My 2007 Predictions
by Jonathan Singer, Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 08:19:33 AM EST
Following up on the moderate success of my predictions for 2006 (which, as luck had it, were significantly closer to reality than my, in retrospect, completely off-base predictions on the eve of election day 2004), it's about time for me to offer some thoughts on the year to come.
- 2007 will not be a year of transition in Iraq, despite the clear mandate of the electorate and the determination of many Democrats in Congress for it to be so. The level of American troops in Iraq at the end of 2007 will be similar to the level at the beginning of the year -- significantly more than 100,000 -- while, tragically, large numbers of Americans, as well as Iraqis, will continue to lose their lives in the course of the country's violence.
- The economy, which grew in 2006 despite leaving many behind, will head towards recession, either settling on a rate of growth below 1 percent or actually retracting slightly while not technically attaining recession status (in terms of the duration of the downturn). And though the stock market might not reflect this situation, many Americans will feel the brunt of this economic malaise.
- For the first time in more than a decade the Congress, now under Democratic control, will pass every requisite appropriations bill -- something the Republican Congress was never able to do. The Democratic Congress will also agree on a budget framework, which Republicans failed to several times in recent years.
- A scandal brewing since at least 2006 -- Jack Abramoff, shady land deals, Brent Wilkes -- will nab at least one more Republican member of Congress before the year is out. In response, Republicans will point to minor ethics violations by Democrats in an attempt to shield themselves.
- The Democrats will pass the bulk of, if not all of their 100 Hours program through the House, though find some difficulty in the Senate, where they would have trouble passing legislation even with eight Republican Senators voting at their side. The bills that do eventually make their way to the White House will have even more difficulty getting past the President's desk as George W. Bush finally finds the veto stamp that has been so notably missing throughout his tenure. Over the course of the year, President Bush will issue several veto threats, of which he will follow through on a number, perhaps as many as a dozen.
- In terms of presidential politics, on the Republican side of the aisle, history will repeat itself as Rudy Giuliani, who for so long flirted with a Senate run against Hillary Clinton in 2000 only to drop out before actually getting in, opts not to run. Someone previously overlooked by the pundits -- perhaps Mike Huckabee, perhaps Sam Brownback but more likely Newt Gingrich -- will emerge as the more traditional conservative alternative to John McCain, who is not entirely trusted by the Republican base.
- In the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, at least one candidate outside of the current leadership trifecta of Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama will break through the static and begin polling consistently in double digits in the key early states. This person might be Bill Richardson, Joe Biden or even Tom Vilsack. Towards the end of the year -- perhaps as late as Thanksgiving or even December -- a significant effort is mounted to recruit Al Gore to run. Regardless of his consistent demurring, Gore will have significant support in polling that includes his name.