- - Monday, November 18, 2019

With Thanksgiving approaching, a common complaint I hear is that the mix of political views at holiday gatherings can create some tense moments.

However, there’s no need to dread conflict during dinner. In fact, a conversation handled the right way may actually show your family that they have more in common than they think.

The key is to talk about issues from common ground. Many liberals don’t understand that conservatives care just as much as they do (maybe more) about clean air and water, helping the poor, ensuring no one goes without needed health care, and creating jobs so everyone has a chance to live the American Dream.


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Unfortunately for liberals, history has proven that most of their big-government policy solutions have been failures. Indeed, they’ve often hurt the people they were intended to help. Smaller-government solutions, by contrast, have consistently produced the outcomes most of us seek.

Here are a few issues you might encounter over the holidays and how you could address them. You might actually win over Uncle John — or at least keep the bickering to a minimum.



1) Helping America’s poor:

We’ve spent trillions on the War on Poverty since it began more than 50 years ago, yet the poverty rate still hovers around 12 percent to 15 percent. Today, we spend a trillion dollars a year on federal, state and local welfare programs, yet 40 million Americans are still considered poor. If we divided that $1 trillion among 40 million people and gave it to them directly, we could hand a family of four $100,000 a year.

So why haven’t we ended poverty yet? Because the current welfare system discourages work, discourages families from staying together and encourages dependence on government. In other words, welfare keeps the poor poor.

While we can provide a safety net for those who truly need it, it’s critical that we limit how long able-bodied people can be on welfare, create work requirements as a condition for receiving benefits and help recipients learn job skills so they can stop depending on taxpayers.

In many instances, churches and charities can better help those in need by administering aid more compassionately, weeding out those defrauding the system, and ensuring that more aid dollars get to the needy rather than go to the overhead of a giant bureaucracy.

2) Better pay:

The higher corporate taxes some are proposing to pay for expanding government would leave less money for companies to invest, grow, and create more and better-paying jobs. As we’ve seen after the recent tax cuts and deregulation efforts, many U.S. businesses have been adding jobs and increasing wages, and businesses that went overseas for lower tax rates have returned to America. As a result, unemployment is at a 50-year low. Moreover, the poor haven’t been left behind; in fact, the lowest-income workers have seen the largest percentage increases in pay.

Hearing these facts over Thanksgiving turkey might make Aunt Betty reconsider her plans to protest the town’s biggest employer for not paying its “fair share” of taxes.

3) Fixing health care:

Under President Obama’s health care reform, health insurance premiums doubled in the first four years and choices decreased. Now, some are proposing even more government control with Medicare for All. A Heritage Foundation analysis shows that to fund such a proposal, every working American would have to pay an additional 21 cents of every dollar earned on top of the taxes he already pays. Even after the supposed savings the plan would deliver, almost three quarters of Americans would be worse off financially than under the current system.

Instead, we should be eliminating regulations that dictate the coverage consumers are forced to buy. That would immediately lower prices, as people would only buy the types of coverage they needed. Additionally, creating transparency in health care pricing and giving individuals more power to shop around for better prices would create competition among providers. Just as with cars, computers and even groceries, greater competition incentivizes providers to lower prices and develop more choices to attract customers.

The truly needy could continue to get assistance through Medicaid, but forcing everyone onto a government system and saddling them with outrageous taxes to pay for it isn’t the answer.

If you can cut through the political doublespeak and discuss the real cost of Medicare for All over pumpkin pie, Cousin Ted might just realize that the politicians weren’t exactly honest in their sales pitch.

If you’re looking for more ways to talk about topics from health care to education to the Second Amendment and more, Heritage has a website devoted to facts, figures and compelling messaging about successful small-government solutions for the biggest issues America faces.

May your Thanksgiving be what it was always meant to be — a time that brings your family closer together, not one that pushes them apart.

Happy Thanksgiving!

• Kay Coles James is president of The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).

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