Acton Institute Powerblog

What Do Democrats and Republicans Agree On?

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

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
7. Start-ups
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.

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).


  • Ken

    When I look at the areas of agreement the NYT’s Lowrey lists my instinct is to question what she means by agree. In my experience with the recent developments on these issues, I don’t see agreement at all, at least where solutions are concerned.

    Take for instance the energy matter where the Obama Adm according to Heritage in an August 13 post has done the following:

    “Indeed, for evidence of oil companies’ appetite for economic growth, one need look no further than the Department of the Interior’s recent $1.7 billion lease sale in the central Gulf of Mexico.But while this sale was a positive development for American energy production, the Obama Administration is doing everything in its power to prevent companies that obtain offshore leases from actually drilling and producing oil—a fact evidenced by a new lawsuit recently filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims by an independent U.S. oil and gas company.”I’d wager that the same goes for everything else on Lowrey’s list.