Brief Discussion of Centrist Policies in a Polarized World:
Free Monday February 28 and Tuesday March 1, 2022.
Many Americans are experiencing increased financial stress even though the economy has performed well in the last several years. Student debt levels and the number of overextended borrowers continue to increase. Health Insurance premiums in state exchange health insurance markets are unstable and many state exchange markets have few providers. People are paying more for out-of-pocket for health care. High debt levels and the lack of funds for basic emergencies have persuaded many Americans to delay or reduce contributions to their retirement savings plan.
The policy debates on student debt, health care, and retirement income in Washington follow a similar pattern. Conservatives offer a free market approach – reduction of financial assistance to student borrowers, repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and private accounts inside Social Security. Liberals offer expanded government programs – free or debt-free colleges, Medicare for all, and expansion of Social Security. In most cases, the conservative proposals would increase household financial risk while the liberal proposals are often unaffordable and poorly designed. This book analyzes and compares conservative and liberal approaches to student debt, health care, and retirement income.
The book also outlines a centrist economically feasible policy agenda in each area, with the goal of reducing household financial risk. The centrist agenda on college costs and student debt targets financial assistance and debt relief to students and borrowers in greatest need. The centrist health care agenda fixes problems with the Affordable Care Act and reduces distortions caused by high out-of-pocket costs and the most expensive health care cases. The centrist agenda seeks to expand health insurance and retirement benefits for contractors and workers at firms without employer-based benefit plans. The centrist agenda changes rules governing 401(k) plans and IRAs to facilitate increased savings by people with high debt levels and very little cash saved for emergencies. The centrist agenda includes an honest discussion on Social Security, which will likely infuriate both the left and the right.