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Posted by on Jan 14, 2007 in Economy, Politics | 15 comments

Hope from the Erosion of Party Identity

Both the NY Times and the Washington Post had articles pointing out the significant number of Republicans who voted with the Democrats on the early agenda items.

Eighty-two Republicans joined Democrats in approving an increase in the minimum wage; 68 Republicans backed the new majority’s measure that puts into force remaining recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission; 48 supported a return to pay-as-you-go budget rules, and 37 endorsed expanded embryonic stem cell research.

It is refreshing to see a trend of independence among Legislators to do what they know to be right and in the interest of their constituents. I hope the Democrats are wise enough to aggressively court these swing voters and invite their participation in crafting policy.

Meanwhile the Times points out that “…Republicans have been quietly building their own political case against Democrats, inserting policies popular with swing voters into their procedural alternatives, hoping to spring them later as 30-second advertisements”

What a sad contrast. Perhaps with non-partisan redistricting reform we might see more competitive districts and more willingness to work across party lines to appeal to the swing voters.

The GOP missed so many chances to craft balanced policy. They could have increased the minimum wage with a few appropriate breaks for business that might be negatively impacted. But rather than reach a wise compromise they allowed the Democrats to pass a law without such protections.

When they passed the Medicare Plan D they could have allowed the purchase of drugs overseas and they could have allowed all the relatively small insurers to pool together to negotiate with the Drug companies. But rather than stay true to their party philosophy of promoting competition they allowed the Democrats to pass a law that allows the government rather than the market to determine prices. They seem, to a laymen, to have laid down for Big Pharma at the expense of senior citizens on fixed incomes.

Instead of promoting competition in the energy industry they craft laws that favor the most destructive fuels.

The Administration gives no bid contracts to vendors in Iraq and Katrina.

Even Health care costs could drop considerably if obstacles to interstate competition were reduced along with increased standardization of administration.

I am a believer that open and fair competition makes participants stronger and efficient. But to me it is becoming fiction that the GOP stands for promoting market forces. Unless my faith is restored at some point I may abandon my political neutrality and throw in with the Democrats, not because I think they are smarter but because they are relatively more honorable and true to their values.

Meanwhile my faith in government is partially restored by the wise representatives willing to cross party lines in the spirit of not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good.

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