Much is riding on the special Senate runoff elections in Georgia Tuesday as continued GOP control of the upper chamber of Congress is critical to keeping a check and balance on the incoming Biden administration.
No matter how the runoff races turn out, if President-elect Joe Biden and the Democrats did nothing in the next six months, they would look like geniuses.
The coronavirus pandemic would wither as vaccines would be distributed without harmful political obstacles and the economy—which showed remarkable resilience, adaptability and creativity in the face of oft-ill considered lockdowns—would boom.
But the new administration won’t likely leave well enough alone. The ethos of the party today wouldn’t stand for it.
Sure, Democrats can’t enact economy-crushing taxes but they will smother the vibrancy of private commercial activities through regulation.
Thanks to the deregulatory Federal Communications Commission under President Trump, we got a flowering of Internet innovation—which was crucial for enabling us to survive the COVID lockdowns and disruptions. I expect the new White House team will revert to the smothering approach of the Obama/Biden years.
The pharmaceutical industry, which has miraculously produced anti-COVID vaccines in months instead of years, will be relentlessly attacked with price controls and rules that will stifle future innovation.
Oil and gas companies, whose revolutionary fracking techniques made us energy independent and radically reduced emissions of carbon dioxide, will likely be attacked as menaces to the survival of the planet.
I expect that nihilistic forces harming our campuses will get new leases on life with a Biden Education Department reviving the kangaroo courts that had gutted due process in student disciplinary cases. Expect the cancel culture cancer to spread.
Agriculture, now a font of high-tech innovation that is increasing both productivity and ecologically positive practices, will be increasingly hampered by gratuitous, scientifically unsound environmental regulations.
Employers will be spending more precious time and resources grappling with a wave of labor rules designed to increase the political power of union bosses at the expense of businesses focusing on expansion and quality-of-life enhancing innovations.
New business formations will be hobbled by these regulations and by a lack of capital as financial institutions cope with new interferences from Elizabeth Warren-like bureaucrats who will be occupying unpublicized positions in numerous federal agencies.
And don’t be surprised by stealth attempts to weaponize agencies like the IRS, the EPA and financial regulators against opponents and politically out-of-favor enterprises and individuals.
All this will gradually wear down an economy that is raring to grow.
The new administration will be prioritizing costly actions that will slow free-market commerce in the name of tackling climate change, ignoring the fact that natural gas is the best antidote to carbon emissions.
Countless billions will be spent on alternative energy schemes that will be ineffective and laden with political pork while ignoring promising breakthroughs in molten salt nuclear power and nuclear fusion.
An organization that will especially bear watching is the Federal Reserve. Its money printing to pay for COVID relief packages and Biden initiatives for infrastructure and alternative energy projects could well unleash inflation the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 1970s.
One harbinger is the surge in the price of bitcoin as the dollar weakens. The best barometer of this kind of mischief is the price of gold. The yellow metal went up in 2020. If it starts going up again, watch out!
One good thing in the stimulus bill, thanks to Sen. Pat Toomey, is that certain emergency lending powers given to the Fed at the beginning of the pandemic expired at year’s end. The central bank was ready to collude with Democrats to bail out financially mismanaged states such as New York, New Jersey and Illinois.
Foreign policy in 2021 has been largely overlooked going into the new year.
Iraq will soon be back in the news. The country is going bust. It may soon run out of money to pay government salaries. The economy is a mess because of government bloat and incompetence.
A crisis here will give Iran an opening to arm militias and gain sway over this oil-producing nation. A triumph of the Trump administration has been curbing Iran’s imperialist designs in the Mideast. Joe Biden has been a Teheran appeaser. What will he do, if anything, about Iraq, not to mention the region as a whole?
An even bigger challenge, of course, will be how the Biden team deals with an increasingly aggressive China. What will it do if Beijing tries to do to Taiwan what it has done with Hong Kong? Will it adopt empty rhetoric or forceful actions with regard to China’s attempts to make the critical South China Sea international waterways a de facto Chinese lake? Japan, South Korea and, indeed, India will be watching with anxious concern.
Will the new administration try to defund the Defense Department? How will it treat the new, vitally important Space Force?
An increasingly uncertain and unstable world does not bode well for a confident, prosperous future.
Optimists believe that a GOP controlled Senate (or at least a closely divided Senate) and the amazing, unexpected gains by Republicans in the House will significantly temper the ability of far-left Democrats to wreak too much harm and the resultant gridlock will enable the economy to achieve real growth.
The Democrats’ socialist wing is already griping about Biden’s appointments, labeling them retreads from the past and insufficiently militant, especially regarding health care.
Congressional Republicans and party activists will be ready to fight bad policies and actions in a way they didn’t do during most of the Obama/Biden years.
Concerning foreign policy, optimists argue that global realities, not wishful thinking, will guide Biden’s policies.
Perhaps the new president will demonstrate real political skill in keeping his party’s extremists at bay and will pursue the kind of forceful foreign policy that was lacking when he worked for former President Barack Obama.
All Americans must hope for such an outcome.
Steve Forbes is Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes.