It's that time of year, the time to make some predictions for the year coming up. So here are my predictions for 2014:
- Obamacare - 3/31/14 enrollment: 5MM private, 7.5MM Medicaid. Under 35s' signup: 30% or more. 2015 premium increase average: less than 5%. Effect of 7/1/14 Employer Mandate startup: modest/under 500,000 workers estimated to be dropped in 2015. Total people with employer-sponsored insurance - 2014 vs. 2013: no change, or slight increase. 9/1/14 Obamacare approval: 50%
- Debt Ceiling - GOP calls for negotiations. Obama refuses. GOP backs down, before we enter "full crisis mode".
- Immigration - Boehner allows a vote on the Senate bill, after primary deadlines passed. Bill passes and is signed into law by Labor Day.
- NSA Surveillance - President agrees to substantive changes to surveillance policy.
- Healthcare Costs - No excess cost growth (growth in excess of GDP per capita) for fifth year in a row. CBO further trims long term healthcare forecasts, but not quite enough to stabilize long term debt/GDP picture. Becomes clear that the ACA has significantly impacted healthcare costs, and if the trend continues, the US does not have a debt, or an entitlement problem.
- Global Warming - No legislation, but significant EPA action tightening up CO2 emission standards for existing and new utility plants.
- Economy - Strong growth - 3% or more for GDP. 10/1/14 unemployment: 6.5%. Inflation and interest rates stay low. Best developed economy's performance, matched only by Japan. Europe stays almost flat. China slows down to 5% growth. Austerity economics starts losing supporters.
- Iran - Agreement is reached to control and inspect Iran's nuclear program, upending the calculus for Middle East power dynamics.
- Syria - Peace agreement is reached, with Iran's help. Assad forced to step down. International peacekeepers put in place to oversea an unstable peace agreement.
- Obama Job Approval on 9/1/14 - 50%
- Senate Midterms - Dems hold the Senate.
- House Midterms - Dems pick up 5 seats.
A successful winter and spring for Obamacare is what underpins my political forecasts. Think the Iran deal will happen because both sides want an agreement. The Syria deal will happen, because Iran will help. The Sleeper: a possible Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.