So Did Obamanomics Work or Not?


How to evaluate the economic record of Barack Obama? To even begin answering, it’s necessary to go beyond just counting the number of jobs created during his presidency (10 million) or calculating the average growth rate (1.5%) or even looking at something more wonky like the labor force participation rate.

First, a president’s policy actions may take years to play out. Reaganomics didn’t move the needle on productivity growth during the 1980s. But maybe they helped set the stage for the 1990s boom. The US economy is a complicated piece of business. Its deeper structural components are altered neither easily nor quickly. Will universal healthcare — or whatever form it morphs into under the GOP — make us healthier, or promote entrepreneurship? Will Dodd Frank prevent future financial crises or constrain lending or both?


The Anti-Business Businessman


We’ve been instructed not to take our new president literally, but instead seriously (in the felicitous phrasing of Salena Zito). As I write, there are hints that the inaugural address will focus on the theme of “America First.” President-elect Trump may or may not be familiar with the historical taint of that phrase, but in any case the meaning he attaches to it has been clear enough.

Throughout his career, Mr. Trump has been consistent on two issues: trade and admiration for strong men. He departs from the consensus about American leadership in the post-World War II era. Rather than seeing US security guarantees and promotion of trade as providing the means through which the world (and the US) has seen unprecedented growth, peace, and prosperity, he thinks we’ve been chumps.


Roman Genn: Russian Dissident and Political Artist


On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, Russian Dissident and now all-American Political Artist Roman Genn (and also principal artist and contributing editor to National Review magazine) discusses Russia, political correctness, leaving Afghanistan, President Obama’s departure, and Roman’s art. Beyond NR, Roman Genn‘s political art has been featured in numerous publications including Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and many others. Some selections are included below the video.



Heavy Hangs the Head

Sgt. Elor ‎Azaria.

Some issues are harder to write about than others. Some touches of the keyboard are ‎preceded by doubt and confliction, juggling the impulses of the heart alongside the ‎knowledge of the mind. Nothing sums up this battle more than the sorrowful saga of the Israeli soldier Sgt. Elor ‎Azaria, and as I follow the news of the verdict in his case, I gather that little resolution or ‎healing will come of it. Azaria has come to be a symbol of whatever either side of this ‎argument thinks is right, and that is a form of emotional argumentation that is perhaps ‎understandable but potentially harmful to the fabric of the Israeli nation. ‎

Three judges convicted Azaria of manslaughter for shooting Palestinian terrorist Abdel-Fattah al-Sharif in the head, 15 minutes after al-Sharif had already been ‎incapacitated after he had attempted to kill a soldier in the town of Hebron. There was video of the ‎event used as evidence in the highly publicized case — and despite several attempts by ‎politicians on all sides to influence the case or use it to further their own careers — the 97-‎page verdict shows that the proceedings were surprisingly straightforward. The ‎aftermath, however, proved to be anything but. ‎


Shadow Cabinet Hearings


Driving my three-wheeled very Smart car to the international Mensa weightlifting and beauty contest in the exclusive Kalorama enclave in Northwest DC this week, I passed the newly-constructed 80-foot brick wall around soon-to-be-ex-President “B.O.” Obama’s nine-bedroom faux-Tudor Revival rental.

Exactly 1,100 feet beyond B.O.’s impenetrable new residence, I stopped to admire the lovely minaret atop the expansive Islamic Center of Washington DC. On the curb outside the mosque, I noticed broadcast techs scurrying around a 1967 Ford Bronco and a 1970 Jeep Wagoneer with UHF-TV 12-inch dishes bolted to their roofs.


5 Positive Thoughts for Celebrities and Snowflakes Grieving about President Trump


We’ve seen it for months now: Fragile celebrities and “special snowflakes” simply incapable of dealing with the election of Donald Trump. Michael Moore has called for a disruption of the inauguration, while disturbed attendees of Berkeley and (insert your local campus here) sign up on Facebook to derail activities on January 20. Rosie O’Donnell has called for martial law until Trump answers the charges against him, even though there are no charges against him. D through Q-list celebrities begged the Electoral College not to do their job.

It’s been, to turn a Trump phrase, Sad!


What Are the Job Impacts of Family Leave?


Ivankanomics proceeds. From Politico: “Trump officials start Hill talks on maternity leave, child-care proposals.” But of course. Other advanced, high-income economies offer, for instance, generous paid leave. Is America not an advanced economy? Is America not a high-income country? Forward!

Yet a review of the economic literature presents a more nuanced view of the benefits of family leave. This from “The Economic Consequences of Family Policies: Lessons from a Century of Legislation in High-Income Countries” by Claudia Olivetti and Barbara Petrongolo is worth pondering when considering next steps:


A Revolution in Administrative Law


One of the most vital, but technical, items on the Republican agenda is not likely to get its fair share of public attention. On the first day of the new Congress, Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia introduced two pieces of legislation that could fundamentally alter the structure of American administrative law for years to come.

The first bill, HR 26, the Regulations From the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, languished in three previous successive Congresses, but it has now cleared the House by a vote of 237-187. If enacted, this bill will give Congress a final say on regulations with an estimated cost over $100 million through a mandatory up-or-down vote before they go into effect. More importantly for the day-to-day operation of administrative law is Goodlatte’s other bill, HR 5, the Regulatory Accountability Act, which the congressman claims will “wipe out abusive regulation — freeing Americans to innovate and prosper once more.”


Eugene Cernan, RIP


We got sad news Monday that legendary astronaut Eugene Cernan has died. Cernan was the commander of Apollo 17, which flew in December 1972. And as the last member of the mission to reboard the lunar module Challenger, Cernan was the last human to walk on the Moon.

Apollo 17 wasn’t Cernan’s first trip to the moon either. He was also on board Apollo 10, which didn’t land, but descended within eight nautical miles of the surface. Before NASA, Cernan was a naval aviator, flying FJ-4 Furys and A-4 Skyhawks. He retired from the Navy in 1976 with the rank of Captain.


DeVos, Detroit, and a False Media Narrative


In advance of today’s confirmation hearings for Betsy DeVos, the nominee for Secretary of Education, defenders of the status quo have been spinning a narrative about her reform efforts in Detroit that runs contrary to all available evidence.

In op-eds, editorials, and editorials veiled as news, the New York Times has pushed the narrative that in Detroit, “charter schools often perform no better than traditional schools, and sometimes worse.” However, as Max Eden and I show at Education Next today, all the available data show that charter schools in Detroit significantly outperform their traditional district counterparts.


Trump and Twitter: Message to Washington — Let It Be!


Count me as a dissenter on the biggest question facing Washington: Should Donald Trump be allowed (whatever that means) to keep his Twitter account? With one voice, Washington shouts, “No. No. No.” I reply, “Yes. Yes. Yes.”

I spent seven years in the Reagan Administration. My assignments ranged from management review of the government, to urban and international economic policy, to speechwriter for the vice president and then for the president. Unlike any role outside of the White House, my every day as a presidential speechwriter was dominated by one question: How do we keep control of the Washington agenda?


Steve Forbes: The GOP’s YUGE Mistake


As kids, we traded all sorts of things. Baseball cards, magazines, toys, records, rock band belt buckles. I’ll give you my silver Supertramp for your brass Zeppelin! We traded everything. These early life lessons taught us successful trades occurred when each party benefited from the transaction which equaled less black eyes on the playground. As adults in the private sector we now trade goods and services for monetary reward. Governments do not. It’s a vacuum of unintended yet unaccountable consequences where profitable transactions neither matter or are even considered. Congress is filled with politicians who, once elected, immediately forget the basic premises we learned as children. Well, thank goodness we now have the Republicans in power, you say. Those in charge will remedy the unfair economic policies of the past eight years, you say. Not so fast. In a pre-election short interview, fair tax advocate, publisher and once presidential candidate Steve Forbes told us his hopes for a GOP/Trump alliance. Now that alliance is upon us, and as this Forbes article below suggests, he shares his concern over the GOP’s tax policy ‘trade’ of their own, and it will not only not benefit anyone, but it can hurt the party and new President.

FORBES, January 11. OMG! House Republicans Are Preparing To Hit Consumers With A Horrible New Tax That Will Harm Trump And Hurt The Economy

REPUBLICANS in the House of Representatives are inadvertently setting a nasty political and economic trap for Donald Trump. Yes, it’s the Republicans, not the Democrats, who are ready to administer an unnecessary black eye to the new President. That’s not their intention, but it manifestly will be the result.


Show Me The Money


Senator Beauregard Sessions had just been sworn in when the man next to me jumped up and started screaming.

Up until that point, the man had seemed like any normal American, awaiting testimony in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room in his freshly ironed KKK white gown and hood, which he told me was the late Democrat West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd’s signature “Kleagle” model.


Goodbye to One Selfie President, Hello to Another?


On February 12, 2015, President Obama made a selfie-stick video for BuzzFeed. You may remember it – or perhaps not – because if there’s one thing Barack Obama delivered during his eight years in office it was plenty of celebration of himself. The country was treated to Obama slow-jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon, sharing his Final Four brackets, fantasizing about what superhero powers he’d most like to have, and on and on. His fascination with himself was inexhaustible. Except the selfie day was different – because it was just hours after the president learned that another one of ISIS’s American hostages had been killed.

President Obama had been criticized (even by the New York Times) for enjoying himself on the golf course after ISIS beheaded American James Foley in 2014 (he was photographed with that broad grin). And yet, his coldness persisted.


How Should We Rate the Obama Economy?


The FT’s Martin Wolf:

This is a difficult question to answer. After all, the incumbent of the White House cannot determine the performance of the huge and complex US economy. Indeed, policy initiatives usually have a modest impact. But the story of Mr Obama’s presidency is a little different from the usual, since it began amid the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. If we consider the disaster he inherited and the determination of the Republicans in Congress to ensure he would fail, his record is clearly successful. This does not mean it is perfect. Nor does it mean the US confronts few economic challenges. Neither statement would be close to correct. Yet it does mean he has laid a strong foundation.


Yes, It’s Time to Reform the Mortgage Interest Deduction


Housing policy should be at the heart of America’s economic policy debates. Housing was a catalyst for the Financial Crisis. Housing costs constrain America’s most productive cities and regions. Housing tax breaks distort the economy and reduce government tax revenues by at least $70 billion annually. If you’re interested in the US economy growing faster in the next decade than it has in the past decade, then smart housing policy would be a key accelerant. Housing reform is a key structural reform to creating sustained fast growth in the decades to come.

Of course given that housing is central to people’s lives, big changes would inevitably mean big political controversy. So I totally get why Hugh Hewitt is concerned that the incoming Trump administration is considering capping the mortgage interest deduction. Hewitt makes a number of arguments in his Wall Street Journal op-ed from the other day: (a) the value of every US home would immediately fall by 10-15%; (b) it’s unfair to change the rules in the middle game; (c) it would be an unfair and shocking surprise since no politician ran on this issue; (d) the political fallout would consume the GOP – especially in high tax states – and destroy its chance to “realign politics” and get more important things done, such as filling judicial vacancies and rebuilding the military.


50 Shades of Trump


President-Elect Donald Trump likes to be forced into a leather cat-suit, have a blow-up gag inserted into his mouth, be bound from head to toe, and get stuffed into a sleeping bag, which is then filled with strawberry jam and zipped closed. Still in the bag, he is rolled down a rocky hill into a pool of medium-rare Trump steaks. Extricated from the bag, he then likes to have Meryl Streep throw Trump Grill Taco Bowls at him while Rosie O’Donnell reads aloud select excerpts from 50 Shades of Grey and Mein Kampf.

Or not.


It’s The Russians, Stupid


I was in the hospital this past week recovering from surgery to convert my large intestine into a semi-colon. My personal phrenologist, Hans “Bumpy” O’Cranium, who has staff privileges, looked in on me to examine new knots I acquired last week when I appeared on THE VIEW disguised as James “Serpent Head” Carville and asked Joy Behar Aspirin who weighed the most, Whoopi or Rosie.

As Bumpy probed and palpated my skull, I saw a taped interview with Chuck “Corn Rows” Schumer on the wall-mounted television. Corn Rows declared, with a straight face, that “Make America Sick Again” should be the slogan for the Obamacare repeal and replace bill.


Why Every Liberal Should Favor Small Government


Being a conservative who likes art, music, film, theater, new foods and cultural celebrations isn’t a stretch. That makes up the majority of conservatives I personally know. And while our preferences in those arenas may be different, we all share a near universal belief that government that is small is government that works best — streamlined, efficient, not trying to be an expert in areas that it is not. And, most importantly, a government that doesn’t think its interference makes things better.

But, for so many in liberal media and those moving narrative over facts, the conservative in America hates the arts (see: Meryl Streep), despises culture, and universally is an evil demagogue who hates brown people, wishes to live back in the ’50s, is desperate to eradicate all levels of government, and can’t stand the Commies.


Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson: Robert Costa


Robert Costa, an American journalist who writes for the Washington Post, joins Peter Robinson to discuss his insights into president-elect Donald Trump after covering him for the past several years. Costa discusses Trump’s mentality on running for president in 2011 compared with 2013, when he made a more serious effort. Costa explains how Trump, an Ivy League billionaire, is able to connect with blue-collar voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan based on his experience on The Apprentice. Costa analyzes the workings of Trump’s inner circle, including Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon, and Trump’s cabinet picks. Finally, Peter Robinson and Robert Costa discuss change between the presidency and the fourth estate with Trump’s election.