Friday, October 18, 2013

After the Shutdown: Where Are We Going from Here?

The not-so-long partial government shutdown is over.  What will happen now?  Seven probable outcomes:

First, there will be immediate backlash against the Tea Party Representatives.  They, after all, drove the Republican Party to what even they admit was a nearly unmitigated loss.  I don’t think the charming idea of prosecuting them for sedition that I read in Facebook today will go anywhere (I call it charming since it’s a mirror image of their calls to impeach Obama), but there could be more serious attempts for recall elections. 

Second, the Republicans as a group will move to the center.  Nobody gets elected President without a lot of support from it, and they know that.  More locally, while some House incumbents with far-right views are close enough to what their constituents want, remarkably few Senators in the most anti-government third or so of the party will be competitive in 2014.  A lot can happen in a year, but for now centrist voters will avoid those with attitudes similar to those causing our recent problems.

Third, the two largest winners, except for Barack Obama, may prove to be moderate Republicans Chris Christie and Jeb Bush.  If you look at, a betting site with political predictions sober enough that you can put money down on them, you see the most likely Republican to be elected President is Christie, eight-to-one against.  He is followed by Bush, who has not even confirmed he will run, tied with the breather-taking Marco Rubio at 12-to-1.  Look for those odds to shorten soon, and for the chances of the likes of Ted Cruz to evaporate.

Fourth, the Standard & Poor’s estimate of the economy losing $24 billion is an overstatement.  Though a lot of business, particularly associated with national parks, is gone forever, most of the closure’s effect amounts to the nuisance of a delay.   The 800,000 furloughed workers will get back pay, turning their time off into an 11-working-day vacation (they would have had October 14th anyway), but the true cost of their lost labor, given that many will be catching up over the next few weeks, will be less than their salaries and benefits. 

Fifth, there should be little permanent effect on the general state of American employment.  It will certainly cost something, but nothing noticeable over the course of the year.  There is hope, though, for more legislation, such as toward an infrastructure project, now that Republicans, who after all do not want to see their country deteriorate, figure to be more willing to work on problems.  Not much hope, though, as Obama has not yet sustained any focus on jobs.

Sixth, with early indications that signing up for Obamacare will be more popular than many expected, there will be the start of more medical professional employment.  There are simply not enough general-practice physicians to cover demand, and unless the AMA allows more to be trained, they will be replaced, as possible, by physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and various technicians.

Seventh, don’t worry about another shutdown when the agreed-upon government funding expires January 15th.  Neither side will want to go through it again, especially when Republicans fully comprehend how much trouble they are already in with the electorate.

So, back to normal.  A good political cartoon concept would be a morning-after street scene, sort of like New Orleans’s Bourbon Street, but with, instead of beer cups and hot dog wrappers on the ground, elephant and donkey droppings.  Everything will be cleaned up, within weeks if not right away, and we will be fully back to business.  The jobs crisis, though, is still permanent. 

Note:  The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ revised data release schedule was made available today.  September’s Employment Situation, including the national unemployment rate, will be out this Tuesday, October 22nd, and the October issue will be delayed a week from November 1 to November 8.  Accordingly, the AJSN will be posted on this blog on those days, the September issue in the evening of the 22nd and the October issue on Friday morning the 8th.      

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