Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Obama Presser, Is The Worst Over?, 2010/2012 Updates, A Short Break

Obama Impressive as Usual
It really isn't news that President Obama knows how to handle the press. There is a reason he has had two primetime news conferences in only 65 days in office - doing Q&A is one of the things our new President does best. And as usual, he did not disappoint.

You can watch the details for yourself. In total, I thought the press was extremely tough, as they should be, grilling the President on deficits, the financial crisis, etc. The President, for his part, was composed and thoughtful as we have come to expect.

I, like many others, was also extremely impressed with the President's choice to call on non-traditional press outlets and include a greater diversity of questions. The most charming moment of the night was a reporter, shocked that she was being called on to ask a question. It also happened to be one of the most interesting questions of the night -- on whether the President felt his race had impacted his Presidency and his treatment in the world -- a questions that President Obama artfully (and probably wisely) side-stepped.

Heaping praise on the President's press-handling skills is boring, so let me get to the short-comings. He failed to address in a meaningful way the trade-offs that we will have to make to manage the deficit -- do you have any idea what he would cut or what taxes he would raise? Does he actually intend to run $1 trillion deficits as far as the eye can see? Or does he not know yet? Recall my advice that articulating tough choices was going to be key to his long term success. Right now, I don't know.

I am also starting to get tired of the "problems I inherited" line. We get that you got a mess, we really do. The economy was in disaster, we had wars on two fronts, an unmanageable federal budget, an entitlement mess and on and on. But I also recall that you knew all this an still applied for the job -- heck, spent half a billion dollars getting the job. So, let's get to the solutions already.

Is The Worst Over?
You read it here first -- almost a month ago, when I said that the economy, at least from a GDP growth perspective was near bottom. Since then the stock market has rallied, both new and used homes have unexpectedly risen, Citigroup has reported a profit for the first two months of the year and now, today, orders for durable goods have risen.

Are we back to boom times? Hardly. The numbers above have improved, but are still anemic. We have a long way to go and probably five or six more months of rising unemployment to face down.

But, consider this. We have seen signs of a turning point and the Fed program to buy treasuries, the Treasury program to bailout distressed home owners, insure private equity to move subprime CDO's and the tax cuts and spending from the stimulus haven't even taken effect yet.

There may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Incidentally -- the stock market jumped more on the day that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced the details of the sub-prime CDO plan than it dropped the day he announced the outline. What does it mean? Nothing other than that I don't trust the short-term stylings of the market, as I've said before. Geithner is still on thin ice, but the toxic asset plan appears to have a very real chance of success, so prehaps I was premature in saying President Obama should consider replacing him (although I did say down the road, not immediately.)

2010/2012 Updates
I have been traveling for business, so I haven't had a chance to make any pretty charts, so let me give you the brief update.

If the 2010 elections were held today, I project that Republicans would gain 0 to 2 seats in the Senate and 20-25 seats in the House. The Senate seats are based on seat-by-seat analysis as well as national polls. The house races are based on the actual 2008 results, adjusted for the shift in generic preference polls, which have moved 9 points more favorably towards Republicans since the November election (from Democrats +7 to Republicans +2.) Not enough to swing control of either house, but solid gains in the House.

I'll publish a complete rundown in a couple of weeks (see my note on my vacation below) -- we have plenty of time and will see plenty of changes until November.

As for 2012, based on approval ratings (not a precise, but a pretty good measure of second-term voting intent, as those tend to be referrendums on the incumbent), if the Presidential election were held today, President Obama would win a landslide re-election, winning 45 states, all but the darkest red havens. I doubt President Obama will win 45 states (although Ronald Reagan did win 49 for his second term, as did Richard Nixon), but we have a lot of ground to cover before then.

A Short Break from Blogging
I am headed on a week vacation to Montego Bay. I don't plan to be watching much news, to have a computer with me or to be writing any blogs. Sorry -- all-inclusive drinks and beach tides are more appealing than writing about politics, at least in the short-term.

Please check back, this blog will be back with a vengance in early April.

Take care and use the time to tell all your friends about this site.

1 comment:

kingsmillblogs said...

Texas? You must not live here? This state is talking secession because of this idiotic president. Get off of your Democratice fantasy high horse and liberal fantasy and come back to reality. This man is more hated than Bill Clinton in this forever RED state. (Yes I know secession isn't a reality but that shows the intense polarization of this man. Get real dude. He is no Reagan and never will be. G.W.H. Bush won by a landslide in 1988 and then was defeated in 1992. We can only pray the same thing happens in 2012 before this is nothing left of this country. If the election were today...there is no way in h*** Obama would carry TX, MS, LA, TN. You are must be high.