Tuesday, September 11, 2012

POS - My reaction to the GOP platform

Ok so the GOP convention just happened and during the convention they released their official party platform of their goals for the country if they are to win the Presidency plus any Congressional/Senate/local elections.  The reaction in the news was swift, with many calling it the most conservative platform the GOP has ever run on.  I decided to read the thing for myself and see what it says, and if there are any good ideas in it or not. A PDF file of the full platform can be found here, it's 62 pages in full, and I present it to you in case you want to see it as I'll be quoting from it for my post today.  In some cases I'll quote the direct text, and in some cases I'll paraphrase.  When I cite the page number, I'm referring to page # x out of 62 of the PDF file, which doesn't match up to the actual page since the first 7 or so pages are not part of the official numbered system the file uses (you'll see what I mean if you open the PDF). 

This post is going to focus on some of the specific goals and policies the GOP plans to pursue and my reaction to them.  Some of the things they mention I liked.  Some I laughed out loud at, because of their foolishness.  Let me know in the comments your thoughts.

One quick thing - for a party so concerned that Muslims are going to come to the country and impose Sharia law, they sure do invoke God a lot.  Kind of makes it hard for Atheists to support them, or non-Christians for that matter.

Ok, now on to the dissection of the platform - follow after the jump for my thoughts section by section.  Apologies in advance for the length of this post, but I feel this election is extremely important to the future direction of our country and I feel an examination of the platforms of both parties (I'll do this for the Dems too) is very critical so you and I know what we're voting for this November.  I'm only going to go over what I feel are the most important issues for the election, otherwise this blog post would turn out as long as the platform itself, and I am not about to write 62 pages.

On Jobs & the Economy:  (page 8 of 62):  "The best jobs program is economic growth. We do not offer yet another made-in-Washington package of subsidies and spending to create jobs."

Ok so their plan is for the government to get out of the way and stop spending.  Apparently they are forgetting Economics 101 which says that GDP is a combination of spending by businesses, individuals, and the government.  If the government spending is slashed dramatically, so is GDP.

They also say they won't do "expensive government bailouts" on that same page.  That I can agree with, but I have a feeling that if their friends on Wall Street come crawling back for help again in a few years, they won't say no.

On Personal Taxes: (page 9 of 62)  They say they will extend the Bush tax cuts, cut taxes further by 20% across the board, end the estate tax (or as they call it the Death tax), and end capital gains and interest taxes as well.  They also say they will keep these tax cuts as revenue neutral by making further cuts to the budget. 

Good luck with that.  While yes, I'd like to see lower taxes (who wouldn't) if we cut taxes any lower than they are now (the lowest level in 50 years) we'd have to make massive cuts to the government itself.  I'm sorry, I don't want you cutting the EPA, or Department of Education, or Medicaid, or college grants, or any of the other programs you plan on cutting.  Also, capital gains, taxed at 15% currently, is primarily how rich people earn income.  If you cut those, then the rich will get even richer than they are now because their tax rate will fall to almost nil.  Romney himself even admitted in a debate earlier this year that if the Ryan plan was in place (which calls for the elimination of the capital gains tax) that he'd have paid "no taxes the past 2 years."  And they claim in the same page that this will be more fair.  More fair for who?  And although it isn't spelled out in their platform in this section, if they pass the Ryan budget plan, the childcare tax credit will be eliminated.  My taxes will go up so the rich can get a tax cut?  Thanks but no thanks.

Also, they feel that lower taxes leads to a better economy.  Again, since the taxes are at the lowest level in 50 years, by that logic the economy should be better than its been in the past 50 years.  So clearly there is some cognitive dissonance going on here.  Also, the national debt and deficit they are suddenly so worried about (but didn't care at all when Bush passed Medicare part D and started 2 wars) wouldn't be as bad a problem if the government hadn't lost trillions in revenue thanks to the Bush tax cuts.

On Corporate Taxes:  (page 9 of 62)  They point out that the U.S. has a very high corporate tax rate and that they want to lower it. Also, they want a permanent tax credit for spending on research and development. 

I'm all in favor of that, provided they close the massive loopholes that corporations use to offshore their profits to avoid paying taxes.  Too many companies pay next to nothing in taxes as it is, so lowering the tax rate only matters if you close the loopholes.  I love the R&D credit though, that's a great idea. (see, I can praise the GOP when it is called for).

Moment of LOL:  (page 9 of 62)  "We oppose tax policies that divide Americans or promote class warfare."  So says the party that will turn over the capital gains tax.

Medicare:  (page 10 of 62) "Our reform of healthcare will empower millions of seniors to control their personal healthcare decisions" 

What they mean by this is the voucher program proposed by Ryan that will end Medicare for everyone under the age of 55, and have the government just cut everyone a check they can use to pay for (part of) the cost of their healthcare.  I work in retirement benefits, so I am well aware of the challenges facing retirees on a fixed income.  I also know that the majority of the retirees I've talked to on the phone know next to nothing on how the healthcare system works.  By "empowering seniors" there is going to be the end result of people making horrible medical decisions for what plan actually suits their needs, and then they will run up massive bills if they are in the wrong plan.  Also, the costs for the plans will be significantly more expensive if everyone in the country is buying individual policies as opposed to the government doing Medicare.  With the government healthcare you get the advantage of group pricing discounts.  There wouldn't be that for individual plans, and the costs will spiral for seniors for their annual premiums.  The voucher plan shifts the costs for care of the elderly from the government to the very people that cannot afford the care, fixed income seniors.

While I do agree that Medicare costs are out of control, the voucher plan is definitely not the way to solve the problem.  You're talking to someone who works in healthcare, and I'm telling you, this is a massive disaster.  Also, healthcare companies use every excuse they can to avoid paying a claim.  You think they won't do that to the elderly?  Of course they will.  They make less money the more claims they pay on, so they are going to deny every claim they can get away with, screwing over the elderly in the process.

I could rant about the voucher plan all day but I'm moving on.  Bottom line, the voucher program is a disaster. 

Note - they go back into Medicare again on page 29 of 62 as well, but I'm not going to say more than I have already.

Audit the Fed:  (page 11 of 62)  They call for an annual audit of the Federal Reserve and its activities.  Holy crap!  A second thing I agree with the GOP on?!  Wow.

Moment of LOL 2:  (page 16 of 62)  "In the spirit of the Constitution, we consider discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin unacceptable and immoral."
Unspoken but there if you read between the lines - "Discrimination based on sexual orientation however we are totally cool with.  Screw the gays."

Gay Marriage:  (page 17 of 62)  In case you don't believe me with the line directly above about screw the gays, they spell this out on the next page - "We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other States to do so."

The ironic thing about their comments calling for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is that it comes in the midst of a section where they are calling for greater respect for the constitution because of the liberties it protects for Americans.  So they want to go and restrict a portion of the population's liberty.  That makes logical sense.

Moment of LOL 3:  (page 18 of 62)  In a section saying they would block any attempt to eliminate the electoral college (check back on the blog on 9/18 for my thoughts on that institution) they said the following "We oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact or any other scheme to abolish or distort the procedures of the Electoral College. We recognize that an unconstitutional effort to impose “national popular vote” would be a mortal threat to our federal system and a guarantee of corruption as every ballot box in every state would become a chance to steal the presidency." 
My brain immediately thought "stealing the Presidency is what the Supreme Court is for!"

Gun Control:  (page 20 of 62) No surprise there - they want no restrictions on ammo purchases, extended ammunition magazines, or assault weapons.  The GOP loves their guns, that we all know.  See my blog post on gun control for my thoughts on the matter.

Moment of LOL 4:  (page 20 of 62) From the party that brought you the PATRIOT act, the most intrusive breach of personal liberty ever, we get this ironic gem "All security measures and police actions should be viewed through the lens of the Fourth Amendment; for if we trade liberty for security, we shall have neither."

The Environment:  (pages 23 through 26)  I really disagree with the GOP on most of their stuff in this section.  I agree with them on expanding our nuclear power supply, but that is it.  I don't want to ease environmental restrictions, lower the power of the EPA, turn over public lands to private companies for their exploitation, increase the burning of coal, or ban limits to greenhouse gas emissions.  So I am in opposition to 99% of this section of the platform.  There's too much here to tackle individually, but some day in the future I intend to do a piece on global warming for the blog, so I'll go into my environmental views then.

Moment of LOL 5:  (page 25 of 62) from the environment section:  "We must restore scientific integrity to our public research institutions" says the guys behind the disparaging of any and all science having to deal with global warming.  This party platform is really shaping up to be full of irony.

Ok I have reached not even halfway through the party platform and I am frankly tired of reading it and writing about it.  I had originally started writing this post before Labor Day and had hoped to have this go live to the blog on the 4th.  Obviously that didn't happen.  This was a more ambitious project than I assumed when I started writing this post (I'd hoped to have it up before the DNC even happened, obviously that didn't work out as planned).  I don't know if I'll do a part II or not, or do the Dems' platform, especially because I have grad school starting up again this week, but if you took the time to read all of this today I thank you.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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