Slowly but surely, Obama’s economic medicine is working

Posted by osurce, 31st January 2011

UnemployedSteven Rattner
1/31/2011

Job creation is slow and difficult, especially in the aftermath of a recession. Companies are understandably reluctant to invest a great deal in new employees. In the president’s State of the Union speech, he used the word “jobs” 31 times but did not offer specifics on investment, competitiveness, and the deficit. Nonetheless, the economy is on a decidedly upward track and America’s productivity is still high (it grew 20 percent between 2000 and 2009). We should not “tinker with the labor market,” Rattner advises, nor should American leaders balk at addressing those necessary specifics (such as higher taxes and entitlement spending) that are essential to confronting the budget deficit.

Rattner, a co-founder of the investment firm Quadrangle Group, served as counselor to the Treasury secretary and lead auto adviser in the Obama administration.

Link to full text in primary source.

Give your opinion

Comparative Advantage and American Jobs

Posted by osurce, 26th January 2011

Jeff ImmeltMatthew J. Slaughter
1/26/2011

Slaughter welcomes the news that President Obama has created a Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. This is a positive development, as America has much to do to address its jobs crisis. To succeed in helping create good jobs, the administration’s new council should recognize that excessive government backing of particular companies and industries often squanders taxpayer resources and stifles sustainable growth. Three principles can guide the council away from repeating past errors: the focus should be on American jobs, imports do not represent failure, and a globally competitive America must invest abroad as well as export there. Slaughter argues that US workers win when industries are free to invest where they are the most productive.

Slaughter, associate dean at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was a member on the Council of Economic Advisers from 2005 to 2007.

Link to full text in primary source.

Give your opinion

Where was Obama the centrist in his State of the Union?

Posted by osurce, 26th January 2011

ObamaJennifer Rubin
1/26/2011

Those expecting either a moderate speech turned with an eye toward 2012 or a bold speech in the vein of the president’s best work were both disappointed on Tuesday night. He focused primarily on new investments and spending projects while offering only token cuts to compensate. Fiscal responsibility for Social Security and Defense was shifted to the Congress and to Chairman Robert Gates, respectively. In all, the president was surprisingly timid and predictable.

Link to full text in primary source.

Give your opinion

Health care and the contest of credibility

Posted by osurce, 25th January 2011

MedicaidMichael Gerson
1/25/2011

The Obama administration is taking a Clintonian approach to the deficit problem, particularly with regard to health-care price controls. The Congressional Budget Office will likely report cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and other health-care costs as huge savings over the years (a perk that is feasible on paper but not in reality), while Republicans propose cutting discretionary domestic spending without touching Medicare. But Medicare reform is essential to America’s fiscal future, leaving Republicans with a political dilemma. Obama’s plan, neatly laid out on paper, is far more politically palatable (even if it does cause “immediate pain”) than a more gradual Republican plan that subsidizes citizens to buy their own health insurance and leaves those over 55 unaffected. However, the unsustainable nature of Obama’s plan could affect his credibility in the long run.

Gerson is a nationally syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in the Washington Post.

Link to full text in primary source.

Give your opinion

The Talent Magnet

Posted by osurce, 25th January 2011

ObamaDavid Brooks
1/25/2011

Brooks says it will be interesting to see if President Obama talks about economic growth and competitiveness in the standard or visionary way tonight in his state of the union address. He considers what a visionary speech might encompass, including a look at how America’s position in the world is changing moving from the Big Dog nation of the 20th century to a different world today. In order to thrive America must become the crossroads nation where global talent congregates and collaborates. He says the nation with the most diverse creative hot spots will dominate the century and government’s role will be like at a university: it must establish an overall climate with competitive tax rates, predictable regulations, and fiscal balance. It should actively concentrate talent and then work aggressively to reduce the human capital inequalities that occur in an innovation economy.

Brooks is a New York Times columnist.

Link to full text in primary source.

Give your opinion

Myth of the Hero Gunslinger

Posted by osurce, 21st January 2011

GunmanTimothy Egan
1/21/2011

Regarding the Tucson tragedy, Egan looks at the response to arguments that people who are armed can defend themselves against assassins. In fact several people were armed at the scene and one person who thought of firing at the alleged murderer almost fired at the wrong person. In addition, most citizens are not trained well enough to react well in a violent confrontation. This is not enough reason to disarm citizens, but it is enough to discredit the canard that we need more guns in society. He cites studies that show that states with higher rates of gun ownership have much higher gun death rates.

Egan is a New York Times columnist.

Link to full text in primary source.

Give your opinion

Can Deregulation Work?

Posted by osurce, 21st January 2011

Paul H. RubinPaul Rubin
1/21/2011

Based on his experience at two regulatory agencies during the Reagan years, Rubin is not optimistic that the president’s recently announced deregulatory initiative will be a success. He writes that without managers with a strong interest in deregulation and with the backing of senior administrators, there will be no serious power to buck the staffs. The current executive order seems to impose a cost-benefit analysis, but it has enough loopholes (“equity, human dignity, fairness”) so that agencies will be able to do whatever they want.

Rubin is a professor of economics at Emory University.

Link to full text in primary source.

Give your opinion

Everything starts with repeal

Posted by osurce, 21st January 2011

Obama HealthcareCharles Krauthammer
1/21/2011

As HR 2 (Republican health-care repeal) comes up for debate, Democrats are touting a “$230 billion deficit reduction” as a selling point for Obamacare, when in fact the “reduction” is merely a mathematical difference between a massive increase in spending and a bigger increase in taxes. A similarly elusive “surplus” is also supposed to be created as entitlement to long-term care (CLASS Act) is achieved by paying for benefits now that won’t kick in for a decade. Krauthammer encourages Republicans to expose the “flimflammery” upon which the health-care bill was built and to explain the phony numbers or have the Congressional Budget Office director explain them. The “insanely complicated” and deceptive health-care bill is beyond reform; it must be repealed, concludes Krauthammer, and only then can Republicans present their own plan.

Krauthammer is a weekly columnist for The Post, writing on foreign and domestic policy and politics.

Link to full text in primary source.

Give your opinion

Hu Jintao meets the free press

Posted by osurce, 20th January 2011

Hu JintaoDana Milbank
1/20/2011

American reporters had a unique opportunity on Wednesday to question Chinese President Hu Jintao directly on his country’s human rights record. The very first question at the state dinner press conference addressed the matter and Hu Jintao attempted to deflect by claiming difficulty in translation. But a persistent press corps forced him to address the matter, however mildly, in a way that would have been plainly impossible in any other circumstance.

Milbank writes about political theater in the nation’s capital.

Link to full text in primary source.

Give your opinion