This entry is part of a series taking a look at the latest Texas Republican Party Platform. For a list of all entries in this series, go to the Introduction. This entry covers planks that if enacted would cripple the federal government, as well as planks having to do with taxes.
Unelected Bureaucrats- We oppose the appointment of unelected bureaucrats and we support defunding and abolishing the departments or agencies of the Internal Revenue Service, Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Interior (specifically, the Bureau of Land Management), Transportation Security Administration, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and National Labor Relations Board. In the interim, executive decisions by departments or agencies must be reviewed and approved by Congress before taking effect.
Okay, I can agree on the TSA, but man do they hate the federal government. And it's not like some of these things even make sense to want to defund. I mean, their very first example is the IRS. Maybe they don't like the IRS and would like to see it overhauled or restructured, but taxes are a fact of life. It's how government generates revenue. And when you have revenue coming into the government, you need some government agency coordinating it, and making sure people aren't trying to cheat the government or commit fraud to get out of paying their fair share of the taxes. We need an agency with the role currently fulfilled by the IRS. Even if you did away with the IRS, you'd need a new agency to do the same thing.
And why are they so opposed to unelected bureaucrats. Do they realize how many bureaucrats there are in government? I mean, even if we severely cut funding, there would still be thousands and thousands of bureaucrats working for the government. Are we supposed to hold elections for each and every one of these positions? The Library of Congress employs over 3,000 people. The FAA employs over 47,000 (source). It's just not practical at all to try to hold elections for each of those employees. And it certainly wouldn't improve efficiency, taking away the hiring and promotion process from supervisors and management. It's a rather silly plank.
We, the delegates of the 2016 Republican Party of Texas State Convention, call upon the 85th Texas
Legislature to: ... And to replace the property tax system with an alternative other than the income tax and require voter
approval to increase the overall tax burden.
Well, even a broken clock is right twice a day, at least sort of. I absolutely hate property taxes. I own my land. I don't rent it from the government. And I think property taxes can be especially unfair in areas where property values go up to where long time residents can no longer afford to stay. But I agree with what former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once wrote, "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society". I don't particularly like paying taxes, but there are a lot of things I don't particularly like doing but still do because I'm an adult and it's the responsible thing to do. Personally, I think income taxes are a fair way to go about supplying the state with the revenue it needs, certainly more fair than property tax.
Bailouts and Subsidies- We encourage government to divest its ownership of all business that should be run in the private sector and allow the free market to prevail. We oppose all bailouts of domestic and foreign government entities, states and all businesses, public and private. We oppose local government handouts to businesses and other private entities in the name of economic development.
Nobody particularly likes bailouts, either, but sometimes, they really are essential to preserve the greater health of the economy. With that said, when it does get to the point that they're required, it means there was some other failure earlier on. Those businesses should have been broken up by anti-trust laws or reigned in by regulation before it got to the point where the government had to bail them out. But letting them fail and take out the rest of the economy is no better than cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Tax Burden- We in the Republican Party of Texas believe in the principles of constitutionally limited government based on Federalist principles. To this end we encourage our elected officials at all levels of government to work to reverse the current trend of expanding government and the growing tax and debt burdens this places on we the people. We believe the most equitable system of taxation is one based on consumption and wish to see reforms towards that end at all levels of government Furthermore, we believe that the borrower truly is a slave to the lender, and so long as we continue to increase our tax and debt burdens we will never be a truly free people. Towards these ends, we support the reformation of the current systems of taxation at all levels of government: federal, state, and local. Examples of these reforms include the following:
1. Eliminating the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
2. The "Fair Tax" system
3. A Flat Tax
4. The 1-2-3 No Federal Tax
5. Abolishing property taxes, but in the interim, property taxes should be paid on the price of the property when it was initially purchased.
6. Electing appraisal boards
7. Exempting inventories from property taxes
8. Abolishing estate taxes or the "Death Tax" as it's more commonly known
9. Abolishing capital gains taxes
10. Abolishing franchise and business income taxes
11. Abolishing the gift tax.
12. Discontinuing revenue generating licensing fee
Let's get one thing clear, first. There is no growing tax burden on U.S. citizens or companies. There are multiple ways to look at this. For example, here's a graph of effective federal taxes. It includes all taxes paid to the federal government - income, payroll, and anything else (source: The Atlantic - How We Pay Taxes: 11 Charts).
Notice how the effective tax rate has dropped for all income groups.
Here's a graph of effective corporate tax rates, from Wikipedia. Again, notice how the tax rates have decreased.
Notice how current revenues are inline with what they've been for the past half century, so even from a big picture view, it's clear that the government hasn't drastically increased the tax burden. And if you look at the spending, it's also roughly in line with what it's been for the past half century, so it's not like there's been drastic government expansion. Pay attention to the trends at the end of the spending vs. revenue graph, as well. Now that the country is recovering from the recession, spending and revenue are coming back into closer alignment. Granted, there's still some work left to do on balancing the budget, and it probably will require spending cuts, but there's no need to panic or do anything drastic.
Moving on, I already commented above on the necessity of the IRS. Since the government is necessarily going to have revenue, there needs to be an agency to handle it. The rest is just a mish mash of ideas - some decent, some horrible. But it's not really a well thought out section of the platform.
Federal Reserve System- We believe Congress should repeal the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 thereby abolishing the Federal Reserve Banking System. In the interim, we call for a complete audit of the Federal Reserve System and its Board of Governors followed by an immediate report to the American people.
You can read all about the Federal Reserve, how it works, and why we need it at How Stuff Works - How the Fed Works, or even on Wikipedia. There were plenty of financial crises, recessions, depressions, and periods of inflation early in our nation's history. And something I hadn't known before but learned from the second page of the How Stuff Works feature, there were over 30,000 currencies in the U.S. prior to the Federal Reserve Act, because even though the federal government printed currency, different banks had their own currencies floating around, as well. The Federal Reserve Act standardized currency across the nation, and stabilized the economy. Yes, there have still been recessions and depressions, but they'd have been even worse with no central bank to manage the economy.
Sound Money- We support the return to the precious metal standard for the United States dollar.
I'm going to repeat verbatim what I wrote in 2014. There are very good reasons why no first world countries use the gold standard. To quote an article on About.com, "The stability caused by the gold standard is also the biggest drawback in having one. Exchange rates are not allowed to respond to changing circumstances in countries. A gold standard severely limits the stabilization policies the Federal Reserve can use." The article went on to cite an economist explaining how these limitations of the gold standard lead to higher short-term price instability, 'real output' variability, and even higher unemployment.
United States Department of Education- Since education is not an enumerated power of the federal government, we believe the Department of Education (DOE) should be abolished, and prohibit the transfer of any of its functions to any other federal agency.
Not a lot of commentary on this one - just pointing out another plank wanting to gut the federal government (as well as contempt for education).
Restrictions by Government Agencies- We oppose any restrictions by any government agency on individual taxpayer contributions to churches, faith-based charities and other non-profit organizations.
Not a lot of commentary on this one either - just pointing out their desire to deregulate to the point of anarchy. I would agree that regulations on charitable contributions shouldn't be too strict, but I wouldn't want to do away with them entirely.
Preserving Private Enterprise- We believe that goods and services which are not transported across state lines should not be subject to federal regulations, or regulated by any other level of government other than the minimum necessary to prevent disease, fraud, injury to others, or other infringement of citizens' unalienable rights.
This makes me wonder what these Texas Republicans think existing regulations are for. They say they don't wany any regulations "other than the minimum necessary to prevent disease, fraud, injury to others, or other infringement of citizens' unalienable rights." What do they think politicians are doing now? Passing regulations just for the sake of having regulations? The whole point of existing regulations is exactly what the Texas Republicans have put in this plank. No mainstream politicians want more regulation than is necessary.