The conventional wisdom is that Democratic control of the House of Representatives will lead to renewed gridlock in Washington and that House Democrats will focus much of their energy on investigating President Donald Trump and may go so far as to impeach him. If politics as usual rules the day, it will represent a missed opportunity.
Jobs, health care and tax relief are at the top of most voters’ wish lists. The American people will benefit greatly if Trump and a divided Congress decide to put politics on the back burner for a while and actually address the issues that matter most to the voters who elected them.
There is considerable agreement between promises made by Trump and the Democratic Party platform on these and other critical issues. If Trump and Democrats in Congress decide to work together instead of (or in spite of) fussing, fighting and arguing, they could accomplish a great deal.
In the days leading up to the recent election, Trump began promising a middle-class tax cut. He seems to be operating on the assumption that he will not get Democratic support. But the Democratic Party platform says, “We will offer tax relief to hard working, middle-class families for the cost squeeze they have faced for years from rising health care, childcare, education, and other expenses.” Assuming that any attempts to add controversial provisions to such a bill can be avoided, a middle-class tax cut should pass easily with broad bipartisan support.
Hopefully, that will pave the way for further cooperation.
Trump has said repeatedly that he will put a health care plan in place that will cover everyone, with better coverage, at lower cost. Republicans in Congress have tried repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act, even without a suitable replacement. With Democrats in control of the House, any further attempts at repeal are certain to fail. However, some Democrats have their own plan for repealing the Affordable Care Act, and it comes with a replacement that would fulfill Trump’s promise. It’s called Medicare for all.
Short of Medicare for all, the Democratic platform offers a second alternative, which would fix the major flaw in the Affordable Care Act: “Americans should be able to access public coverage through a public option.”
Properly structured, a public option for health insurance would offer a single-payer health plan to anyone who wants that option, without requiring anyone who is leery of a government-run plan to sign on. Without the involvement of private, for-profit insurance companies, and with Medicare covering a lot of the cost of health care for people with serious health issues, a public option could offer significant savings to participants.
Trump promised to bring back well-paying jobs. The Democratic platform says, “We are committed to doing everything we can to build a full-employment economy, where everyone has a job that pays enough to raise a family and live in dignity with a sense of purpose.” With our infrastructure in dire need of massive repairs, public works projects could create lots of well-paying jobs.
A Democratic House of Representatives and Trump may not be a match made in heaven, but with a little effort and a willingness to look beyond obvious points of contention, this could be a very beneficial marriage of convenience.
If Trump and Democrats in Congress work together to put a strong jobs program in place, provide tax relief for middle-income taxpayers, and make health care truly affordable for all, it would represent a level of accomplishment for the federal government not seen in over four decades. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Winston Apple is a retired teacher and a member of the Democratic National Committee.