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Archive for June 13th, 2020

A Platform for Principles

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June 12, 2020 – Friday

A Platform for Principles

June 12, 2020

Thanks to the pandemic, there’s a lot still up in the air about the Republican National Convention. But apart from health protocols and locations, there’s one detail that shouldn’t be up for debate: the format of the party’s platform. A lot of Americans might make the mistake that those detailed documents hammered out over days at the conventions don’t mean anything. On the contrary, history shows — they mean everything.
Behind the scenes, there’s been a lot of internal discussion about whether it’s time to trade in the traditional approach for a simpler, less specific declaration. Even the president, earlier this morning, tweeted that “The Republican Party has not yet voted on a platform. No rush. I prefer a new and updated platform, short form, if possible.”
Of course, it’s not the first time this idea has been floated. In the last several months, a handful of the president’s advisors have suggested that the longform blueprint should be completely overhauled. Instead of painstakingly creating a list of priorities and principles, they believe it should be shrunk to a pocket-sized card with 10 principles. A “mission statement,” some have called it. It’s their opinion (a misguided one, as far as I’m concerned) that Republicans could build a bigger tent if the GOP didn’t spell out issues on gender identity, for instance, or school choice.
Considering the upheaval our country has gone through — and is still going through — that would be an enormous mistake for both parties. Only Rip Van Winkle wouldn’t be aware of how the world has been turned upside down over these last four months. There is no business as usual. The Democratic and Republican conventions are no exception in this coronavirus world. Both conventions will undoubtably be smaller, whether by state restrictions or self-imposed distancing. But despite the reduced size of the crowd, next to the party’s nominee, it’s the platform of the respective parties that stoke the enthusiasm of their electoral bases. Abandon the platform and the core values of the party and the parties will see voters abandon them — not in terms of switching parties, but in terms of enthusiasm and engagement.
The platform is the anchor that helps tether the nominees to the core principles of their party — in the Democrats’ case, to things like taxpayer-funded abortion and transgender surgery for teens. At its core, the platform is a marketing tool — letting Americans know what the party stands for and will work toward — and an exercise in contrast, showing voters how powerfully Republican values differ from Democrats’.
In 2016, nearly 60 percent of Trump voters said the platform influenced their choice. Why? Because history shows that the platforms plot the path the parties ultimately take. Not too long ago, Lee Payne from Stephen F. Austin State University combed through all of the parties’ platforms from 1980 until 2004. “He identified every ‘direct promise’ in those platform — pledges he thought amounted to concrete policy positions — and then compared those promises with all of the votes taken on either the House or Senate floor… What Payne found might stun some cynics: In 25 years, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Congress voted in accordance with their platforms 82 percent of the time.”
Platforms matter. That’s why the FRC Action team worked so hard four years ago to ensure that the document ratified in Cleveland was just as strong — if not more so — than 2012’s. In the end, we emerged with a document clearer and more compelling than any in party history on life, marriage, and religious liberty. Because in the end, that’s what shapes the legacy. The differences between the two parties’ documents couldn’t be starker — just like the choice in 2020 is turning out to be.

Tony Perkins’s Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.

Policeless in Seattle

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Policeless in Seattle

June 12, 2020

If you’re President Trump, you have to be wondering, “What next?” It wasn’t enough that the administration had to deal with the liberals’ three-year crusade to unseat him — the Russian collusion, an impeachment sham, the deep-state FBI conspiracy. Then came 2020: the coronavirus, 119,000 deaths, an economic shutdown, and George Floyd. Now, if cities aren’t burned to the ground, they’re becoming part of a “proxy civil war.” It is, the Left smirks quietly, the perfect election storm. But is it enough to win?
Most people watching Seattle, where armed warlords have taken over whole city blocks, aren’t looking at the city with envy. “The rabid foxes are in the hen house,” the Washington Times’s Cheryl Chumley warned. “These are not poor misguided youth exercising their First Amendment rights. These are criminals — violent criminals — intimidating innocent law-abiding citizens… This isn’t America,” she argued. What this is, she said bluntly, “is some third-world chaotic country crap, where loons and drug-addicted deranged and soulless evil rise up and mount an assault on [ordered] society.”
If this is a picture of police-free living, Americans are telling pollsters, count us out. Eight in 10 people don’t just want our law enforcement funded — many want funding increased! They’ve seen the pictures of gun-toting insurgents walling off “autonomous” parts of Seattle lined with signs that say, “You are now leaving the USA.” They don’t want to be the next town with a police chief in front of the cameras saying her teams can’t answer 911 calls for rapes and robberies because the mayor “relented to public pressure” and boarded up the closest precinct. Nor do they want to hear other city leaders, after losing control of their cities, insist this is a “summer love block party” instead of the hostile takeover it is.
Yet when the president steps in and warns Governor Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) to get Seattle under control, what’s the Left’s reaction? “[They say] he’s simply being his usual racist self by trying to shut down the ‘lawful protesters,’ as they’re deemed in the eyes of the Democrats,” Cheryl shook her head. And frankly, she told Sarah Perry on “Washington Watch,” the longer this goes on, the better chance it has to get completely out of hand. “If you don’t think other[s]… are watching CNN right now with interest in planning and plotting similar takeovers of their own, I think you have your head in the sand — because I think this is going to spread as far and wide as the leftist violent thugs can make it.”
As disturbing as the situation is, she points out, there’s something even more concerning — and that’s the complete capitulation on the part of political leaders. “Republicans could be a little bit louder about the problems here,” Cheryl agreed. “But really, the Democrats giving these people voices, treating them as if they’re First Amendment, law-abiding protesters instead of what they really are [is shameful].” The banner of the Democratic Party, she thinks, has truly become “No law, no order — just mayhem.”
On one hand, maybe that makes sense. This stew of unrest and anarchy serves the Left well. If you want to destabilize the country and make it completely ungovernable, Sarah pointed out, “You begin with a pandemic. You send everyone home to shelter in place. You throw in some race riots. Foment it with Antifa vigilantism — and before you know it, you’re losing major metropolitan cities to domestic terrorists.” Suddenly, no one’s paying attention to the Democrats’ mediocre candidate Joe Biden or their subversive attempt to create a nationwide system of mail-in voting.
The Left doesn’t just want a civil war — it needs one. They can’t win on extremism alone. That’s why, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) wrote, “There is no scab they will not pick at, no divide they will not exploit, no controversy they will not gin up to make us hate each other… But we cannot take their bait.”
Our country, and its survival, depend on it.

Tony Perkins’s Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.

Conservatives prepare insurgent campaign to stop pandemic relief spending

While the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress say further coronavirus relief spending is inevitable, a group of prominent conservatives is fighting to stop the money from flowing.
The group, led by Trump outside economic adviser Steve Moore, says that more federal spending would slow down the recovery by keeping people unemployed, would cause even more unsustainable levels of debt, and could result in a shift of employment from the private sector to the government.  Moore is planning to bring together a group of conservatives to send President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a letter titled “Stop the Madness of Runaway Government Debt Spending.”
“Government spending – and policies such as paying millions of workers more money to stay unemployed than to go back to work, and paying states more money to enable them to stay shut down – is inhibiting the fast recovery we want in jobs and incomes, not stimulating it,” the letter states.  Moore, a contributor to the Washington Examiner, said a number of other prominent conservatives have signed and supported the letter, including former Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett, conservative media mogul Brent Bozell, FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon, and Lisa Nelson, CEO of the American Legislative Exchange Council.
The group is facing an uphill battle. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday that he strongly supports further legislation to provide more relief to the economy but added that the aid must be more targeted to help specific businesses and industries that are struggling.  McConnell has taken more of a wait-and-see approach to further spending, focusing instead on the economy opening up and the future implications of spending on the national debt. However, the Kentucky Republican has repeatedly expressed an openness to further coronavirus spending at some point in the near future if the need arises.  Congressional Democrats, on the other hand, have been adamant in providing more coronavirus aid as soon as possible. House Democrats in May passed a new round of coronavirus legislation costing more than $3 trillion that would provide a historic level of federal aid to those hurt by the pandemic. In particular, the bill, which has not been taken up by McConnell in the Senate, would provide $1 trillion to state, local, and tribal governments to help them keep operating without the tax revenue lost because of the economic shutdown.
Moore said he hoped the surprise gain in jobs reported in early June slows the momentum for another round of major fiscal relief from Congress and “kills the idea of the ‘blue-state bailout,'” referring to the Democrats’ demand to support state and local governments. State budget shortfalls, based on historical patterns, could total more than $500 billion. State and local government employment fell by 1.5 million in the past two months.  Moore’s letter urges that the trillions of dollars of federal government debt spending in the wake of the coronavirus must stop “immediately” and that any further emergency government spending that might be necessary in the short term should be offset “dime for dime” by reductions in nonemergency federal expenditures.
“You’re not going to need all this stimulus spending now that the economy is open. After the latest jobs report, it seems we’ll soon be at 5 to 6% unemployment,” said Brandon at FreedomWorks.  Instead, Brandon said he would rather the federal government focus on incentivizing job creation and investment through initiatives like temporary payroll tax cuts or a capital gains tax cut.  He criticized some economic aid programs provided by the government in the past few months, such as the additional $600 in unemployment benefits and the small-business relief program known as the Paycheck Protection Program.
“The PPP loans were very sloppy. The constant refrain I hear from people is that those who needed the money didn’t get it and those who didn’t need it, got it,” said Brandon. The letter states that the coronavirus relief spending coming out of Congress is out of control, saying that the country is getting close to an “unthinkable” $10 trillion federal budget, “which is more money than the United States government spent, adjusted for inflation from 1800 through 1980.”  The Congressional Budget Office said in early June that the projected federal deficit for fiscal year 2020 would be roughly $3.7 trillion and $2.1 trillion in 2021. In March, before the pandemic, CBO’s deficit projections were for just over $1 trillion in each of those years.
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