Party Platforms Reinforce Existing Divisions on Spending

The platforms adopted by the Democratic and Republican parties this month on budget matters closely mirror the existing split between the two parties.

The GOP platform highlights the danger of the nation’s growing debt and calls for a strict test for all federal spending, reports CQ Roll Call.

“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,” reads the GOP document.

In addition, the party pursues several structural changes to the annual budget process:

  • a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget;
  • requiring a “super majority” to approve a tax increase, with exceptions for wars and emergencies; and
  • linking a spending cap to the “historical average percentage” of gross domestic product, a way to prevent lawmakers from raising taxes to balance the budget.

In stark opposition, Democrats favor increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for new programs without increasing the national debt.

“Democrats understand responsible fiscal stewardship is key to American democracy and to the country’s long-term economic prosperity,” according to Democrats’ platform. “We believe that 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.”

When it comes to the Pentagon budget, the GOP criticizes the statutory spending caps as well as Democrats’ insistence on matching increases in defense spending with equivalent increases in non-defense programs, according to the story.

“The U.S. defense budget has suffered a 25 percent cut in real dollars in the five years since sequestration. We support lifting the budget cap for defense and reject the efforts of Democrats to hold the military’s budget hostage for their domestic agenda,” Republicans wrote.

Democrats also cited the spending caps for jeopardizing national security, while underscoring the need to eliminate waste at DOD.

“We will seek a more agile and flexible force and rid the military of outdated Cold War-era systems,” Democrats wrote.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen
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