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Jim Crawford: Political predictions for 2018

With a booming economy, low unemployment, and new tax cuts won’t Republicans be assured of an election victory next November in the midterm elections?

Not likely. More likely? A Democratic sweep of both house of Congress.

Experts, and the public in general, seem to give the president little credit for the economy and low unemployment and view the tax cuts as donor payments for Republican rich supporters and corporations. And, in the latter issue, while Republicans hope to “sell” the benefits of the tax bill to the public, the sell will be impeded by the fact that 4/5 of the tax reductions go to the richest Americans and corporations.

But while everything in 2018 will be about the fall elections, Republicans have several issues that need decisions in policy and law by the governing party, and many of these could magnify the problems for Republicans maintaining majorities in the House and the Senate.

Will the Freedom Caucus, those Republicans who came into congress on the Tea Party surge of 2010, their election fueled on visions of a balanced budget, suddenly remember after the deficit-laden tax bill they supported that they still believe in fiscal sanity? Will these lost souls now forget their recent ideological transgression and threaten to shut down the government if severe budget cuts are not promised?

The potential government shutdown looms in the immediate future this January and is followed by the need to generate a fiscal budget that will require the support of Democrats and Republicans.

Will these budget hawks oppose any infrastructure funding because the cost would, after the tax bill, be totally deficit based? Will Democrats partner with a president who has fundamentally lied to the American people about the tax bill and its costs to funding government programs, and put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid at risk to fund the need for Infrastructure restoration?

More likely, the Republicans and the president have made infrastructure funding impossible in 2018 because the tax cuts killed any funding possibility.

Will Republicans re-instate the popular CHIP healthcare program when the budget is finally improved? And how long before all states run out of CHIP funding while waiting for Congress to act?

The Republican Congress will fund CHIP, but not before many children have been turned away from critical care.

Will Republicans seek a comprehensive new immigration policy, including a solution for the popular DREAMers program? After years of delay and disintegration of immigration and refugee policy, Republicans will ignore this issue and take no action, leaving even DREAMers facing expulsion.

Will Republicans continue to take actions that undermine health care and raise premiums on ordinary Americans, premiums that can easily outpace the modest tax breaks promised? Will the governing party ignore the looming health care crisis, where millions of Americans could lose their insurance coverage?

Certainly, Republicans will ignore what most Americans now want, Obamacare improved and kept in place. Certainly, they will ignore the soaring cost of prescriptions to favor their friends in Big Pharma.

In 2018, can we count on any significant improvement in health care after the failed Republican efforts to undermine it in 2017? In a word, No.

Leading into the 2018 elections, will the FBI Investigations into Russian collusion fall silent, or continue to find laws broken and crimes committed by Trump associates? Few would predict a year of no further discoveries in this investigation.

So how does governing in 2018 look for most Americans?

Think of it this way: If you voted for change in 2016, you did not get the kind of change you deserved. Instead you got “alternative facts,” claims of “fake news” and “No one in my campaign had contacts with Russians.”

We can do better.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.