world’s highest corporate taxer

April 1, 2011

If only it were an April Fools’ Day prank. With Japan officially cutting its corporate tax rate as of today, America now has the highest rate among advanced economies. Even its effective tax rate is way above average despite the likes of General Electric spending billions to game the labyrinthine code. A smarter approach would be to substitute a business consumption tax.

Obama fails ‘Nixon to China’ budget moment

March 29, 2011

President Barack Obama should get in a New York state of mind. Over the weekend, Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic governor of the Empire State, struck a deal to balance the budget without major tax increases – and five days ahead of deadline. It’s the latest example of how left-of-center politicians, often considered profligate, are better sometimes placed than conservatives to cut spending. Obama is missing a “Nixon to China” moment on dealing with America’s dangerous budget deficit. Consider the following: