John Edward, a resident of Chelmsford who earned his master’s degree at UMass Lowell and who teaches economics at Bentley University and UMass Lowell, contributes the following column.
Some of my predictions for 2012 came true (President Obama re-elected); others did not (the Supreme Court upheld “Obamacare”). In my own defense, I based the predictions I got wrong on talking points from the CIA. Nevertheless, if the Red Sox are willing to pay $39 million to a player with a .259 career batting average, then I deserve another chance.
For numerologists and trivia buffs, 2013 will be the first year since 1987 that all four digits of the year are unique. In 2013, sociologists and policy wonks will wish it were 1987 again, when Congress and the President were actually capable of compromise.
Having predicted that, I will also predict that very soon Congress and the President will indeed achieve a compromise. It will allow them to postpone the fiscal cliff until they can achieve a real compromise.
Then the Republicans and Democrats will announce, in separate press conferences, that they are serious about tackling the deficit. They will bolster the claim by pointing out they will have to get something done in 2013 because 2014 is an election year.
CBS will run a cross-promotion among NCIS, CSI, and Elementary (as in Sherlock Holmes). The plot will involve a search for evidence that increasing marginal tax rates on the wealthy will discourage investment. NBC will air the conclusion during a two-hour special edition of The Biggest Loser.
Spoiler alert! The biggest loser will be the 47 percent of Americans who “believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.”
I predict that in 2013 Congress will tackle the issue of “entitlement” programs. There will be a big push to reduce Medicare and Medicaid benefits. No mention will be made of the $177 billion tax break for employer-sponsored health insurance that corporations feel entitled to.
I confidently predict Congress will not reduce the health benefits they are entitled to.
In 2012, the International Energy Agency predicted that by 2030 the U.S. would be a net exporter of oil and natural gas. In 2013, the World Trade Organization will predict that by 2031 the U.S. will be a net importer of industrial-strength Brita water filters.
In a related development, in 2013 progress will continue on an international agreement to reduce carbon emissions. The U.S. Senate will fail to adopt the agreement because Tea Party members will declare it “takes away our national sovereignty.” The Tea Party will also employ the sovereignty argument against a treaty to combat human trafficking and in support of an electronic fence along the Canadian border.
I predict the gap between the top 1 percent and the rest of us will continue to grow. In 2013, inequality will become more extreme for incomes, wealth, justice for all (who can afford it), access to health care, access to financial services, and the ability to influence the political process. Oh, wait a minute. I made the exact same prediction last year. Oh well, it has proven true for about 35 years in a row. No reason to expect we will back away from The Social Cliff this year.
Governor Shumlin of Vermont recently declared he would forgo an inaugural ball in favor of an open house at the State House. Donations for the event will benefit the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund.
Meanwhile, President Obama has announced he will accept corporate donations to pay for his re-inauguration. However, he will scale it back from the $53 million spent in 2009. I predict that before the inauguration the White House will announce they will donate any leftover funds to a public relations disaster relief fund.
Speaking of disaster relief, I predict that in 2013 a WikiLeaks document will reveal that President Obama offered Mitt Romney an administration job when the two met at the White House. They agreed to keep the offer secret when Romney declined to take over the reins of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The Federal Reserve has, for the first time, declared an explicit target for unemployment. Their latest statement pledges to keep short-term interest rates near zero until the unemployment rate comes down to 6.5 percent.
My prediction for 2013 is that the House of Representatives will go even further. They will pledge to get the rate at which incumbents are defeated in re-election races down below 5 percent. Part of their strategy will be to continue to insist that the government does not create permanent jobs.
I predict in 2013 a mavericky member of Congress will file a bill to disallow the use of sunset clauses. Also in 2013, the same mavericky member of Congress will pull the bill when reminded how effective sunset clauses are for raising campaign cash.
Speaking of mavericks, in 2013 there will be wild conjecture about Sarah Palin and other unlikely candidates for the 2016 Presidential race. I predict the Iowa straw poll will be replaced by a national telethon. Entrants will be ranked by how much money they raise. The press will dismiss any candidate that cannot raise at least $10 million in one night as unelectable. I predict few in the press corps will think of the phrase “self-fulfilling prophecy.”
In 2011, Massachusetts approved Casino gambling. In 2012, the state Treasurer was pushing for selling lottery tickets on-line. I predict that in 2013 someone will propose state-sponsored betting on the outcome of jury trials. I am not a gambler, but betting former Treasurer Cahill would not be convicted was not much of a gamble.
The City of Lowell draft Master Plan includes the objective: “Continue to encourage major regional and national retailers, especially those whose products enjoy exemptions from state sales taxes, to locate within City limits.” I predict some companies will continue to insist they need tax breaks to move into the city. I also predict that some children will say they do not want to eat their vegetables.
I predict that if business is good companies will move to and stay in Lowell without tax breaks. I also predict that if it means getting dessert, children will eat their vegetables.
In Chelmsford, I predict we will continue to hear claims about the fiscal impact of housing. I further predict that these claims will be made by people who already live in the large single-family houses that actually do have a negative fiscal impact.
I predict I will continue to hold a grudge against President Obama. I voted for his re-election. I did not get a gift.