But sometimes policy solutions require difficult

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But sometimes policy solutions require difficult votes. Group costs vs. diffuse benefits : we know that Congress is set up to grant small groups benefits while the diffuse public pays for them. But policy solutions usually require just the opposite. Ideological battles : in a polarized Congress, MCs want to win ideological battles first and solve problems second. Can problems be solved without someone having to give ground on ideology?
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Two Difficult Policy Problems Sometimes public policy problems are so obvious that Americans of just about every ideological stripe agree that they exist. Of course, they may disagree on the solutions to these problems. Two examples from your reading: Tax reform Social security
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Tax Reform: The Problem Through an ever-expanding series of loopholes, by the mid-1980s the tax code had become expensive to comply with, it included market-distorting incentives, and treated many people with similar incomes vastly differently.
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Social Security: The Problem Social Security is an example of a successful government program. It has virtually eliminated the devastating poverty that often accompanied old age in the U.S. Although we tend to think of social security as an insurance policy, it’s really a “pay as you go system”: it only has enough money in its accounts to finance a few years (at best) of benefit checks This was fine when the population was young and full of workers. But today, there are fewer and fewer workers for each retiree.
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The Political Challenges Typically we look at these problems through a public policy lens. What’s the best solution? Douglas Arnold looks at these problems through a political lens. How did the incentives faced by politicians get us to this point? How do those incentives make different solutions more or less politically feasible?
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Overcoming the Challenges: Tax Reform Traceability” : Meet in closed-door sessions with votes off-the-record. Make the final vote an omnibus bill. Group costs vs. diffuse benefits : Make the diffuse benefits so great (i.e., a big cut in the tax rate) that they become salient to the public. Avoid redistribution across geography or income classes. Helps to have the president on your side; he can make these benefits salient. Ideological battles : Make tax reform revenue-neutral. The Result: Success . Tax Reform passes, eliminating billions of dollars of loopholes and vastly simplifying the tax code.
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Overcoming the Challenges: Social Security 1.“ Traceability” : l Social Security is a salient program, and the doomsday scenario is far off. Legislators more likely to be blamed for today’s painful solution than credited for tomorrow’s avoided disaster. 2.Group costs vs. diffuse benefits : l Most proposals do not affect those who are current recipients or near retirement.
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