We need to find common ground

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After listening to the president’s recent State of the Union address, I expressed optimism about his vision for pursuing an agenda that inspires cooperation, commonsense and compromise. The two parties, if they’re serious about working together, can end the partisan divide in Washington and help enhance Americans’ quality of life in the 21st century and beyond.

While this is entirely possible, it’s hard not to notice some of the policies my Democrat colleagues are pitching to the American people these days. Believe me, I’m all for debate, exchanging ideas – even if they’re ideas I’m unlikely to support – and listening to what people have to say. That said, a few of these recent proposals show just how disconnected some of my colleagues have become with many of the realities ordinary Americans face on a day-to-day basis.

To highlight some of these policy differences, I think it’s worth reviewing a few numbers.

First, $3,000. It might not seem like a substantial amount of money, but that’s how much more American families could be shelling out for their energy bills if the Democrats’ gimmicky “Green New Deal” were to be enacted. I can speak for most South Dakotans when I say there are few families that could easily absorb an extra $3,000 hit to their budget just to cover the cost of a bill that targets “harmful” methane emissions from cows, among other things.

Then there’s $32 trillion. Yes, trillion with a “t.” That’s how much the Democrats’ “Medicare for All” government-run health care plan would cost over the course of just 10 years. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking – that $32 trillion is a lot of money – you’re right. It’s actually equivalent to more than two times the entire federal discretionary budget.

Some federal lawmakers might wish money grew on trees, but it doesn’t. It comes from you, the taxpayer. So in order to raise the staggering $32 trillion it would take to fund a government-run health care system that would jeopardize Medicare as we know it, they would need to raise something else, too: your taxes.

Another number: 175 million. Since Medicare for All would eliminate employer-sponsored insurance, the insurance you might already have and prefer, 175 million Americans would lose their health care coverage and be forced into a government-run replacement. When it comes to the future of health care, I don’t think higher taxes and getting kicked off of insurance plans is exactly what the American people had in mind.

Republicans, on the other hand, are working to make life better for the American people, and we’d welcome help from our Democrat colleagues on serious proposals that would help strengthen the economy and create more opportunities for people. The economy is growing, unemployment is low and wages are rising. The hard work continues, and we’re looking for additional ways to further expand the benefits of tax reform, lower Americans’ cost of living, and make health care more affordable, while also improving the quality of care.

And that brings me to the most important number: one. We want to do all of these things while leaving you in charge of your own decisions. You know better than anyone else about how to spend your money, make choices for your family, and prepare for future opportunities. I truly hope Democrats are willing to join us in this effort. We can find common ground if we look for it, and when we do, we can keep the economy growing and help keep the American dream alive.

—By Sen. John Thune