In Brief: the 2008 GOP National Platform – the Economy

Part four of our series brings us to the economy. The United States has seen turmoil in its finance, banking, and housing markets for the past few years. The worst of it began to hit after the Democrats won Congress. George W. Bush was still in the White House when things started to unravel. The housing bubble burst, the collapse of Lehman Brothers caused a shock, and the “TARP” (Troubled Assets Relief Program) was passed before Barack Obama came into office.

Our GOP leaders failed on several fronts while they held power – from over-spending to the failure to address the impending Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac mortgage mess. The “we really tried…” excuses emanating from former Bush Administration staffers adds one more credibility hurdle for Republicans to clear. GOP candidates have to convince voters they’re not just going to try – they’re going to succeed next time.

Here is the outline of our Party Platform’s chapter on the Economy (“Expanding Opportunity to Promote Prosperity“).

Republican Tax Policy: Protecting Hardworking Americans

The Republican Agenda: Using Tax Relief to Grow the Economy

Lower Taxes on Families and Individuals

Keeping Good Jobs in America

Promoting Savings through the Tax Code

Fundamental Tax Reform

The Democrats Plan to Raise Your Taxes

Small Business: the Engine of Job Growth

Technology and Innovation

Developing a Flexible and Innovative Workforce

Developing a Flexible and Innovative Workforce

The Failed Model of Employer-Employee Relations

The Republican Model: Investing in People

Individual-Based Unemployment Insurance and Training

Protecting Union Workers

Stopping the Assault on the Secret Ballot

Rebuilding Homeownership

Reforming the Civil Justice System to Improve Competitiveness

Free and Fair Trade

Supporting our Agricultural Communities

The introductory remarks include these two packed paragraphs:

“Today, our economy faces challenges due to high energy costs. Our task is to strengthen our economy and build a greater degree of security – in availability of jobs, in accessibility of health care, in portability of pensions, and in affordability of energy. That is an urgent task because economic freedom – and the prosperity it makes possible – are not ends in themselves. They are means by which families and individuals can maintain their independence from government, raise their children by their own values, and build communities of self-reliant neighbors.

Economic freedom expands the prosperity pie; government can only divide it up. That is why Republicans advocate lower taxes, reasonable regulation, and smaller, smarter government. That agenda translates to more opportunity for more people. It represents the economics of inclusion, the path by which hopes become achievements. It is the way we will reach our goal of enabling everyone to have a chance to own, invest, and build.”

Well said. As is what follows under “Republican Tax Policy…”:

“The most important distinction between Republicans and the leadership of today’s Democratic Party concerning taxes is not just that we believe you should keep more of what you earn. That’s true, but there is a more fundamental distinction. It concerns the purpose of taxation. We believe government should tax only to raise money for its essential functions.”

The work ahead is to get more Americans to believe that.

Under “The Republican Agenda…” is this:

“Sound tax policy alone may not ensure economic success, but terrible tax policy does guarantee economic failure. Along with making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent so American families will not face a large tax hike, Republicans will advance tax policies to support American families, promote savings and innovation, and put us on a path to fundamental tax reform.”

I had the opportunity to speak with newly elevated Speaker Dennis Hastert a decade ago about “fundamental tax reform” – and ten years later our party is only talking about putting us “on a path” to it. For the lost hours of tax preparation, the grief caused to millions of people because of an evil tax code, and countless lost economic opportunities caused by such waste, the GOP record on the issue is shameful, disgraceful, and completely pathetic.

Under “Keeping Good Jobs in America” is this:

“America’s producers can compete successfully in the international arena – as long as they have a level playing field. Today’s tax code is tilted against them, with one of the highest corporate tax rates of all developed countries. That not only hurts American investors, managers, and the U.S. balance of trade; it also sends American jobs overseas. We support a major reduction in the corporate tax rate so that American companies stay competitive with their foreign counterparts and American jobs can remain in this country.”

That paragraph could have been written before the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and the twelve year reign of Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. Yet here we are, reading about that fact about the tax code once again.

There are too many good items in this section to highlight – so I’ll close with just two more. Under “Rebuilding Homeownership” is this (bullet point formatting is mine):

  • [G]overnment action must not implicitly encourage anyone to borrow more than they can afford to repay.
  • We do not support government bailouts of private institutions.
  • Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself.
  • We believe in the free market as the best tool to sustained prosperity and opportunity for all.

Under “Free and Fair Trade” is this:

“Greater international trade, aggressively advanced on a truly level playing field, will mean more American jobs, higher wages, and a better standard of living. It is also a matter of national security and an instrument to promote democracy and civil society in developing nations.

With 95 percent of the world’s customers outside our borders, we need to be at the table when trade rules are written to make sure that free trade is indeed a two-way street. We encourage multilateral, regional, and bilateral agreements to reduce trade barriers that limit market access for U.S. products, commodities and services.”

Do I agree with every proposed idea outlined in the Republican Party’s National Platform? Of course not. But I do agree with almost every principle that’s stated. To repeat, it’s a worthy read and a document that should be utilized by GOP candidates everywhere.

Up next: Energy & the Environment.

©2009 John Francis Biver