We can imagine what lies ahead in 2017 -- no matter the result of either the 2014 midterm elections or the 2016 presidential outcome.
There will be no more $1 trillion deficits. About $10 trillion will have been added to the national debt during the Obama administration, on top of the more than $4 trillion from the prior eight-year George W. Bush administration. That staggering bipartisan sum will force the next president to be a deficit hawk, both fiscally and politically.
In addition, there will be no huge new federal spending programs -- no third or fourth stimulus, no vast new entitlements. The debt is so large and voters so tired of massive borrowing that the next president will talk not of "investments" but of balancing the budget. In 2016, President Hillary Clinton or President Marco Rubio will tell us that cutting spending and living within our means is the new cool.
If eight years of borrowing, printing, spending, and lending vast sums of money at zero interest did not lead to economic recovery, then the antithesis of all that will be the explicit platform of Republicans and the implicit one of Democrats.
Obamacare may remain in name, but in fact most of its provisions will be discarded or amended. Its full implementation next year will result in almost everything that was not supposed to happen: higher health-care premiums, rationed care, scarcer doctors and fewer jobs. Obamacare will mostly go the way of the Defense of Marriage Act -- officially the law of the land, but its enforcement simply ignored by the powers that be.
Despite an increase in carbon emissions since 2000, the planet did not heat up in the last 15 years. Scientists will continue to argue over global warming, but politicians will not talk much more of implementing costly cap-and-trade policies. They will still praise green energy as the way of the future, but they will not continue the massive subsidies to substitute it for far cheaper fossil fuels.
Instead, expect a renewal of federal oil and natural gas leases on public lands. There is too much newly discovered recoverable energy on federal property to continue to delay its full production -- and too much of an upside in cheaper gas at the pump, more independence from Middle East autocracies, more jobs, more money and more economic growth.
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