Friday, February 24, 2012

General Economics

National Journal | House GOP Readying New Strategy on Highway Bill
House Republican leaders are mulling a significant retreat from their stalled $260 billion highway bill -- including shifting away from a five-year reauthorization to a version that would kick longer-term decisions to a new Congress, a senior House GOP aide said on Thursday.
Bloomberg | U.K. Economy Shrank in Fourth Quarter as Companies Scaled Back Investment
The U.K. economy shrank in the fourth quarter as companies scaled back investment, underlining the risks to a recovery that Bank of England Governor Mervyn King says will be “slow and uncertain.”
CNN Money | Bank of America to freeze pension plans
Bank of America announced plans Thursday to freeze pension plans, effective in July, and increase its 401(k) contributions instead.
Bloomberg | Consumer Comfort Highest in Almost Four Years
Consumer confidence in the U.S. increased last week to the highest level since April 2008 as more Americans had a favorable view of their finances.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
NBER | Reducing Petroleum Consumption from Transportation
This paper examines the main channels through which reductions in U.S. oil consumption might take place
Heritage Foundation | High Gas Prices: Obama's Half-Truths vs. Reality
The national average for gas prices is almost $3.60 per gallon, increasing 40 cents from a year ago and jumping 20 cents from just one month ago.
CNN Money | Why the mortgage settlement is a fair deal
Earlier this month, I was proud to join Attorney General Eric Holder, colleagues from across the federal government, and 49 state attorneys general to announce a historic mortgage servicing settlement on behalf of American homeowners
Market Watch | Obama: No quick fixes to rising gas prices
President Barack Obama on Thursday said there was no silver bullet to bring down high gas prices as Republicans sought to pin the blame on the White House for the rising prices.
Washington Times | Red dragon in North American oil patch
Of the three shale plays that are transforming American onshore oil and gas production, the Eagle Ford in South Texas is perhaps the least well-known outside the industry.
WSJ | America's 'Unbanked' Masses
Fewer Americans have access to traditional banking services such as checking accounts, consumer loans and credit cards than they did five years ago.
Washington Times | Obama budget’s backdoor amnesty
President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget came out this month and again includes the same spending, borrowing and taxing policies that have come to define his presidency.

Health Care

National Journal | Experts: Obama Got It Wrong on Contraception
The Obama administration initially got it wrong on its controversial contraception rule and likely violated federal law, religious-policy experts at the Brookings Institution said on Thursday.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CBO | Regulations Limiting Incentives to Employees to Use TRICARE
Retirees of the Uniformed Services often have several options available to them to cover at least some of their health care costs.

Heritage Foundation | If You Like Your HSA, Get Ready to Lose It
Everyone remembers President Obama’s repeated promise, “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period.” Unfortunately, Obamacare breaks this promise many times over.


USA Today | More drivers than ever may pay $5 per gallon
More drivers than ever could soon be paying $5 for a gallon of gasoline. But the national average, up sharply in recent weeks, is still expected to top out at about $4.
CNN Money | Gas price surge: Up 10% this year
The national average price for a gallon of gasoline jumped 3.3 cents overnight, to $3.612, according to the motorist group AAA. That's the 16th consecutive increase.
CNBC | Republican House Bill Would Strip US Fed's Jobs Mandate
Seeking to make good on past threats in Congress to rein in the Federal Reserve's powers, a prominent Republican lawmaker said on Thursday he will introduce legislation to focus the U.S. central bank on a single mandate to fight inflation and protect the dollar's value.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | 'Stupid' and Oil Prices
'The American people aren't stupid," thundered President Obama yesterday in Miami, ridiculing Republicans who are blaming him for rising gasoline prices. Let's hope he's right, because not even Forrest Gump could believe the logic of what Mr. Obama is trying to sell.

Library of Economics | How Real Wage Increases Have Been Understated
Over the years, In discussing the alleged decline in real U.S. median wages, I've pointed out that there are two important ways in which the growth in real wages has been understated
Daily Capitalist | The “Sound Dollar Act”
Rep. Kevin Brady (R) Tex., will introduce the “Sound Dollar Act” in March. Mr. Brady is Vice-Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee and must be under the influence of Ron Paul.
Tax Foundation | More Thoughts on Obama’s Corporate Tax Plan
As we wrote yesterday, the Obama administration should be given credit for recognizing that the U.S. corporate tax system is out of step with the rest of the world and their plan to cut the rate from 35 percent to 28 percent would represent a good first step toward making the U.S. more competitive.


CNN Money | The corporate tax 'shell game'
If you want to lower the top rate to 25%, as House Republicans want, or 28%, as President Obama wants, you can't pay for it simply by cutting some business tax breaks, or even "dozens" as the president recommends.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | David Cameron's Tax Lesson
Speaking of higher taxes (and President Obama always does), there's news from once fair Britannia.
FOX Business | Small Business to Obama: Tax Plan Needs Rate Reform
The Obama administration’s proposal for corporate tax reform ignores what matters most to small businesses, a coalition of small-business advocacy groups says. While the overall plan is sound, critics acknowledge, it overlooks the fundamental need for rate reform.

WSJ | Giving Tax Edge to Manufacturing Carries Risks
U.S. President Barack Obama and GOP candidate Rick Santorum recently released proposals that would give manufacturing enterprises a tax break. Santorum advocates factories pay no federal income tax at all.
Minyanville | Homeowners Who Negotiate Debt Relief Could Soon Face Massive Tax Bill
You bought your house when the market was high and then lost your job. In order to avoid foreclosure, you negotiated a short sale for half of what you paid, ruining your credit rating for years and draining your bank account. But there is a tiny silver lining
The American | Why conservatives should love consumption taxes
Strangely, or maybe not so strangely, many conservatives are repelled by the idea of a consumption tax because they think it is synonymous with a VAT, the fave tax of European social market economies. Indeed, the VAT has many fans among Obamacrats as a way of paying for government-run healthcare.


CNN Money | 35,000 Postal Service jobs on the chopping block
The U.S. Postal Service announced on Thursday new plans to consolidate or close 223 mail processing plants, putting 35,000 jobs at stake starting in late May or June.
CNN Money | Procter and Gamble cutting 5,700 jobs
In a presentation to the Consumer Analyst Group of New York, Procter & Gamble CEO Bob McDonald and CFO Jon Moeller said the cuts were part of a plan to save $10 billion in costs by 2016.
CNN Money | Michigan's incredible shrinking workforce
As the presidential race moves to Michigan for next week's primary, a lot of focus is on the state's economy -- one of the hardest-hit by the recession.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
WSJ | Cost of $10 Billion Stimulus Easier to Tally Than New Jobs
Alfredo Garcia was among the residents of Webb County, Texas, banking on a windfall from federal stimulus money.

Real Clear Markets | In Obama's '1984'-Speak, Unemployment Is A Plus
Failed presidents always come up with excuses, but Obama spinmeister Valerie Jarrett has repeated a White House ploy that takes the cake. In true "1984" style, she says bad times are really good.


WSJ | Europe's Banker Talks Tough
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi warned beleaguered euro-zone countries that there is no escape from tough austerity measures and that the Continent's traditional social contract is obsolete, as he waded into an increasingly divisive debate over how to tackle the region's fiscal and economic troubles.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
CATO | Are European Fiscal Rules a Greek Farce?
Now teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, Greece was first sanctioned for violating the European growth and stability pact in 2005.

Heritage Foundation | Debt Ceiling, the Sequel: Coming to a Theater Near You
Of course, the election will be in large part about President Obama’s dreadful handling of the economy, which is finally showing real signs of life despite—not because of—Obama’s policies. And the election will also be about America’s future, a future that is not as bright as it should be because the national debt will have risen by more than $5 trillion over the course of Obama’s term.