Here are three leading examples of the conventional wisdom among Washington’s political experts about what will happen in 2018:
- Democrats will ride a “blue wave” of congressional campaign victories to retake control of Congress, gaining majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
- Only the richest Americans will benefit economically from passage of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts, as the stall in middle-class prosperity continues.
- Special counsel Robert Mueller will indict a host of former Trump campaign and administration figures — then the chief executive himself will be impeached and convicted by the blue wave Democratic majority in Congress.
Now here’s what will actually happen next year:
There won’t be a blue wave. In New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer blog, Ed Kilgore captures the conventional wisdom’s assumption about next year’s midterm elections, saying that even if Roy Moore had somehow eked out a victory in Alabama, “It is impossible to take an honest look at the overall pattern of 2017 contests without hearing the not-so-distant rumbling of a likely 2018 wave for Democrats.”
Forget the Democrats’ blue wave. There are three reasons it won’t happen. First, Democrats will have to defend 25 Senate seats (26 if Minnesota’s Al Franken actually resigns), compared to only eight for the Republicans. Half a dozen of those Democrats are running in states Trump carried handily in 2016.
Second, Doug Jones wins in Alabama only by running against Moore in 2017. Democrats are too obsessed with identity politics to permit another Jones to win their primaries in other states in 2018. There are no more Blue Dogs capable of winning because the Democratic base views “moderation” as selling out to the White Racist Supremacy Hegemony, whatever that is.
Third, Roy Moore, the fatally flawed candidate, lost the Alabama Senate race, not populist conservative views. Democrats just don’t get that. There will be many more Republicans on the Tom Cotton model in coming years. Moore, like 2017’s snow in Houston and Galveston, is a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Put it all together, and this calculus means Democrats will more likely lose Senate seats, not gain them. And the House will be a disappointment for them as well, with very minimal gains at best. Some of us remember a similar Republican optimism going into the 1998 midterms.
Middle America prospers big-time in 2018. Now, about the economy, it has been axiomatic among the Washington elites since 1978 — when Congress enacted the Steiger Amendment cutting the capital gains tax and thereby provided a perfect predicate to the Reagan individual tax cuts in 1981 — that “only the rich benefit” from reduced federal levies.
As the Institute for Policy Studies’ Josh Hoxie put it, shortly before the Trump tax reforms were approved by Congress without a single Democratic vote, the measure represents “the biggest wealth grab in modern history.”
Similarly, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities — the gold standard for conventional liberal Democratic economic analyses — insisted the Trump reform’s corporate tax cuts won’t help individuals “because workers would only receive a quarter or less of the benefits from tax cuts. And among those workers, it’s likely the higher earners that would benefit.”
Wrong. There are two key reasons why middle-class Americans will benefit enormously beginning in 2018.
- First, even the reliably liberal Tax Policy Center conceded, according to Vox, that “the bill would reduce taxes for Americans in all income groups in 2018 — increasing after-tax income by an average of 2.2 percent.”
That means millions of middle-class earners will keep thousands of dollars of added income every year for the next eight years. True, the amount will steadily decrease as 2025 approaches and the reductions are planned to expire, but billions of dollars in additional spending, plus job growth and continued consumer confidence, mean significantly heightened prosperity for Middle America, beginning in 2018.
- The second reason Middle America will see big economic gains is the Trump reform’s treatment of state and local tax deductions (SALT). Prior to 2018, high-tax blue states and localities didn’t have to worry about imposing too heavy taxation, since their residents could deduct the levies. But Trump caps the deduction at $10,000. That cap will speed up the out-migration from blue states, especially New York, California and Illinois. Millions of people in recent years have left high-tax states and moved either south or west, but especially to Texas, which has for a decade been an engine of economic growth for the whole country.
As the Daily Signal reported in February 2017: “Over the past decade, New York has suffered a net loss of nearly 1.5 million residents and over 650,000 Illinoisans have moved elsewhere. Meanwhile, Texas, a right-to-work state with no income or estate tax, saw its population grow by 1.3 million.”
Capping the SALT provision of the federal tax code will accelerate the blue state out-migration, sending millions more people looking for new jobs and opportunities in growing, mostly red, southern and western states. Most of them will be middle- or lower-income earners seeking to move up.
No blue wave means no Trump impeachment. If, as predicted above, Democrats fail to regain a congressional majority, there obviously won’t be a serious impeachment effort against Trump. Where will that leave Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation? Mueller may be occupied with his own problems come spring 2018.
Watch for the report of Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz on the FBI, the Clinton email investigation, and the infamous “tarmac meeting” between former President Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Horowitz has a history with the FBI and some of his former colleagues at the Department of Justice. He rallied 45 other IGs in 2014 to demand the FBI, DOJ, and multiple other agencies stop routinely violating the 1978 law giving them unlimited access to all federal documents. Congress did as Horowitz demanded. It was the FBI that especially raised Horowitz’s ire, as seen in this 2015 letter to Congress. The FBI director at the time was … James Comey.
Horowitz is a straight-arrow, tough-minded investigator, not unlike John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, who has repeatedly blistered U.S. politicians and military leaders while exposing colossal waste, fraud and corruption. Nobody in either party will be spared when Horowitz releases his report.