Where is there Common Ground?

It seems no one in Congress can find common ground between the parties.

Our nation’s healthcare, immigration, unemployment, and debt problems cry out for bipartisan cooperation. Instead we get gridlock and politicians maneuvering for political advantage. Economists from Stanford and the University of Chicago have argued that the political uncertainty resulting from Congress’s failure to legislate is one of the factors slowing economic growth. As long as we have divided government, we have to find some common ground. My campaign outlines exactly that.

I wholeheartedly support the bipartisan “No Labels” effort by 24 representatives in the House.  They suggest 12 common sense measures to help congress function more productively. Two examples: No budget, no pay; and allowing a bipartisan majority to override House or committee leadership in order to bring a bill to the floor for a vote.

Here are some examples of common ground:

Social Security

In 1983 the (Allen) “Greenspan Fix” was enacted to make Social Security sustainable for several more decades.  That “Fix” intended that 90% of the income in America would be subject to the Social Security tax.   Because most wages have remained flat and upper incomes have grown unexpectedly higher, only 85% of the income in America is currently taxed for Social Security.  Raising the cap on income taxed for Social Security to a level where at least 90% of the country’s income is again taxed, is a reform that both parties should be able to support.  From the Republican perspective, raising the caps should simply be seen as returning to the Reagan standard of 1983.  A Princeton economist believes that alone would cover 40% of Social Security’s shortfall.  This should be common ground.

Healthcare

Both parties acknowledge that health insurance is too expensive for low income earners.  Democrats (ACA) use a subsidy on a sliding scale  while some Republicans propose tax credits to make insurance affordable.  Both parties know that subsidizing healthcare for low income Americans will be part of our country’s healthcare future.

Both parties want  a more effective operating marketplace for purchasing health insurance.

Both parties want more transparent and available pricing information from healthcare providers.

In 2012 Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Or) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wi) offered a Medicare overhaul plan that combined Republican and Democratic proposals.  In the 1990’s some prominent Democrats had supported “premium support” proposals like Rep. Ryan now suggests.  Senator Wyden was right when he said, “The big issues require bipartisan buy-in” or you don’t get good policy.

Minimum Wage

Both parties understand that our lowest wage, working Americans need more income.  Democrats advocate a higher minimum wage.  Republicans favor the Earned Income Tax Credit to accomplish this.  Both parties acknowledge the need.  There should be common ground for a solution there.

Tax Reform

Middle income wages (inflation adjusted) have remained flat since 1980.  Upper income earnings have risen 10-50% (depending on the percentile used).  This dynamic has been termed “increasing income disparity”, “income inequality”, “widening income distribution”.  It seems to be worldwide.  No one denies it.  They only try to explain it.  It may be caused by globalization, disparities in education, increased digital technology, government policies, changes in the American family.  We don’t have to agree on the cause to agree on one thing.  That one thing is that both parties should be able to agree to at least not make  “widening income distribution” any worse by enacting a flatter, less progressive tax code.