Search This Blog

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Platform: Not As Great a Shift

Much of the reporting on the GOP platform is ahistorical – even when it purports to provide historical background. Take this passage from a Washington Post article: “Influenced by the rise of tea party activists, this year’s platform, adopted Tuesday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, has shifted to the right, particularly on fiscal issues. It calls for an audit of the Federal Reserve and a commission to study returning to the gold standard. There are odes of fidelity to the Constitution but also calls for amendments that would balance the federal budget, require a two-thirds majority in Congress to raise taxes and define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.”

These items aren’t as much of a shift as the passage suggests.
  • The 1984 platform criticized the Fed and openly suggested a look at the gold standard: “ The Federal Reserve Board's destabilizing actions must therefore stop. We need coordination between fiscal and monetary policy, timely information about Fed decisions, and an end to the uncertainties people face in obtaining money and credit. The Gold Standard may be a useful mechanism for realizing the Federal Reserve's determination to adopt monetary policies needed to sustain price stability.”
  • The 1980 platform suggested that the election of a Republican president and Congress would eliminate the need for a balanced-budget amendment. It added a caveat: “However, if necessary, the Republican Party will seek to adopt a Constitutional amendment to limit federal spending and balance the budget, except in time of national emergency as determined by a two-thirds vote of Congress The 1984 language was more direct: “We will work for the constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget passed by the Republican Senate but blocked by the Democrat-controlled House and denounced by the Democrat Platform. If Congress fails to act on this issue, a constitutional convention should be convened to address only this issue in order to bring deficit spending under control.” Every platform since then has endorsed a balanced-budget amendment.
  •  The 2004 and 2008 platforms backed “supermajority” requirements for tax increases.
  • As the article itself later acknowledges, the opposition to same-sex marriage goes back to 1992.

The article also notes that the 1992 document used the term “Democrat Party,” adding: “That abbreviated version of the other party’s name, without the `-ic’ suffix, appears for the first time in 1976, an early sign of the sniping that has come to dominate interparty rhetoric.” Wrong, the term was in the 1956 platform, and William Safire traced the usage back to Tom Dewey.