The Top 10 political and policy stories to watch for in 2012

As we celebrate the beginning of 2012, we at Human Events have compiled a list of the Top 10 stories to be on the lookout for in the coming year.  Enjoy!

1. 2012 Presidential Election: Republicans are uniting to defeat President Obama, but they are dissatisfied with the field of 2012 candidates. Will Republicans unite around their nominee in November? Or, will third- party candidates and organizations, working at cross purposes with the Republican part, siphon off just enough of the anti-Obama vote to ensure Obama’s re-election? And if Obama’s poll numbers plummet, will he or others in the Democratic party play the race card to get minority voters to the polls?

2. ObamaCare Showdown in the Supreme Court: A showdown over the Constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, will occur in the Supreme Court. Various lower level courts throughout the country have made rulings both for and against ObamaCare, but its fate may rest on the nine judges that comprise the Supreme Court. Elena Kagan, an Obama appointee, may have to recuse herself because of  e-mails she wrote that celebrated passage of the law.

3. Control of the Senate in 2012: Republicans need to pick up only four seats to gain control of the Senate.  The odds are looking favorable, at least on paper. Democrats must defend 23 seats; Republicans only 10. Races in Virginia, Montana, and Missouri are worth watching.

4. Payroll Tax Cut Extension: Yes, it’s back — the temporary extension of a payroll tax cut passed by Congress just days ago will have to be decided upon again in early 2012. Questions over the stimulative effect and impact of the tax cut on revenue will be addressed. More money will have to be taken out of the general fund to pay for Social Security if revenues decrease significantly.

5. Can We Have National Constitutional Carry Reciprocity in 2012?  In 2012 the question is whether leading gun rights advocates, such as the National Rifle Association, will press for real gun freedoms, such as the renewed right in America to carry a firearm and travel with it across the country. We expect this debate to come to head in 2012.

6. The Volatile Situation In Iran: The world’s premier sponsor of terrorism ended 2011 with naval exercises in the Straits of Hormuz, coupled with ominous saber-rattling about how easily they could shut down fully one-third of the world’s seaborne oil transportation.  They’ve been deeply involved in Iraq all along, and are poised to fill the vacuum left by U.S. departure.  An unhappy combination of autocratic rule and internal power struggles makes them dangerously unpredictable. And, any actions taken by Iranian leaders in 2012 could have a “wild card effect” on candidates in U.S. elections.

7. The Arab Spring, One Year Later: The celebrated democracy uprisings of early 2011 have not been followed, unfortunately, by much democracy, or stability.  Egyptians get to enjoy violent repression from a military junta, until Islamic extremists take over.  The Taliban won’t have to hide in the “safe” hills of Pakistan much longer.  Al-Qaeda is scouting franchise opportunities in Libya.  The civilized world made a “statement” against Qaddafi, but chews its lip while Bashar Assad guns down the protestors of Syria.

8. Eurozone Debt Crisis Continues: As worries continue to grow over the financing of European sovereign debt from countries such as Greece, Italy, Ireland, Spain and Portugal, investors will be wary over whether or not the Euro currency will survive into an another year as it celebrates its 10th anniversary at the beginning of 2012.  Developments in Europe — such as a recession — will also have reverberations across the global economy, affecting American markets in particular.

9. Volatile Politics in Russia:  Russia has been wracked by its largest protests since the collapse of the Soviet Union, as tension over the exchange of power has reached a tipping point. Vladimir Putin’s party, the United Russia Party, has had difficulty maintaining power and just narrowly won a highly contested Parliamentary election on December 4. Putin is slated to run for President in what could be a highly contentious election on March 4, 2012.

10. China: Chipped, Cracked not Broken, Yet.  China is in economic trouble. With its manufacturing sector already reeling from the drop off in demand from the cash-poor United States and Europe, the central planners in the People’s Republic must negotiate the burst of its real estate bubble. Like residential prices, commercial prices are crating throughout the world’s second largest economy, forcing massive private, public projects to halt mid-beam. As the banker of last resort—given that America borrows from China, so we can lend to others—the world will have to contend with a severe constriction of funds on tap. Meanwhile, China, where migrant construction workers live in the building they are building, will have to contend with hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers occupying the exposed bones of its boom.

Bonus!  2012: Anniversaries to Contemplate, Celebrate:  In 2012, we will have cause to pause for significant anniversaries of 100 and 200 years ago, such as the April 10, 1912 sinking of RMS Titanic, the April 20, 1912 opening of Fenway Park, an event at the time competing in the newspapers with stories of hundreds bodies of Titanic victims washing up on the coast of Nova Scotia.

The United Kingdom refused to delay its practice of kidnapping, then forcing American sailors into Royal Navy service, led to our June 18, 1812 declaration of war. The trials of the War of 1812 rent the young Union. New England states refused to send troops and British troops captured Washington, where they put the torch to the Capitol and the Executive Mansion.

On the political side, the presidential election of 1912 offers a lesson. T. Woodrow Wilson won the White House with 6.2 million votes; compared 4.1 million for Theodore Roosevelt and William H. Taft’s 3.5 million. Taft was Roosevelt’s chosen successor in 1908, but TR started to get that old feeling again. Wilson became the first Democratic president since Buchanan’s election in 1856 — if you don’t count S. Grover Cleveland’s two terms and the election stolen from Samuel J. Tilden in 1876. Still, if Taft and TR had worked it out, the only Wilsons we would have to learn about in school would be in the Beach Boys or sewing baseball gloves.