Peter Beinart thinks Obama's on track to success . Actually, Beinart under states the favorability of the circumstances. If, like me, you assume that the most desirable and popular part of Obama's agenda is health care reform, while the rest of it is studded with sweeping measures that are controversial at best (cap and trade, "card check" union organizing) and explosive at worst (illegal immigrant legalization)--well, then everything is falling into place like a well-choreographed water ballet!
The kf Plan for Presidential Success :
-- Obama gets health care reform, but not until well after New Year's Day. That leaves no time in 2010 to take up "card check" or "comprehensive immigration reform" before the election season hits. Darn! Even "cap and trade," which as Tom Edsall notes pleases affluent elites a lot more than Obama's low-income base, has to undergo further study. What can you do?
-- The economy picks up, but unemployment remains high enough--and doubts about health care reform among the elderly persistent enough--to get the Dems clobbered in the 2010 midterms . Republicans may even win back the House. All those controversial big Dem bills that got backed up in 2010--well, they certainly won't be enacted by the GOPs. So frustrating!
-- Without a new wave of low-wage immigrants drawn by legalization, meanwhile, the labor market eventually grows tight enough at the bottom to finally raise wages as the economy grows--just in time for Obama's 2012 campaign.
-- Returned to office in an incumbent-friendly year, Obama still faces a GOP-heavy Congress, sharply limiting what he can do. He's forced to shelve much of his ambitious second term agenda--sorry!--and focus on those areas where Republicans are favorably disposed--like reining in the cost of entitlements and expanding charter schools. (As Walter Shapiro once argued--and Bill Clinton proved--having a Democrat in the White House with a Republican Congress is the institutional recipe for controlling the budget. The Democratic President reins in defense spending while the Republican Congress reins in domestic spending.)
I'm only partly joking. Or maybe I'm not joking at all. Losing control of Congress didn't cripple Bill Clinton, did it? It arguably saved Bill Clinton. Having Newt Gingrich in charge of the House allowed Clinton to push off against Republican excess, tame his own party's demands, and actually balance the budget. The difference with Obama is that unlike Clinton he will have accomplished his main goal--health care reform-- first, before the drawbridge goes up.
It's all going according to plan. 1:51 A.M.
Bailout II Watch: A member of GM's board of directors has admitted that the carmaker's recovery plan is based on it maintaining a market share of above 19%:
"The public plan is 19 percent and change. That is what everything is being based on," [Stephen] Girsky said during a panel discussion at a conference at Columbia Business School.
That's about what GM's share has been recently. But it's been heading in the wrong direction . And if it sinks to 18% ...?
Update: The Big Money 's Matthew DeBord sneers at Truth About Cars for "heralding GM’s demise since gas was 30 cents a gallon and Sinatra was headlining the Sands. ... And yet ... GM lives!" Plucky of GM. How did they survive? And to think Truth About Cars was predicting they would go bankrupt! ...
P.S.: DeBord persists in publicizing an auspicious "trend" in GM's market share. Yes, GM's share is up for the last couple of months--but a) again , it doesn't do that much good to have a big share in the months when nobody is buying cars (September) if you have a much lower share during the big clunker sellathon (July and August). Here is a chart with the raw figures. See if you spot a significant pro-GM "trend." I don't. b) You can always boost market share by offering cash-back incentives at the expense of profits. GM's incentives have been large-- at an average $3,796, almost three times Honda's ; c) DeBord cites an Edmunds prediction of a rise in GM's share to more than 22 percent in October, which is apparently based on visits to GM models on the Edmunds web site . We'll see. GM is shooting off a lot of its advertising wad this month. d) While Buick and Cadillac have "profit potential," the success of Chevrolet is "a question mark," DeBord concedes. But Chevy is where GM's volume sales are. If Chevy tanks, can GM survive? ... P.P.S.: DeBord sees growth. TTAC sees decline . One of them is wrong. My money's not on The Big Money . ... 2:25 A.M.