The strengthening economy — and an improving government fiscal picture — has already transformed the political conversation in Washington. The kind of federal debt and deficit scolding that helped drive the tea party movement to power is now significantly less potent.
While the longer-term deficit picture remains bleak with the expected glut of baby-boomer retirements, the short-term numbers are much stronger. Deficits are projected at below 3 percent of GDP through 2018 and expected to rise only slowly after that, suggesting that a faster growing economy coupled with recent spending restraint could eliminate deficits as a major topic of political conversation.
That would mean big renewed fiscal fights over the debt limit and spending — a hallmark of the past three years and part of the reason for the sluggish economy itself — could be much less likely.
A strengthening economy could also blunt some of the power of populist movements on both the left and right. These movements have been fueled by anger that while the top slice of the American populace has benefited greatly from a rising stock market and increased corporate profits, average workers have not felt many gains.
This agrees with our earlier prediction of a neoconservative resurgence. Not only will a booming economy render the doom and gloom about deficits less relevant, but as more people get rich with stocks and real estate, voters and politicians are going to become more preoccupied with maintaining the newly created wealth, in turn focusing their attention to trivial matters like the culture wars than rocking the boat by worrying about the fed and debt. Politicians tend to have a lot of money tied in equities and real estate, and it’s in their best financial interests to maintain the status quo. There’s nothing wrong with self-preservation – it’s the perfectly rational thing to do, and neoconservative economic policy, in contrast to fiscal conservatism, is most beneficial to the rich and successful. That ties into an earlier argument about why we need more money in politics, because the richest people have the most to lose if things go badly and this compels them to enact efficacious policy as a selfish act of self-preservation which, counterintuitively, benefits many people. With GOP control of all the branches, we expect a full resurgence of the market-friendly Bush economic and foreign policies. The Tea Party will still have some presence, but they will mostly be subsumed by the GOP political machine. Most tea partiers will ‘get with the program’ once Obama is gone and a Republican, even a moderate, is president.
According to experts, IQ matters more than ever, especially in the hyper-meritocracy of post-2008 America. The biggest study of all is underway affecting all three-hundred plus million Americans to see who is cognitively fit for survival in today’s increasingly competitive economy. The majority aren’t. The neocon resurgence is a continuation of the trend of the fruits of economic growth being bestowed primarily on the creative class and cognitive elite, without much for everyone else. Better get your STEM degree.