Here are a few interesting links to help get you over hump day.
Thomas Edsall (NY Times) on the impact of Obamacare on the Democratic Party. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) attributed the difficulties faced by Democrats to the strategic error of passing the Affordable Care Act immediately rather that addressing the economic struggles of the working and middle classes. Edsall has a lengthy essay that reviews both the reaction (best quote from Nancy Pelosi: “We come here to do a job, not keep a job.”) and the merits of Schumer’s argument. The conclusion:
the Democratic plan for victory by demographics could implode, which would make the case for a full scale re-evaluation of its strategies and policies glaringly obvious. Whatever you think of Senator Schumer, you begin to understand why he spoke out as forcefully as he did.
Megan McArdle (Bloomberg) on why conservatives should love the Congressional Budget Office. Excerpt:
It is those who want to keep government small who are most in need of an institution that provides a single set of reasonably consistent numbers — because a thicket of partisan figures, produced by inconsistent methods, is a great place to hide the growing reach of the state.
I find it encouraging that there is great consistency in much of what the CBO does (a point that is clear to anyone who reads the Long-Term Budget Outlook released each July). I find it discouraging that the CBO’s greatest critics rarely take its analyses seriously.
Jonathan Weisman (NY Times) is concerned that “Uncertainty in Washington Poses Long List of Economic Perils.”
As House Republicans mull another round of fiscal brinkmanship with President Obama, a dark cloud is threatening to return to otherwise clearing economic skies: fiscal and political uncertainty.
I am pleased to see recognition of how uncertainty regarding the policy environment can exacerbate economic problems. Ironically, these same concerns were not raised in connection with the passage of massively complex and opaque statutes (e.g., the Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank), the Fed’s quantitative easing, new EPA rules, changes in immigration policy, etc.
Michael Fletcher (Washington Post) on the soaring demand for SUVs and big trucks.
The best part for car makers is that transaction prices are also increasing, which analysts say reflects the increasing popularity of large trucks and SUVs. Low gas prices are making those vehicles more palatable for shoppers. Buyers are also being helped by low interest rates, which allow them to finance more expensive cars for longer periods of time without feeling the financial pinch.
This creates an interesting situation: low interest rates—central to the administration’s economic policy—facilitate the purchase of large vehicles precisely when the administration is trying to make progress on climate change. Unintended consequences?