As it has in some past years, Spin Control looks into the crystal ball for the first Sunday of 2014 to predict the year ahead. Regular readers might notice that some predictions seem familiar, like they’ve read them before. They have, but it doesn’t mean we are plagiarizing ourselves; we’re just contributing to Spokane’s recycling rate with things that happen all the time.
So, as Bullwinkle used to say: “Eenie, meanie, chili beanie …”
Prediction 1: Last week’s major winter storm, which was somehow more catastrophic because it happened to parts of the country where national media types live, will be used by some as proof global warming doesn’t exist. They will completely ignore the difference between “weather” and “climate.”
Prediction 2: Gov. Jay Inslee will call for the Legislature to “focus like a laser beam” on transportation. The Legislature will focus on transportation like the Hubble Telescope before it was fixed.
Prediction 3: Candidates with no political experience will file for county, legislative or congressional office, saying they are running at the urging of friends and neighbors and just want to give back to their community. They will be solidly in favor of more jobs and insist “children are our future,” but will be unable to explain how government can tax less and live within its means while implementing new programs they propose to help schools, fix roads or stimulate business. They will lose unless they run against candidates who say the same things but have less money.
Prediction 4: Inslee will call for the Legislature to “focus like a laser beam” on education. The Legislature will focus on education like someone with myopia before visiting the ophthalmologist.
Prediction 5: Touting their role as government watchdogs, Tim Eyman and company will use up a dozen or more numbers for initiatives by submitting proposals to restrict how the state collects taxes or spends money. The proposals will be hard to tell apart because they’ll be slight variations of the same basic idea.
Prediction 6: Legislators who don’t like Eyman will propose changes to the state’s initiative law to make it more expensive to file an initiative or more difficult to qualify for the ballot. They will denounce the commercialization of the initiative process. Eyman will accuse them of stifling grass-roots democracy. Initiative laws will not change.
Prediction 7: Inslee will call for the Legislature to “focus like a laser beam” on energy and the environment. The Legislature will focus on energy and the environment like a French Impressionist painting a landscape.
Prediction 8: A section of the country this summer will set records for high temperatures and will be used by some people as proof that global warming is real. They will completely ignore the difference between “weather” and “climate.”
Prediction 9: Washington’s fall ballot will contain initiatives that national political groups consider a test case for legislation they would like to see around the country. The campaigns will draw millions of dollars from out-of-state sources, prompting each side to claim the other is trying to buy the election and subvert democracy.
Prediction 10: To the cheers of progressive groups around the state, a liberal Democrat in the Legislature will propose a state income tax as a fairer, less regressive tax. It won’t pass, but Republicans will say it is proof Democrats are tax-crazy.
Prediction 11: To the cheers of business groups around the state, a conservative Republican will propose the state scrap its workers compensation system in favor of “three-way” insurance. It won’t pass, but Democrats will say it is proof Republicans hate working people.
Prediction 12: Implementing Washington’s recreational marijuana law will continue to give reporters and headline writers chances to make plays on words like “pot,” “weed” or “joint.” Readers will stop thinking they are funny several months before the journalists do.
Prediction 13: Washington’s congressional delegation will labor mightily to make permanent the federal income tax deduction for sales tax in states without an income tax. (The deduction must be reinstated by the end of the year to be available to folks filling out their tax forms in 2015.) The delegation will point out the fairness and economic advantage of making the deduction permanent, just like state income tax is. Congress will dither on tax reform for most of 2014, and sometime late in the year the Washington delegation will announce a deal – to extend the state sales tax deduction for another year or two.
Prediction 14: Inslee will call for the Legislature to “focus like a laser beam” on jobs. The Legislature will indeed focus like a laser beam on a certain group of jobs: their own.