The Only Difference

In spite of the constant blast of hot air, which is characteristic of all politicians, there are actually only a few issues in which Republicans differ from Democrats.

Republicans prefer to pay double price for their health care. 200% of what health care costs in the highest rated countries sounds like a good deal to them. This is a mysterious preference, to my way of thinking at least. Perhaps it comes from a misunderstanding by members of Congress, whose health care insurance is heavily subsidized by tax dollars. Maybe they think that everyone gets such a benefit, although millions have no health care insurance at all. Or it may come from a desire to support business, specifically, the health insurance business, which has no actual product, but still takes one out of every three dollars we spend on health care. One listens almost daily to assertions that health care in the US is the world’s finest. One wonders how this claim can be entertained when countries with national plans are routinely rated the best. Aside from that, the Republican position on health care is just like the Democrats’.

Republicans want to do away with government to “save money”. There is a sharp difference of opinion on how far the federal government can be decimated before catastrophe arrives. Republicans believe that it is not possible for any part of the federal government to perform efficiently, and that most of them are unnecessary anyway. The conclusion they reach is that the few necessary agencies should be given to the more efficient private sector, the rest shuttered. They haven’t explained how the private sector would be more efficient when it begins with a mandate for profit and requirement to pay income tax.  They presumably mean practically everything would be shut down, which would include education, environment, all regulatory agencies, transportation, research, all maintenance of data, and so on. There would be great freedom in not having these encumbrances, they say. The only drawbacks would be that not everything would actually be in working order, it would be impossible to get anything done, national government would be flying blind without any information about things, our commercial competitiveness would be lost without basic research, and there would probably be a few minor unexpected consequences. Aside from that, the party positions are nearly identical.

Republicans would like to reduce all taxes to the lowest level possible. For unexplained reasons Republicans think US taxes are truly exorbitant and out of control. It has never been adequately elucidated why they believe this, since commonly available charts show that our taxes are fifth lowest of all 35 OECD countries. Perhaps they have some objective number in mind, say an ideal of 5% of gross income, rather than a comparison to other countries. It’s all very curious.

As you can see, the parties’ positions on these things are pretty much the same. Democratic positions are based on what we know is true. Republican positions are based on…something.

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