Sunday, January 01, 2017

2017 Predictions

Even though the grades for my 2016 predictions ended up being a lot better than I expected, I write this post with some trepidation. The new president is particularly unpredictable, except when he is not. He breaks promises. He denies he ever made any promises to break. He flip-flops sometimes within a single sentence. He is impulsive and reactive, meaning what he does comes more as a reaction to what other people are doing around him than because of any core set of beliefs. I can predict with great confidence that Trump will lash out at people who he believes have slighted him. But who will he lash out at, what will be the consequences of a presidential lashing, and how will the rest of the powers that be react to his antics is very very hard for me to guess.

And yet, this is what I do. Even if I am totally wrong, it will still someday be fun to look back and see how wrong I was. Without further ado, the tradition continues. Here are my blind guesses predictions for 2017. As always, these are what I think will happen, not necessarily what I want to happen. And I have tried to limit my predictions to things that I will be able to deem right or wrong at the end of the year. (So no, for example, "the economy will be better" instead, I will make a prediction about the unemployment rate, the market averages, or some other measure of the economy that I can check.)

1. Donald Trump will not be impeached in 2017, nor will there be any congressional proceedings or hearings exploring impeachment. (Just throwing that out there because several people I know seem to assume he will very quickly get himself impeached, even though we have our current Congress)

2. Trump's approval rating will be 35% or less at the end of 2017, according to the Gallup 3-day average approval poll.

3. Some kind of repeal or partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act (aka the ACA or Obamacare) will pass Congress and will be signed into law by Trump, but it will not completely end the health care exchanges before the end of the year.

4. There will be an effort to pass a privatization of social security or otherwise turn it into some kind of defined contribution system, but that effort will not pass in 2017,

5. There will be some effort to make major changes to Medicare such as turning the government run insurance program into a private insurance system with "premium support", at least for people who do not currently have medicare, but that effort will not pass in 2017.

6. The NLRB will undo the union election procedures instituted in 2015, either because of one of the court challenges (unlikely) or because reversing the election rules will be a condition of the agency's funding (very likely).

7. Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court will be filled by the end of 2017 by someone nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate.

8. There will not be any other vacancies on the Supreme Court in 2017.

9. 2017 is an odd-numbered year, so I am going to predict that all of the current leaders of the five former soviet stans will still be in power at the end of 2017 (i.e. I am repeating prediction #12 from 2013 and prediction #4 from 2015, and the opposite of prediction #8 from 2014 and prediction #16 from 2016.

10. The U.S. will have new war somewhere in the world in 2017 (to be a "new war" it has to be more than what we are currently doing. That is, more than drone attacks in places that the U.S. is already droning, like Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, or Libya, more than bombings in Syria and Iraq where we are already bombing, and more than the (relatively) small number of special forces and advisers in Iraq. Also any kind of military intervention in Afghanistan will not count as a new war as that would just be an extension of the current war there)

11. Franรงois Fillon will become president of France in 2017.

12. The Iranian presidential elections will not result in protests like the 2013 election did.

13. Although there will be a lot of bad-mouthing of the deal  by the Trump administration, the Iran and the P5+1 will still be abiding by the terms of the Iran nuclear deal reached in 2015 at the end of the year.

14. There will be at least one major (more than five people killed or at least ten people injured) attack by a neo-Nazi/white supremacist group in 2017.

15. While some of Donald Trump's cabinet picks might have a hard time during their confirmation hearing, none will be rejected by the senate. (This does not rule out a candidate withdrawing)

16. President Trump will continue to lash out at people on twitter throughout the year, no matter how much trouble that causes both at home and abroad and no matter how much the prevailing wisdom is that his use of twitter is a very very bad idea.

17. Ivanka Trump will be a fixture in the Trump administration throughout the year, no matter what those pesky anti-nepotism laws say.

18. Trump will not significantly separate himself and his family from his business holdings and so there will be regular allegations of influence peddling and corruption surrounding the Trump administration.

19. The Trump maternity leave plan will not become law in 2017 and will barely be mentioned by anyone within the administration throughout the year.

20. The U.S, will still be a part of NAFTA at the end of 2017.

21. There will not be any major (worth more than $1 billion) wall-building project on the border with Mexico.

22. There will be some kind of Muslim registration system in the U.S., although it probably will just be a registration system for people who emigrate or visit the U.S. from certain Muslim-majority countries.

23. There will be no blanket legal ban of Muslims coming to the U.S.

24. Congress will pass and the President will sign some kind of national "religious freedom" law intended to allow anti-gay bigots to avoid doing business with gay people, but it will be immediately challenged in court and will not be in effect at the end of 2017.

25. The UK will invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and the country will begin talks about the terms of its withdrawal from the EU. But there won't be any agreement about the terms of the withdrawal or even any substantive progress before the end of 2017.

26. The Scottish parliament will pass a resolution demanding a new independence referendum in 2017, but the referendum will not be held before the end of the year.

Tune in on December 31, 2017 to see just how wrong I am.