Have Republicans Forgotten the Purpose of a Political Party?

Leave aside the broader health care reform debate and what the Democrats want out of this process. Why are the Republicans not using their elected offices to advance policies that serve their own supporters?

Their main voting constituency is middle class (or higher) white families in the suburbs, particularly the husbands and fathers in that constituency. They don’t face the raft of problems that others do in our society. But one big problem that they do face is that something beyond their control happens to someone in their family. Medical catastrophes have to rank high on that list — they certainly do for me. If a member of my family were to be afflicted with an expensive medical condition, then I am financialy viable only for as long as I stay insured with my current employer. Put simply, there are gaps in private insurance markets that leave such families exposed. This is plain to see and should be the focus of Republican efforts on health care reform, along the lines that I have discussed over the past six months (most recently here).

Paul Krugman sums it up pretty well:

What really struck me about the meeting, however, was the inability of Republicans to explain how they propose dealing with the issue that, rightly, is at the emotional center of much health care debate: the plight of Americans who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions. In other advanced countries, everyone gets essential care whatever their medical history. But in America, a bout of cancer, an inherited genetic disorder, or even, in some states, having been a victim of domestic violence can make you uninsurable, and thus make adequate health care unaffordable.

You don’t succeed as a political party by denying other political parties the opportunity to craft policy that serves their constituents. You succeed as a political party when you craft policy that serves your constituents. Even naked self-interest by the two political parties should be generating better results than what we are seeing.

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About Andrew Samwick 89 Articles

Affiliation: Dartmouth College

Andrew Samwick is a professor of economics and Director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

He is most widely known for his work on the economics of retirement, and his scholarly work has covered a range of topics, including pensions, saving, taxation, portfolio choice, and executive compensation.

In July 2003, Samwick joined the staff of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, serving for a year as its chief economist and helping to direct the work of about 20 economists in support of the three Presidential appointees on the Council.

Visit: Andrew Samwick's Page

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