7 predictions for '14: Obamacare rises, Walker fades, and the economy cruises

From the pages of In Business magazine.

First, a disclaimer: I am neither a psychic nor a professional futurist. My predictions should not be regarded as investment advice. Nor should you use them to place a five-figure Las Vegas bet, use the winnings to start a dark money Super PAC, and run a series of vaguely sourced ads alleging Scott Walker misappropriated campaign funds to buy Dick Cheney a membership in an illegal Cambodian Vital Organ of the Month Club.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to humbly acknowledge my failed predictions from the past year:

  • Michele Bachmann did not follow up her Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act by introducing legislation allowing ExxonMobil and BP to market oil-covered snowy egrets as extra-long-lasting backyard party torches.
  • Rebecca Kleefisch did not resign her lieutenant governorship to focus more time on moussing her hair in preparation for the rapture.
  • Scott Walker did not start wearing bearskins to weekly press briefings and insist everyone begin referring to him as “Angus.”
  • The CERN Large Hadron Collider did not produce a chimerical swath of antimatter the exact size, shape, and chemical composition of Mitch McConnell that was singularly focused on seeking out its material-universe doppelgänger and restoring order to both the cosmos and the Congress.

Sure, maybe a few of those were wishful thinking, but I was acting on pretty solid information. The one I missed: George W. Bush goes on Jay Leno’s show to brag about his latest cat painting. Who could have predicted that? It’s just so bizarre.

So 2014 is upon us, and where are we headed? 

The future is inherently unpredictable, but our fearful minds are calmed by the notion that we can somehow bring order to the chaos through the art of prognostication.

With that in mind, I offer seven (lucky?) predictions for the new year. Again, please don’t hold me to any of these:

1. HealthCare.gov will run smoothly, and Obamacare will begin to work. As Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently noted, the law is already working in California, a large, diverse state that embraced the health care reform law from the get-go. “What we have in California, then, is a proof of concept,” writes Krugman. “Yes, Obamacare is workable — in fact, done right, it works just fine.” Needless to say, if Obamacare begins to work as advertised, Republicans will start scandalmongering with renewed vigor. Expect them to hitch their hopes to the tired old Benghazi nag for one last thrilling sleigh ride in 2014.

2. Obamacare will continue to be less successful in Wisconsin than in other states, thanks to Scott Walker, who has moved heaven and earth to undermine reform.

3. Buoyed by health care cost savings — which according to the Council of Economic Advisers have already come to pass, thanks in part to Obamacare — the economy will incrementally improve.

4. Unfortunately, continued economic brinkmanship brought on by the GOP will continue to hold the economy back, and Republicans will blithely ignore the fact that the current deficit is approximately half the sum George W. Bush saddled the country with when he left office. (Based largely on Bush’s budget and the effects of the Great Recession, the Congressional Budget Office projected a $1.2 trillion deficit for 2009 before Obama ever stepped into the Oval Office. In fiscal year 2013, the deficit was $680 billion. In fiscal 2009, it ended up being $1.4 trillion.)



5. Scott Walker will continue to run for president while claiming he is not running for president. He will be mentioned in many circles as a frontrunner, joining the rarefied ranks of electoral juggernauts like Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, who briefly enjoyed the same status in 2012.

6. Scott Walker’s presidential hopes will fizzle when he barely edges out Mary Burke in the 2014 governor’s race. Or maybe he loses. The future is hazy. I suppose it depends on how many commercials the Walker campaign runs tying Burke and Trek Bicycle Corp. to outsourced Chinese labor — 1 million or 1.5 million.

7. As I’ve predicted every year since 1973, the Green Bay Packers will emerge as the class of the NFL, winning the Super Bowl at season’s end. And I will surely be accused of jinxing them if it doesn’t happen. 

You heard it here first.

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