|REPUBLICAN PLATFORM 2000|
July 31, 2000
With a promise of a government "For the people," the GOP also made proposals focusing on political reform and its policies concerning Native Americans and the District of Columbia in this section of the platform.
Government for the People
Trust, pride, and respect: we pledge to restore these qualities to the way Americans view their government. It is the most important of tasks and reflects the overwhelming desire of our citizens for fundamental change in official Washington.
The templates to make this happen are readily available in the 30 states led by Republican governors. These visionary leaders have opened a new era of creative federalism, making government citizen-centered, results-oriented, and, where possible, market-based. Their sound management of public dollars has led to unprecedented surpluses. Services have improved. Waste has been reduced. Taxes have been cut.
State and local governments are also far ahead of official Washington in the creation of e-government: providing information and services to the public via the Internet. Citizens can conduct business with government by going online instead of wasting hours in-line. We will e-power citizens at all levels of government. And we will require federal agencies to use savvy, online practices to buy smart - and save enormous amounts of money in procurement.
The leadership our governors have shown in these matters only strengthens our commitment to restore the force of the Tenth Amendment, the best protection the American people have against federal intrusion and bullying. We have limited the ability of Congress to impose unfunded mandates on states and on local and tribal governments. The next logical step is to address the unfunded mandates of the past in areas like education and social services. The dramatic success of welfare reform - once the States were allowed to manage their programs - is a stellar example of what happens when we give power back to the people.
Therefore, in our effort to shift power from Washington back to the states, we must acknowledge as a general matter of course that the federal governments role should be to set high standards and expectations in policies, then get out of the way and let the states implement and operate those policies as they best know how. Washington must respect that one size does not fit all states and must not overburden states with unnecessary strings and red tape attached to its policies.
In the Congress, a Republican majority has modernized our national legislature. They have set term limits for committee chairs and leadership positions, and they have, by law, required Congress to live by the same rules it imposes on others. And, at a time when the nation felt betrayed by misconduct in high office, the Republican Congress responded with gravity and high purpose. We applaud those Members who did their duty to conscience and the Constitution.
There is much to be done, but it can be done only when a Republican president works in tandem with a Republican Congress. We will work to pass legislation to make it clear that public officials who commit crimes will subsequently forfeit their pension rights. We will ensure that IRS audits are never used as a political weapon, so innocent Americans will never again fear the snooping, harassment, and intimidation of recent years. And because an accurate census is essential for representative government, we will respect the Supreme Courts judgment that an actual headcount of persons is the proper way to determine the apportionment of congressional districts.
A Republican president will take the lead in proposing, and fighting for, the structural changes that are long overdue in the federal government. For starters, the twenty-five year old congressional budget process, though it has helped to make possible todays budget surpluses, has become almost unintelligible to legislators, let alone the average citizen. It has been inadequate to enforce legislated spending caps and cannot stop the phony "emergency" bills that cause the spending caps to be exceeded. It cannot control runaway spending on entitlements and "mandatory" spending; it does not even prevent our government spending $120 billion on programs whose statutory authority has expired.
Our goal is to replace the status quo with clarity, simplicity, and accountability to the budget process. We will have a biennial budget that has the force of law. To end pork barrel abuses on Capitol Hill, we will:
· Eliminate the "baseline budgeting" that artificially boosts spending.
· Create a constitutionally sound line item veto for the president, and direct the savings from items vetoed to paying down the national debt.
· Prevent government shutdowns by enacting a "Permanent Continuing Resolution" so the spending lobbies can never again extort billions from the taxpayers by blocking the regular order of appropriation bills.
· Define legislatively the conditions for "emergency" spending.
Like Congress, the Executive Branch must adapt to the challenges of the new century. There are too many departments and agencies with competing programs that waste resources and fail to deliver the goods: 342 economic development programs, 788 education programs in 40 different agencies at a cost of over $100 billion a year, 163 job training programs in 15 different agencies. Twelve agencies administer over 35 food safety laws. One agency regulates pizzas with meat; another regulates vegetarian pizzas. (Still another regulates the people who deliver them. Enough said.)
We intend to downsize this mess and make government actually do what it is supposed to, simply by ensuring that all agencies adhere to the Government Performance and Results Act, which has been neglected or ignored by the current administration. By applying its procedures to all federal programs, we can stop the loss of millions of Medicare dollars for services rendered after patients have died. We can put the brakes on an Education Department that pays out $3.3 billion on defaulted student loans, and an Energy Department that spends $10 billion on projects that are never completed. Because of its history of needless partisan litigation, we call for the Legal Services Corporation to return to its original purpose of providing legal aid to the indigent, rather than pursuing political causes and agendas. We will, as an urgent priority, restore the integrity of the nations space program by imposing sound management and strong oversight on NASA.
A Republican president will run the federal government much as the Republican governors run state agencies. Bureaucracy will be reduced and trimmed in size at its upper echelons. If public services can be delivered more efficiently and less expensively through the private sector, they will be privatized. A Republican president will establish accountability, reward performance, put civility back into the civil service, and restore dignity and ethics to the White House.
The First Amendment enshrines in our Constitution and guarantees indispensable democratic freedoms of speech, press, and association, and, the right to petition our government. The Republican party affirms that any regulation of the political process must not infringe upon the rights of the people to full participation in the political process. The principal cure for the ills of democracy is greater participation in the political process by more citizens. To that end, we have one guiding principle in the development of laws to regulate campaigns: Will any particular proposal encourage or restrict the energetic engagement of Americans in elections? Governor Bushs agenda for more honest and more open politics meets that standard. It will:
Stop the abuses of corporate and labor "soft" money contributions to political parties.
· Enact "Paycheck Protection," ensuring that no union member is forced to contribute to anybodys campaign - and stopping an annual rip-off of $300 million from union families by Washington-based politicos.
· Preserve the right of every individual and all groups - whether for us or against us - to express their opinions and advocate their issues. We will not allow any arm of government to restrict this constitutionally guaranteed right.
· Level the playing field by forbidding incumbents to roll over their leftover campaign funds into a campaign for a different office.
· Require full and timely disclosure on the Internet of all campaign contributions - so the media and the public can immediately know who is giving how much to whom.
· Encourage all citizens to donate their time and resources to the campaigns of their choice by updating for inflation the quarter-century-old limits on individual contributions.
· Preserve access to the Internet for political speech and debate.
Gerrymandered congressional districts are an affront to democracy and an insult to the voters. We oppose that and any other attempt to rig the electoral process.
Common Sense In Regulation
Effective government requires regulation for health, safety, and other concerns. By the same token, regulation requires regular review - for efficiency, economy, and plain common sense. That Republican model of regulatory reform is a good fit for an Information Age economy. It will replace a bureaucratic mentality clicking along at a Morse Code pace. We will use the advance of science and information technology to:
· Target the most serious risks to health, safety, and the environment, then put regulatory resources where they best serve the public, not politics.
· Make sound science, not ideological whim, the basis for regulation, with peer-reviewed risk assessments and full disclosure.
· Require periodic review of existing regulations, to strengthen where necessary and change where obsolete.
· Require agencies to disclose the cost to consumers and small businesses of any proposed regulations.
· Let the American people know the full price they pay for government regulations, through a new regulatory budget that explains the likely cost for meeting regulatory requirements.
· Use cost-benefit analyses of regulations to develop alternatives to the outdated command-and-control attitude of recent years.
· Retrain civil servants to work with those affected by regulation rather than dictating to them.
The current administration has repeatedly evaded the normal regulatory process through executive orders, some of dubious legality. Withdrawing these orders should be a priority of a new administration dedicated to the rule of law.
We oppose and will work to end taxpayer supported grants for projects and programs that promote religious bigotry in America.
Judicial Reform: Courts That Work, Laws That Make Sense
Americans have the right to a judicial system they can trust. There is no question that the need for reform extends to the judicial branch of government. Many judges disregard the safety, values, and freedom of law-abiding citizens. At the expense of our children and families, they make up laws, invent new rights, free vicious criminals, and pamper felons in prison. They have arbitrarily overturned state laws enacted by citizen referenda, utterly disregarding the right of the people and the democratic process.
The sound principle of judicial review has turned into an intolerable presumption of judicial supremacy. A Republican Congress, working with a Republican president, will restore the separation of powers and reestablish a government of law. There are different ways to achieve that goal - setting terms for federal judges, for example, or using Article III of the Constitution to limit their appellate jurisdiction - but the most important factor is the appointing power of the presidency. We applaud Governor Bushs pledge to name only judges who have demonstrated that they share his conservative beliefs and respect the Constitution.
Reform of the legal profession is an essential part of court reform. Todays litigation practices make a mockery of justice, hinder our countrys competitiveness in the world market and, far worse, erode the publics trust in the entire judicial process.
Avarice among many plaintiffs lawyers has clogged our civil courts, drastically changed the practice of medicine, and costs American companies and consumers more than $150 billion a year. Who profits? On average, more than fifty cents of every dollar paid out in tort cases goes to lawyers fees, not to an injured party. This amounts to a tax on consumers to fatten the wallets of trial lawyers.
Lets be blunt about the effects of all that cash: Our civil justice reforms have been blocked in the Capitol and vetoed in the Oval Office. Its why federal agencies have colluded with the trial lawyer lobby in sweetheart litigation, to advance through the courts what they could not accomplish through the political process. We fully support the role of the courts in vindicating the rights of individuals and organizations, but we want to require higher standards for trial lawyers within federal jurisdiction, much as Governor Bush has already done in Texas - and as we encourage other States to do within their own legal codes. To achieve that goal, we will strengthen the federal rules of civil procedure to increase penalties for frivolous suits and impose a "Three Strikes, Youre Out" rule on attorneys who repeatedly file such suits. We will limit "fishing expeditions" by amending federal discovery rules, curb the use of junk science in testimony, and end the abusive use of the RICO statute. We encourage all states to consider placing caps on non-economic and punitive damages in civil cases. We also support such caps in federal causes of action. We also encourage states to examine the effects on the democratic process of advancing policies through litigation that could not be accomplished through the political process.
We will enact a Teacher Protection Act to protect educators from meritless federal lawsuits against their efforts to maintain discipline in the classroom. We will extend similar protections to non-profit organizations - churches, civic and community groups, and the volunteers who sustain them.
To reduce health care costs and keep doctors practicing in critical areas like obstetrics, we will reform medical malpractice law on the federal level and urge decisive action on the state level as well.
To encourage settlements and to discourage prolonged litigation, a Fair Settlements Rule should be enacted requiring either party in federal court who rejects a timely, reasonable, and good faith pre-trial settlement offer, and who ultimately loses their case, to pay the other partys costs, including legal fees. We also encourage states to consider enacting such rules. To improve access to justice, we will make it easier for cases of national import to be heard in federal courts.
To protect clients against unscrupulous lawyers, we will enact a Clients Bill of Rights for all federal courts, requiring attorneys to disclose both the range of their fees and their ethical obligation to charge reasonable fees and allowing those fees to be challenged in federal courts. Because private lawyers should not unreasonably profit at public expense, we will prohibit federal agencies from paying contingency fees and encourage states to do so as well. Even more important, we will require attorneys to return to the people any excessive fees they gain under contract to States or municipalities.
An integral part of legal reform is a federal product liability law. Without it, consumers face higher costs, needed products dont make it to the market, and American jobs are lost to foreign competitors. That, too, will change when the American people break the grip of the trial lawyers on our legal system.
The federal government has a special responsibility, ethical and legal, to make the American dream accessible to Native Americans. Unfortunately, the resources that the United States holds in trust for them, financial and otherwise, have been misused and abused. While many tribes have become energetic participants in the mainstream of American life, the serious social ills afflicting some reservations have been worsened by decades of mismanagement from Washington. In its place, we offer these guiding principles:
· Tribal governments are best situated to gauge the needs of their communities and members.
· Political self-determination and economic self-sufficiency are twin pillars of an effective Indian policy.
· Private sector initiatives, rather than public assistance, can best improve material conditions in Indian communities.
· High taxes and unreasonable regulations stifle new and expanded businesses and thwart the creation of job opportunities and prosperity.
We will strengthen Native American self-determination by respecting tribal sovereignty, encouraging economic development on reservations, and working with them to reorganize the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service. We uphold the unique government-to-government relationship between the tribes and the United States and honor our nations trust obligations to them.
We support efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs by Native Americans, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians and to preserve their cultures and languages.
The Nations Capital
The District of Columbia is a special responsibility of the federal government and should be a model for urban areas throughout the country. Its downhill slide has at least been arrested, both through its internal efforts and the active intervention of congressional Republicans, who have taken unprecedented steps to help the city recover. Their D.C. homebuyers tax credit is helping to revitalize marginal neighborhoods; their landmark tuition assistance act has opened the doors of the nations colleges to D.C. students.
Now, to enhance the citys economic security, reverse the movement out of the city, and ensure a safe and healthy environment for families, we advocate deep reductions in the Districts taxes, currently among the highest in the nation, and encourage user-friendly development policies.
We call once again for structural reform of the citys schools so that none of its children will be left behind. We strongly support both charter schools and the opportunity scholarships for poor kids that have been repeatedly blocked by the administration.
We respect the design of the Framers of the Constitution that our nations capital has a unique status and should remain independent of any individual state.
Americans In The Territories
We welcome greater participation in all aspects of the political process by Americans residing in Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas, and Puerto Rico. Since no single approach can meet the needs of those diverse communities, we emphasize respect for their wishes regarding their relationship to the rest of the Union. We affirm their right to seek the full extension of the Constitution, with all the rights and responsibilities it entails.
We support the Native American Samoans efforts to preserve their culture and land-tenure system, which fosters self-reliance and strong extended-family values.
We support increased local self-government for the United States citizens of the Virgin Islands, and closer cooperation between the local and federal governments to promote private sector-led development and self-sufficiency.
We recognize that Guam is a strategically vital U.S. territory in the far western Pacific, an American fortress in the Asian region. We affirm our support for the patriotic U.S. citizens of Guam to achieve greater local self-government, an improved federal-territorial relationship, new economic development strategies, and continued self-determination as desired with respect to political status.
We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a State, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the United States government.