The U.S. House Republican Conference is planning to roll out a list of policy solutions prior to the Republican National Convention in July, according to 6th District Congressman Tom Price, who spoke at Saturday’s Fulton County GOP breakfast. Comparing the proposals to 1994’s Contract with America, Price told those at the breakfast that “If this campaign is about personalities, if this is a personality contest, then this [election] is a coin toss. If however it’s about policy solutions, then we’re going to win.”
The five proposed solutions will combine issues with proposed legislation, policy blueprints, or white papers. They include national defense, economic growth and taxes, patient centered healthcare, upward mobility, and adjusting the balance of power between the presidency and congress.
The first policy solution deals with national security. over the last five years, $500 billion has been cut from the defense budget, and current policy calls for another $500 billion to be cut in the next five. Rep. Price, who chairs the House Budget Committee, said that it is unacceptable to not provide the needed resources to the American military. Rather than defining a budget for the military, and then restricting its mission to what fits within the budget, the military should determine its mission, and then find the resources needed to accomplish it.
According to Price, the United States spent about 6% of its gross domestic product on national security. Today, the country spends about 3%. The U.S. armed forces are at their smallest level since World War II. The nation’s armed forces must be provided with all the resources it needs to accomplish its mission.
With economic growth at 35-40% below the country’s average rate, tax reform becomes the second policy priority. The slow economic growth since the great recession hurts the ability of Americans to improve their lives. Rep. Price reminded attendees that America has the highest corporate tax rate, and that smaller companies can pay a still higher rate if profits are taxed on their owners’ tax returns. “We believe strongly in positive, pro-growth, common sense tax reform,” Price said. “You will see, before the convention, a significant proposal on that score.”
The third policy solution will deal with healthcare. Calling the way patients are treated under the current Affordable Care Act “utter lunacy,” Price, who is a surgeon, said the country needs to move towards what he called “patient centered care,” where doctors are making medical decisions, and nobody else. He pointed out that between one quarter and one third of healthcare dollars are spent on defensive medicine, over examining and over testing in order to prepare for a potential malpractice lawsuit.
“You’ve heard the Republicans don’t have any solutions or replacements for Obamacare,” said Dr. Price. “The fact of the matter is we probably have got too many. We’ve got about 150, literally. So when you’ve got 150, you don’t have any, cause you haven’t rallied around around one. When all is said and done, we have to come together as a conference and make sure we’re able to say this is what we believe in.”
With so many people left behind in the U.S., addressing ways to improve upward mobility becomes the fourth policy solution. Republicans, Price Said, have not communicated their solutions for lifting people up. He pointed out that while tens of trillions of dollars have been spent combating poverty, the poverty remains remains the same as it was in 1965.
“We have incentivized and encouraged learned dependence on the federal government, instead of incentivizing earned success,” according to Price. Providing a way for people to follow their dreams is part of an upward mobility project that Speaker Paul Ryan has worked on for years, and is expected to be introduced before the convention. According to the congressman, such a program should not have its success measured by the amount of money spent on it, but by the number of people who are able to go on their own and get off the program.
The final item on the Republican agenda deals with scaling back the power of the presidency. Rep. Price said that the executive branch has usurped power from the legislative branch. The solution to this problem lies in the budget and appropriations committees, Price said. There the legislative branch can exercise its constitutional authority over the power of the purse. He pointed to last week’s decision by a DC circuit court judge that said that money couldn’t be spent on the affordable care act without authorization, and said that the courts may be an ally in this effort.
The Republican conference’s agenda appears to address many of the issues the grassroots are concerned about. As with most other GOP initiatives during the Obama administration, it has little chance of passing should the White House remain in Democratic hands in January 2017. What about in a Trump administration? The list of action items has been sent to Team Trump for its review, but so far, there hasn’t been a response.