What economic issues do America’s two main political parties agree on? The short answer: not much. But the New York Time‘s Annie Lowrey identifies eight areas of overlap:
1. Tax simplification
2. Regulatory simplification
3. Fannie and Freddie
4. Avoiding the fiscal cliff
5. Son of Debt Ceiling
6. Drill, baby, drill
8. Iran sanctions
What is interesting about the list is that except for the items that are overly obvious (e.g., #4 could be restated as “Avoid the Apocalypse), the areas of agreement are concerns that would be common to corporate lobbyists—and ignored by the general public. This is probably to be expected since the political parties are heavily influenced by lobbyists. But another reason may be that if politicians followed the bipartisan advice of economists, they’d never get elected.
For instance, NPR’s Planet Money asked a panel of economists (mostly left-leaning, though with a couple of libertarians thrown into the mix) to come up a economic platform for a presidential candidate. They mostly agree on the following items:
1. Eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction.
2. Eliminate the deduction for employer-provided health insurance.
3. Eliminate taxes on corporations.
4. Eliminate the individual income tax and payroll tax.
5. Tax things we don’t like. (e.g., pollution)
6. Legalize drugs, or at least marijuana.
As the Planet Money hosts noted and the economists all admitted, to propose such a platform would be a political suicide. So that might explain why the Democrats and Republicans focus instead on pandering to intra-party special interests rather than finding area of agreement.