The Articles of Confederation was the first definition of our national government. Finalized in 1777, it was not until 1781 that all 13 states ratified the document. After independence from England in 1783, the constitutional convention in 1787 set the stage for our new American government, and the Articles became effective on March 4, 1789. 

Correcting the Articles’ various faults was an objective of the Constitution, which has been amended 27 times, but it began with the first 10, known as the Bill of Rights. These were survivors of 19 original changes proposed, which passed and became the law of the land in early 1790. Provisions of the Constitution are on our doorstep this month as the 116th Congress convened Jan. 3 for a two-year term.

True genius of the nation’s founders was creation of an Electoral College, which assures citizens of nationwide equity in Legislative and Executive branch representation. This is defined in the 12th Amendment to the Constitution and became law in 1804.

Readers may not know the following facts, which demonstrate the imbalances that are avoided because of this addition. As a modern example, there are 3,141 counties in our 50 states – Trump won 3,084 of them in the last election and Clinton won 57. In the five counties that encompass New York City, Clinton won four. The vote in these four counties accounted for three-quarters of Clinton’s popular-vote win nationwide. These five counties comprise 319 square miles, while the U.S. is composed of 3,797,000 square miles.

This is important to know and remember about Presidential elections. However, citizen’s concerns in the last several years of Congressional meetings have centered on abysmal failures in accomplishments for benefit of the citizenry. Regardless of political persuasions, Congress has shown repeated instances of failure to perform. This situation must change before calamity strikes.

Congress is not popular with the public, and its stature is rapidly declining. For example, tax bills have been poorly drafted and filled with loopholes and errors. Congress is unwilling to tackle matters like federal debt or the many ethics and legal charges against incumbent members.

It is distressing that the voting public returns so many of these corrupt and inept members to Congress without knowing how bad things really are. Know also that solutions to most national problems resolvable by law are the province of Congress and not the Executive branch (the President).

A consolidation of various outlooks made by economic forecasters is provided here. Congressional action/inaction is a key uncertainty factor in these forecasts. It is likely (55% probability) that consumer spending will continue to grow through 2019. Stimulus from the tax bill pushed growth in 2018, but it might be offset in 2019 due to tariff impacts and foreign responses to trade-policy changes. Since the economy is near full employment (of available, qualified employees), GDP growth will tend to increase inflationary pressures. The Federal Reserve interest-rate policy may have some effects this year, but the economy in general will benefit from trade-policy changes and lower regulatory costs.

There is a 25% probability that the beginnings of a recession will begin to weaken the economy by late 2018 and into 2019. Most economists predict that GDP will begin to fall by the second half of 2020. Slower growth this and next year (10% probability) is thought to prevail because business tax cuts are not the major driver for investment spending.

Regardless, advances in manufacturing technology will continue to lower U.S. corporate costs, allowing economic growth of over 3% through 2019. It will stay above 2% over the 2020-2023 timeframe while inflation stays subdued. Business interests in some sectors, mostly not in this readership base, may be affected by immigration reform, but know that illegal immigrants in the labor force are but 5% of the total workforce with the bulk employed in agriculture (17%) and construction (13%).

All things considered, it is a good outlook that could be substantially improved if Congress made meaningful and needed legal changes to benefit the nation’s industry and public safety.