Monthly Archives: August 2016

Breaking Down the Party Platforms: Republicans

7 August 2016

Hello, again Insights.

A couple of weeks ago, the Republican National Convention was held in Cleveland. With the convention also is the release of the party’s platform. This post will break key parts in the six major sections. I’ll also have one for the Democrats and maybe one for the Libertarian and Green parties as well.

Part 1: Restoring the American Dream

Economy: The economy has recovered from the Great Recession, but it can still improve. The party recognizes that economic growth is slow, and policy ideas such as tax reform is a position outlined in the platform. A consistent position of the Republican Party is cutting taxes. They believe that cutting taxes fuels economic growth, which is called supply-side economics. The platform also adds that the tax code is too long and complicated. It is, the Federal tax code is 74,608 pages and growing. Just to note, the RNC is a bit hypocritical considering they are part of the corrupt system that allows for these tax loopholes. The platform has to say that to be with the people.

Part 2: A Rebirth of Constitutional Government

If there’s one thing that you hear about from Republicans, it’s that care about the Constitution, and they want a “strict interpretation” of it. I’ll extract some of the key parts of the section.

Here’s the misleading part: We heard about the First Amendment, specifically about religious liberty. However, it doesn’t appear to be for everyone based on past actions. The “religious freedom” part entails primarily to Christians and it allows for discrimination, particularly on the LGBT community on the basis of religious grounds. For example, Republicans favor “anti-terror” programs that often target Muslims because of 9/11 among other things.

The Second Amendment and gun rights are sacred to Republicans. The right to keep and bear arms is an “inalienable” right.  They also imply that with the death of Antonin Scalia, Obama’s new pick for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland would institute a new liberal majority that would ” eviscerate the Second Amendment’s fundamental protections.”Over 30,000 people die from guns in the U.S. each year. Most of them are suicides, but around 11,000 are homicides. However, the platform fails to mention it.

The Fourth Amendment’s section talks about the increasing privacy protections and(surprise) how terrorists can go around it to harm us. They also add the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act(FATCA) and for its repeal. FATCA is a law passed in 2010 that targets non-compliance by American taxpayers who use foreign accounts. The platform says this is a violation of the Fourth Amendment because it claims to search foreign accounts without warrants.

Honest Elections: The first line of this segment reads, “Honest elections are the foundation of representative government.” The second line says “We pledge to protect the voting rights of every citizen,…”. Ironically, Republicans push and pass laws that make it harder to vote, particularly for minorities. Seventeen states have new laws coming into effect this year. Wisconsin Representative Glenn Grothman(R) stated Wisconsin’s law gives an advantage to Republicans. History shows that Republicans tend to win when voter turnout is low. In 2013, the Supreme Court overturned Section 4 of 1965’s Voting Rights Act in the case Shelby County v. Holder.

Part 3: America’s Natural Resources: Agriculture, Energy, and the Environment.

Energy and the Environment have been a concern for the Republican Party. First of all, they are the only major party in the advanced world to deny climate change. The money in the system allows for big oil companies to flood their campaigns with donations, and in return, Republicans often listen to them and call for more oil a the expense of the environment.

Even though fossil fuel resources are dwindling and are non-renewable, the platform doesn’t say to increase the use of renewable energy. Instead, the RNC states that we use more coal from the ground and increase domestic production. They take aim at the Democrats stating that “they do not understand that coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource.” Some of those claims are debatable. A case study by the Union of Concerned Scientists outlays how coal plants are harmful to the environment. Examples include sulfur dioxide, which is a leading cause of acid rain, as well as the well known CO2 emissions.

Part 4: Government Reform

The Republican Party is known for its fiscal conservatism, and one policy proposal is to balance the budget. The budget deficit will be around $534 billion by the end of FY 2016 according to the Congressional Budget Office(CBO) and according to them, it is expected to rise. A constitutional amendment has been proposed by Republicans for years now to balance the budget, but it can be difficult in some years such as a recession.

Saving Social Security and Medicare:

A priority for both major parties is to preserve Social Security and Medicare. A few years ago, the Social Security trust fund began running deficits. If that trend were to continue, the funds would eventually dry up. Republicans claim that it’s effectively insolvent, but that is untrue. Contrary to that, Social Security is solvent until 2037, and Medicare is solvent until 2028. It’s 12 years until Medicare’s funds dry up, which means that there needs to be a solution addressed. The section states that “As Republicans, we oppose tax increases and believe in the power of markets to create wealth and to help secure the future of our Social Security system.” Some solutions are to raise taxes and lift the cap on taxable income. If you can’t raise taxes, then you’ll have to cut it, which is what many Republicans and even some Democrats are trying to do.

Immigration:  Immigration, especially illegal Immigration has spent some time in the forefront over the past year. Donald Trump’s comments early on in the primary called for things like building a wall along the Southern border. As Trump is the Republican nominee, his positions will be influenced in the platform. The platform explicitly calls for building a wall along the southern border.

Regulation: The GOP platform calls it the quite tyranny. It quotes “It hamstrings American business and hobbles economic growth.” The platform specifically mentions the EPA, Dept. of Health and Human Services, and the Dept. of Labor to name a few. It also says “The Environmental Protection Agency has rewritten laws to advance the Democrats’ climate change agenda.”

One major law that Democrats were proud of was the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall St. Reform Act. The GOP called it a “legislative Godzilla” that crushes small and community banks. The platform states that “Predictably, central planning of our financial sector has not created jobs, it has killed them.” Also, it states that there are more risks for the financial sector. Additionally, they state that “Republicans believe that no financial institution is too big to fail.” The problem is that major financial institutions are too big to fail RIGHT NOW and have been that way since before the Great Recession. A surprising thing in the platform is the explicit call for the reinstation of the Glass-Steagall. Glass-Steagall is a bill prohibiting banks from engaging in high-risk investments with depositor money. Republicans in the late 199os pushed for its repeal, which makes the call to reinstate Glass-Steagall so surprising.

Part 5: Great American Families, Education, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice

The GOP platform is noted for its sometimes extreme conservatism on social issues. Examples include explicitly stating that marriage is between a man and a woman. They also call for the reversal of Obergefell v. Hodges which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

Education: In the platform, it states that everyone has the chance to receive a quality education. The platform calls on for a choice in education(vouchers) which has been supported by the party for a long time. Student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt by about $400 billion. The platform states that the federal government shouldn’t be in the student loan business, although costs are lower under this system. Student loan services, as well as lobbying firms supporting these services, have given donations to Congress. Those donations affect how politicians legislate. In October, two Republican Senators Kelly Ayotte(NH) and Shelley Moore(WV) introduced the Student Loan Relief Act of 2015. The bill had language that would lower interest rates, but would be more beneficial to private loan companies. Ayotte noted that the CBO stated that the federal government would make about $50 billion in profit from student loans over the next decade, but is OK with private companies increasing profits.

Healthcare: Healthcare has been a big topic under the Obama Administration. The Affordable Care Act passed Congress in 2009 and was signed into law the following year. Republicans have pushed to repeal it dozens of times. They have stated that premiums are too high, and prescription drug prices are too high. However, the solution that is outlined by the platform committee is very similar to the system that we have now. Additionally, there has been no action by Republicans to lower the costs of prescription drugs since many of them receive donations from the pharmaceutical industry.

One government-run healthcare system is Medicaid, for low-income households. In the platform, it calls to “block grant Medicaid and other payments and to assist all patients, including those with pre-existing conditions, to obtain coverage in a robust consumer market.”

Criminal Justice: Over 2 million people are currently incarcerated in either jails or prisons. The “War on Drugs” has locked of millions for mainly nonviolent offenses. The platform brushes on it, mentioning first-time nonviolent offenders of the law in general.

Part 6: America Resurgent

The Republican Party calls for confronting dangers, supporting troops and veterans, as well as standing by our allies. Another thing that the GOP is known for is high defense spending. Their rhetoric implies that our military is small is easily pushed over. However, our defense spending is far ahead of any other nation. Republicans claim that Obama is massively cutting defense spending which he is not. A subsection is titled “Honoring and Supporting Our Veterans: A Sacred Obligation”. The Department of Veterans Affairs, according to them need to be held accountable more often. Additionally, they complain about the mistreatment of veterans, but they have blocked several pro-veteran bills in Congress.

Israel: The Republican Party stands up for Israel as the United States ally in the Middle East region. In the platform, it states that similar values to America and is the only country in the region to have freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Additionally, it states that America will continue to assist Israel to enhance its security against enemies in the Middle East. The Republican Party, as well as Israel, believe that Iran will try to bomb them and that the recent Iran Deal is a surefire way for that to happen. One alarming but not surprising thing is that the GOP denies is that Israel is an occupier of Palestine. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions(BDS) is a position that they, therefore oppose. They claim that it is anti-Semitic and “seeks to destroy Israel.” The thing is, it is a known fact that Israel is an occupier, and it is quite harsh.

Advancing Human Rights: The platform states that America is an exit for those living under tyrannical regimes. Again, it states that Radical Islamic Terrorism is an “existential threat to personal freedom and peace around the world.” The concern here is that Republicans(and to an extent, the Democrats) have long supported foreign policy initiatives that are catastrophic to the most vulnerable, thus violating human rights. The Human Rights Watch acknowledges that the U.S. has enacted national security measures such as mass surveillance programs that restrict the freedom of the press, assembly, and expression. A UN report in 2014 criticized the National Security Agency(NSA) for its mass surveillance and the United States’ overseas actions that violated human rights.

That is my Republican Party Platform breakdown. For the full Republican Party Platform, click here.