26 January 2008

Continuing Thoughts on the Platform of the American People

I seem to keep coming back to the Platform of the American People, a position paper of sorts put out by Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions. (Previous blogs here and here.) Perhaps it’s because the print out has been sitting on my desk for the last three week. Perhaps it’s because of the incessant insistence by presidential candidates on both sides that politics needs to unite instead of divide. Either way, each time I look at the Platform and contrast it against the news of the day, something jumps out and demonstrates just how out of touch with the electorate the elected are.

Recent talk – and apparent agreement on – an economic stimulus package is one example. Most commentary that I’ve heard on the subject, in particular the “rebates” (read: hand-outs), is that if money doesn’t hit the streets and the cash registers quickly, then the point of the “stimulus” is missed. This “rebate” money, of course, is finite; it will dry up rather quickly. Therefore, it is a short-term, limited fix of a larger problem, if indeed the economy as a whole is really in trouble (which seems to be debatable among the more economically educated). Still, politicians think that the electorate both needs and wants a short-term economic fix (and I mean that word in a couple of ways).

The Platform, on the other hand, has on its first page that 92% of Americans of all political leanings say that “long-term solutions” are more important than “short-term fixes”. With this in mind, wouldn’t it be more important to understand and address the larger issues which will certainly cause economic stress in the future – Medicare and Social Security benefits – instead of attempting to quite literally buy some peace and quiet, economically speaking? According to the research done by Mr. Gingrich’s group, American’s would be willing to undergo some amount of economic constriction to ensure long-term economic prosperity. However, in a political climate where every year is an election year, short-term fixes (buying temporary calm) is far more expedient.

In addressing the long-term economic health of the nation, two specific points that the Platform makes has to do with companies and taxes or incentives. 70% believe that there ought to be “tax incentives for companies who keep their headquarters in the United States.” 68% believe that US corporate tax rates, which are “[some] of the highest …in the industrialized world” ought to be lowered. This seems that it would point elected leaders in Washington directly to a long-term solution that will, in the end, greatly benefit every American. This wouldn’t be a hand-out; it wouldn’t be corporate welfare. And obviously, according to the polling relied upon by American Solutions, no less than 68% of Americans would agree to these positions.

And yet, I sit and write while the Senate debates adding more short-term “stimulations” to the already bloated $150 billion package agreed upon by President Bush and the House. A bigger band-aid that will, at the end of the day, fall off in the shower, so to speak, revealing the still unhealed wound. The truly sad thing is that there is a message out there, a platform to be adopted, for any politician who might choose to. Mr. Gingrich succeeded in that, which was his stated goal last year. Hopefully some of the presidential candidates and both houses of the Congress will read and heed it.

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