“All politics is local.” It begins there, anyway. Recently, I had the opportunity to observe activity as the county chapter of the Republican Party was in the process of selecting candidates for upcoming electoral races. It was democracy in action, and a peaceful event at that.
Moving on, politics is less than a peaceful event at the national level. In one sense, it never has been peaceful. That said, partisanship has risen to a new high, and each ensuing week and month, surprises us over and over.
As I began research for this column, I pulled up an earlier column written for the Free Press back in February, 2010. It was a review of the three major political parties and their platforms, but primarily focused on the Republican Party, as it was my party affiliation as well.
I gave them high marks for their presentation on the web site, and for the user friendly set of guiding principles.
That was then.
Fast forward to today; the wordy platform document has grown significantly in size to 66 pages. It can be downloaded on the RNC’s web page as a pdf.
Assuming the platform is updated only every four years, suffice it to say, there are numerous items in the platform policy which have never been addressed, neither by Congressional members of the Republican Party, nor the current President. In fact, there are a few notable issues which Congress and the President have reversed their position and moved aggressively in the opposite direction.
For instance, on page 35 of the policy platform, it addresses “Crony Capitalism and Corporate Welfare.” It is included here;
“Cronyism is inherent in the progressive vision of the administrative state. When government uses taxpayer funding and resources to give special advantages to private companies, it distorts the free market and erodes public trust in our political system. By enlarging the scope of government and placing enormous power in the hands of bureaucrats, it multiplies opportunities for corruption and favoritism. It is the enemy of reform in education, the workplace, and healthcare. It gives us financial regulation that protects the large at the cost of the small. It is inherent in every part of the current healthcare law, which is packed with corporate welfare. Crony capitalism gives us special interest tax breaks, custom-designed regulations, and special exemptions for favored parties. The Solyndra debacle is a perfect example. It creates both subsidies and restrictions to tilt the market one way or the other. By putting the weight of government behind the status quo, it leads to economic stagnation. We applaud the Republican Members of Congress who have taken the lead in fighting crony capitalism and urge others to rally to their cause.”
One might well argue whether the recently passed “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” of 2018 successfully addresses and restricts cronyism and corporate welfare.
However, that argument is increasingly weakened as the federal deficit increases substantially, projected to rise by more than $1.5 trillion in the coming years, and tax cuts given to the top income earners and corporations have not generated any significant amount of increased employment activity. The current economic trend began during the recovery phase of the Great Recession and continues to this day.
Nor have they increased investment in research and manufacturing capacity beyond current industry trends. In actuality, the bulk of tax refunds has been used for corporate buy-backs of stock, which increased their value, benefiting no one else.
I would add, prior to the current congressional turnover in majority control of the House to the Democrat Party members, the federal purse has been used for rewarding corporate interests and favored parties, rather than restoring fiscally conservative ideals for responsible government.
Another section, “Freeing Financial Markets,” attacks the Dodd-Frank provisions which were created to restrain further abuses by the financial markets, which contributed to the financial meltdown in 2007-2008.
It is one thing to call for reform and amend parts of legislation while leaving the rest to continue with its mission. It is another thing to call for outright repeal of any regulatory oversight in the markets which created the bubble in the first place.
In our society, financial freedom carries with it fiscal responsibility and restraint, which major corporate financial interests were incapable of in that era.
This platform section calls for the complete abolition of the Consumer Protection Bureau, which is the consumer’s last line of defense from predatory practices which also contributed to the economic meltdown of 2007-2008.
In this section, it also says, “Republicans believe that no financial institution is too big to fail.” Yet, it calls for the dismantling of laws and regulations which ensure that no financial institution will ever be deemed too big to fail.
In the section regarding home ownership and rental opportunities, it blames the entire recession of 2007-2008 on officials controlling Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, during the Carter and Clinton administrations, yet omits and overlooks complicity coming from the Reagan and the H.W. and George W. Bush years.
To sum it all up, we Republicans have extremely selective hearing, when it comes to the facts.
I’ve not covered all the concerns regarding the extremely wordy and hostile nature of the policy document. It is essential to read, however, if one cares about our future, tariffs, free markets, agricultural trade, health care, race and immigration, notwithstanding.
In summary, this platform document is nothing more than a diatribe which has one purpose; to increase the level of fear and anger among the constituents of the Republican Party, through omission of historical facts.