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.

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Members have made 69 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Chris Campion Thatcher
    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.

    • #1
    • January 2, 2014 at 4:36 am
  2. Profile photo of iWe Member
    iWe

    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.

    • #2
    • January 2, 2014 at 5:04 am
  3. Profile photo of A Beleaguered Conservative Inactive

    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.

    • #3
    • January 2, 2014 at 5:37 am
  4. Profile photo of Indaba Member

    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. 

    • #4
    • January 2, 2014 at 6:43 am
  5. Profile photo of billy Member

    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.

    • #5
    • January 2, 2014 at 7:15 am
  6. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    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.

    • #6
    • January 2, 2014 at 7:17 am
  7. Profile photo of Inactive
    Anonymous
    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.

    • #7
    • January 2, 2014 at 7:26 am
  8. Profile photo of Inactive
    Anonymous
    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. 
    • #8
    • January 2, 2014 at 7:39 am
  9. Profile photo of Mike LaRoche Thatcher

    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
    • January 2, 2014 at 7:40 am
  10. Profile photo of Mike LaRoche Thatcher

    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.

    • #10
    • January 2, 2014 at 7:46 am
  11. Profile photo of Inactive
    Anonymous

    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.

    • #11
    • January 2, 2014 at 7:49 am
  12. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author
    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.

    • #12
    • January 2, 2014 at 7:51 am
  13. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author
    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.

    • #13
    • January 2, 2014 at 7:51 am
  14. Profile photo of raycon and lindacon Member

    “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.

    • #14
    • January 2, 2014 at 7:54 am
  15. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author
    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.

    • #15
    • January 2, 2014 at 8:25 am
  16. Profile photo of raycon and lindacon Member

    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.

    • #16
    • January 2, 2014 at 8:26 am
  17. Profile photo of Nick Stuart Thatcher

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

    • #17
    • January 2, 2014 at 8:28 am
  18. Profile photo of Jimmy Carter Member
    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!

    • #18
    • January 2, 2014 at 8:34 am
  19. Profile photo of donald todd Member

    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.

    • #19
    • January 2, 2014 at 8:56 am
  20. Profile photo of Buckeye Member

    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.

    • #20
    • January 2, 2014 at 9:11 am
  21. Profile photo of Duane Oyen Member

    I think we need to make accurate distinctions regarding the TEA Party. The 2010 genesis was a true grass-roots movement, with the most organized element being Andrew Breitbart’s presence at so many events. It was local, spontaneous, and invigorating because it was not the usual political war. People like Ron Johnson, Sunny Johnson, Marco Rubio, and Mia Long were all welcome as advocates, regardless of minor differences in outlook and background- the goal was going against Obama’s statist vision for the US.

    Today, there are too many over-organized, self-serving power centers raising money and aggrandizing their own positions, all claiming the mantle of the TEA Party, stating that they alone are the true leaders, and setting litmus tests for controlling the political structures i n accordance with their personal preferences and positions.

    The Senate Conservatives Fund, Heritage Action, Club For Growth, and Freedom Works are all using TEA Party words to raise cash for their own organizations, and spending money opposing re-election campaigns of clearly center-right politicians, as well as promoting unhelpful and unworkable policies like the shutdown, instead of using the experience we have available and looking for strategic- necessarily incremental- progress.

    • #21
    • January 2, 2014 at 9:14 am
  22. Profile photo of donald todd Member

    Regarding the Republicans, an author over at First Things noted a problem within Republicanism. The “party” was able to generate huge amounts of cash, and the conservatives and Tea Party types were able to generate a great deal of enthusiasm, but the party and its conservative / Tea Party membership had separate agendas – think clashing candidates – for a great deal of the last election.

    The candidates who most effectively appealed to the conservatives / Tea Party types were run over by the moderates who had the money. McCain. Romney. Who’s next?

    If that money had been properly spent on the right people, might the outcome have been different? Only if the people running for those offices had more appeal to the conservatives / Tea Party types who form a huge block of voters, or non-voters.

    • #22
    • January 2, 2014 at 9:15 am
  23. Profile photo of Duane Oyen Member

    Obama is the enemy, not Mitch McConnell. Is he more zealous than I would be in being ruthless against candidates who embrace the Senate Conservatives Fund? Probably, though I am not the one who has the SCF running ads against me, effectively calling me a traitor to the Right. Under the circumstances, I’m inclined to think that Ben Sasse, smart as he is, will survive, despite his mistake with the SCF, and if he prevails, will get on fine with McConnell just as has Sen Paul.

    I still disagree with Prof. Rahe in his characterization of RomneyCare. I have explained here over and over how that ugly legislation, solely because of Gov. Romney’s leadership, saved Massachusetts from a much worse single-payer monstrosity. Governing sometimes requires making tough choices of the less bad over the very bad when your power base is too limited to effect the good (veto-proof 85% far left Dem legislature). All too often we retrospectively kid ourselves into thinking that we had a different situation than we actually did at the time.

    • #23
    • January 2, 2014 at 9:22 am
  24. Profile photo of donald todd Member

    Duane Oyen: #30 “instead of using the experience we have available and looking for strategic- necessarily incremental- progress.”

    Unfortunately Duane, a lot of us have the long-standing experience of having seen the results of “incremental” progress with “center-right” politicians who, shortly after gaining office, forget where they are from, assume that they are really from D.C., and then vote that way, while mouthing platitudes.

    Gingrich is a conservative. Rick Santorum is a conservative. Sarah Palin is a conservative. Not center-right but, rather, conservative. Conservative thinkers thinking conservative thoughts. 

    I’d really like that to happen again. I could even get enthusiastic about such an occurrence. I might even send money to such a campaign, but directly, not through the Republican Party.

    • #24
    • January 2, 2014 at 9:24 am
  25. Profile photo of BrentB67 Inactive
    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. · 50 minutes ago

    The only discussion I’ve seen in immigration reform from both sides is how fast to legalize and franchise the illegals already here.

    • #25
    • January 2, 2014 at 9:26 am
  26. Profile photo of BrentB67 Inactive

    I think your analysis of the affect the Tea Party had in 2010 is right on.

    I love your optimism and respect your wherewithal to make these predictions, but I stand by mine that we wake up to Speaker Pelosi in November.

    • #26
    • January 2, 2014 at 9:27 am
  27. Profile photo of Inactive
    Anonymous

    I understand the Incrementalist reasoning, and in fact, even if true blue Conservative or Libertarian were elected most likely reversal would be incremental. However the reality is that any incremental change for the good, which can be quite helpful (capital gains tax relief for instance) can be reversed after 4-8 years quite easily. We need to ask why Republicans are always so willing to not go for big changes, even with majorities, and why it’s always one step forwar, two backwards. After all these years the proof seems to be that Republicans have been taken over cronies and those that side with the socialists and that they are dedicated to compromise and bipartisianship.Romney is a good example of this. I have respect for him as a person and voted for him. However, probably his first mistake was holding office in MA. It’s obvious he’s had his eye on the presidency a long time and made a really bad decision, in a bad time in history (Obamacare right then) he became known for Romneycare along with climate change weasilyness, right when people were knowing it was hoax. There’s more. He lost it, not us.

    • #27
    • January 2, 2014 at 9:42 am
  28. Profile photo of Dave Inactive

    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. 

    • #28
    • January 2, 2014 at 9:43 am
  29. Profile photo of Dave Inactive

    Chris,

    I grant that all the things you mentioned will be big problems and will generate a push for reform/repeal.

    My belief is, however, that there will be just enough winners, people who now have insurance who didn’t before (granted at a high cost to themselves and others) and just enough plausibility to charges that something other than ObamaCare is to blame (such as greedy hospitals and insurance companies and doctroa and tightfisted state governments in the scenarios you sketch above) that there will not be enough support for reform/repeal.

    Getting rid of ObamaCare will require a new bill passed by Congress and signed by a president, unless there’s another, administrative answer.

    That means it must be a political solution and politics is only partially about reality.

    I could see that the cost as of ObamaCare that you mention could become so catrastrophic that people would galvanize to throw the whole thing out. But I think to get to that level of discontent the suffering would have to be dire and pervasive. I don’t think it will get that bad, especially for people who just don’t care about their health.

    • #29
    • January 2, 2014 at 9:51 am
  30. Profile photo of wmartin Inactive
    Paul A. Rahe

    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.

    That may be a good argument for bringing in more Asians or Europeans (groups that, on balance, actually add something to the country). 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).

    As for the immigrants who are working at these tech companies- how many are indentured servants here on H-1B visas? Could an American not be trained for those jobs? The immigration reform bill of last year is also an “immigration surge” bill that will double legal immigration in a nation that already takes in 900,000 immigrants per year.

    • #30
    • January 2, 2014 at 9:51 am
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