1. Impending Fiscal Doom?
Due to a series of laws which are set to expire at the beginning of 2013, including—the Payroll Tax Credit, the Bush-Era Tax Cuts, the 1.5 trillion in across the board spending cuts triggered by the failure of last fall’s super-committee and potential blowback from the shaky political economic situation in Europe—the U.S. economy could, according to the Congressional Budget Office, suffer recession. Specifically, they are forecasting a 1.3 percent contraction in overall economic growth if just the U.S.-related issues mentioned materialize. Europe, of course, could make things a whole lot worse. Can national leaders put aside their petty, self-interested and immature ways and hobble together some sort of resolution to stave off impending doom? Regardless, we’ll be opinionating on the situation for the next several months.
2. Decision 2012
Obviously, we couldn’t leave out the Presidential election. We had a ball opinionating on the wacky world of the Republican primary and are expecting a similar time opinionating on the general election. This election, like the last, will be of high consequence. The US is at a pivotal point in its history. Most can agree that the problems we face are grave and require swift action. What’s more, this year’s general election will take place in extremely desperate times. Unemployment rates are still sky high, albeit slowly falling, and there seems to be a generally pessimistic outlook on the position of the U.S. in the world. Washington doesn’t seem to be able to govern; Congress now has some of the lowest approval ratings in its history. Dead- lock almost shut down the economy last August and it resulted in the U.S.’s first downgrade in credit in its history. Bad news seems to come from every direction. At current, presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, and incumbent, President Obama, are statistically tied. People are having trouble squaring their admiration for the president as a man and with the lack of change they thought they would see. This is going to be an extremely close race with exponential amounts of money and negative campaigning. It’s going to be ugly.
3. Rhode Island: a Lost Cause? Maybe not
Rhode Island has the second highest rate of unemployment in the nation. It is only second to Michigan, where Detroit has suffered so much over the past several years that the city is finding it necessary to liter- ally shrink itself. So when people say Rhode Island is bad, it’s really bad. The state can’t seem to catch a break. In the past several weeks, one of the supposed bright spot in R.I., Kurt Shil- ling’s 38 Studio’s, found itself unable to pay its employees or the massive state-backed loan it had taken. Recent estimates put R.I.’s recovery well off in 2023. Is there a way to fix R.I.? This fall, we’ll be launching a series on how RI fell into decline and exploring pro- posed as well as new ideas for stopping its decline and facilitating its return to prominence. We hope you will join us in this venture.
1. The Issue which Keeps on Giving: Healthcare Reform
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, will be a major political issue this fall. Since the president announced his intention to pursue healthcare reform in 2009, it has been a massive drain on Obama’s political capital and one of the prime exhibits used against the administration by its opponents. The public’s response to the law remains mixed. Presumptive Republican candidate, Mitt Romney has called for the repeal of Obamacare, calling it “an unconscionable abuse of power.” This he said despite his sup- port of a similar law when he served as governor of Massachusetts. Even the Supreme Court stepped in when it took up the constitutionality of certain elements of the law. A ruling is expected by the end of June, and you can bet the ruling will play a big role in not only the election but also the future of healthcare in this country.
2. Social Issue No. 1: Same-Sex Marriage
Same-sex Marriage, always a politically contentious issue, will remain so in the fall with the recent support it received from President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden. Not surprisingly, Mitt Romney recently re-affirmed his stance on marriage as exclusively a one man, one women institution. But how will his stance fair? Is his view simply becoming antiquated? After all, this is the first time in history that a major presidential candidate has supported same-sex marriage, and support for same-sex marriage is now at its highest level ever. The recent debate over same-sex marriage will also renew calls here in Rhode Island to pass a law recognizing same-sex marriages. One would think that would be the next logical progression, especially after last year’s debate that resulted in Civil Unions being recognized.