|REPUBLICAN PLATFORM 2000
Renewing America’s Purpose. Together.
We meet at a remarkable time in the life of our country. Our powerful economy gives America a unique chance to confront persistent challenges. Our country, after an era of drift, must now set itself to important tasks and higher goals. The Republican Party has the vision and leadership to address these issues.
Our platform is uplifting and visionary. It reflects the views of countless Americans all across this country who believe in prosperity with a purpose — who believe in Renewing America’s Purpose. Together.
This platform makes clear that we are the party of ideas. We are the party that follows its bold words with bold deeds.
Since the election of 1860, the Republican Party has had a special calling — to advance the founding principles of freedom and limited government and the dignity and worth of every individual.
These principles form the foundation of both an agenda for America in the year 2000 and this platform for our party. They point us toward reforms in government, a restoration of timeless values, and a renewal of our national purpose.
The twenty-fifth man to receive our party’s nomination is equal to the challenges facing our country. After a period of bitter division in national politics, our nominee is a leader who brings people together. In a time of fierce partisanship, he calls all citizens to common goals. To longstanding problems, he brings a fresh outlook and innovative ideas — and a record of results.
Under his leadership, the Republican Party commits itself to bold reforms in education — to make every school a place of learning and achievement for every child. We will preserve local control of public schools, while demanding high standards and accountability for results.
We commit ourselves to saving and strengthening Social Security. After years of neglect and delay, we will keep this fundamental commitment to the senior citizens of today and tomorrow.
We commit ourselves to rebuilding the American military and returning to a foreign policy of strength and purpose and a renewed commitment to our allies. We will deploy defenses against ballistic missiles and develop the weapons and strategies needed to win battles in this new technological era.
We commit ourselves to tax reforms that will sustain our nation’s prosperity and reflect its decency. We will reduce the burden on all Americans, especially those who struggle most.
We commit ourselves to aiding and encouraging the work of charitable and faith-based organizations, which today are making great strides in overcoming poverty and other social problems, bringing new hope into millions of lives. For every American there must be a ladder of opportunity, and for those most in need, a safety net of care.
We recommit ourselves to the values that strengthen our culture and sustain our nation: family, faith, personal responsibility, and a belief in the dignity of every human life.
We offer not only a new agenda, but also a new approach — a vision of a welcoming society in which all have a place. To all Americans, particularly immigrants and minorities, we send a clear message: this is the party of freedom and progress, and it is your home.
The diversity of our nation is reflected in this platform. We ask for the support and participation of all who substantially share our agenda. In one way or another, every Republican is a dissenter. At the same time, we are not morally indifferent. In this, as in many things, Lincoln is our model. He spoke words of healing and words of conviction. We do likewise, for we are bound together in a great enterprise for our children’s future.
We seek to be faithful to the best traditions of our party. We are the party that ended slavery, granted homesteads, built land grant colleges, and moved control of government out of Washington, back into the hands of the people. We believe in service to the common good — and that good is not common until it is shared.
We believe that from freedom comes opportunity; from opportunity comes growth; and from growth comes progress and prosperity.
Our vision is one of clear direction, new ideas, civility in public life, and leadership with honor and distinction.
This is an election with clear alternatives. The Republican Party offers America a chance to begin anew: To give purpose to our plenty. To apply enduring principles to new challenges. To extend to all citizens the full promise of American life.
With confidence in our fellow Americans and great hopes for the future of our country, we respectfully submit this platform to the people of the United States.
The American Dream: Prosperity with a Purpose
Old Truths For The New Economy
The highest hopes of the American people — a world at peace, scientific progress, a just and caring society — cannot be achieved by prosperity alone, but neither can they be fulfilled without it. Yet prosperity is not an end in itself. Rather, it is the means by which great things can be achieved for the common good. Our commitment to the nation’s economic growth is an affirmation of the real riches of our country: the works of compassion that link home to home, community to community, and hand to helping hand. This is the foundation of America, and that foundation is sound. Even though our economy, and that of the world to which we are now so closely tied, has been utterly transformed over the last two decades, Americans remain true to the faith of our founding fathers.
Yesterday’s wildest dreams are today’s realities, and there is no limit on the promise of tomorrow. The headiness of technological progress has made our society more future-oriented than ever before. But the fascination with the future means that, more than ever, we need to preserve the foundation that has served us so well. We must not overlook the practical experience of the past. To successfully chart where we should go in the years ahead, we must first look back to see how we got where we are today.
Twenty years ago, the economy was in shambles. Unemployment was at 7.1 percent, inflation at 13.5 percent, and interest rates at 15.3 percent. The Democratic Party accepted that malaise as the price the nation had to pay for Big Government, and in so doing lost the confidence of the American people. Inspired by Presidents Reagan and Bush, Republicans hammered into place the framework for today’s prosperity and surpluses. We cut tax rates, simplified the tax code, deregulated industries, and opened world markets to American enterprise. The result was the tremendous growth in the 1980s that created the venture capital to launch the technology revolution of the 1990s.
That’s the origin of what is now called the New Economy: the longest economic boom in the Twentieth Century, 40 million new jobs, the lowest inflation and unemployment in memory. The stock market, once a preserve of the well to do, now drives forward with the modest investments of tens of millions of households as ownership in America’s economy becomes the norm rather than the exception.
The Republican Congress
We could have lost it all after the Democratic Congress passed the largest tax hike in history in 1993 that threatened to bring back the tax-and-spend follies of the bad old days. But the voters wouldn’t have it and, in the next election, for the first time in forty years, they put Republican majorities in charge of both Houses of Congress. The difference that made can be put into numbers. In the four decades from 1954 to 1994, government spending increased at an average annual rate of 7.9 percent, and the public’s debt increased from $224 billion to $3.4 trillion. Since 1994, with Republicans leading the House and Senate, spending has been held to an annual 3.1 percent rate of growth, and the nation’s debt will be nearly $400 billion lower by the end of this year. The federal government has operated in the black for the last two years and is now projected to run a surplus of nearly $5 trillion over ten years.
That wasn’t magic. It took honesty and guts from a Congress that manages the nation’s purse strings. Over a five year period, as surpluses continue to grow, we will return half a trillion dollars to the taxpayers who really own it, without touching the Social Security surplus. That’s what we mean by our Lock-Box: The Social Security surplus is off-limits, off budget, and will not be touched. We will not stop there, for we are also determined to protect Medicare and to pay down the national debt. Reducing that debt is both a sound policy goal and a moral imperative. Our families and most states are required to balance their budgets; it is reasonable to assume the federal government should do the same. Therefore, we reaffirm our support for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget.
Taxes And Budget: Render to Caesar, But Let The People Keep Their Own
"I believe our country must be prosperous, but prosperity must have a purpose . . .to make sure the American dream touches every willing heart."
— George W. Bush
It takes both candor and courage to say, as George W. Bush has said, that, even in times of large surpluses, the economy is far from perfect and we should not be satisfied with the status quo. Budget surpluses are the result of over-taxation of the American people. The weak link in the chain of prosperity is the tax system. It not only burdens the American people; it threatens to slow, and perhaps to reverse, the economic expansion:
The federal tax code is dysfunctional. It penalizes hard work, marriage, thrift, and success – the very factors that are the foundations for lasting prosperity.
Federal taxes are the highest they have ever been in peacetime.
Taxes at all levels of government absorb 36 percent of the net national product.
When the average American family has to work more than four months out of every year to fund all levels of government, it’s time to change the tax system, to make it simpler, flatter, and fairer for everyone. It’s time for an economics of inclusion that will let people keep more of what they earn and accelerate movement up the opportunity ladder.
We therefore enthusiastically endorse the principles of Governor Bush’s Tax Cut with a Purpose:
Replace the five current tax brackets with four lower ones, ensuring all taxpayers significant tax relief while targeting it especially toward low-income workers.
Help families by doubling the child tax credit to $1,000, making it available to more families, and eliminating the marriage penalty.
Encourage entrepreneurship and growth by capping the top marginal rate, ending the death tax, and making permanent the Research and Development credit.
Promote charitable giving and education.
Foster capital investment and savings to boost today’s dangerously low personal savings rate.
This is more than just an economic program to promote growth and job creation. It is our blueprint for the kind of society we want for our children and grandchildren. It is a call to conscience, a reminder that, even in times of great prosperity, there are those who bear great burdens. That is why, with the tax cuts we propose, while every taxpayer benefits, six million families — one in five taxpaying families with children — will no longer pay any federal income tax.
It took a Republican Congress to stand up to the Internal Revenue Service by publicly exposing its abuses and enacting a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Within the simpler and fairer tax system proposed by Governor Bush, the IRS will be downsized and made less intrusive. IRS rules should be understandable by all, enforced by few, with low-cost compliance. We applaud the efforts of the Republican Congress to expand the use and availability of Individual Retirement Accounts.
In 1997 the Republican Congress cut the capital gains tax from 28 percent to 20 percent. As a result capital gains for Americans doubled and federal government tax receipts from capital gains jumped from $50 billion in 1996 to $75 billion in 1997. These tax cuts produce more economic growth and often more tax revenues. We cheer their lowering of the capital gains tax rate and look forward to further reductions that will stimulate property sales and development to bring jobs and renewal to our urban neighborhoods.
To guard against future tax hikes, we support legislation requiring a super-majority vote in both houses of Congress to raise taxes. We will prohibit retroactive taxation and will not tolerate attempts by federal judges to impose taxes. Because of the vital role of religious and fraternal benevolent societies in fostering charity and patriotism, they should not be subject to taxation.
Income taxes and payroll taxes are the most obvious parts of the public’s tax burden but consumers foot the bills in higher prices for most of the user fees that are nothing but under-radar taxes. Excise taxes of all kinds have snowballed, because they shift public resentment from government to the businesses that are forced to collect them. One example is the gas tax of 1993. Another is the phone tax imposed to finance the Spanish-American War — and still in place a century later. We call for the immediate repeal of the phone tax.
Homeownership is central to the American dream, and Republicans want to make it more accessible for everyone. That starts with access to capital for entrepreneurs and access to credit for consumers. Our proposals for helping millions of low-income families move from renting to owning are detailed elsewhere in this platform as major elements in Governor Bush’s program for a New Prosperity. For those families, and for all other potential homebuyers, low interest rates make mortgages affordable and open up more housing opportunities than any government program.
Affordable housing is in the national interest. That is why the mortgage interest deduction for primary residences was put into the federal tax code, and why tax reform of any kind should continue to encourage homeownership. At the same time, a balanced national housing policy must recognize that decent housing includes apartments, and addresses the needs of all citizens, including renters.
We will turn over to local communities foreclosed and abandoned HUD properties for urban homesteading, a citizen renovation effort that has been remarkably successful in revitalizing neighborhoods. We affirm our commitment to open housing, without quotas or controls, and we applaud the proactive efforts by the realty and housing industries to assure access for everyone.
In many areas, housing prices are higher than they need to be because of regulations that drive up building costs. Some regulation is of course necessary, and so is sensible zoning. But we urge states and localities to work with local builders and lenders to eliminate unnecessary burdens that price many families out of the market. We see no role for any federal regulation of homebuilding, but we do foresee a larger role for State and local governments in controlling the federally assisted housing that has been so poorly managed from Washington. We also encourage the modification of restrictions that inhibit the rehabilitation of existing distressed properties.
Small Business: Where Prosperity Starts
Small businesses are the underlying essence of our economy. Small businesses create most of the new jobs and keep this country a land of opportunity. They have been the primary engines of economic advance by American women, whose dynamic entry into small business in recent years has accounted for much of the nation’s growth. Small businesses generate more than half the gross domestic product. Their willingness to give people a chance, and their ability to train individuals new to the work force, made welfare reform the success that it is. They deserve far better treatment from government than they have received. We will provide it through many of the initiatives explained elsewhere in this platform: lower tax rates, ending the death tax, cutting through red tape, legal and product liability reform, and the aggressive expansion of overseas markets for their goods and services.
We will end the harassment of small businesses by federal agencies. In the case of OSHA, we will withdraw its proposed ergonomics standard, ban its bureaucracy from the homes of telecommuting workers, and change the agency from an adversary to a partner for safer productivity. We will halt the IRS discrimination against independent contractors and, in order to guard against unwise regulation, will include the agency in the current procedures of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.
Providing health insurance is a major challenge for small business owners. Almost 60 percent of uninsured workers are either employed by small business or are self-employed. That is compelling reason to immediately allow 100 percent deductibility of health insurance premiums and let small businesses to band together, across State lines, to purchase insurance through association health plans.
Work Place of the Future
Individual Americans, on their own initiative, are already creating the work place of the future. Employees and employers alike need to act as a team, not as adversaries, to be competitive in the world market. Republicans want to empower them to do all of that, because we believe they know what is best for their families, their earnings, and their advancement in an opportunity economy. To help them reach their goals, government must replace antiquated laws that restrict opportunity, increase costs, and inhibit innovation.
Trade: The Force Of Economic Freedom
‘The fearful build walls; the confident demolish them. I am confident in American workers, farmers, and producers, and I am confident that America’s best is the best in the world."
— George W. Bush
International trade has become the world’s most powerful economic force. International trade is not the creation of the world’s rulers, but of the world’s peoples, who strive for a better future and break down any barriers governments may erect to it. The result is today’s global economy of open markets in democratic nations. That system is poised to sweep away both the counterproductive vestiges of protectionism and the backwater remnants of Marxism. We launched this revolution during the Reagan and Bush Administrations. Now we will bring it to completion: U.S. leadership of a global economy without limits to growth.
For our country, that outcome will be critical. Exports account for almost one-third of U.S. economic growth, while average wages in export-related industries are significantly higher. As for agriculture, expanding exports is key to saving the family farm. We must secure America’s competitive advantage in the New Economy by preventing other countries from erecting barriers to innovation. For American producers and consumers alike, the benefits of free trade are already enormous. In the near future, they will be incalculable.
But free trade must be fair trade, within an open, rules-based international trading system. That will depend on American leadership, which has been lacking for the last eight years. The administration’s failure to renew fast track (expedited legislative procedures to approve free trade legislation) has undermined its ability to open new markets abroad for American goods and services. As a result, America’s trade deficit with the rest of the world has surged to record highs. We must be at the table when trade agreements are negotiated, make the interests of American workers and farmers paramount, and ensure that the drive to open new markets is successful.
The vitality of that agenda depends upon the vigorous enforcement of U.S. trade laws against unfair competition. We will not tolerate the foreign practices, rules, and subsidization that put our exports on an unequal footing. It is not enough to secure signatures on a piece of paper; our trading partners must follow through on the promises they make. First and foremost, we must restore the credibility of U.S. trade leadership. We therefore propose to:
Launch a new and ambitious round of multilateral negotiations focused solely on opening markets.
Revitalize the World Trade Organization negotiations on agriculture and services.
Give the next president fast-track negotiating authority.
Negotiate reductions in tariffs on U.S. industrial goods and the elimination of other trade barriers so that our autos, heavy machinery, textiles, and other products will no longer be shut out of foreign markets.
Take action against any trading partner that uses pseudo-science to block importation of U.S.
Advance a Free Trade Area of the Americas to take advantage of burgeoning new markets at our doorstep.
Revise export controls to tighten control over military technology and ease restrictions on technology already available commercially.
Technology And The New Economy: The Force For Change
"Governments don’t create wealth. Wealth is created by Americans – by creativity and enterprise and risk-taking. The great engine of wealth has become the human mind – creating value out of genius."
— George W. Bush
The innovation at the heart of our New Economy has become the greatest force for change all over the world. With information technology, people in bondage can taste freedom, and people in freedom can bond more securely with each other. People who used to work for others are now independent entrepreneurs. And citizens are drilling through layers of entrenched bureaucracy to directly access information and transact business.
Republicans have embraced this change, for it advances the central values of our party and our country: a reduced role for government, greater personal liberty, economic freedom, reliance on the market and decentralized decision-making. This revolution also suits our national character — rewarding creativity, hard work, tenacity, and a willingness to take risks. It empowers. This is America’s moment.
Republicans recognize that the role of government in the New Economy is to foster an environment where innovation can flourish. The Information Revolution is the product of the creative efforts and hard work of men and women in the private sector, and not of government bureaucrats. At the same time, we recognize the magnitude and pace of change require vigilance to make the most of its opportunities and to mitigate its possible difficulties. For what we have experienced thus far is surely only the beginning of almost unimaginable growth, change, and more change. Let others be timid in the face of it, but let this country seize the opportunity.
The Republican Congress deserves great credit for what it has already done to fulfill its historic E-Contract with the American people:
The Internet Tax Freedom Act put a three-year moratorium on new Internet taxes to ensure that electronic commerce would not be smothered in its infancy.
An expanded visa program (H1-B) provided much of the highly skilled labor that makes rapid technological progress possible.
The Securities Litigation Reform Act, enacted by overriding a veto, is preventing trial lawyers from preying on new cutting-edge companies. The threat of abusive lawsuits must not be allowed to cripple the capital formation that will drive the Information Revolution.
A codified World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) agreement ensured that content providers are protected from foreign criminals.
Our extended research and development tax credit allows companies to innovate, when innovation is the name of the high tech game.
Deregulation of telecommunications, still in its early stages, shattered monopolies and opened the door to worldwide communication.
These initiatives are grounded in a steadfast commitment to open markets, to minimal regulations, and to reducing taxes that snuff out innovation — principles at the heart of the new economy and our party.
Our latest breakthrough, enacted only weeks ago, is a landmark commercial law granting electronic signatures used in the formation of contracts online the same legal validity as pen and ink signatures on paper. With this single stroke, business-to-business e-commerce will explode, paperwork costs will decline, convenience will increase, and consumers rack up another major victory.
The impact of the Internet on the daily workings of government to make it more responsive and citizen-centered is considered elsewhere in this platform. But Republicans welcome the Information Revolution to the political arena too. Democracy thrives on well-informed citizens, and now the public will have unprecedented access to the workings of government, including the voting records of their Members of Congress and the written opinions of judges, whose decisions will now be reviewable in the court of public opinion.