Are there any lessons to be learned from the recent federal budget negotiations?

October 24, 2013

 

At this point, I’m assuming you are probably sick and tired of hearing all of the discussions/arguments about the US federal budget negotiations, the fiscal cliff, the shutdown of the federal government, kicking the can down the road, sequesters, who won/lost, and the like. I know I am.

But for an analyst of any sort, there is a lesson that can be extracted from this.

You have to recognize that this is not the first time this type of thing happened, and it appears that it will not be the last. When this round began, some commentators and reporters seemed to regard this as a brand-new phenomenon, but over time, more experienced analysts and commentators began to draw comparisons with similar events in the 1990s and even before.

What became clear is that the Congress and the President have gone through this particular “process” before – many, many times. What is interesting is that there are some political analysts who, when this all began, accurately predicted the final outcomes. One of them, and I’m sure not the only one, is Bob Beckel, a longtime Democrat party consultant, and a contributor to Fox News as a member of The Five and in other ways.

His years of experience in dealing with national politics, and his knowledge of the people and processes involved, enabled him, early on, to predict what became the eventual outcome, including when and how the entire process would finally be resolved.

For the CI analyst, the lesson is that if you are looking at an area where there is some question about the intentions and capabilities of parties, but where there are existing commentators and/or analysts, consider what they are saying. But do not just look for the best reasoned, the most famous, or the most fact-based conclusion. Look at the commentator’s overall track record. Have any of these people made predictions or estimates in the past? If so, how successful where they?

It is easy to make predictions. It is rare to be held to them. For example, many years ago one media analyst reviewed a political talk show where the participants were encouraged to make predictions, very specific predictions, about political events in the near future. As I recall the results, none of the regular participants had an accuracy level exceeding 50%[1].

 


[1] For an amusing current look at this subject, visit http://www.pundittracker.com/ .



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