The health care cul-de-sac

But when your main challenges involve men who aren’t working, wages that aren’t rising, families that aren’t forming and communities that are collapsing, constantly overhauling health insurance is at best an indirect response, at worst a non sequitur. Especially since right now health care inflation is relatively low, the deficit has temporarily stabilized and Obamacare is less disruptive than both optimistic and pessimistic accounts suggested.

There are better options for both parties. Republicans could get off the repeal-and-replace merry-go-round and actually try to govern on a version of the Trump agenda: With one hand, cut corporate taxes and slash regulations to spur growth; with the other, spend on infrastructure to boost blue-collar work, cut payroll taxes and increase the child tax credit, and push to reduce low-skilled immigration. Pay for some of it with caps on tax breaks, let paying for the rest wait for another day.

Democrats, meanwhile, could let single-payer dreams wait (or just die) and think instead about spending that supports work and family directly. They could look at proposals for a larger earned-income tax credit, a family allowance, and let the “job guarantee” and “guaranteed basic income” factions fight things out. If they want to go big in 2020, they could run on wage subsidies and public works, not another disruptive health care vision.