Hello, 2019: A cautious peek at what the year could hold

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Posted 1/9/19

By now, I imagine that everyone has settled into the new year. Well, let me rephrase that statement by saying most of us have carried forward into a new year with varying degrees of optimism, hope, …

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Hello, 2019: A cautious peek at what the year could hold

Posted

By now, I imagine that everyone has settled into the new year. Well, let me rephrase that statement by saying most of us have carried forward into a new year with varying degrees of optimism, hope, concern and uncertainty.

Politically speaking, things have changed both at our state level as well as the U.S. Congress. How much change and chaos this will bring is unknown, but change is a heavy favorite.

Economically speaking, the prognosticators foretell growing storm clouds on the horizon. The stock markets have already shown the rollercoaster effect of uncertainty reflected by a president who is constantly changing positions on a host of related economic issues. Plus, the housing market, especially in the Denver metro area, is cooling down and mortgage rates are likely to rise.

Environmentally speaking, like so many other things, it depends on your perspective. Personally, I believe we will continue to experience more extremes in our weather and climate which will have significant detrimental impacts.

Finally, we can’t ignore sports given Denver area residents’ major thirst for college and pro sports. There will be good news and bad news like every year.

Political change in the New Year

Let’s start with politics. With the Democrats now in control of the U.S. House of Representative and Nancy Pelosi at the helm, there will be much more chaos and partisan fighting than what we observed in 2018. With a president who is unorthodox in his thinking, heavily egotistical in his style and his bravado and possessed with a number of “skeletons in his closet,” it is bound to get nastier with Trump no longer enjoying a Republican-controlled Congress.

While he now has a wider margin of Republicans in the Senate, there will be issues where he won’t have their full support like the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Syria, international trade agreements and his threat to close the whole Mexican border for openers.

The main event in the House of Representatives could be various investigations of the Trump Administration’s actions, Trump’s family businesses and their involvement with Russia, Saudi Arabia and others.

Also, the new year will bring forth a bevy of Democrat candidates for president. The Democrats need new faces for candidates to be in synch with voters. President Trump may or may not survive the various investigations which will come along with Robert Mueller’s final report.

Economically speaking: Not as rosy as 2018

Economically, 2019 will not be as positive for Colorado or the nation as 2018. The trade tariffs imposed by Mr. Trump will take a further toll on farmers, corporations and small businesses as time goes on. Who knows what the stock markets will do, but we know that us investors took a heavy beating in 2018 with shrunken 401(k)’s and individual investment stock accounts.

The sheer uncertainty with Trump’s tweets and changing policy positions keeps Wall Street churning. Housing construction is likely to slow somewhat. Wages will go up slightly especially for people in the service and restaurant industries given a tight labor market and rising minimum wage levels. Interest rates for borrowing will inch up a little as the President and the Federal Reserve continue to disagree.

With the U.S. out of some key trade agreements and the uncertainty of BREXIT, international markets for U.S. businesses will be questionable.

Environmental issues to address

Environmental issues will escalate as Trump’s wrecking ball on loosening various federal environmental standards such as methane emissions and coal-burning generation plants will exacerbate greenhouse gas problems all the more. More severe weather such as hurricanes, floods, droughts and tornedos are likely to increase the havoc and damage which they cause. In particular, drought conditions in the western half of the United States could be more severe which would further strain irrigation for crops and thirsty metropolitan cities.

Colorado sports will be a mixed bag

On the sports front, there will be upheaval within the Denver Broncos from ownership, management, coaches and players. Coach Vance Joseph is already gone and there is growing unrest even among devoted Bronco fans to see John Elway go. Elway is not the “golden boy” he once was when Peyton Manning was here throwing TD’s. Quarterback Case Keenum has been a disappointment along with the key injuries. Management will be shopping for a new quarterback.

However, CU alum Phillip Lindsay was outstanding with over 1,000 yards rushing in his rookie year and should repeat next year. The team and the coaching have slipped to mediocre so let’s hope for a major rebuild, but it will take time. No play-offs for the Broncos in 2019

Let’s hear it for the Nuggets and Rockies! Both will do even better in 2019. The Avalanche has been up and down. Hopefully, better times are around the corner for them as well as CU and CSU football and basketball.

Other issues to watch

Other areas of concern are myriad. They range from international relations with Russia, North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia and the European Union to health insurance changes to the increasing federal debt to the plight of immigrants and DREAMERS. They also include everything from social concerns such as LGBTQ to the U.S. Supreme Court deciding on abortion rights to the President’s wall funding to the remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Closer to home in Colorado, key issues will include crafting another attempt to fund transportation improvements and K-12 public education. Look for debate about tighter gun control legislation — including a “Red Flag” law - and finding ways to help indigent and low-income families survive in this higher cost of living state. Also, we’ll consider increasing water resources and storage to cope with the Front Range growth.

Happy New Year

It will be a year of major achievement in some fields, further enhancements in the health care arena, higher costs of living, challenges, blessings, frustrations and disappointments.

However, human kind will continue to have hope and faith for a better world.

Happy New Year to all!

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

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