The Republican National Convention was held in late August in Charlotte, North Carolina. Traditionally, the dual purpose of the convention has been for the party to rally around the presidential and vice presidential candidates and unveil its official platform in the run-up to the election. In this case, however, the convention was solely an opportunity to rally around incumbent candidates President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, as the party has decided to offer no platform for 2020, instead opting to reuse the party’s platform from 2016.
While there is no official Republican platform that addresses topical issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or Black Lives Matter movement, there are ways to infer what a second term may look like under President Trump. This can be done by examining elements of the president’s style of leadership and specific policy decisions made during Trump’s first term as president that provide insight into this administration’s priorities and modus operandi.
In order to project what a second term under President Trump will look like, one could identify where federal funds have been allocated over the past three and a half years, as well as areas of the government to which Trump has actively attempted to increase or reduce funding. Examples include the president’s 2019 request to congress for $5.7 billion for construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico, as well as the elimination of 66 federal programs that cut over $9 billion in federal spending in the Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development alone. While these actions by the Trump administration by no means constitute an official party platform, they do hint heavily at the guiding principles and overarching goals of the administration, which is precisely what a party platform is supposed to explicitly divulge.
The president’s proposed budget for 2021 provides some insight into the unofficial party platform. Published earlier this year, it would cut federal funding to programs such as Medicaid, Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education, reduce funding for agencies such as the USPS and CDC, and allocate additional funds towards military spending and extending tax cuts for wealthy earners.
Highlights from the Party’s Platform
Below is a breakdown of some of the highlights of the Republican Party’s platform, with an emphasis on issues that are likely to affect seniors.
The Republican platform treats healthcare as an industry like any other, touting a “free market system” that promotes “market competition” as the most effective approach to improve the quality of care to which Americans have access. As such, the platform seeks to remove or reduce regulations for private companies in the healthcare industry, allowing them to accumulate more capital. This would permit businesses to invest in research, which would then lead to improved technology surrounding medicines and treatment. The platform also advocates for freedom of choice within the health insurance marketplace, while reducing funding to federally-operated institutions like Medicaid and Medicare. It also explicitly states an intention to increase the qualifying age for Medicare, with the aim of reducing the institution’s current financial burden.
The platform only briefly alludes to climate change in relation to national security threats and the nation’s military. It states, “climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue. This is the triumph of extremism over common sense, and Congress must stop it.”
A reduction of funding for Social Security is recommended in the Republican platform, in an effort to curb the national deficit. Doing this would allow the nation to keep taxes low for the wealthy, particularly the capital gains tax (which was cut in half by the Trump administration).
Republican Platform Summary
The Republican platform seeks to strengthen the free market, lower taxes, and defund any programs it deems to be safety nets, handouts, or government-funded welfare. This approach is predicated upon the idea that a free market leads to higher levels of competition, which improves services for consumers and increases the rate of technological advance. The party also appears to be operating under the belief that concern over climate change is an expression of “extremism,” and that progressive concern over environmental issues is the true threat to our nation, as opposed to the effects of climate change itself.