Would anyone have predicted last January that the stock market would plunge from 13,000 to 8,500 by year’s end? That the Huskies would be the only major college football team to not win a game? That John McCain would be the Republican nominee for president, that his running mate would be the almost unknown governor of Alaska and that Barack Obama would be president? That more Americans would die violently in Chicago than in all of Iraq in 2008? That Washington Mutual, once as mighty a local institution as Safeco and Weyerhaeuser, would crash and burn and be picked up for pennies on the dollar by Chase?
Predictions can be perilous. I don’t know what the Dow will be at the end of 2009 and neither does anyone else. But I do have a few ideas about what will happen closer to home…
1 – The Huskies will win at least five games next season.
If you watched the Rose Bowl you got a preview of Steve Sarkisian and the explosive offense he can ignite with the right kind of players. He’ll have some of them in place next year. And yes, the Huskies will win the Apple Cup, 31-17.
2 – The Democrats will fight…the Democrats in Olympia.
If somehow you could have looked into the future last summer and seen a copy of the newly proposed state budget, you would have naturally assumed that Dino Rossi was elected governor. That’s essentially what Gov. Gregoire has unveiled; a Rossi-like budget that puts spending promises on hold and refrains from raising new taxes. This has put the governor’s office at odds with the liberal base of her own party. When the $5 billion-plus deficit grows larger in the next forecast, tensions will rise. This actually presents Olympia with an opportunity to find ways to make government leaner, smaller and more efficient, but the Legislature lacks both the imagination and the political will to go there. So expect months of recriminations before a new budget with higher taxes is drawn up and sent straight to the voters for an up or down vote, enabling Gov. Gregoire to claim that it was the people, not her, who raised taxes – assuming that they choose to do so (I predict they will not). Republicans should be ready with a short, impossible-to-ignore list of outrageous state spending programs that the Democrats won’t cut as proof that liberals would rather raise taxes than eliminate unnecessary spending.
3 – Unemployment in Washington state will hit 7 peercent.
Yes, there are other areas of the country harder hit than ours, but 7 percent represents more than a 50 percdent jump in joblessness here in less than two years. Expect one in five counties to have double-digit unemployment.
4 – Neither Ron Sims nor Greg Nickels will be holding their jobs a year from now.
Ron Sims is restless, ready to move on and tired of waiting for Jim McDermott to retire from Congress. Greg Nickels, who once campaigned as the mayor who would take care of the “basics,” has been hurt badly by his inability to clear the roads during the snows of late December – and then giving his administration a “B” for its performance. Politicians who give themselves above-average grades for abject policy failures have been around one term too many.