Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Our contribution to the year-end reviews and predictions

The media pundits and anyone else with megaphones are shouting about year-end awards and predictions. We’d hate to miss the fun, so here are our contributions.

Most 2015 political accomplishments have been well-covered in traditional and social media. Do any politicos deserve recognition for something in 2015 that failed to garner appropriate attention?

Pignanelli: "Politics is more difficult than physics.” — Albert Einstein

In recognition of the resuscitating Star Wars influence, Obi-Wan Kenobi is paraphrased to describe State Auditor John Dougall as the "The Force that surrounds us and penetrates us." Just the fears of Dougall’s performance audits have impacted many Utah government officials in their functions.

Utah is a center of financial services in the country, providing us enormous economic and community benefits. But this advantage is threatened as America's state-chartered banks are struggling with burdensome federal regulations. With little media attention, Congresswoman Mia Love sponsored legislation to help rectify this national and local difficulty.

Most Republicans like Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams regardless of his party affiliation. But some left-wing activists despise his successful bipartisan consensus-building and refusal to engage in ideological prattle.

National Democratic Party spokesmen love to harangue Congressman Jason Chaffetz (and he enjoys giving it back). But through his bipartisan activities, the chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee has the affection of colleagues from both sides.

Mayor-elect Jackie Biskupski demonstrated how shrewd retail campaigning can overcome tough odds. Her campaign manager, Lindsay Barenz, deserves praise for developing — and sticking to — a smart strategy.

The Governor's Office of Economic Development and its ally, the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, capture attention when a big company locates here. But what is overlooked is the amount of hard work the staff of these organizations expend to keep Utah on top of the heap.

House Speaker Greg Hughes’ proposal of a provider tax to fund Medicaid expansion dramatically altered the course of this debate in Utah, and possibly in other states. It also opened the door for other funding options.

Webb: I appreciated the members of Utah’s congressional delegation who contributed to a reasonably good congressional year by supporting important bipartisan legislation dealing with international trade, an omnibus spending package, transportation funding and education reform.

I was disappointed by the many Republican candidates and incumbents, some from Utah, who pandered to the far right, damaging the Republican brand with mainstream voters and hurting the party’s chances to win the presidency in 2016 and maintain control of the U.S. Senate. Enacting conservative policies will require winning the presidency this year, not dying on the sword of far-right ideologies.

2016 promises to be a lot of fun for anyone who enjoys politics. Any predictions? 

Pignanelli: With the appropriate conditions and caveats that allow me to escape responsibility when wrong and to use the taunt “I told you so” when I am right, I hereby predict:

Donald Trump wins at least two early primaries, and keeps him a contender for Super Tuesday.

The outcome of the presidential election is determined by if two external factors occur by November 2016 — a recession and terrorist attack.

The presidential ticket of both parties will directly impact many local races in Utah, especially for the Legislature, county positions and possibly a congressional seat.

Medicaid expansion is funded through a mechanism that satisfies the concerns of House Republicans.

Webb: It’s going to be quite a remarkable year … almost like a fairy tale. Congressional Republicans will come to their senses, govern with moderation, and pass key bipartisan legislation that unifies the country. Voters decide they like a Congress that actually solves problems. Republicans maintain House control by wide margins and win 60 seats in the Senate.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump concludes that insulting people is a lot more fun than having to actually govern a large country. So he challenges the manhood of white American males — the only interest group he hadn’t yet alienated — calling them “pathetic low-energy losers” if they aren’t rich, famous and haven’t had at least three gorgeous wives. Trump finally fades in the polls, starts a reality TV show, “The Biggest Insulter,” and continues to dominate each news cycle.

Ted Cruz is arrested and deported on a spaceship after a new movie, “Men in Black IV,” reveals he is actually an alien from another galaxy attempting to take over the world. “It was his crazy eyes,” says Agent J after capturing the intergalactic imposter.

The four remaining legitimate candidates, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, John Kasich and JebBush, sneak off to a secret campaign retreat and then announce they will run as a four-person ticket with Rubio as president, Kasich as VP, Bush as secretary of state, and Christie as secretary of defense.

Hillary Clinton announces Bill as her VP running mate.

The Rubio/Kasich/Bush/Christie ticket easily wins Ohio (where Kasich is governor) and Florida (where Rubio and Bush are from) and handily defeats Clinton/Clinton.

With total control of Washington, Republicans balance the budget, save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, pass comprehensive immigration reform, simplify the tax code, defeat ISIS, and we all live happily ever after.

Happy New Year!