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Platform Summary

 This section provides an overview of the Platform. For a more complete discussion check out the individual Platform planks. For the complete list of platform planks go to: Platform: Table of Contents.


Government Spending, Taxation, and Deficit Reduction:


Restrict all federal spending to no more than 20% of GDP (about the level before the 2008 economic crisis), except during war or periods of declining GDP;


Restrict all federal taxation to no more than 20% of GDP, except during periods of war;


Lower the top personal income tax rate to 30% (reduce tax rates for other brackets by similar amounts);


Eliminate industry specific subsidies in the tax code (tax credits, deductions, and special rules for depreciation and depletion);


Reduce or eliminate most personal income tax deductions and credits including the home mortgage deduction and charitable deductions, replacing with a larger standard deduction;


Keep the Earned Income Tax Credit;


Add or increase "sin taxes" on externalities (those actions that impose a cost on society that is not reflected in the market price):


Tobacco, alcohol, sweetened drinks, or other seriously unhealthy consumption  expenditures;


Broad based tax on oil consumption;


Tax industrial and agricultural pollutants (including those from the use of coal and other fossil fuels);


Low level carbon tax, (increase if part of a global carbon tax):


Tax very large financial institutions as a function of scale and leverage. (This is compensation for “too big to fail” risk. The tax can be avoided by increasing financial reserves or voluntarily breaking the company up into smaller firms.);


 

Add or increase user fees for government services: e.g., highways, Park Service, FDA, Post Office, and Patent Office;


For a well defined period of time, for example five years, the additional revenues from new externality/sin taxes and user fees would be split, half to reducing current personal income taxes, half to deficit reduction, provided that the deficit reduction from the new tax revenues is matched by equal spending reductions. After that period of time these new taxes would be offset by equivalent reductions in income taxes. 


Health Care

Refundable Health Care Tax Credit: This program replaces Obamacare, Medicaid and, eventually, Medicare. The credit may be used to purchase private health insurance from insurers who meet certain standards including:

1) insuring without regard to preexisting conditions (they may use age and geographic based premiums only);


2) covering a certain minimum number of conditions and treatments;


3) providing low co-pays and deductibles for communicable diseases and those that are inexpensively treated if caught early; and


4) providing higher co-pays and deductibles for all other conditions to discourage frivolous use of the system.


Other Features of the Health Care Proposal


1) Individuals would be free to buy additional insurance to cover additional conditions or treatments, if they wished, but not to insure for the deductibles or co-pays under the plan;


2) Insurers would be free to sell plans across state lines;


3) Individuals who choose not to purchase health insurance lose the ability to discharge debts due to medical care in bankruptcy (this is analogous to the current treatment of federally backed student loans);


4) The size of the credit would be fixed in real terms (indexed to general inflation) and would vary with the age of the recipient. If the cost of insurance rises beyond that of general inflation, the subsidies will not rise to accommodate it. If, as a society, we decide that we wish to subsidize health care for the elderly disproportionately relative to other demographic groups, that desire can be accommodated by the relationship between the size of the subsidy and age. The constraint on this age bias is that the size of the credit granted to younger recipients must be large enough to induce the vast majority of them to use it;


5) Employers may provide coverage for additional services and conditions if they wish. This coverage may not include coverage for the co-pays or deductibles for treatments covered under the government subsidized plan. Any health care insurance provided by employers would be taxable benefits to the employee just like other employer provided benefits;


6) The government may add or subtract covered conditions and treatments over time but may not increase the real size of the credit. The credit would be set low enough that the total long-term budgetary impact of this system would be significantly lower than that forecast by the Congressional Budget Office for Obamacare, Medicaid, and Medicare. The credit would be set high enough that the vast majority of people would use it.


Backstop for patients who cannot afford to pay the premiums, deductibles, or co-pays for medical care covered by the plan and for the indigent uninsured.


A government guaranteed market rate loan will be provided to meet the cost of premiums, deductibles, or co-pays for care covered by the base plan, for the indigent. Eligibility will be similar to Medicaid. Repayment is at the lesser of the loan repayment schedule or 10% of their future income from whatever source, including unemployment compensation and Social Security income, less the costs of their ongoing care. The holder of the loan will have first claim on the borrower's assets at death and borrowers will face similar restrictions to those on Medicaid with regard to gifts and transfers.


A similar backstop will be available to those who fail to insure themselves under either the Plan, or other private insurance, and are unable to afford medical care that would have been covered by the Plan. Like Medicaid this backstop is only available after the individual has spent down their own assets.


These backstops are real loans for those who temporarily need help to meet covered medical expenses, premiums, deductibles or co-pays. For those who are permanently indigent these backstops function much like Medicaid currently works, since the debt is absorbed by the government at the time of their death.


Other Aspects of the Platform that will have Direct Budgetary Impact


Education:

 

The proposals outlined in the education section of the Platform (see below) affect mostly state and local governments. These recommendations would both increase and reduce some government expenditures and the net effect on K-12 expenditures is difficult to predict. We believe that, even if these changes increase costs, they will result in a significant increase in performance and efficiency.

Defense:

 

Reduce expenditures based on shifting some of the burden for mutual defense to our allies and accepting a more limited role for the U.S.

 

Homeland Security:

 

Decisions must be tied to cost/benefit analysis, not to a desire for zero risk. This should result in lower expenditures.

Social Security:

 

Use the chain index for inflation and gradually extend the age for full eligibility to 70 from the current 67. The intent is to keep Social Security from adding to the deficit, not to use it to reduce the deficit.


Elimination of Direct Industry Specific Subsidies:

For example, the elimination of agricultural subsidies and coastal insurance subsidies (this is in addition to eliminating the industry specific subsidies embedded in the tax code).

Aspects of the Platform that will have Indirect or Minimal Budgetary Impact

Health Care:


Tort reform to limit punitive damages against physicians,


Disclosure requirements to limit conflicts of interest on prescribed treatments,


Greater use of indemnity style insurance in the subsidized  

plan.


Regulation of Financial Markets:


Claw backs on compensation in “Too Big to Fail” firms;


Disclosure requirements for large financial firms to allow markets to determine each firm's exposure to risk during a crisis;


Reducing implicit governmental support for rating agencies to drive bond purchasers to provide their own assessments of risk, free from the conflict of interest inherent in the rating agency approach;


Enforcement of anti-trust laws and other actions to increase competitiveness in commercial and investment banking.


Regulation and Consumer Protection for Financial Services:


Greater use of transparent disclosure requirements rather than prohibition.


Monetary and Fiscal Policy:


Monetary Policy: Eliminate maintenance of full employment from the Federal Reserve Board’s duties. Let it focus on price stability and liquidity in financial markets. Use other policy tools to pursue full employment.


Infrastructure Bank: Inventory of pre-approved infrastructure projects that can be funded during periods of significant unemployment, when private sector investment demand has collapsed due to a lack of investor confidence. Projects are exempt from Davis-Bacon and other attempts to support wages or favor union contractors. This program is intended more to shift the timing of government expenditure on infrastructure than to change its long-term level. Increases in the long-term level of infrastructure investment should be financed with user fees, whenever possible, rather than general tax revenues.


Public Support for Education K-12 (Primarily State and Local Issues):


Wide spread experiments with vouchers and charter schools to determine if they result in better educational outcomes;


If these experiments prove successful, shift of funding from state provided education to state funded education through vouchers and charter schools;


Voucher supported or charter schools may not use public funds to support religious indoctrination;


Increased pay for individual teachers based on demonstrated competence and tied to acceptance of pay for performance, loss of tenure, and loss of collective bargaining rights;


Increased funding for longer school days and a longer school

year;


Increased use of technology in schools to raise student teacher ratios while improving educational performance.


Educational Content:


Oppose legislation requiring teaching of “Intelligent Design” or banning teaching of the theory of evolution. Teachers may express their own opinions, as long as they identify them as such and indicate that they are not the generally accepted views of the scientific community;


Publicly funded or publicly provided institutions may not coerce any kind of religious participation from students or teachers.


Support for Higher Education:


Support efforts of state legislatures to push public universities to adopt new technology to drive down the cost of providing a college education;


Support efforts to get public universities to separate the certification process from the educational process and allow private for-profit firms to compete in the educational process to prepare students for certification;


Increase the size of Pell Grants for low income students and provide market rate, federally guaranteed loans to other students;


Provide information to students applying for loans, based on their majors, institutions, and prospective GPA’s that indicate what kind of income they are likely to earn and the time necessary to pay off the loans;


Eliminate any kind of federal support to institutions of higher learning who grant legacy advantages in the admissions process.


Vocational Education and Retraining:


Support efforts to incentivize high school dropouts to take and pass the GED and thereby push high school graduation or equivalency rates to levels comparable to the best in the developed world. Link social welfare programs to efforts to take and pass these exams;


Support efforts to encourage employers to hire and train workers who have been unemployed for an extended period by offering holidays from minimum wages and other work force requirements;


Support efforts to encourage high schools to coordinate vocational training with the needs of local employers, providing skills certifications that are known to lead to employment.


Racial Discrimination and Affirmative Action:

             Ban race based preferences in admission, employment, and
             government contracting;


             As a compromise set a date certain for ending these
             preferences.

Gun Control:


Support the Second Amendment right for individuals to own

guns;


Support the ability of states and local governments to restrict this right by limiting the ability of felons and the mentally disturbed to purchase guns, and the states' right to restrict certain kinds of weapons sales, including assault weapons;


Support harsh penalties for commission of felonies in possession of a firearm.


Abortion:


Support Roe v. Wade on the right of an adult woman to have an unrestricted right to obtain an abortion in the first two trimesters of a pregnancy;


Oppose the use of federal or state funds to subsidize abortions (abortions would not be a covered procedure in the qualified health care plans eligible for the credit described above);


Oppose efforts to give legal rights to the fetus;


Oppose federal legislation on third trimester abortions and the rights of minors to abortions without parental consent (this pushes these issues to the state level for resolution);


Remain neutral on state level legislation on third trimester abortions and the rights of minors to abortions without parental consent;


Support efforts to reduce the incidence of abortion by supporting prenatal medical care, reducing teenage pregnancies, and facilitating adoptions.


Same Sex Marriage:


Accept the Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage. Support the right individuals and privately held firms not to provide services for same sex marriages. 


Labor Unions:


Support for Right-to-Work laws at the state level;


Oppose Right-to-Work laws at the national level;


Protect the right to a secret ballot in union elections;


Prevent the NLRB from interfering with the ability of firms to locate facilities where they wish, even if these firms are having disputes with their unions;


Restrict the ability of public sector employees to unionize and bargain collectively;


Limit the ability of public sector employees to seek compensation through enhanced medical care and defined benefit pension plans that allow the true costs of the compensation to be hidden from the public.


Immigration:


Establish a path to legal residency, for illegal immigrants who are employed and who have no criminal record. This would be a one-time six month window for registration followed by a waiting period. The length of the waiting period is open to negotiation;


During the waiting period, illegal immigrants must register and pay a 20% surtax on their federal, state, and local income taxes, (states and local governments without an income tax may levy a tax in lieu of this surtax). This is a 20% increase in the taxes that they would otherwise be obligated to pay, not a 20% tax;


Registered immigrants must remain employed and law abiding or be subject to deportation;


Registered immigrants are required to purchase health insurance and are not eligible for the Health Care Credit;


Employers are required to verify the immigration status of their employees;


Establish a formal guest worker program;


Establish a new route to legal residency and citizenship for those with special talents, especially recent graduates from U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science and technology.


Increase immigration quotas for highly skilled immigrants and tilt the immigration system toward "merit" rather than family relationships.


Climate Change:


Support a substantial global tax on carbon emissions (including all of the OECD plus China and India at a minimum) with each country keeping the proceeds for its own purposes. In the U.S. these revenues would be used as described in the sections on Taxation and Debt and Deficit Reduction;


If a global tax is not possible, support a small U.S. carbon tax to demonstrate the concept. If this tax can be linked to coordinated (with other OECD countries) tariffs on imported goods from countries that do not impose a carbon tax it should be increased;


Support basic research on the causes of climate change and possible solutions, including alternative energy technology and geo-engineering options;


Oppose subsidies for the development or use of specific

technologies;


Support real time electricity pricing, non-carbon environmental taxes on fossil fuels, and a broad based tax on oil. All of these will all have, coincidental, positive impacts on carbon emissions.


Energy Policy:


Adopt a broad based tax on oil consumption to reflect the economic, strategic, and military costs of oil consumption;


Support the use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to stabilize oil prices from major shocks (consider privatizing it);


Support the use of real time pricing for electric power;


Support basic research on alternative energy technologies;


Oppose direct subsidies for the development or use of specific technologies.


Environmental Protection:


Switch to using taxes rather than regulation to reduce pollution wherever possible;


All such taxes and regulation must be justified on cost benefit analysis (Note: this provision would preclude cap and trade or significant carbon taxes in the absence of a global effort to control carbon emissions).


Illegal Drugs and Legalization of Marijuana:


Experimentation with state level legalization of medical marijuana and legalization and taxation of marijuana for general use.


Trade:


Support for reciprocal free trade agreements like NAFTA and the TPP;


Support for efforts to make sure such trade is really free, e.g. pressuring China to allow its currency to float and to respect intellectual property rights;


Support for Research and Development:

Support for basic research but avoiding picking technological favorites to subsidize through development.

States Rights:


Support for the principle of experimentation with public policy at the state level,


Respect for the states' rights not to be coerced into funding programs through unfunded mandates.


Voting Reforms:

 

Support for open primaries,

Support for instant runoff voting.


Support for reasonable voter ID laws that provide amble ways for citizens to acquire 

an acceptable and free voter ID.

 

Campaign Finance Reform:

 

Believe campaign contributions are constitutionally protected free speech,

 

Best way to reduce the role of money in government is to limit the role of government and provide support to candidates who represent the broad public interest.


Death Penalty:


Establish a new, higher, burden of proof for death penalty cases that excludes eyewitness testimony from less than three witnesses and confessions that are not video taped from the beginning of the interrogation process.


Judicial Appointments:


Believe that nominees for appointment to Supreme Court should be required by the Senate to answer hypothetical questions designed to determine their judicial philosophy (failure to answer should be grounds for rejection);


Believe that constitutional government requires a constitution whose meaning is as fixed as possible. Support a moderate form of “originalism” that reflects the need to interpret the original meaning  in the light of a changing technological, but not a changing philosophical environment.


              Support for Roe v. Wade, in this Platform, is an exception 

              based on an acceptance of this decision as settled law and      

              not on support for the constitutional reasoning supporting

              that decision.


Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:


             Support for a resolution to the conflict based on a separate

             state for the Palestinians and secure and defensible boarders

             for Israel.


Nation Building:


             Support for adopting less expensive (essentially punitive)

             approaches for  dealing with states that threaten, or appear

             to threaten, the U.S. or U.S. interests rather than occupation.


             Financial commitments by the U.S. for nation building

             should be undertaken only with broad international support.