Will 2015 See Immigration Reform, Economic Growth, and Gun Control?

There are a number of things to look forward to in 2015: some positive changes, some that are still a surprise, and others akin to scoring tickets to a really brutal boxing match. Whatever the case, the coming year is set to be an exciting one, both politically and economically. 2014 saw elections, major international events, and a heap of gridlock; next year promises its own memorable happenings and frustrations. Let’s take a quick preview of what we can expect to see in 2015 across the U.S. political field.

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1. Changes to immigration reform

This doesn’t necessarily fall under positive changes coming in the new year, though it very well may. It could be that 2015 is a year of extreme gridlock on immigration, as it has been in the past, and most expect that the lawsuit against President Barack Obama will lead to nothing but more headlines. That said, signs have been sent that immigration may be dealt with in some way this year, and reform is certainly badly needed. Positive changes are still a possibility in 2015.

2. Economic growth in America

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics discussed in its November employment report, 2014 has been a strong year for the U.S. economy. This year saw the unemployment rate drop by 1.2%, and the number of unemployed fell by 1.7 million individuals. November’s 12-month retrospective showed a drop of 1.2 million long-term unemployed people. The trend thus far is clearly positive, and according to The Street, 2015 is projected to see more economic improvements in growth and investment.

The drop in oil prices is a mixed bag but may ultimately help spark growth despite energy industry disadvantages. The Street’s report, from Mark Zandi of Moody Analytics, leans left, given its mention of how a wage increase might improve growth — Republicans tend to argue minimum wage increases might slow job growth or lead to cuts — but even barring that input, the overall message is positive, as is the general consensus.
3. Drones and the FAA’s upcoming changes

The rules governing drone use (or unmanned aerial vehicles) have seen a significant change in importance over the years as applications have expanded and privacy, security, and even commercial concerns have cropped up. Police have dealt with queries over privacy, while others have discussed possible business applications for the UAVs.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Congress have both been considering various issues for some time, but Congress recently pushed through a bill funding FAA modernization that could make 2015 a big year for airspace changes. In particular, airspace that was previously reserved for only airlines may see more attention from drones, and laws across states may become more clear-cut.

4. Gun control efforts in Washington, D.C.

Last year saw a great deal of gun violence and a subsequent legislative push and pull over gun control. Mass shootings in a number of states kicked of renewed efforts. Measures were introduced at both the state and federal level, but to a certain extent, gun control hit a lot of roadblocks.

Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut have promised to make 2015 a big year for control proponents. “We will redouble our efforts to stop gun violence,” said Blumenthal, according to The Blaze. “Federal laws need to be greatly strengthened.” 
5. Presidential candidacy announcements for 2016

With 2016 just around the bend, we’re nearing the time when candidates need to confirm or deny whether they’ll be running for president. Some, like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, have been putting it off for some time, while others got out early and made it clear they’d be abstaining — think Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts).

Warren told NPR in no uncertain terms: “I am not running for president. I am not running for president. You want me to put an exclamation point at the end?” Other politicians have been less direct, hinting but never saying for certain, or announcing exploratory committees and advisory boards but giving no firm answer.

Clinton has given many indications that she is interested, but says she hasn’t decided yet. While most expect that she’ll run, if she doesn’t, it will throw a major wrench in the 2016 campaign. It’s thought that Clinton won’t announce her decision until at least after the new year, but beyond that, it’s still uncertain. Either way, we’ll know soon enough — and once she’s made her plans clear, it’s likely others will start to do so as well, on both sides of the aisle.

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