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Prospects for 2014 are encouraging

THE best that can be said about 2013 is that it was not a leap year. The year saw a federal government that remains politically polarized, financially bankrupt and increasingly abusive of the people.

But 2014 looks promising on the economic front. Early data indicates 2013 may have shown the first true rebound from a recession that officially ended in June 2009.

If so, credit a do-nothing Congress. There was no stimulus program in 2013. From President Bush's $150 billion stimulus in 2008 to the $120 billion Social Security forgiveness in 2012, the federal government spent more than $1 trillion over five years to stimulate economic growth to little or no avail.

That number does not include the $700 billion TARP that was hastily slapped together in the fall of 2008 to prevent economic Armageddon. The result was the largest quarterly drop in the economy since the Depression — 6.2 percent — after a mild drop of 0.5 percent in the previous quarter.

The better news is the Tea Party Caucus makes another stimulus unlikely.

In 2014, conservatives also must block immigration reform, which is one of the most cynical deals since Sinclair Oil secured the oil rights to the Navy's oil reserve in Teapot Dome, Wyoming. On immigration, the Chamber of Commerce and Congress cut a deal to give big business cheap labor (Microsoft loves imported programmers) and Democrats votes.

America already has a pathway to citizenship; illegal aliens choose to ignore it.

For now, Republicans look forward to Election Day, after gaining 63 seats in Congress in the 2010 mid-term election and giving back only eight in 2012.

"History is with us, geography is with us and the president's signature legislative achievement is the most unpopular" law ever — Obamacare — Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told the Associated Press.

That's what Republicans said in 2012. Playing nice and nominating the Thomas E. Dewey of his generation cost Republicans big time. Instead of fighting the Duck Dynasty wing of the party, Republicans should embrace family values and fiscal responsibility.

Had the establishment had its way in 1980, George Bush would have been the nominee, Jimmy Carter would have gotten a second term and the Soviet Union would still control Europe from Poland to Yugoslavia.

Reports of the death of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are premature, as Mark Twain might put it. No matter how awful Obamacare is, as long as the public accepts a mandate to buy insurance, the law survives.

On the state level, Republicans have their largest contingent in the House of Delegates in 80 years. But every one of those 46 Republican delegates (out of 100) who choose to seek another term had better work harder in 2014 to get re-elected as they did in 2012 because there is one big name missing from the ballot this year — Barack Obama.

No one attracted more conservatives in West Virginia to the polls in 2012 than our president. Turnout in 2014 will be considerably lower. The Democratic Party has a deep bench in local races. Democratic gains are more likely than Republican ones.

Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito needs no lectures on taking nothing for granted, but Democrat Natalie Tennant is tenacious. Experts give Capito the edge. If so, she could help in the legislative races, but Republicans should not rely on that.

Meanwhile, liberals are searching for an alternative to Hillary Clinton just as they did eight years ago. Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post suggested Caroline Kennedy may be a contender.

As if.

Has Rubin, like, um, you know, ever heard Kennedy speak? She sounds like a Valley Girl and that may have cost her any consideration for the U.S. Senate four years ago.

That is how I sketch your world today. By December, the year 2014 will look far different than it does in January, just as 2013 did.

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