My dad was impressed with the New York Times chart this weekend comparing the positions of the various candidates, on a variety of issues.
I thought it was useful, mostly to demonstrate the similarities within the parties, and the large gulf between them. In a chart that small, it doesn’t go too much into detail, so the nuances aren’t really specified. So on taxes, the Democrats are all for repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy; the Republicans largely want to make them permanent.
On health care, I think the descriptions are less than helpful. They lead the description of the Democratic proposals by emphasizing the mandate on individual to get coverage (and of the Republican proposals their opposition to any mandate).
This is a difference between the Ds and Rs, but its not the fundamental one. The vast majority of voters want coverage, so the issue isn’t the requirement to have it: it’s what the plan does to break down barriers to get coverage.
The real dividing line is that the Ds want to expand subsidized group coverage, through employers or public programs, and by creating/opening up purchasing pools. They would place greater regulation over insurers, especially with their ability to deny people for “pre-existing conditions.”
The Rs say they are “for free-market, consumer-based system,” and the Times merely repeats their rhetoric without describing what that means. The Rs largely do not support setting a standard for employer health coverage, or expanding public programs–or the revenues that make the coverage expansions possible. The help their proposals offer, if any, is some tax credits to buy coverage in the individual market–where people can be denied for “pre-existing conditions.” Rather than further regulating insurers, they argue that less regulation would allow insurers to offer cheaper plans with scaled-back benefits.
The chart does not really help illuminate these important distinctions–ones that will have a direct impact on people’s lives.