What should a typical Republican presidential platform look like in 2016? (pt 1)

Donald Trump is not running a typical Republican campaign, nor is he even expressing a traditional Republican platform. His platform lacks many specifics, and in many instances, is simply cringe-worthy, particularly when it comes to building a wall and making Mexico pay for it . So how hard is it to present a responsible Republican presidential platform that people can believe in and get excited about and not roll their eyes at when they hear it? Again, I want to put forth a presidential platform here that is truer to the ideals of conservatism than what Trump stands for.

Here are my ideas for a much more consistent presidential platform, one more in line with conservative ideals. This will likely be a lengthy post, so I will break this up into parts.

1). Set it up as a four year plan. Don’t make endless promises that you likely won’t keep. Be as realistic with the promises you make as possible. Set up goals for each year. This first part of this blog post will talk about what should be done in the first year of a proposed presidency.”

Goal 1/year 1: Paying down the Deficit and restraining government. It should be stated emphatically in a presidential platform: “no more new entitlements,” including this new proposal of Democrats to provide free college tuition for nearly everyone. We cannot afford it. We need to show restraint with the federal budget. Discretionary spending, from grants to earmarks, needs to be cut and for the money that is saved to be used to help reduce the deficit as well as to fortify our ailing military. The presidential candidate should demand no more earmarks from Congress for pet projects while we run a deficit; and the president should veto any legislation that contains unnecessary spending, even when it comes in legislation that includes any unrelated riders. Any funds going to the private sector should be gradually reduced across the board; allowing for private groups to adjust to less government funding. The president needs a firm hand and be disciplined, even if it is not politically popular to do so. Someone must think of the financial welfare of the nation, and allowing out-of-control spending does not do that. We need responsible government. A presidential candidate, in my opinion, would gain significant traction for promising responsible government.

In addition to requiring Congress to cut discretionary funding, Congress needs to break down the bill called the ‘omnibus.’ The omnibus is the main bill for government funding, and is usually so large that American citizens will not take the time read it (1000+ pages). This deliberate practice leaves much room for abuse; therefore, the omnibus needs to be broken up into smaller bills, and made much more digestible to the average American citizen. This way, it cuts back on ways to sneak things into the omnibus that shouldn’t be there, and would make government more transparent to Americans who don’t have time to read a 1,000 page budget bill. Doing so would help reduce some of the cynicism plaguing Washington right now, and could help government function more efficiently.

President Obama had over eight years when he could have held Congress’ feet to the fire when it came to government spending. He did not. His administration has allowed for “Congress gone wild.” I will admit that President George W. Bush also did the same. The next president should firmly use the veto pen to hold congressional spending accountable to the American taxpayer. Holding Congress accountable for its discretionary funding should also prevent the president from having to raise the debt limit ceiling.  Also, efforts should be made to find government programs that should either be cut entirely or severely limited, such as providing free cell phones, reduced cell phone rates and broadband to low income consumers. In a vast majority of cases, individuals should be responsible for owning and using their own cell phones or using broadband. Only extreme cases should the federal government even consider issuing and covering these services, such as remote locations where there is very limited availability, for example. Anyone getting these phones or services for low-income reasons should be limited to a maximum of 2 years before these services are turned off. The federal government must become disciplined in deciding when to provide certain services and when it should not, and in my opinion, cell phones and broadband are two services it needs to cut back. Also, the government needs to bring back the welfare work requirement, to help shrink the numbers of Americans on the welfare rolls. This requirement should never have been taken away by the Obama administration, and has only harmed the American people by taking away incentive to get off the government programs.

It is time for the chief executive to also demand salary cuts for both Congress and for those who work in the White House, including the president himself. Many of the people want this; as they believe Members of Congress make too much money as it is, and should be held accountable for the deficit they have left us in. I would suggest cutting salaries for congressional members, senior congressional staff (those that make $90,000K+ a year) and White House senior personnel by approximately 10-15 percent. Take away their automatic pay increases until such time we are out of debt. If the United States is going to suffer under this crushing debt Congress and the White House has left us, they should be the ones to suffer the consequences of this debt before anyone else.  Congress won’t agree to this on their own, it will take an executive with the backbone to demand it from them under veto threat. At the same time, the next president should get with their cabinet secretaries, and request audits by their respective offices of inspector generals’ to conduct an audit of the full federal government, to make an accounting of how taxpayer money is being spent, and to find areas where money is being wasted. The president should then request those areas be fixed by Congress. Audits should happen regularly, to help ensure taxpayer money is being properly spent, and ensure those in government who oversee how taxpayer money is being spent, are being held accountable.

When we talk about restraining government, the candidate should talk about the Department of Labor, and not allowing the Congress to raise the minimum wage up to 15 dollars an hour, as the Democrat Party is thinking about doing while they are drafting their 2016 platform. The president needs to be able to talk about making sure any business regulations from the Department of Labor are fair to both employees and that they are sustainable for businesses, both big and small, so they do not go out of business. Fifteen dollar per hour minimum wage is simply not sustainable, and would have dire consequences for the economy. If the minimum wage does need to go up, restrict it to between 1 and 1.50 dollars per hour increase. Make it reasonable so that businesses can shoulder the burden, and if they have to pass off the expense to their customers, allow them to do so in ways that will not prevent their customers from buying their goods or services and forcing them to shutter their doors permanently. The same goes for overtime rules that can become burdensome for businesses. The people should expect a responsible government that balances the needs of the workforce with the needs of business.

For each year of a presidential term, there needs to be a set goal of how much the government will pay down the deficit. I would suggest requiring Congress to pass budgets that are balanced, and find savings to be able to pay back between 1 and 2 trillion dollars per year.  This goal will not wipe out the entire debt in four years, but it would make a huge dent in the deficit, and could free up funds that could eventually go to other priorities, such as our national defense, the next goal on this list. And hopefully, reducing the deficit in 4 years will send the country on a trend that will eventually eliminate the debt all together in our lifetimes.

Goal 2/Year 1:  National security.  When a close friend of mine and I were talking this, we were talking about Trump’s promises of making the military much bigger, and making it the best so other nations in the world would not challenge us. Expanding the military and seeing to its needs are issues I agree with Trump, but at the same time, my friend asked me ‘how do we do this?’ This is an important question to ask.  My answer would be we start by making the military a priority again. It is clear military spending has not been a priority for President Obama or the democrats in Congress. Why do I say this? Because it was democrats that were insistent on the sequestration cuts for the military, and it was President Obama that allowed them to pass, harming the military in the process. Now we are dealing with military force strength levels that are at pre-World War II levels. This is not sufficient, in my opinion, if we have to deal with conflict on a large scale in this day and age. The military is also suffering from aging infrastructure. There have been reports of fighter squadrons being unable to fly because they are unable to secure the parts necessary to make them ‘flight ready.’ According to this article, nearly 70 percent of Marine Corps fighters are no longer capable of flight status: https://www.rt.com/usa/339768-us-marines-aircraft-aging/.  These numbers are not only shocking, but are utterly disgraceful for America, with the world’s largest and most powerful military, to be suffering such embarrassing problems. These problems have to be affecting troop morale and must be addressed.

We must make our military a priority again, and we must find the funds within our budget to rebuild our military (adding new battalions and divisions for the army, marine corps) and its infrastructure (new fighter jets, new ships). We have to remember that the smaller we make our military, the larger the burden we put on each individual service member, forcing them to endure even more tours of duty during times of conflict. As Americans, we need to honor the service of our troops by doing what we can to reduce the number of times we call upon them to go into combat, which requires having a larger military to spread the burden; one where we do not need to call on the National Guard or the Reserves as much. We need to take some of the savings from cutting spending in other parts of the government and return it to the military.

This is just something that has to be done, and something we have to find the political will to do. In World War II, the population was noted for making sacrifices for the war effort, such as collecting scrap metal to rationing of food, gas and clothing; a spirit of sacrificing for the common good. We need to find that same spirit again; to make sacrifices in other government spending to expand our military and make sure it has everything it needs to keep us safe.  Within national security, we need to include cybersecurity. Given the fact that outside forces continue to try and hack the U.S. government on a daily basis, many of which are state-sponsored, we need to find ways of protecting our data and discouraging such attacks. Cybersecurity needs to become an even bigger priority for us.

As for ISIS, it should be clear: we must eliminate and destroy terror groups like ISIS, and their ideologies. We need to step up air strikes, and in areas where air and drone strikes are not doing the job, we should consider boots on the ground, to help our allies, the Iraqis, push them out of their territory. This should not be a major deployment, but large enough to get the job done. It would also be good to start taking ISIS/ISIL troops into custody, not just for intelligence gathering purposes, but to put many of these fighters on trial for crimes against humanity. Send them to The Hague, and make sure the message is clear that this ideology of murder and brutality will not be tolerated.

A president would also need to talk about the issues around Russia, China and Iran. Russia continues to provoke with its cyber attacks and with its saber rattling. The United States should send a clear message to Russia that it still stands with NATO, and should make sure it gets all the support it needs. The United States should also consider ratcheting up sanctions against Russia, particularly since they continue to hack away at the U.S. government with impunity, allegedly even hacking the Democrat headquarters computers. These kind of cyberattacks must be stopped. The Russians also continue to perform provocative maneuvers with their fighter jets and their naval vessels. We should do something to not encourage this to continue, lest an international incident happens because of these actions.

For China and the problems arising with the South China Sea, we should be pursuing diplomatic resolutions to the crisis, but should not back down and should not be afraid of imposing sanctions on China if they continue to show aggressive behavior. The U.S. also needs to get tough with China for its alleged hacking efforts against U.S. cyber interests.

Goal 3/Year 1: Jobs and the economy. Any presidential candidate needs to focus on jobs and the economy; on getting more people back to the work force. First of all, the government needs to do a better job tracking those who have left the workforce. Their job reports must more accurately reflect who is no longer participating in the workforce to get a better reflection of the state of the economy. The Department of Labor should do what it can to try and help those that have fallen out of the workforce and help them back in, likely with job fairs or training workshops designed to help people get in touch with companies that can use their skill sets, and help them find full time employment. I also think the Department of Labor needs to work more closely with colleges and universities and helping students be better prepared for the job market after they graduate, making sure they have the skills to write resumes and how to conduct themselves in interview. I will talk about reforming the Department of Education in a future blog article. Also, showing restraint in government will help businesses to grow, without interference and intrusion from big government, something that has been hurting businesses over the last eight years.

Goal 4/Year 1: Comprehensive Immigration Reform. As I pointed out in my post about fixing the Republican Party branding, this is an issue the Republicans need to embrace to try and win over new voters, particularly Hispanics. They cannot continue to block immigration reform, without suffering serious consequences from the electorate. If the Democrats manage to get the presidency and both chambers of Congress and pass immigration reform without Republican support, it could be disastrous for the party for generations. Republicans, if they want the presidency, need to make choices that show they can govern everyone, as a part of one, indivisible nation. Here are my ideas:

  • The United States should still continue to deport anyone who is caught illegally crossing the borders.
  • For those who have been here illegally for at least four years and can prove it with apartment lease agreements, W2 forms, 1040 tax forms or other documentation, they should be allowed to apply for legal residency. The application should require a background check and fingerprinting. If the person has any kind of DWI or violent crime in their history, they should be permanently prohibited from being about to obtain legal residency. For those who are here illegally, the individual should pay a base fee of $250. If a background check shows the individual has been deported in the past, the fine that must be paid goes up by $200 per offense, with a maximum of $1,200 to be paid before they are able to receive the legal residency status. This fee could be paid in payments, however, until the fee is fully paid, they will only have probationary legal residency, pending the full payment of the fee. If payments are missed, this probationary legal residency is revoked, and the individual can be deported if caught without this legal status. This fee is important to tell the immigrant they have violated our laws, and must pay a penalty to get right with the law. Those coming here through the legal process would not face this penalty.
  • If the person commits a crime as a legal resident, and it is a violent offense or a DWI, legal residency status should be revoked immediately, and after serving their sentence, should be deported, and permanently barred from obtaining legal residency status again.
  • If a person is caught here illegally on private property, the property owner should be able to file a claim with the government. The government should pay that property owner for that damage. If that undocumented immigrant later on chooses to seek legal residency, in addition to paying the fee, the immigrant must repay the government for the damage they caused coming into this country. That restitution must be paid before they can get legal residency status.
  • When they become legal residents, the undocumented immigrants may choose to stay as legal residents, knowing that they do not have all the rights of a citizen, but they will not have to live under the fear of being deported. If they wish to apply for full citizenship, the previously undocumented immigrant must wait a mandatory amount of time before beginning the process to become a citizen; allowing for those who came here legally to be shown preference to become citizens. This mandatory wait time should be about 7 years, and after that time, the legal resident may then apply for citizenship, but will be put at the bottom of the list. Again, this is meant to penalize those that come here illegally. Minors who live with the undocumented immigrant who has received legal residency will also be granted legal residency. Minors that turn eighteen should have less of a wait time to become citizens, perhaps 3 years to wait to begin that process. If they choose to join the military, they should be allowed to become a citizen upon being sworn into the military.
  • Efforts must be taken to streamline the process for applying to come here legally, and to reduce the time it takes to be approved. The process for verifying individuals’ backgrounds must be scrutinized, and must be designed in such a way that makes it difficult to come here legally if there are issues with an individual’s background.
  • The government must pass longer prison sentences for those that would smuggle people into this country illegally. Perhaps even have mandatory minimum sentences for these types of criminals to discourage efforts to smuggle people into the country.
  • Border Patrol and Coast Guard must be given the tools needed to hunt for and shut down tunnels that are being used to bring people and drugs illegally into the United States, and to have the capability of intercepting individuals trying to come into the United States via boat, or submersibles that are carrying drugs for the cartels.
  • Stringent efforts must be made to deport all undocumented immigrants with violent historys. There should be consequences for sanctuary cities that do not comply with reporting these offenders to ICE, including losing federal funding for their city.
  • The individual running for president should make it a point to go after anyone who overstays their visas.

Goal 5/Year 1: Gun Control. The final goal I would set for a presidency in its first year would be gun control. The Republican Party has to admit that after the Orlando shooting, there is real anger from the public over someone who should not have been allowed to have a gun was licensed, and used that gun to mass murder. As I talked about gun control in an earlier post, in order to properly govern everyone in this country, one must take into account their interests at being kept safe from this gun violence. It is impossible to stop all instances of gun violence and mass murder, but efforts must be made to diminish the chances of it happening. I would want a presidential candidate that supports authorizing the Department of Justice for taking an individual to court which it believes has shown reasons for their rights to purchase or own guns to be taken way, and will provide a federal judge ‘just cause’ for taking such an action. Doing this would allow the individual due process, and would approach gun control for individuals on an individual case-by-case basis. I personally do not support banning guns, such as semi-automatic rifles, as it harms both the responsible gun owner and those that would break the law with these weapons. A more targeted approach to gun control is something I would like to see a presidential candidate put forth, and to show that this issue is a serious matter for both sides of the aisle.

Anyway, that’s it for now. My next post would deal with the second year goals of a presidential candidate’s platform.

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