Nobody makes failed predictions like the right-wing does. Now that it’s 2015, it’s nearly two years since Obama took office for the second time. And when he did take office that second time, the political right was predicting dire consequences, with emphasis on the “consequences,” since that’s usually all they think about. So what kind of predictions did they make about Obama’s reelection? Let’s check back in, shall we?
Gas was supposed to be over $5 a gallon
I can certainly remember a time when this seemed plausible. In March of 2012, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) predicted that a second term for Obama would mark Gas-a-geddon; gas prices would hover at $5.45 a gallon near the start of 2015 and the prices would rise by 5 cents for every month Obama was office. They would eventually peak at $6.60 a gallon.
Newt Gingrich, who I’m almost certain shares a name with a Charles Dickens villain somewhere, made a similar prediction during his catastrophic bid for the title of GOP Class Clown back in 2012. Obama would push gas up to “$10 a gallon,” according to Gingrich. Gingrich said that by reversing Obama’s energy policies, he would drop gas to a staggering nationwide low of $2.50.
Today, on the first day of 2015, the nation-wide average is $2.24.
Many of the reasons for the decrease in gas prices are beyond Obama’s control — the biggest one is a weak international demand and OPEC’s failure to reduce their supply. Astute readers will note that the policies Lee and Gingrich were criticizing — blocking the Keystone XL pipeline, more EPA regulations, and limits to drilling on public land — haven’t hindered the low prices at all.
Now, I’m skeptical and nervous about low gas prices. What it means is that Americans will get complacent yet again, only to be blindsided the next time an oil shock happens (don’t fool yourself; it’ll happen again — weak international demand and over-saturation on the market won’t last forever), but that’s not the point. The point is that Gingrich, Lee, and others like them on the right were wrong.
That happens a lot, actually. I can’t remember the last time they were right. For instance, prediction number two:
Unemployment was supposed to be over 8%
Mitt the Robot (R-Money), during his failed presidential bid, promised “chronic high unemployment” for “four years or longer” if Obama was reelected. When he said that, the unemployment rate was 8.1%, and had been bouncing back and forth between 8.1 and 8.3% the entire year. Mitt (R-Money) promised that, if elected, he would break us out of the “chronic high unemployment” by dropping the unemployment rate down to 6% by January 2017.
Today, the unemployment currently stands at 5.8%, and has been under 6% since September 2014. More than 5 million new jobs have been created since January 2013, and Romney’s pledge to drop unemployment to under 6% by January 2017 suddenly doesn’t look that impressive — if it ever did.
The stock market was supposed to crash and burn
A number of prognosticators predicted that the stock market was going to crash and burn after Obama won his reelection bid in 2012; Charles Bilderman, author of “Intelligent Investing,” wrote that the “market selloff after Obama’s re-election [was] no accident,” and “stocks are dropping with no bottom in sight.” Marc Faber, of Bloomberg TV, made similar predictions: the market would drop at least 20%. This was because “Republicans understand the problem of excessive debt better than Mr. Obama who basically doesn’t care about piling up debt.”
On the first day of 2015 (technically, the last day of December), the DJI is (and was) at 17.823, and is up over 35% since Obama was reelected.
The entire U.S. was set to collapse
Gloom and doom; shortly after Obama was reelected, every right-winger was predicting the destruction of the United States economy. The economy freefall would be “ugly,” according to noted futurist Rush Limbaugh, who’s future history included California declaring bankruptcy, and Obama forcing states like Texas to “bail them out.” This would happen “a year and a half, two years, three years,” according to Limbaugh, and it’s been about two years and two months since he made the prediction.
Right now, California is setting at a $4 billion budget surplus. So, apparently, despite his claim that “I know mathematics, and I know economics. I know history. I know socialism, statism, Marxism, I know where it goes . . . I know what happens at the end of it,” the answer is, unsurprisingly, “No, Limbaugh, you don’t. Obama is not a socialist, socialism in it’s modern form has very little to do with Marx’s idea of socialism, Aristotle was not Belgian, the principle of Buddhism is not ‘every man for himself’, and the London Underground is not a political movement. You are wrong.”
The United States economy, meanwhile, grew a solid 5% in the third quarter of 2014, following 4.6% the previous quarter.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that Americans are sitting pretty. There are real, persistent problems with the United States economy — for instance, wage stagnation. This is the reason why, despite the many indicators for a strong economy, most Americans aren’t feeling the impact.
And there’s not a lot Obama can do there; every time he tries, the Republicans move to put the kibosh on it and force him to take steps on his own.
Bonus Prediction: Ted Nugent is not in Jail
While it’s not really a prediction relevant to 2015 precisely, it’s still a right-wing prediction concerning Obama’s second term: no, Ted Nugent is not in jail, he’s not dead, and he’s still doing what Ted Nugent does best — making himself look like a deranged lunatic. While it’s good he didn’t get killed, I can’t say I’d be disappointed if he fell out of the mainstream tomorrow and never came back.