Prognostications for 2014

When it comes to predictions, I have, ahem, a mixed record.

I got 2010 right very early on, arguing late in the summer of 2009 that the Tea Party Movement was a portent and that, if the Republicans even pretended to get on board, they would sweep in November, 2010—which they did, taking the House and doing better at the state and local level than they had done at any time since 1928.

Buoyed by my success on that occasion, when Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential nominee, I set aside my doubts as to whether the proud father of Romneycare could successfully run against the proud father of its offspring Obamacare, and I persuaded myself that the Republicans would capitalize on the same trends that were so evident in 2010.

As some of you will remember, this time I got it wrong. I should have taken to heart the observation of that great philosopher Yogi Berra, who once remarked, “You can predict everything . . . except the future.”

With Berra’s words as a warning, I will turn to the New Year.

If you read the liberal press—and as a penance for my many sins, I do consult it—you will discover that the left-liberal flacks who make a living by posing as journalists are itching to depict Barack Obama as the comeback kid. The troubles with the Obamacare rollout will soon be behind us, they say, and more and more Americans will realize what is in it for them.

I think that they are right in a way, but not in the way they have in mind. As their old insurance gets canceled or proves, thanks to Obamacare, to be no longer available, more and more Americans really will realize what was buried in the bill for them. That is, they will realize that the designers of Obamacare had it in for them, and their anger will grow. It will not abate. Medicare Advantage has been gutted, and the elderly will be furious. Millions will have lost the insurance that they had, and they will not be pleased. Some will find the exchanges impossible to navigate. Others will find that they have to pay through the nose for coverage inferior to what they had before, and many more will discover that they cannot keep their physicians and that they no longer have access to better hospitals and clinics.

And this is just the beginning. For millions more will learn in the course of the year that the insurance formerly offered by their employers will no longer be available for them in 2015. Short of starting a war with, say, Iran, Barack Obama and the sycophants in the press who do his publicity for him will not be able to divert the attention of ordinary Americans from what he has done to them.

What this suggests is that the Republicans will have an opportunity in 2014 comparable to the one they capitalized on in 2010. Moreover, what they need to do to win and win big is a no-brainer. Almost all that they really have to do is to nationalize every single race for the House or Senate by running a version of this advertisement in every corner of this nation:

There are only two things that can go wrong. First, if they lack the requisite wit and ruthlessness— and let’s face it, when it comes to political combat, the Republicans usually do—they can drop the ball and fail to nationalize the local elections.

That is what happened in 2010 in the Senatorial contests. That year, John Boehner took a page from Newt Gingrich’s playbook and got the House candidates to issue an imitation of the Contract with America. Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership in the Senate did nothing of the sort—and, at a time when the Republicans were vastly increasing their strength in the House and gaining control of governorships and legislatures throughout the land, they failed to take the Senate. This could easily happen again.

That is one problem. There is another. The Republican establishment is intent on reining in the Tea Party Movement.

I have been and am still an admirer of John Boehner and of Mitch McConnell. Boehner managed to take the House in 2010 by rallying his troops behind a common platform. Some of the troubles he has faced since are of his own making, but for the most part, given the serious difficulties he has faced, he has handled himself well. One can chastise McConnell for not doing what Boehner did in 2010, as I just did, but one must also admire him for one great accomplishment: He managed to unite the Republican Senators against Obamacare. That cannot have been easy. It is not often that anyone gets John McCain to do the right thing with regard to domestic matters, and John McCain was by no means the only Republican senator who was more comfortable with the opposition than with his own party. Everything good that has happened in recent years flows from what Boehner and McConnell did in 2009 and 2010.

That having been said, their decision—and that of the Republican establishment more generally—to go to war against the Tea Party in the primaries is folly of the first order. The Tea-Party impulse was the only reason why the Republicans made a dramatic comeback in 2010. It is the only reason why they have a shot at taking the senate in 2014 and the presidency in 2016. It was the Tea Party rebellion of 2009 that caused the Republicans in both houses of Congress to unite against Obamacare. Boehner and McConnell need to figure out how to exploit and discipline that impulse.

In Nebraska, for example, McConnell ought to be quietly lending support to Ben Sasse, President of Midland University, who is as sharp a mind as one is likely to find in those parts. A native of Nebraska, a graduate of Harvard, the author of a prize-winning dissertation in history at Yale,  he has worked with the Boston Consulting Group, he has done a stint in the Department of Justice, and he was assistant secretary of Health and Human Services. I know him. I like him. I respect him — and I have no doubt that, as a Senator, he would do the right thing.

In Alaska, he ought to be quietly doing what he can to secure the Republican nomination for Mead Treadwell. A graduate of Yale University—where, in my days as a graduate student, I knew him well—Mead is armed with an MBA from Harvard. He worked for years in Alaska with and for Wally Hickel. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, he took charge of spill response for the city of Cordova. For a time he was Deputy Commissioner of Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation, and, since 2010, he has been Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. He won election by a twenty-point margin. He is a fine, fine man. He can beat Mark Begich, and he ought to be awarded the Republican nomination.

I cannot say what will happen in November, 2014. I can only say that the Republicans have it in their power to produce a wave election. And they have it in their power as well to snatch defeat once again from the jaws of victory. In the last couple of months, Boehner and McConnell have contributed in no small way to splitting the Republican Party. Their aim should be to unite all Republicans and a great many who are outside Republican ranks behind conservative Republican candidates like Sasse and Treadwell.

In November, 2014, Boehner and McConnell both should unite the nominees of their party behind a new Contract with America.

To that end, let me suggest that the Republican establishment put immigration reform on the back burner. I am myself a softie on immigration. I glory in the diversity I find here in Silicon Valley, and I have no doubt that the astonishing prosperity evident here is rooted in that diversity. I do not believe that the illegal aliens present today in the United States will ever leave. I believe that we need to accommodate them, and, in 2012, I defended what Rick Perry and the Republicans in Texas have done along those lines. But there is one thing that I am sure of—that the passage of immigration reform in 2014 will help the Democrats and do untold harm to the Republicans. In 2012, the candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination—Mitt Romney, foremost—did themselves and their party great harm by discussing illegal aliens in the way they did. I sympathize with those in the party who think that it must get past that. But 2014 is not the time, and the bill passed by the Senate in 2013 (with the support of John McCain, let me add) is a travesty—one thousand pages in length. The year 2014 is the year in which John Boehner should quietly bury it. If the Republicans take the Senate in 2014, the Republicans can come up with their own bill. And if Barack Obama is prepared to veto it, he will make their day.

  1. Chris Campion
    Dave: I suspect that Obamacare will limp along–neither a clear failure or success. It will make health costs rise, slow innovation, and generally make all things health related a big pain, but there will be just enough beneficiaries, enthusiastic media coverage, and hard feelings toward insurance companies that it will linger.  · 6 hours ago

    I think the opposite.  I think the revenue sources for hospitals are going to be thrown into massive upheaval, and it will look different for each state, since each state has such a mix of payers and different demographics.

    I think you won’t see the effects until mid calendar year, as payments start unfolding.  You will see cash payments go up (a small slice of the revenue pie), you will see private insurance payments go up (since most of them are part of BarryCare anyway), and Medicare/Medicaid A/B/C/D go down.  Since Medicare/Medicaid makes up 40% or more of the total pie, it’s going to be a disaster for budgeting purposes.

    The state boards that approve hospital budgets will have their hands full.

  2. iWc

    Governments love crises. They’ll use Obamacare as an excuse for endless tinkering and expansion. Layers and layers of complexity and morass. In no time at all, the tax code will look trivial by comparison.

  3. A Beleaguered Conservative

    Here is the New York Times banner headline for the first story of 2014:

    Boehner Is Said to Back Change on Immigration

    Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio has signaled he may embrace a series of limited changes to the nation’s immigration laws in the coming months, giving advocates for change new hope that 2014 might be the year that a bitterly divided Congress reaches a political compromise to overhaul the sprawling system.

    Mr. Boehner has in recent weeks hired Rebecca Tallent, a longtime immigration adviser to Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has long backed broad immigration changes. Advocates for an overhaul say the hiring, as well as angry comments by Mr. Boehner critical of Tea Party opposition to the recent budget deal in Congress, indicates that he is serious about revamping the immigration system despite deep reservations from conservative Republicans.

    Aides to Mr. Boehner said this week that he was committed to what he calls “step by step” moves to revise immigration laws, which they have declined to specify.

    ——————

    Boehner’s recent attacks on the very force that won him the speakership are not a good sign.  

  4. Indaba

    Oh, I was with you on Romney and Paul Ryan.

    Ryan continues to show his determined leadership. I was reading that Conservatives are harder on their leaders and want big change. Yet, research shows that the most successful change is incremental. Stephen Harper in Canada has followed the later methodology and has made massive change on immigration, taxes (lowest corporate taxes in G20), attitudes to business, the public radio, etc. Only after years of being in power is he slowly looking at the public sector pensions. 

    We have a a triple A rating and our budget will be back to being balanced within a few years – but none of it was fast, big change. 

    So Ryan and Romney were a really exciting duo. 

  5. billy

    My prediction for 2014: The United States loses another war.

    That’s not really going out on a limb since it was pre-planned to lose in Afghanistan several years ago.

  6. Paul A. Rahe
    C

    I have my concerns about Romney. Romneycare is a disaster, and the environmental program he mapped out (but, at the last minute, pulled back from) was even worse.

    That having been said, the plans he mapped out with Ryan were impressive. He understood the nature of foreign policy and its importance, and he was and is a decent man.

    I agree with you about incremental changes. Beyond this there must be a vision of where one wants to end up. Reagan had this. Neither Bush had it. I think Ben Sasse and Mead Treadwell capable of thinking big.

  7. Time to get out of denial stage. Read the following:  http://spectator.org/articles/57314/karl-rove-and-gop-socialists by  Jeffrey Lord. We will have to fight for true Conservatives in Congress and for president or nothing will change:   ‘After the Tories lost the 1974 elections to Labour, in 1975 as she prepared to challenge Edward Heath — the Gerald Ford of British Conservatives — Mrs. Thatcher penned a column …

    Indeed, one of the reasons for our electoral failure is that people believe too many Conservatives have become socialists already. Britain’s progress towards socialism has been an alternation of two steps forward with half a step back…And why should anyone support a party that seems to have the courage of no convictions?’….

    ‘The Republican Party can control every last seat in Congress after 2014 and the White House in 2016 — and it will not make a lick of difference. Because just as occurred when Rove was a man with clout in the White House and John Boehner was on an earlier ladder of the GOP House leadership passing….Why is this?

    The answer is as simple as it is blunt. Follow the money.

  8. Along with truly waking up to the fact that a huge faction of Republicans are not for smaller gov’t (in a nutshell) at all, I’ve lately become aware of how many of our writers, bloggers, journalists subtly undermine this cause, the NRO being a huge facilitator. I’ve used J.Goldberg as an example. Past work or words are not necessarily indicators at all, and actually if you look you will find the agreement with the Left on many issues, plus always telling us to ‘calm down’, or agreeing with the Left concerning S. Palin, etc., or don’t talk about something because you’ll look like a hick/freak/meany, etc. In fact we talk about not wanting to appear racist, etc. Most of us don’t care, it was our MSM people who were afraid. Take another look at your long time favorite writers and commentators, too. If they don’t really consider this a war for freedom, call them out. 
  9. Mike LaRoche

    The video embedded in your post isn’t working.  But even broken, that advertisement is still more effective than anything Karl Rove did two years ago.

  10. Mike LaRoche

    If the Republican Party acquiesces in the passing of an immigration reform bill in 2014, it will do to them what the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 did to the Whig Party.

  11. One thing I believe Mr. Lord made a mistake about is mentioning the Todd Aiken thing negatively- this is just such a thing we want to fight- one slip and all of sudden somebody is unelectable because the Left has ‘ruined’ them. Why do we keep going along with this? Elect them every time so the ploy doesn’t work. Even if the individual is somewhat substandard (but not on the Left) we are fighting a bigger fight.

  12. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Mike LaRoche: The video embedded in your post isn’t working.  But even broken, that advertisement is still more effective than anything Karl Rove did two years ago. · 9 minutes ago

    It should be working soon. So the website tells me.

  13. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Mike LaRoche: If the Republican Party acquiesces in the passing of an immigration reform bill in 2014, it will do to them what the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 did to the Whig Party. · 4 minutes ago

    It might very well do that.

  14. raycon and lindacon

    “I glory in the diversity I find here in Silicon Valley, and I have no doubt that the astonishing prosperity evident here is rooted in that diversity.”

    A bunch of Mexican gardeners and hotel maids have absolutely NOTHING to do with the prosperity of the high tech industry that employs tens of thousands of MBAs and PhDs to produce the most innovative and high profit devices that keeps California’s moribund economy alive.

  15. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    raycon and lindacon: “I glory in the diversity I find here in Silicon Valley, and I have no doubt that the astonishing prosperity evident here is rooted in that diversity.”

    ARE YOU SERIOUS?????

    A bunch of Mexican gardeners and hotel maids have absolutely NOTHING to do with the prosperity of the high tech industry that employs tens of thousands of MBAs and PhDs to produce the most innovative and high profit devices that keeps California’s moribund economy alive. · 26 minutes ago

    You have no idea how many of the people who work at the highest levels here in Silicon Valley are immigrants. When you think of immigrants, you think only of poor Mexicans. In downtown Mountain View, where Google is located, the menus out on the sidewalk are more often than not in Chinese. Most of the new companies in the US that contribute to the innovation you speak of are founded by immigrants or their children.

    So, yes, I am serious — and you should be so as well.

  16. raycon and lindacon

    Forgive my ignorance, but I believe that so-called “immigration reform” has to do with legalizing the millions of Hispanics who have come here illegally.

    Indian engineering grads and Chinese PhDs are not coming in droves across the border and ducking the cops in San Diego.

  17. Nick Stuart

    And if the GOP does accomplish winning it all they will have to have the moral courage to seize the moment and act. Selah.

  18. Jimmy Carter
    raycon and lindacon: Forgive my ignorance, but I believe that so-called “immigration reform” has to do with legalizing the millions of Hispanics who have come here illegally.

    Indian engineering grads and Chinese PhDs are not coming in droves across the border and ducking the cops in San Diego.

    . · 2 minutes ago

    Amen!

  19. Donald Todd

    wmartin: #17 “It does not justify legalizing Central Americans who act as a drain on the public fisc and ruin our nation’s academic standing (California does not have a teacher’s union problem; it has a Mexican student problem).”

    Government schools are the problem.  Put those same children in parochial or private schools with even a tad of discipline and they do well, many are more than qualified for post-secondary education.   The success of Jaime Escalante is proof of that, and of note, he had to run a successful extra-curricular program to accomplish what he wanted to do.  The “master teacher” thought those Hispanic children incapable of learning but allowed Escalante to create and lead the math club anyway.

  20. Buckeye

    Paul, could you speak to the problem of the illegals? It seems they were not addressed in your piece.

      Nevertheless bravo for venturing into the tricky shoals of prognostication.

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