In Brief: the 2008 GOP National Platform – Government Reform

Up next in this run through the Republican Party National Platform is the chapter “Government Reform,” which opens curiously:

“The American people believe Washington is broken – and for good reason. Short-term politics overshadow the long-term interests of the nation. Our national legislature uses a budget process devised long before the Internet and seems unable to deal in realistic ways with the most pressing problems of families, businesses, and communities. Members of Congress have been indicted for violating the public trust. Public disgust with Washington is entirely warranted.”

Realize that this is a non-confession confession of our Party’s governing sins. When this was written last year, a Republican was finishing his second term in the White House. And the GOP had controlled the U.S. House for 12 of the previous 14 years, and the U.S. Senate for a substantial part of that time.

The next paragraph begins:

“Republicans will uphold and defend our party’s core principles: Constrain the federal government to its legitimate constitutional functions. Let it empower people, while limiting its reach into their lives. Spend only what is necessary, and tax only to raise revenue for essential government functions. Unleash the power of enterprise, innovation, civic energy, and the American spirit – and never pretend that government is a substitute for family or community.”

The disconnect between conservative leaning independent voters and the Republican Party will continue to exist as long as a credibility gap persists. With all due respect to the good done during the Bush/Hastert years (and there was some good), you can’t deny the public lost confidence in a big spending GOP that didn’t make much of an effort to sell conservative principles while they held power.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the language of the Platform. My point is that Republican leaders must make a clean break from the past so the public will have more confidence that this time if they elect Republicans this time they’ll actually get the job done.

Of course at that time Congressional Democrats were 18 months into making things worse, but it’s not credible to pretend that all of the problems outlined could be laid at the feet of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Here is the outline of the chapter:

Reforming Government to Serve the People

Washington’s Failure: the Scope of the Problem

The Budget Process – A Fraud that Guarantees Runaway Spending

A Plan to Control Spending

Empowering the States, Improving Public Services

Congress Must Improve Oversight of Government Programs

Improving the Work of Government

Domestic Disaster Response

Restoring Our Infrastructure

Entitlement Reform

Social Security
Medicare and Medicaid

Appointing Constitutionalist Judges for the Nation’s Courts

Protecting the Right to Vote in Fair Elections

Guaranteeing a Constitutional Census in 2010

Working with Americans in the Territories

Preserving the District of Columbia

Under “Washington’s failure…” are these facts – note that it’s worse a year later:

  • “The federal government collects $2.7 trillion a year from American families and businesses. That’s $7.4 billion a day.
  • Even worse, it spends over $3 trillion a year: $8.2 billion a day. Why? Largely because those who created this bloated government will not admit a single mistake or abolish a single program.
  • Here are some staggering examples of the overall problem:
    • Recent audits show that 22% of all federal programs are ineffective or incapable of demonstrating results.
    • 69 separate programs, administered by 10 different agencies, provide education or care to children under the age of 5.
    • Nine separate agencies administer 44 different programs for job training.
    • 23 separate programs, each with its own overhead, provide housing assistance to the elderly.

With so many redundant, inefficient, and ineffective federal programs, it is no wonder that the American people have so little confidence in Washington to act effectively when federal action is really needed.”

The following sentence is included under “The Budget Process…” heading:

“[W]hile government requires corporations to budget for future pension and health care costs, our government ignores those requirements. No family or private sector business could keep its books the way Washington keeps ours.”

Under “A Plan to Control Spending” is this:

“Republicans will attack wasteful Washington spending immediately. Current procedures should be replaced with simplicity and transparency.”

Again, they might have wanted to word that a little differently: “Republicans will attack wasteful Washington spending immediate – really – this time we’re not kidding.”

Also listed are examples of the words “simplicity and transparency.” All of this material should be read and understood by candidates for Congress.

Under “Empowering the States…” it mentions “the model of Republican welfare reform…” which was passed in 1996. Unfortunately that was the last domestic policy reform passed by the Republican held Congress. They propose this one – which is one of my personal favorites:

“[W]e propose a National Sunset Commission to review all federal programs and recommend which of them should be terminated due to redundancy, waste, or intrusion into the American family.”

The heading – “Congress Must Improve Oversight of Government Programs” – is not new to readers of this website. We’ve been beating this drum on both the federal and state level for a long time. Here’s a sentence that sums it up:

“Congress has a fundamental duty to conduct meaningful oversight on the effectiveness of government programs…”

Under “Entitlement Reform” are good summaries of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. To repeat – GOP candidates must understand this material and be unafraid of discussing the ugly reality that faces this country if reforms aren’t forthcoming.

With a U.S. President who hails from Chicago, the “Protecting the Right to Vote in Fair Elections” heading is all the more timely. ACORN and other special interest groups have nothing on Chicago Democrats, and if Republicans don’t get serious about voter fraud, this country will experience all of the negative change Obama & Company would like to inflict on it.

“Guaranteeing a Constitutional Census in 2010” will continue to be a pitch-battle during the next few years. Here is the text under that heading:

“The integrity of the 2010 census, proportioning congressional representation among the states, must be preserved. The census should count every person legally abiding in the United States in an actual enumeration. We urge all who are legally eligible to participate in the census count to do so; at the same time, we urge Congress to specify – and to constitutionally justify – which census questions require a response.”

Up next: the Economy.