Tales from the Trail

from James Pethokoukis:

Could Obama’s re-election plan be to devalue the dollar?

Will President Obama get re-elected in 2012 if his party suffers a crushing midterm defeat? His political team likes to point to the example of Ronald Reagan. Congressional Republicans were crushed in the 1982 midterms, but the Gipper cruised to victory two years later.

Of course, the "Morning in America II" scenario depends on a fast economic recovery. Unemployment fell from 10.8 percent in November 1982 to 7.2 percent in November 1984. GDP growth was 4.5 percent in 1983 and 7.2 percent in 1984.

But most economic forecasts don't anticipate such a boom in America's near future. More likely is trend growth -- about 3 percent or so -- with unemployment still over 8 percent by the end of 2012. At best, those numbers suggest a very close presidential contest. And current polls show the president will have a tough time again winning such electoral-vote rich states as Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina.

Obama could try to emulate Reagan by proposing a massive tax cut, but that seems unlikely given the administration's belief that America is under-taxed right now.

But there is another way, although it is amazingly risky. A Bloomberg story, using a simulation run by Macroeconomic Advisers predicts a 10 percent decline in the dollar in the first six months of next year would do the following:

Washington Extra – Fears of economic stagnation

dowFear returned to global financial markets today, with stocks sinking and the dollar rising sharply on renewed worries about an economic slowdown in China and the United States. President Barack Obama met with senior economic adviser Larry Summers and “talked through some scenarios” on what was playing out around the globe, and how to keep the U.S. recovery on track.

Obama, signing a bill meant to boost U.S. manufacturing, said he was determined to do everything possible to hasten the economic recovery. The problem is – how much more can he do?

Legislation to support small businesses and manufacturing and bolster state finances might be saving jobs, but are unlikely to make much of a difference if American consumers remain reluctant to buy, or if the global economy takes another turn for the worse.

Another side of Sarah Palin: financial guru

The Financial Times, the salmon-colored authoritative newspaper that is closely read by traders and other financial types around the world, had an eye-opener for readers this morning. USA-POLITICS/PALIN

It wasn’t the front-page, four-column wide headline, “Obama’s critics pounce on falling dollar as fears grow over currency.”

It wasn’t the graphic showing a red downward line over a dollar bill.

The jolt comes at the start of the second paragraph in the top story of the day on the dollar, “Sarah Palin….”

$787 billion can’t buy an ounce of bipartisanship

WASHINGTON – Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives were unapologetic on Friday after not a single one of them voted for the $787 billion economic stimulus package.
 
The Democratic majority pushed the spending and tax cuts measure through the House 246-183 at the urging of Democratic President Barack Obama, who had courted Republican support.
 
Republican leaders insisted the plan may do more harm than good by expanding government and not doing enough to creboehnerate private-sector jobs.
 
Representative Virginia Foxx went further. “I think it’s a cruel hoax on the American people that they have been led to believe that by passing this bill that there are suddenly going to be millions of jobs out there, particularly for blue collar workers that have lost their jobs,” she said.
 
Through weeks of debate, the two parties stuck to their ideologies, with Republicans favoring tax cuts and Democrats leaning toward government spending.
 
Republicans may be hoping their lock-step opposition will help vault them back into majority status in the House. They look longingly back to 1993, when every House Republican voted against a balanced-budget plan by then-President Bill Clinton that accomplished its goal.
 
Nonetheless, Republicans took control of the House in 1994 elections.
 
Asked whether Republicans risked looking bad if the U.S. economy does recover in the near term, House Republican Leader John Boehner said: “I think standing on principle and doing the right things for the right reasons on behalf of your constituents will never get you in trouble.”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Boehner holds a copy of the stimulus bill, following the passage in the House of Representatives of the stimulus package)