I’ve been reading through the republican platform, and its become clear that this is not a document based in the real world. This isn’t exactly surprising, but here are some of the things that jumped out at me.
First of all, Republicans propose to “simplify the tax code” which typically means eliminating deductions. They propose an across the board 20% reduction in rates, on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts! They claim to be able to do this in a revenue neutral manner, but such a massive reduction in revenue would mean tremendous cuts in spending, which just aint gonna happen. We’ve been over this before.
Then, we get this:
Because of the vital role of religious organizations, charities, and fraternal benevolent societies in fostering benevolence and patriotism, they should not be subject to taxation, and donations to them should continue to be tax deductible.
I actually agree with that, I just would like to point out that there, right off the bat, is a deduction that can’t be eliminated. And so the quest for revenue neutrality gets a bit harder.
In any restructuring of federal taxation, to guard against hypertaxation of the American people, any value added tax or national sales tax must be tied to the simultaneous repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, which established the federal income tax.
Hypertaxation! Wow, that’s one hell of a word! Its terrifying! Never mind, of course, the fact that tax rates are currently at their lowest point in 60 years. Also, good luck making the elimination of income tax revenue neutral.
Naturally, now that we’ve covered the part where we eliminate federal revenue, we get to the Very Serious part about the debt:
Over the last three and a half years, while cutting the defense budget, the current Administration has added an additional $5.3 trillion to the national debt—now approximately $16 trillion, the largest amount in U.S. history.
First off, the defense budget. It should be cut! But the Republicans certainly won’t do that. Keep that in mind, for later. The important part here, though, is the con they’re trying to pull. Notice the part I bolded. It’s important to only consider that time frame, because if you extend it back to, lets say around January 2001, then you’ll see where the real debt came from.Tax cuts and two unfunded wars! So remember kids, debt is bad, mmkay? Unless it’s Republican debt, in which case its freedom, markets, and responsibility. So what would the Republicans propose to do about debt? This:
We can preempt the debt explosion. Backed by a Republican Senate and House, our next President will propose immediate reductions in federal spending, as a down payment on the much larger task of long-range fiscal control. We suggest a tripartite test for every federal activity. First, is it within the constitutional scope of the federal government? Second, is it effective and absolutely necessary? And third, is it sufficiently important to justify borrowing, especially foreign borrowing, to fund it?
OK, that all sounds perfectly reasonable. So reasonable, in fact, that I submit to you that we already do this. First, we have an independent judiciary with the power to strike down laws that violate this part of the test. Second, we have the “necessary and proper” clause of the Constitution. See part one. Third, we have a democratically elected congress that answers this question by voting on things.
Against those standards we will measure programs from international population control to California’s federally subsidized high-speed train to nowhere, and terminate programs that don’t measure up.
Wait what? What the hell is “international population control”? Are we doing it? Are we debt financing it? Just… huh? OK, moving right along, the federal budget process:
Republican Members of Congress have repeatedly tried to reform the budget process to make it more transparent and accountable, in particular by voting for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, following the lead of 33 States which have put that restraint into their own constitutions. We call for a Constitutional amendment requiring a super-majority for any tax increase, with exceptions for only war and national emergencies, and imposing a cap limiting spending to the historical average percentage of GDP so that future Congresses cannot balance the budget by raising taxes.
Two things. First, the super majority to raise taxes idea has been tried, in California, and it has had disastrous consequences on the state’s fiscal health. Secondly, limiting spending to the historical average percentage of GDP is monumentally stupid, not to mention completely arbitrary. Times and situations change, and limiting our spending based on (in part) how much George Washington spent needlessly hobbles our ability to react to those changes. Although, it would probably wind up being meaningless anyway. If congress decides it wants to spend eleventy bajillion dollars to clone velociraptors to patrol the Arizona border, they would just say the spending is in response to the national emergency of a lack of Jurassic border patrol agents. All that being said, I can get behind the idea that if we’re going to fight wars, we should raise taxes to pay for them. Then we would do it less. I’m not saying that idea should be constitutionally enshrined, just that its a practice we should be following.
Up next, Ron Paul gets his plank. Audit the Fed! I could be OK with this, provided the point of the audit would actually be increasing transparency and not just a partisan fishing expedition looking to dig up dirt. Given the actions of this party in the recent past, I find that condition unlikely to be met.
At the beginning of this post, I said that this was a document not based in the real world. Well, now we’ve arrived at the paragraph from which I drew that conclusion:
Determined to crush the double-digit inflation that was part of the Carter Administration’s economic legacy, President Reagan, shortly after his inauguration, established a commission to consider the feasibility of a metallic basis for U.S. currency. The commission advised against such a move. Now, three decades later, as we face the task of cleaning up the wreckage of the current Administration’s policies, we propose a similar commission to investigate possible ways to set a fixed value for the dollar.
OK, so when His Majesty arrived on the scene, we had double digit inflation. This fact necessitated a commission to study a return to the gold standard. They thought it was a bad idea. But now, seeing as how we’re back to double digit inflation, we need to pick this back up! But wait! We aren’t experiencing double digit inflation. We are experiencing 2% inflation. I suppose, if you really want to see two digits, I could type that as 2.0% inflation. Look, this is simple. Despite all the running around screaming with our hair on fire silliness we’ve been hearing for years about the horror of inflation which will be unleashed on us at any moment, it simply has not happened. Inflation is low, and it is stable.
The next section is on infrastructure, but I’m not going to bother excerpting it because the massive tax cuts and ramped up defense spending mean there won’t be any money there. Also on the “not going to bother” list: China. Simply put, Republicans suggest we call them names, and fart in their general direction. We should also engage in more union busting.
This concludes part 1. Next up in part 2, the constitution.
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