Comparing Party Platforms

A close examination of each Party’s most recent Platform (2016) reveals its core beliefs and could provide a powerful indication of how that Party’s nominee will vote.

For your convenience, we have broken the lengthy party platforms into digestible portions based on topic and placed them side-by-side for comparison.

Management of Government

Democratic Party Platform

The Democratic Platform has an overarching category addressing the management of government: Protect Voting Rights, Fix Our Campaign Finance System, and Restore Our Democracy (p. 22-24).
Democrats know that Americans’ right to vote is sacred and fundamental. We believe that we must protect Americans’ right to vote, while stopping corporations’ outsized influence in elections. We must rectify the Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act, which is a profound injustice. We will stop efforts by Republican governors and legislatures to disenfranchise people of color, low-income people, and young people, and prevent these voters from exercising their right to vote through onerous restrictions. We will ensure that election officials comply with voting protections, including provisions mandating bilingual materials and voter assistance. And we will fight to reform our broken campaign finance system, which gives outsized influence to billionaires and big corporations. It’s time we give back control of our elections to those to whom it belongs—the American people.
Strengthening Management of Federal Government (p. 23)
. . .by making those at the top and the largest corporations pay their fair share we can pay for ambitious progressive investments that create good-paying jobs and offer security to working families without adding to the debt. . .
We will also ensure that new spending and tax cuts are offset so that they do not add to the nation’s debt over time. We will tackle waste, fraud, and abuse. . . we should not be contracting, outsourcing, or privatizing work that is inherently governmental in nature. . . We are committed to a strong, effective, accountable civil service. . .
. . .the most effective way to identify problems facing our country and develop good solutions is by enacting evidence-based public policy. We. . . will preserve and enhance the integrity and accuracy of the census and the American Community Survey (ACS). . . We will also maintain the legal requirement for the public to participate and be counted.
Democrats also believe that government services should be culturally and linguistically appropriate and that data should be disaggregated. . . where it is necessary to fully understand and address their needs.
Finally, Democrats will make government simpler and more user-friendly. . . We will build on the creation of the United States Digital Service (USDS). . . to transform and digitize the top 25 federal government programs that directly serve citizens. We will eliminate internal barriers to government modernization. And we will use technology to improve outcomes and government accountability. . .

This section was shortened from 466 to 253 words. For full text, see page 23 of the Full 2016 Democratic Party Platform.

Republican Party Platform

The Republican Platform has two overarching categories addressing the management of government: 1) Government Reform (p. 23-30) and 2) Restoring the American Dream (p. 1-8)
Making Government Work for the People (p. 23)
Founding Father and Constitution Framer James Wilson declared that in America, “the people are the masters of government,” but that in other countries, “the government is master of the people.” We pledge to make government work for the people, rather than the other way around. Much of what the federal government does can be improved, much should be replaced, and much needs to be done away with or returned to the states. It is long past time for just tinkering around the edges of a bloated and unresponsive bureaucratic state. Its poorly managed programs, some begun generations ago, are ill-suited to meet present needs and future requirements. Its credit card budgets impose massive indebtedness on every American today and on children yet unborn. The more it intrudes into every aspect of American life the more it alienates the citizens who work, pay taxes, and wonder what has happened to the country they love. We agree with Thomas Jefferson that “[t]he multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife.”
Balancing the Budget (p. 23)
The federal fiscal burden threatens the security, liberty, and independence of our nation. The . . . national debt. . . nearly $19 trillion today. Left unchecked, it will hit $30 trillion by 2026. . .
The Republican path to fiscal sanity and economic expansion begins with a constitutional requirement for a federal balanced budget. We will fight for Congress to adopt, and for the states to ratify, a Balanced Budget Amendment which imposes a cap limiting spending to the appropriate historical average percentage of our nation’s gross domestic product while requiring a super-majority for any tax increase, with exceptions only for war or legitimate emergencies. Only a constitutional safeguard such as this can prevent deficits from mounting to government default.
Republican budgets will prioritize thrift over extravagance and put taxpayers first. We support the following test: Is a particular expenditure within the constitutional scope of the federal government? If not, stop it. Has it been effective in the past and is it still absolutely necessary? If not, end it. Is it so important as to justify borrowing, especially foreign borrowing, to fund it? If not, kill it.

This section was shortened from 273 to 188 words. For full text, see page 23 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

Preserving Medicare and Medicaid (R-p. 23)
. . .To preserve Medicare and Medicaid, the financing of these important programs must be brought under control before they consume most of the federal budget, including national defense. . . We intend to save Medicare by modernizing it, empowering its participants, and putting it on a secure financial footing. We will preserve the promise of Medicaid as well by making that program. . . a vehicle for good health in an entirely new era.
Medicare’s long-term debt is in the trillions, and it is funded by a workforce that is shrinking relative to the size of future beneficiaries. Obamacare worsened the situation. . . we propose these reforms: Impose no changes for persons 55 or older. Give others the option of traditional Medicare or transition to a premium-support model designed. . . Guarantee to every enrollee an income-adjusted contribution toward a plan of their choice, with catastrophic protection. Without disadvantaging present retirees or those nearing retirement, set a more realistic age for eligibility in light of today’s longer life span. . .
. . .We applaud the Republican governors and state legislators who have undertaken the hard work of modernizing Medicaid. We will give them a free hand to do so by block-granting the program without strings. Their initiatives. . . are the best strategy for preserving Medicaid. . . Using block grants would allow states to experiment with different systems to address mental health and develop successful models to be replicated in states across the nation. . . We respect the states’ authority and flexibility to exclude abortion providers from federal programs. . .

This section was shortened from 685 to 266 words. For full text, see page 23 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

Protecting Internet Freedom (p. 25)
. . .We will consistently support internet policies that allow people and private enterprise to thrive, without providing new and expanded government powers to tax and regulate so that the internet does not become the vehicle for a dramatic expansion of government power. The internet’s independence is its power. It has unleashed innovation, enabled growth, and inspired freedom more rapidly and extensively than any other technological advance in human history. We will therefore resist any effort to shift control toward governance by international or other intergovernmental organizations. We will ensure that personal data receives full constitutional protection from government overreach. The only way to safeguard or improve these systems is through the private sector. The internet’s free market needs to be free and open to all ideas and competition without the government or service providers picking winners and losers.

This section was shortened from 278 to 139 words. For full text, see page 25 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

Reforming the Treaty System (p. 26)
We intend to restore the treaty system specified by the Constitution: The president negotiates agreements, submits them to the Senate, with ratification requiring two-thirds of the senators present and voting. This was good enough for George Washington but is too restrictive for the current chief executive, who presumes to bind this country to bilateral and multilateral agreements of his devising. His media admirers portray his personal commitments — whether on climate change, Iranian weapons, or other matters — as done deals. They are not, and a new Republican executive will work with the Congress to reestablish constitutional order in America’s foreign relations. All international executive agreements and political arrangements entered into by the current Administration must be deemed null and void as mere expressions of the current president’s preferences. Those which are in the national interest but would traditionally have been made by treaty must be abrogated, renegotiated as treaties, and transmitted to the Senate for its advice and consent as required by the Constitution. The United States will withdraw from all agreements and arrangements failing those standards.
Audit the Pentagon (p. 27)
No major part of the Department of Defense has ever passed an audit. Republican leaders in Congress have called for a full financial audit of the Pentagon to ensure that every dollar spent is truly benefitting our national security. Every taxpayer must be prepared to pass an audit, and we urge Congress to demand the same level of accountability from the Pentagon and the Department of Defense.
Improving the Federal Workforce (p. 27)
We recognize the dedication of most employ­ees of the federal government and thank them for their service, with special praise for the whistleblow­ers who risk their careers to expose waste, fraud, and misuse of power. None of them should ever be compelled to join a union or pay dues to it. In fair­ness to their fellow workers, union representatives should not be allowed to engage in union-related activities while on the public’s time. The inability of federal managers to discipline and, if necessary, dis­miss problem staff members is an affront to every conscientious worker, as is the misuse of funds for lavish conferences and routine bonuses. The ap­pointees of a Republican president will work with career managers to end those abuses and enforce high standards for all federal employees. We reaf­firm the existing protections that provide all em­ployees of the federal government the opportunity to pursue their desire to serve their country free from discrimination.

We call for renewed efforts to reduce, rather than expand, government responsibilities, and we urge particular attention to the bloated public rela­tions budgets of the departments and agencies. The federal government spends too much of the peo­ple’s money telling the people what they should do.

Advancing Term Limits (p. 27)
Our national platform has repeatedly endorsed term limits for Members of Congress. In response, the GOP Leadership in 1996 brought to a vote, in both the House and Senate, a constitutional amendment. It failed to secure the necessary two-thirds vote in the House, where 80 percent of Republicans voted for it and 80 percent of Democrats voted against it. Every Senate Republican voted to allow a vote on term limits, but the Democrats killed it by a filibuster. Blocked by that opposition, Republicans sought other ways to modernize the national legislature. They set term limits for their own committee chairs and leadership positions, and by law they required Congress to live by the same rules it imposes on others. To make further progress, to advance a constitutional amendment for consideration by the states, we must expand the current Republican majorities in both chambers.
Regulation: The Quiet Tyranny (p. 27)
Over-regulation is the quiet tyranny of the “Nanny State.” It hamstrings American businesses and hobbles economic growth. . .

The ability of the American people to govern themselves has been undermined by a vast array of agencies with sweeping power to regulate every aspect of American life. They legislate as if they were Congress. They decide guilt and issue penalties as if they were courts. They collectively impose many billions of dollars in costs to the economy. . .

Sensible regulations. . . can prevent the strong from exploiting the weak. Right now, the regulators are exploiting everyone. We are determined to make regulations minimally intrusive, confined to their legal mandate, and respectful toward the creation of new and small businesses. We will revisit existing laws that delegate too much authority to regulatory agencies and review all current regulations. . . We endorse Republican legislation. . . to require approval by both houses of Congress for any rule or regulation that would impose significant costs on the American people. Further, Congress should work towards legislation that requires removal of a regulation of equal or greater economic burden when a new regulation is enacted.

. . .Congress should consider a regulatory budget that would cap the costs federal agencies could impose on the economy in any given year.

This section was shortened from 400 to 217 words. For full text, see page 27 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

Crony Capitalism and Corporate Welfare (p. 28)
Cronyism is inherent in the progressive vision of the administrative state. When government uses taxpayer funding and resources to give special advantages to private companies, it distorts the free market and erodes public trust in our political system. By enlarging the scope of government and placing enormous power in the hands of bureaucrats, it multiplies opportunities for corruption and favoritism. It is the enemy of reform in education, the workplace, and healthcare. It gives us financial regulation that protects the large at the cost of the small. It is inherent in every part of the current healthcare law, which is packed with corporate welfare. Crony capitalism gives us special interest tax breaks, custom-designed regulations, and special exemptions for favored parties. The Solyndra debacle is a perfect example. It creates both subsidies and restrictions to tilt the market one way or the other. By putting the weight of government behind the status quo, it leads to economic stagnation. We applaud the Republican Members of Congress who have taken the lead in fighting crony capitalism and urge others to rally to their cause.
The Federal Reserve (p. 7)
. . .The Re­publican Party will advance legislation that brings transparency and accountability to the Federal Re­serve, the Federal Open Market Committee, and the Federal Reserve’s dealing with foreign banks.

The first step is through an annual audit of the Federal Reserve’s activities. Such an audit would need to be carefully implemented so that the Federal Reserve remains insulated from politi­cal pressures and its decisions are based on sound economic principles and sound money rather than political pressures for easy money and loose credit.

Determined to crush the double-digit inflation that was part of the Carter Administration’s eco­nomic legacy, President Reagan, shortly after his inauguration, established a commission to consider the feasibility of a metallic basis for U.S. currency. In 2012, facing the task of cleaning up the wreckage of the current Administration’s policies, we proposed a similar commission to investigate ways to set a fixed value for the dollar.

With Republican leadership, the House of Rep­resentatives has passed legislation to set up just such a commission. We recommend its enactment by the full Congress and the commission’s careful consideration of ways to secure the integrity of our currency.

This section was shortened from 230 to 189 words. For full text, see page 7 of the Full 2016 Republican Party Platform.

A Federal Workforce Serving the People (p. 8)
The federal workforce is larger and more highly paid than ever. The taxpayers spend an average of $35,000 a year per employee on non-cash benefits, triple the average non-cash compensation of the average worker in the private sector. Federal em­ployees receive extraordinary pension benefits and vacation time wildly out of line with those of the private sector.

We urge Congress to bring federal compensa­tion and benefits in line with the standards of most American employees. A Republican administration should streamline personnel procedures to expedite the firing of bad workers, tax cheats, and scammers. The unionization of the federal workforce, first per­mitted by Democrat presidents in the 1960s, should be reviewed by the appropriate congressional com­mittees to examine its effects on the cost, quality, and performance of the civil service. Union repre­sentatives in the federal workforce should not be paid to conduct union business on the public’s time.

Reducing the Federal Debt (p. 8)
Our national debt is a burden on our economy and families. The huge increase in the national debt demanded by and incurred during the current Administration has placed a significant burden on future generations. We must impose firm caps on future debt, accelerate the repayment of the trillions we now owe in order to reaffirm our principles of responsible and limited government, and remove the burdens we are placing on future generations.

A strong economy is one key to debt reduction, but spending restraint is a necessary component that must be vigorously pursued.