Amid the Republican doom and gloom, there are lots of factors on the near horizon that could make 2014—and 2016—very winnable years. For all the Obama talk of high taxes, we have not yet had higher taxes. Those that are proposed, along with an envisioned loss of deductions down the road, will fall inordinately on the upper-middle class, perhaps a majority of it blue-state. It is one thing to talk loudly about the “Bush tax cuts,” quite another to pay thousands of dollars more per year, without any real commensurate belt-tightening that might make such higher taxes bearable in the sense that they are part of a shared national effort to reduce the debt. So far Obama’s proposals seem like ways merely to service rather than reduce the expanding debt. Obama has tried to paint the fiscal-cliff battle as a war of the 1 percent against the 99 percent; more likely in the next few years it will be the 53 percent who pay federal income taxes and receive fewer entitlements versus the 47 percent who don’t and receive more—a question quite apart from taxing the very rich and helping the very poor.
Obamacare is finally almost here. Prices will go up, coverage ranges will be curtailed, and there will be a great leveling effect as those who budgeted or who carefully planned for their health care must give back some for the greater collective good—something they were told would not happen. People react to sudden changes in the conditions of their doctor visits as they do to spiked prices at the gas pump—ballistically.
Obama’s election did not heal divisions, but exacerbated them. The recent abjectly racist comments of Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx, Joseph Lowery, and Rob Parker are symbolic of a new racialism, in which we obsess over differences rather than transcend them.
Everyone is searching for answers to curb these horrific mass murders, but rather than take a holistic approach of reexamining high-capicity magazines, treatment of mental health, or gratuitous cruelty and barbarity in videos and movies, we hear crazy things like “executive orders,” “confiscations,” and “shaming the NRA,” as if there is not a Second Amendment at all and we are French Revolutionaries who expect yelling to result in instant law.
In short, lots of things are in flux — without even mentioning the anemic economy or the abject failure of reset foreign policy.