James Pethokoukis

Obama’s centrist shift evaporates

February 18, 2011

President Barack Obama’s much-trumpeted move to the center? Apparently, it doesn’t go much beyond using buzzwords such as “innovation” and employing CEOs as stage props. His 2012 budget introduction and Wisconsin incursion make that clear.

Obama budget reveals Obama’s core

February 14, 2011

Here’s what President Barack Obama’s new budget tells me: He hasn’t shifted to the center, he’s shifted into 2012 campaign mode, one that let’s him be who is really is.

Why Fannie and Freddie are sticking around

February 11, 2011

The Obama White House finally has a kinda-sorta housing plan. But here is the thing: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, seized by the U.S. government back in 2008, don’t possess the political clout they used to. But the two mortgage finance giants still have a network with shared interests. That lingering influence is a big reason why they — or possibly similar-looking replacements — will be around for a while longer.

Geithner’s odd attack on Toomey debt ceiling bill

February 8, 2011

All kinds of economic policy ideas are floating around Capitol Hill at any given moment. Very few of their congressional authors receive a direct rebuke from Team Geithner over at the Treasury Department.

Obama tells business to share the wealth

February 8, 2011

A few thoughts on President Obama’s speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

1. Would it be too much trouble for him to be more specific about how deeply he wants to cut corporate tax rates? I hope he doesn’t see the OECD average of 25 percent as a floor. Canada’s rate will be dropped to just 15 percent next year. And if he really wants more of company profits to be “shared” with workers, then he ought to propose abolishing corporate taxes altogether since 70 percent of the tax burden is passed along to workers.

Obama’s big shift?

February 7, 2011

The president told Fox’s Bill O’Reilly that he hasn’t shifted to the center. “I’m the same guy,” Obama says.  Right, he’s the same guy — a guy who will try and push through as much of his left-of-center agenda as he can.  If he had the votes,  for instance,  Obama would certainly be pushing a cap-and-trade energy plan or higher income taxes. But he doesn’t, so it’s time for Plan B.

Gen. Paul Ryan launches his war on Big Government

February 4, 2011

In the context of World War II, this was the Doolittle Raid. D-Day still awaits in the future.

Why Obama’s magic number for reelection isn’t 270, it’s 215 (thousand jobs)

February 3, 2011

Team Obama would surely love to run a Reaganesque, “Morning in America” reelection campaign, cruising to victory by taking credit for a dynamic economic recovery. But for that scenario to play out — or anything close to it — the unemployment rate would have to drop a whole lot. (The president’s political advisers will be closely watching the January jobs report.)  In a new research note, analyst Matt McDonald of Hamilton Place Strategies, a policy advisory and strategic communications consultancy in Washington, makes the following points:

Time for new rules to limit Washington spending

February 3, 2011

If only U.S. Treasuries had covenants like corporate debt does. Instead of linking to EBITDA, metrics like borrowing or spending as a share of GDP could be used. That might be a stretch, but lawmakers are still trying to implement new fiscal rules. It’s an idea whose time has come – or at least come back.

Any way you slice it, U.S. corporate tax rates are too high

February 2, 2011

David Leonhardt (NYT) makes the point that U.S. companies often pay far less than the top statutory corporate tax rate of 35 percent: