I know you’ve deceived me, now here’s a surprise
I know that you have, ‘cause there’s magic in my eyes
I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles
—The Who, I Can See For Miles
I am not a professional political pundit; just an opinionated guy with a burr under his saddle. But sometimes I get pretty close to getting it right. Unfortunately.
Back in April I posted my top 10 predictions if Obama were to get re-elected. Well, he did (thanks, Mitt). And while he has yet to take the oath of office for his second term, we can see that Obama has already made significant progress on a number of my predicted goals (albeit in some cases in slightly different forms than I forecast). Let’s see how I did.
10. Serious push for reparations.
No one in the White House has said anything about this out loud yet, but you’re already hearing something like it from other corners. As I reported back in December, city council members in Detroit were calling for a federal bailout as the quid pro quo for 82% black Detroit’s overwhelming support of the President’s re-election bid. They voted him in, and they expect to get some jack back in return. Not quite “reparations,” but it’s close.
9. EPA regulation requiring complete phase-out of gasoline engines within 10 years.
Back in April I told you EPA was proposing to increase the CAFÉ standards fleet average requirement. In August, they did just that, raising the requirement from 34.5 MPG by 2016 to 54.5 MPG by 2025. The idea is to reduce gasoline consumption (thus reducing dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions) by forcibly reducing the amount of gasoline cars consume. Of course when the CAFÉ standards were originally introduced in the mid-1970s, it turned out that increased efficiency drove down the price of gasoline, leading to more people driving more miles, which is ultimately counter to both stated purposes. Not coincidentally, the lighter weight cars necessary to meet the standards have empirically resulted in approximately 3,000 more dead Americans every year since their implementation.
8. Open borders and amnesty.
Obama has outlined a broad plan for immigration reform that includes citizenship for some 11 million illegal aliens, a guest worker program, and a streamlined visa process. He’ll say it’s not “amnesty,” because it makes them pay their back taxes; whoop-de-do. Cow-towed Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner, and new GOP stars like Senator Marco Rubio are showing signs of support for at least pieces of this plan. Obama will achieve effective amnesty before Labor Day of this year.
7. More “stimulus.”
He hasn’t proposed this yet, but he has steadfastly refused to consider any meaningful spending reductions. Meanwhile Congress moves forward with pork-laden plans to spend billions on Hurricane Sandy relief, hundreds of millions of which aren’t even directed to the same time zone.
6. Increases in capital gains taxes and income taxes on income above $200,000.
Obama got most of this already. In the “fiscal cliff” deal a couple of weeks ago, the tax rate for top income earners above $400,000 ($450,000 for married couples) goes back to Clinton-era 39.5%, and from 15% to 20% for capital gains. And I doubt he’s done.
5. Elimination of 401K eligibility for higher wage-earners, and confiscation of retirement assets.
Nothing on this. Yet.
4. Re-introduction of Obamacare, with single payer.
This was rendered moot when Chief Justice John Roberts capitulated on the constitutionality of the individual mandate as a tax (failing to explain, of course, how Congress can have the power to compel behavior via a tax when the Commerce Clause didn’t extend far enough to give Congress the authority to regulate that very behavior).
3. Nuclear Iran, followed by major conflict if not world war in the Middle East.
Enter Charles Hagel, Obama’s nominee to replace Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense. Hagel is nominally a Republican, but his foreign policy views—particularly on Iran—are to the Left of the President. As a Senator from Nebraska, Hagel in 2007 voted against a resolution that would have labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization, despite well-documented evidence of the IRGC’s involvement in killing Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hagel has repeatedly opposed sanctions, and he pushed the Bush administration to open diplomatic ties with Iran, and for the opening of a U.S. “interest section” in Tehran. Hagel believes military options should be totally off the table in dealing with Iran; even Obama isn’t that naïve. And it should tell you everything you need to know that Tehran itself supports the Hagel nomination—and why not, since it signals that the U.S. plans to be a paper tiger over the nuclear issue.
2. Federal ban on handguns.
This is on its way, more or less. In the wake of the Connecticut shootings, gun control has moved to the top of the President’s agenda despite a recent Gallup poll showing only a whopping 4% of Americans list it as the most important issue of the day. Look for a possible ban on “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines (they’re “magazines,” not “clips”—stop saying “clip” unless you have an M1 Garand (and you don’t)), and increased registration requirements. He may not get as far as banning handguns altogether, but the magazine ban would impact popular pistols like the Glock 19, Springfield XD, and Beretta 92 series. Won’t stop gun-related crime, but it will tell the government where law-abiding citizens have guns.
1. Dramatic shift leftward in the Supreme Court.
This already happened to a certain extent when Chief Justice Roberts came out of the closet back in July. What that gives you is a current lineup that actually already skews a bit left (call it 4-3-2), with only three Justices (Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas) consistently weighing in as conservative constitutional originalists. Scalia and centrist Anthony Kennedy are both 75 or older, making them likely candidates for retirement over the next four years. If Obama gets to nominate replacements for both of them, you’re looking at a Court that would bend Left at least 6-2-1 (if you give Roberts credit for being in the center, and not crediting him to the Left; it’s 7-2 if you don’t). Worse, if Ruth Bader Ginsberg (79) and Stephen Breyer (74) also retire, the block on the Left would get very, very young, with all six (plus Roberts) likely to be under 60—you could see a heavy Left majority for the next twenty years or more.
So, how are we doing? Of 10 predictions, five to some degree have already happened or are substantially under way, and we haven’t even reached the inauguration. One has been rendered moot. Two more show every sign of being on their way.
Check back in eighteen months and see where we are.