Thursday, November 6, 2008

Throwing it down

By Donald Sensing

Just under four years from now, the Republican candidate for president will doubtless ask, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

If you think things are bad now, you ain't seen nothing yet. Herewith I throw down on the status quo, 2008-plus-four:

1. The national unemployment rate, as of Oct. 3, was 6.1 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (The next release will be tomorrow.)

As of early October 1012, I predict the unemployment rate will be at least two points higher, and probably close to 10 percent.

2. The Gross Domestic Product will be lower than today, adjusted for inflation. The estimate for 2007's GDP is $13.78 trillion. Look for a GDP decrease of approximately $500-$700 billion.

3. Tax revenues to the federal government, adjusted for inflation, will be lower than today. As the Bush-era tax cuts are allowed to expire and other tax rates are raised, productivity will decline as more capital is taken from the economy.

4. That, in turn, means that the federal deficit will be much greater than today, and we're facing a trillion-dollar deficit next year alone.

5. That in turn will drive the US public debt much higher. The public debt is today almost $10.6 trillion. Of course, the debt has been rising for many years. Four years ago is was $7.4 trillion, for example, and $5.6 trillion four years before then. So the debt has risen by about 90 percent in just eight years under the Bush administration.

What will be the effects of the national debt surpassing the GDP? Not being an economist, I won't hazard a guess. But the effects can't be good. At any rate, Obama's administration will turn as blind an eye to the national debt as Bush's did. But, coupled with declining tax revenues and a great increase is statutory spending (which will not be much offset by spending cuts in defense, which will be the only cabinet department to see a cut), the Obama administration plus a spendthrift Democrat Congress will make Bush look like Scrooge.

6. Iraq will be effectively abandoned (see "Vietnam, South"). The key question is whether American security assistance will survive long enough to adequately finish training the Iraqis to defend themselves. My prediction: No. Al Qaeda in Iraq will be revived and the country will be embroiled in insurgency civil war.

7. Afghanistan: Obama has claimed that Afghanistan was the only legitimate target of US military response to 9/11. (Okay, he did say he would invade Pakistan, too.) This stance, of course, is proof of Obama's inability to think outside the box, especially on strategic issues. The war we are engaged in is not one against nations, but against ideology.

Obama's failure to understand the essence of the conflict will lead to severe mismanagement of operations in Afghanistan. Pakistan will become more radicalized and violence in Afghanistan will increase. I am not going as far as Steven Den Beste, who claims flatly, "We're going to lose in Afghanistan," but we won't be winning, either. However, enemy successes there will enable Islamists' renewed efforts against Iraq as recruitment of young, radicalized Muslims increases because of renewed successes in Afghanistan.

8. The Defense department's budget will be gutted of investments in major future-platform systems and high-technology programs. Current operations and maintenance accounts will be inadequate to sustain present force levels and equipment readiness (See "Carter, Jimmy."). The services' end strengths will be reduced. The armed services will face significant recruiting shortfalls as Obama's civilian-service corps are implemented and offer the same benefits as military service, but without the risks.

What will be the result of a visibly weaker American defense establishment in global affairs? Look for an even-more expansive Russia and movements, though not outright invasion, of the Baltic countries and Ukraine. China will flex also, though I shrink from predicting actual military operations by the Chinese. Basically, Russia and China will spend the next four years watching America' economy and apparent national will decline. Moves, if they make them, will come in the spring of 2012, if they assess Obama will not be re-elected, or deep into Obama's second term if he is re-elected.

Usually, prognosticators get to this point and hedge their bets. Not me. Yes, this all depends on whether the uniparty Congress and administration follow through on what they have said they will do. Steven Den Beste says they will shrink from it. I don't think so. They won't be able to push their platform through as completely as they want, but it will happen to a very high degree.


Tregonsee said...

As I always reminded people who asked whether I was better off now than 8 years ago, I am certainly worse off now than I was 2 years ago when the Dems took the legislature.

BobK said...

I fear you're spot on. Sen. Obama is likely to be James Earl Carter - The Remix (without the prior executive or military experience). Frightening.

Hunter McDaniel said...

I am a bit more optimistic than you are about Iraq. I think AQI wore out their welcome and none of the locals wants them back. However, there is still a risk that the fragile accomodations between Sunni, Shia and Kurds will fall apart with 'adult supervision', which is really what our role has been for the past year or so.

Mike Lief said...

I joined the military in 1981, when the Reagan administration was patching up the damage done during the Carter years.

The feeling of renewed pride was palpable, as we left behind the malaise and dismal detritus of the Peanut Farmer's time as Commander in Chief.

I fear for our fighting men and the havoc to come during the coming four years.

Anonymous said...

It does not matter Rev. No matter what happens it will be Bush's fault. It will be Bush's fault in 2016. The major terrorist attack that occurs in 2015 will still be Bush's fault. The media will never ever be able to even question that the Messiah's programs might not be working, even when the unemployment rate is in the sevens or eights in two years and the defecit will be over a trillion. The mantra for the 2010 congressionals will be, "Well the Savior's plans just haven't had enough time to overcome the wreckage of Bush! He needs more time and more seats in Congress to accomplish this. I enjoyed your analysis and feel you may be dead on.