We are the party of maximum economic freedom and the prosperity freedom makes possible. Prosperity is the product of self-discipline, work, savings, and investment by individual Americans, but it is not an end in itself. Prosperity provides the means by which individuals and families can maintain their independence from government, raise their children by their own values, practice their faith, and build communities of self-reliant neighbors. It is also the means by which the United States is able to assert global leadership. The vigor of our economy makes possible our military strength and is critical to our national security.
This year’s election is a chance to restore the proven values of the American free enterprise system. We offer our Republican vision of a free people using their God-given talents, combined with hard work, self-reliance, ethical conduct, and the pursuit of opportunity, to achieve great things for themselves and the greater community. Our vision of an opportunity society stands in stark contrast to the current Administration’s policies that expand entitlements and guarantees, create new public programs, and provide expensive government bailouts. That road has created a culture of dependency, bloated government, and massive debt.
Republicans believe in the Great American Dream, with its economics of inclusion, enabling everyone to have a chance to own, invest, build, and prosper. It is the opposite of the policies which, for the last three and a half years, have stifled growth, destroyed jobs, halted investment, created unprecedented uncertainty, and prolonged the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Those policies have placed the federal government in the driver’s seat, rather than relying on energetic and entrepreneurial Americans to rebuild the economy from the ground up. Excessive taxation and regulation impede economic development. Lowering taxes promotes substantial economic growth and reducing regulation encourages business formation and job creation. Knowing that, a Republican President and Congress will jumpstart an economic renewal that creates opportunity, rewards work and saving, and unleashes the productive genius of the American people. Because the GOP is the Great Opportunity Party, this is our pledge to workers without jobs, families without savings, and neighborhoods without hope: together we can get our country back on track, expanding its bounty, renewing its faith, and fulfilling its promise of a better life.
Job Creation: Getting Americans Back to Work (Top)
The best jobs program is economic growth. We do not offer yet another made-in-Washington package of subsidies and spending to create temporary or artificial jobs. We want much more than that. We want a roaring job market to match a roaring economy. Instead, what this Administration has given us is 42 consecutive months of unemployment above 8 percent, the longest period of high unemployment since the Great Depression. Republicans will pursue free market policies that are the surest way to boost employment and create job growth and economic prosperity for all.
In all the sections that follow, as well as elsewhere in this platform, we explain what must be done to achieve that goal. The tax system must be simplified. Government spending and regulation must be reined in. American companies must be more competitive in the world market, and we must be aggressive in promoting U.S. products abroad and securing open markets for them. A federal-State-private partnership must invest in the nation’s infrastructure: roads, bridges, airports, ports, and water systems, among others. Federal training programs have to be overhauled and made relevant for the workplace of the twenty-first century. Potential employers need certainty and predictability for their hiring decisions, and the team of a Republican President and Congress will create the confidence that will get Americans back to work.
Small Business and Entrepreneurship (Top)
America’s small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, employing tens of millions of workers. Small businesses create the vast majority of jobs, patents, and U.S. exporters. Under the current Administration, we have the lowest rate of business startups in thirty years. Small businesses are the leaders in the world’s advances in technology and innovation, and we pledge to strengthen that role and foster small business entrepreneurship.
While small businesses have significantly contributed to the nation’s economic growth, our government has failed to meet its small business goals year after year and failed to overcome burdensome regulatory, contracting, and capital barriers. This impedes their growth.
We will reform the tax code to allow businesses to generate enough capital to grow and create jobs for our families, friends and neighbors all across America. We will encourage investments in small businesses. We will create an environment where adequate financing and credit are available to spur manufacturing and expansion. We will serve as aggressive advocates for small businesses.
Tax Relief to Grow the Economy and Create Jobs (Top)
Taxes, by their very nature, reduce a citizen’s freedom. Their proper role in a free society should be to fund services that are essential and authorized by the Constitution, such as national security, and the care of those who cannot care for themselves. We reject the use of taxation to redistribute income, fund unnecessary or ineffective programs, or foster the crony capitalism that corrupts both politicians and corporations.
Our goal is a tax system that is simple, transparent, flatter, and fair. In contrast, the current IRS code is like a patchwork quilt, stitched together over time from mismatched pieces, and is beyond the comprehension of the average citizen. A reformed code should promote simplicity and coherence, savings and innovation, increase American competitiveness, and recognize the burdens on families with children. To that end, we propose to:
Extend the 2001 and 2003 tax relief packages-commonly known as the Bush tax cuts-pending reform of the tax code, to keep tax rates from rising on income, interest, dividends, and capital gains;
Reform the tax code by reducing marginal tax rates by 20 percent across-the-board in a revenue-neutral manner;
Eliminate the taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains altogether for lower and middle-income taxpayers;
End the Death Tax; and
Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax.
American Competitiveness in a Global Economy (Top)
American businesses now face the world’s highest corporate tax rate. It reduces their worldwide competitiveness, encourages corporations to move overseas, lessens investment, cripples job creation, lowers U.S. wages, and fosters the avoidance of tax liability-without actually increasing tax revenues. To level the international playing field, and to spur job creation here at home, we call for a reduction of the corporate rate to keep U.S. corporations competitive internationally, with a permanent research and development tax credit, and a repeal of the corporate alternative minimum tax. We also support the recommendation of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, as well as the current President’s Export Council, to switch to a territorial system of corporate taxation, so that profits earned and taxed abroad may be repatriated for job-creating investment here at home without additional penalty.
Fundamental Tax Principles (Top)
We oppose retroactive taxation; and we condemn attempts by activist judges, at any level of government, to seize the power of the purse by ordering higher taxes. We oppose tax policies that divide Americans or promote class warfare.
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.
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.
Reining in Out-of-Control Spending, Balancing the Budget, and Ensuring Sound Monetary Policy (Top)
The massive federal government is structurally and financially broken. For decades it has been pushed beyond its core functions, increasing spending to unsustainable levels. Elected officials have overpromised and overspent, and now the bills are due. Unless we take dramatic action now, young Americans and their children will inherit an unprecedented legacy of enormous and unsustainable debt, with the interest alone consuming an ever-increasing portion of the country’s wealth. The specter of national bankruptcy that now hangs over much of Europe is a warning to us as well. 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. In fiscal year 2011, spending reached $3.6 trillion, nearly a quarter of our gross domestic product. Adjusted for inflation, that’s more than three times its peak level in World War II, and almost half of every dollar spent was borrowed money. Three programs-Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security- account for over 40 percent of total spending. While these levels of spending and debt are already harming job creation and growth, projections of future spending growth are nothing short of catastrophic, both economically and socially. And those dire projections do not include the fiscal nightmare of Obamacare, with over $1 trillion in new taxes, multiple mandates, and a crushing price tag.
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? 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.
Balancing the Budget (Top)
Cutting spending is not enough; it must be accompanied by major structural reforms, increased productivity, use of technology, and long-term government downsizing that both reduce debt and deficits and ignite economic growth. We must restructure the twentieth century entitlement state so the missions of important programs can succeed in the twenty-first century. Medicare, in particular, is the largest driver of future debt. Our reform of healthcare will empower millions of seniors to control their personal healthcare decisions, unlike Obamacare that empowered a handful of bureaucrats to cut Medicare in ways that will deny care for the elderly. We must also change the budget process itself. From its beginning, its design has enabled, rather than restrained, reckless spending by giving procedural cover to Members of Congress. The budget process gave us the insidious term “tax expenditure,” which means that any earnings the government allows a taxpayer to keep through a deduction, exemption, or credit are equivalent to spending the same amount on some program. It also lumped a broad range of diverse programs under the heading of “entitlement,” as if veterans’ benefits and welfare checks belong in the same category. Far worse, the process assumes every spending program will be permanent and every tax cut will be temporary. It refuses to recognize the beneficial budgetary impact of lower tax rates, and it calls a spending increase a cut if it is less than the rate of inflation. 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.
Inflation and the Federal Reserve (Top)
A sound monetary policy is critical for maintaining a strong economy. Inflation diminishes the purchasing power of the dollar at home and abroad and is a hidden tax on the American people. Moreover, the inflation tax is regressive, punishes those who save, transfers wealth from Main Street to Wall Street, and has grave implications for seniors living on fixed incomes.
Because the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy actions affect both inflation and economic activity, those actions should be transparent. Moreover, the Fed’s important role as a lender of last resort should also be carried out in a more transparent manner. A free society demands that the sun shine on all elements of government. Therefore, the Republican Party will work to advance substantive legislation that brings transparency and accountability to the Federal Reserve, the Federal Open Market Committee, and the Fed’s dealings with foreign central banks. The first step to increasing transparency and accountability is through an annual audit of the Federal Reserve’s activities. Such an audit would need to be carefully implemented so that the Federal Reserve remains insulated from political pressures and so its decisions are based on sound economic principles and sound money rather than on political pressures for easy money and loose credit.
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.
Ending the Housing Crisis and Expanding Opportunities for Homeownership (Top)
Homeownership expands personal liberty, builds communities, and helps Americans create wealth. “The American Dream” is not a stale slogan. It is the lived reality that expresses the aspirations of all our people. It means a decent place to live, a safe place to raise kids, a welcoming place to retire. It bespeaks the quiet pride of those who work hard to shelter their family and, in the process, create caring neighborhoods. Homeownership is best fostered by a growing economy with low interest rates, as well as prudent regulation, financial education, and targeted assistance to responsible borrowers.
The collapse of the housing market over the last four years has been not only a severe blow to the entire economy, but also a personal tragedy to millions of Americans whose homes have lost value and to so many others who have lost their homes. Combined with high unemployment, that decline has left countless homeowners saddled with mortgages exceeding the value of their homes. The response of the current Administration has done little to improve, and much to worsen, the situation. By discouraging private sector investment, it has stalled the housing recovery. Its massive intervention in the housing market, with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac backing nearly all new mortgages, has hit the taxpayers with a bill for almost $200 billion to bail out the latter two institutions. It has spent billions more on poorly designed and ineffective housing assistance programs. Making matters worse, the Congress, under Democrat control, enacted the Dodd-Frank Act, a massive labyrinth of costly new regulations that deter lenders from lending to creditworthy homebuyers and that disproportionately harms small and community banks. As a result, home sales remain weak, investment in housing remains depressed, construction industry jobs remain down, and mortgage lending has yet to recover to pre-crisis levels.
Rebuilding Homeownership (Top)
We must establish a mortgage finance system based on competition and free enterprise that is transparent, encourages the private sector to return to housing, and promotes personal responsibility on the part of borrowers. Policies that promote reliance on private capital, like private mortgage insurance, will be critical to scaling back the federal role in the housing market and avoiding future taxpayer bailouts. Reforms should provide clear and prudent underwriting standards and guidelines on acceptable lending practices. Compliance with regulatory standards should provide a legal safe harbor to guard against opportunistic litigation. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were a primary cause of the housing crisis because their implicit government guarantee allowed them to avoid market discipline and make risky investments. Their favored political status enriched their politically-connected executives and their shareholders at the expense of the nation. Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be wound down in size and scope, and their officials should be held to account.
The FHA, tripled in size to more than $1 trillion under the current Administration, has crowded out the private sector and is at risk of requiring a taxpayer bailout. It must be downsized and limited to helping first-time homebuyers and low- and moderate- income borrowers. Taxpayer dollars should not be used to bail out borrowers and lenders by funding principal write-downs. While the federal government must prosecute mortgage fraud and other financial crimes, any settlements received thereby should be directed to individuals harmed by the misconduct, not diverted to pay for unrelated programs. FDIC insurance for bank depositors must be preserved. However, to correct for the moral hazard created by deposit insurance, banks should be well capitalized, which is the best insurance against future taxpayer bailouts.
The federal government has a role in housing by enforcing non-discrimination laws and assisting low-income families and the elderly with safe and adequate shelter, especially through the use of housing vouchers. Homeownership is an important goal, but public policy must be balanced to reflect the needs of Americans who choose to rent. A comprehensive housing policy should address the demand for apartments and multi-family housing. Any assistance should be subject to stringent oversight to ensure that funds are spent wisely.
Infrastructure: Building the Future (Top)
America’s infrastructure networks are critical for economic growth, international competitiveness, and national security. Infrastructure programs have traditionally been non-partisan; everyone recognized that we all need clean water and safe roads, rail, bridges, ports, and airports. The current Administration has changed that, replacing civil engineering with social engineering as it pursues an exclusively urban vision of dense housing and government transit. In the vaunted stimulus package, less than six percent of the funds went to transportation, with most of that to cosmetic “shovel-ready” projects rather than fundamental structural improvements. All the while, the Democrats’ Davis-Bacon law continues to drive up infrastructure construction and maintenance costs for the benefit of that party’s union stalwarts. What most Americans take for granted-the safety and availability of our water supply-is in perilous condition. Engineering surveys report crumbling drinking water systems, aging dams, and overwhelmed wastewater infrastructure. Investment in these areas, as well as with levees and inland waterways, can renew communities, attract businesses, and create jobs. Most importantly, it can assure the health and safety of the American people.
The nation’s ports have become a bottleneck in international trade. America’s exporters sometimes use Canadian ports in order to reach the world market in a timely manner. With the widening of the Panama Canal, our East Coast and Gulf ports have an extraordinary opportunity to boost container traffic but require major improvement to remain competitive receivers of large vessels.
Interstate infrastructure has long been a federal responsibility shared with the States, and a renewed federal-State partnership and new public-private partnerships are urgently needed to maintain and modernize our country’s travel lifelines to facilitate economic growth and job creation. In the last two years, Congressional Republicans have taken the lead with initiatives like the FAA Modernization and Reform Act; the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act; and the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act. The recent highway bill reforming the federal highway program included some key reforms. It will shorten the project approval process, eliminate unnecessary programs, and give States more flexibility to address their particular needs. It is a return to the principles of federalism, and it contains not a single earmark. It should be followed by reform of the 42-year old National Environmental Policy Act to create regulatory certainty for infrastructure projects, expedite their timetables, and limit litigation against them.
Securing sufficient funding for the Highway Trust Fund remains a challenge given the debt and deficits and the need to reduce spending. Republicans will make hard choices and set priorities, and infrastructure will be among them. In some States with elected officials dominated by the Democratic Party, a proportion of highway funds is diverted to other purposes. This must stop. We oppose any funding mechanism that would involve governmental monitoring of every car and truck in the nation. Amtrak continues to be, for the taxpayers, an extremely expensive railroad. The public has to subsidize every ticket nearly $50. It is long past time for the federal government to get out of way and allow private ventures to provide passenger service to the northeast corridor. The same holds true with regard to high-speed and intercity rail across the country.
International Trade: More American Jobs, Higher Wages, and A Better Standard of Living (Top)
International trade is crucial for our economy. It means more American jobs, higher wages, and a better standard of living. Every $1 billion in additional U.S. exports means another 5,000 jobs here at home. The Free Trade Agreements negotiated with friendly democracies since President Reagan’s trailblazing pact with Israel in 1985 facilitated the creation of nearly ten million jobs supported by our exports. That record makes all the more deplorable the current Administration’s slowness in completing agreements begun by its predecessor and its failure to pursue any new trade agreements with friendly nations.
This worldwide explosion of trade has had a downside, however, as some governments have used a variety of unfair means to limit American access to their markets while stealing our designs, patents, brands, know-how, and technology-the “intellectual property” that drives innovation. The chief offender is China, which has built up its economy in part by piggybacking onto Western technological advances, manipulates its currency to the disadvantage of American exporters, excludes American products from government purchases, subsidizes Chinese companies to give them a commercial advantage, and invents regulations and standards designed to keep out foreign competition. The current Administration’s way of dealing with all these violations of world trade standards has been a virtual surrender.
Republicans understand that you can succeed in a negotiation only if you are willing to walk away from it. Thus, a Republican President will insist on full parity in trade with China and stand ready to impose countervailing duties if China fails to amend its currency policies. Commercial discrimination will be met in kind. Counterfeit goods will be aggressively kept out of the country. Victimized private firms will be encouraged to raise claims in both U.S. courts and at the World Trade Organization. Punitive measures will be imposed on foreign firms that misappropriate American technology and intellectual property. Until China abides by the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement, the United States government will end procurement of Chinese goods and services.
Because American workers have shown that, on a truly level playing field, they can surpass the competition in international trade, we call for the restoration of presidential Trade Promotion Authority. It will ensure up or down votes in Congress on any new trade agreements, without meddling by special interests. A Republican President will complete negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership to open rapidly developing Asian markets to U.S. products. Beyond that, we envision a worldwide multilateral agreement among nations committed to the principles of open markets, what has been called a “Reagan Economic Zone,” in which free trade will truly be fair trade for all concerned.
A Twenty-First Century Workforce (Top)
The greatest asset of the American economy is the hard-working American. The high rates of unemployment over the last three and a half years-disastrously high among youth, minorities, and veterans-have thus been a tragic waste of energy and ideas, compounded by the waste of billions in “stimulus” funds with no payoff in jobs. The chief cause has been an unprecedented uncertainty in the American free enterprise system due to the overreaching policies of the current Administration. Nothing matters more than getting the American people back to work. In addition to cutting spending, keeping taxes low, and curtailing bureaucratic red tape, we must replace outdated policies and ineffectual training programs with a plan to develop a twenty-first century workforce to make the most of our country’s human capital.
It is critical that the United States has a highly trained and skilled workforce. Nine federal agencies currently run 47 retraining programs at a total cost of $18 billion annually with dismal results. Both the trainees in those programs and the taxpayers who fund them deserve better. We propose consolidation of those programs into State block grants so that training can be coordinated with local schools and employers. That will be critically important if States establish Personal Reemployment Accounts, letting trainees direct resources in ways that will steer them toward long-term employment, especially through on-the-job training with participating employers. We can accelerate the process of restoring our domestic economy-and reclaiming this country’s traditional position of dominance in international trade-by a policy of strategic immigration, granting more work visas to holders of advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math from other nations. Highly educated immigrants can assist in creating new services and products. In the same way, foreign students who graduate from an American university with an advanced degree in science, technology, engineering or math should be encouraged to remain here and contribute to economic prosperity and job creation. Highly skilled, English-speaking, and integrated into their communities, they are too valuable a resource to lose. As in past generations, we should encourage the world’s innovators and inventors to create our common future and their permanent homes here in the United States.
Republicans believe that the employer-employee relationship of the future will be built upon employee empowerment and workplace flexibility, which is why Republicans support employee ownership. We believe employee stock ownership plans create capitalists and expand the ownership of private property and are therefore the essence of a high-performing free enterprise economy, which creates opportunity for those who work and honors those values that have made our nation so strong. Today’s workforce is independent, wants flexibility in working conditions, needs family-friendly options, and is most productive when allowed to innovate and rethink the status quo. The federal government should set an example in making those adaptations, especially in promoting portability in pension plans and health insurance.
Freedom in the Workplace (Top)
The current Administration has chosen a different path with regard to labor, clinging to antiquated notions of confrontation and concentrating power in the Washington offices of union elites. It has strongly supported the anti-business card check legislation to deny workers a secret ballot in union organizing campaigns and, through the use of Project Labor Agreements, barred 80 percent of the construction workforce from competing for jobs in many stimulus projects. The current Administration has turned the National Labor Relations Board into a partisan advocate for Big Labor, using threats and coercion outside the law to attack businesses and, through “snap elections” and “micro unions,” limit the rights of workers and employers alike.
We will restore the rule of law to labor law by blocking “card check,” enacting the Secret Ballot Protection Act, enforcing the Hobbs Act against labor violence, and passing the Raise Act to allow all workers to receive well-earned raises without the approval of their union representative. We demand an end to the Project Labor Agreements; and we call for repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act, which costs the taxpayers billions of dollars annually in artificially high wages on government projects. We support the right of States to enact Right-to-Work laws and encourage them to do so to promote greater economic liberty. Ultimately, we support the enactment of a National Right-to-Work law to promote worker freedom and to promote greater economic liberty. We will aggressively enforce the recent decision by the Supreme Court barring the use of union dues for political purposes without the consent of the worker.
We salute the Republican Governors and State legislators who have saved their States from fiscal disaster by reforming their laws governing public employee unions. We urge elected officials across the country to follow their lead in order to avoid State and local defaults on their obligations and the collapse of services to the public. To safeguard the free choice of public employees, no government at any level should act as the dues collector for unions. A Republican President will protect the rights of conscience of public employees by proposing legislation to bar mandatory dues for political purposes.