Economy & Budget

Trade Negotiator in Chief

Ambassador Susan C. Schwab, United States Trade Representative, spoke at last week’s overflowing Institute for Education/INFO policy breakfast. IFE/INFO forum regular Craig Helsing referred to all five of her titles: doctor, dean, general, honorable and ambassador. Not bad! It was an honor to host her, especially with the pending free trade agreements and so much discussion on the free trade debate this 2008 primary season. Ambassador Schwab is at the nexus of Tom Friedman’s flat world.

President Bush’s last State of the Union address prominently featured trade talk. He spent more time on it than in any other State of the Union. It is a big issue on the campaign trail, especially for the Democrats. Nominees Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) seem to be all over each other on this issue.

Will You Be Wealthy Tomorrow?

Our precious gold is at an all-time record high. Oil prices are consistently hitting new and incredible highs. The almighty dollar is consistently hitting new lows against other major currencies.

Have you really taken the time to step back and decipher the true impact of this? Flash! Baby boomers, it's now impossible for you to retire. Your pensions are woefully underfunded. Your 401(k) is drastically declining in value as you read this blog. The value of your home is in a free-fall. Your real estate and sales taxes are increasing. Your property and casualty insurance rate is soaring through the roof. Your sales tax is continuously increasing.

It's the Little Things that Count

Whether it’s a couple million for their district or $25 million for their husbands (hey, she’s not the Speaker for nothing!), Democrats are still up to their old earmark ways, despite a bold pledge in the 2006 election to end “runaway spending.” Now, I know politicians’ promises last about as long as a New Year’s resolution, but c’mon, this is the singular issue that upsets Joe Six-Pack more than any other, in my opinion. And now I read this morning that Rep. David Obey — the KING of all Kings of spending — is sending around some lame, two-question survey to his fellow Democrats in what is nothing more than internal cover for his party to blow the lock of the Treasury.

Why Democrats Should Win in a Landslide

The former CEO of Countrywide Financial, who more than any other living American is responsible for the foreclosure scandal, was paid more than $250 million of executive compensation.

Republican CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow was defending him and attacking those "populists" who think $250 million of personal wealth as compensation is a bit excessive, considering the beneficiary.

To my Republican colleagues on this Pundits Blog: Is this your party's platform for 2008?

Next thing you know, some of these Republicans will endorse the bird flu!

The Upcoming Budget Battle

Jim Nussle knows the budget process as well as anybody. Not too many people go from House Budget chairman to Office of Management and Budget director in the course of a career. And now he faces congressional Democrats in the final year of the presidency. The trick for Nussle is to make this battle interesting enough to the press that they pay attention in an “American Idol”-type presidential campaign year.

The budget process is not very interesting. Outside the Beltway, people don’t know what reconciliation is. They don’t care about earmarks. They don’t know the difference between discretionary and entitlement spending. They just know that the dollar is weakening and that things cost more this month than they did last month.

Democratic Tax Insanity

When politicians raise taxes on corporations, they pass the extra costs on to consumers.

So when the Democrats decide they want to hike up taxes on oil companies, the oil companies will pass on that extra cost to consumers.

Maybe that is what the Democrats want to do. After all, Al Gore and countless other Democratic luminaries have long said that gas prices are too low.

From a U.S. Auto Executive: Thoughts on the Recession and New Jobs Through CO2-Reduction 'Moon Shot' Program

What follows are thoughts from a good friend who leads a major automobile manufacturer in the U.S. This is worth reading by presidential candidates from both parties. Bottom line: We can attack global warming AND create new jobs in doing so.
There are so many things going wrong at once that all sections of the economy and all classes of society will be impacted. So many things have been unfunded and neglected for so many years that expectations are building fast, particularly in the field of healthcare and education. My fear is that traditional means to address them may be lacking in the coming years due to the economy.

The Deficit's Easy Quick Fix

Sometimes the solution is in plain sight. With all the hand-wringing over federal deficits, all we have to do is look around us for ways to bring in more money. Here are some ideas that should have been obvious:


The U.S. Capitol would be the most lucrative. We would simply put it up for bid, just like we do the legislation that's created inside. Think of it: "The Bristol-Myers Squibb Building.” Doesn't that sound appealing? C-SPAN would telecast from "The Squibb."

Sobering Views

As the Magic 8-Ball would say, "Outlook not so good."

That, anyway, is the gist of your opinions regarding the House-passed stimulus bill — 47 percent of you predicted that it would have no effect at all on the slumping economy, with another 36 percent taking the even more grim view that "A recession is unavoidable." Just 17 percent of respondents foresaw a "very positive" effect.

Buy an American Car With Your Rebate Money

I don’t want to sound like a protectionist or a nativist or somebody who doesn’t support the global economy. But what Mike Huckabee said about the economic stimulus package makes some sense to me. In talking about the Chinese lending us the money so that American consumers can then buy products made in China, he said, “I have to wonder whose economy is going to be stimulated the most by the package.”

That’s a valid point.

As a Republican who believes in the free market, I am not comfortable with the idea that the government tell people what to do with their money.

That being said, I do think the president should suggest in his State of the Union that instead of buying Chinese-made flat-screen televisions, consumers — and only those who can afford it — should use the rebate as a down payment to buy an American car.