I ran across this oped that addresses some rationale I, serraph, and some others on here have come around. Namely, is pursuing compromise legislation worthwhile when the opposing party isn't interested in compromising? Below is the link and some excerpts. In what ways is it apt, and in what ways does it miss the mark?
“Where [Bill] Clinton once championed welfare to work and an expanded earned-income tax credit to help the working poor, party activists want the federal government to guarantee everyone a job, a $15 minimum wage and to tax companies whose employees earn so little they need food stamps and Medicaid,” Ip wrote. “Where [Barack] Obama backed a cap on carbon-dioxide emissions and tradable permits, party activists want to force the country off almost all fossil fuels in a decade via a Green New Deal.”
Ip concluded: “Yet before Democrats conclude markets are a failure, they should recognize that market-based mechanisms have in many cases not even been given a chance.”
The United States doesn’t have a meaningful cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions, he pointed out. The private insurance markets in Obamacare have been undermined by President Trump and other Republicans. The Earned Income Tax Credit isn’t nearly as large as it could be.
All of this is true. But the main reason that Democrats — including many centrist Democrats — are moving away from market-based programs is not that they have had a change of heart. It’s that they are coming to terms with political reality.
There are two big problems with market-based policies today.
The first is that most Republican politicians aren’t interested. They oppose almost any ambitious government policy, market-based or otherwise. Today’s Republican Party is adamantly opposed to fighting climate change, expanding health insurance or to reducing income inequality.
And if Republicans are going to fight or undermine them, market-based programs probably aren’t going to happen. Such programs are often designed to be a compromise between the two parties — policies that essentially use the market to correct a market failure. I realize that some people would argue that Democrats should still promote market-based programs even if Republicans won’t.
But that brings us to the second problem.
These programs tend to be more technocratic and complex than direct government programs. As a result, they also tend to be less popular with voters (and easier to undermine). Medicare is more popular than the Obamacare insurance exchanges. The basic idea of a Green New Deal — subsidizing clean energy — is more popular than a carbon tax. A higher minimum wage is more popular than an intricate series of tax credits for job retraining.
The bottom line is that Democrats would be foolish to push for complicated market-based policies when Republicans are hostile and voters are skeptical.