Exactly four years ago this day I posted, "Throwing it down," in which I said,
If you think things are bad now, you ain't seen nothing yet. Herewith I throw down on the status quo, 2008-plus-four:So let's see how I did:
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.
Near Hit: The October 2012 unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, or the October 2008 rate plus 1.8 percent. This does round to 2 percent, but I had set 8.1 percent as the low rate, so I claim an actual hit here.
But I was close.
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.
Near Hit: GDP data are subject to revision, and since 2008, 2007's figure has been revised to $13.2 trillion. According to US Government Debt (a federal web site), here are the data (from the pages customizable charts and tables - pretty cool). The GDP for 2011 was $224 billion lower than 2007. (Interestingly, 2011's figure is $798 billion less than 2007's original figure.)
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.
Exact Hit: Okay, the Bush-era tax cuts have not yet expired but a lot of taxes have been raised. So what has happened to revenue? These figures are not adjusted for inflation:
This year, income taxes and social security taxes are down from four years ago, even without adjusting for inflation/
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.
Exact Hit: I hardly think I need to discuss this.
5. That in turn will drive the US public debt much higher. The public debt is today almost $10.6 trillion.
Exact Hit: Near the bottom of the right column of this page is a running tally of the federal debt. As I type, it is almost 16.3 trillion.
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.
Hit: There are almost no US troops in Iraq, even training Iraqis. Al Qaeda is operating nearly at will in western Iraq and much of the rest of the country. There is a domestic insurgency operating in Baghdad with numerous bombings there are elsewhere all this year.
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.
Hit: The Karzai government is one of the most corrupt on earth. Members of the Afghan security forces murder American and NATO troops. The surge there didn't work. The Taliban are not defeated nor are they even in retreat. Pakistan is becoming more radicalized militarily-Islamically and politically.
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.
Hit: See "Sequestration," to take effect at the end of this year unless Congress and the president act to stop it. And they won't. Obama and the Democrats want it to happen. But even Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned strongly against allowing it to go forward. Won't matter.
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.
Hit: An expansive Russia? One, two, three. Russia and the Baltics, here. Ukraine? Doing pretty well, actually. China: more more assertive now than ever. especially with a modernizing navy and air force and cyberspace warfare capabilities.
That's the end of my 2008 predictions. I close with a comment left on the post on Nov. 16 that has turned out to be absolutely accurate:
November 6, 2008 was three days after the election that year. I hold off making more four-year projections until we know who wins today - and that might take awhile.
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.