Republican Platform and Rural America

What do the Republicans have in mind for rural America? Well, read the platform.

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Editor’s Note: Now that both political parties have finished their national conventions, we thought it might be time to see what their platforms have to say about issues that specifically affect rural America. 

Below are excerpts from the Republican party platform. To see a full copy, go here.

We’ll publish excerpts from the Democrats shortly. 

Agriculture

Agricultural production and agricultural exports are a fundamental part of the U.S. economy, and the vigor of U.S. agriculture is central to our agenda for jobs, growth, and prosperity. 

Our farmers and ranchers are responsible for millions of jobs and for generating a trade surplus of more than $137 billion annually. Our producers provide America with abundant food, export food to hungry people around the world, and create a positive trade balance. 

Because of their care for the land, the United States does not depend on foreign imports for sustenance the way we depend on others for much of our energy. 

However, Americans are concerned about the increasing cost of their food under the current Administration policies that restrict energy production and raise costs for producers due to increased regulation. 

Our dependence on foreign imports of fertilizer could threaten our food supply, and we support the development of domestic production of fertilizer. 

The success of our system of risk management policies will enable farmers and ranchers to continue to feed and fuel the nation and much of the world.

Uncertainty is threatening the survival of our nation’s farmers. America’s growers and farmers are aging and much of America’s farmland will be passed to the next generation of farmers with families. Uncertainties in estate and capital gains tax laws threaten the survival of multigenerational family farms. 

The proposals for tax reforms contained elsewhere in this document will make certain that family farms will not be lost.

Farm Programs

Agricultural producers and the jobs they generate throughout the entire food chain must confront volatility in both the weather and the markets. We support farm programs that enable them to manage the extraordinary risk they meet in the fields every year. 

These programs should be as cost-effective as they are functional, offering risk management tools that improve producers’ ability to operate when times are tough.

Just as all other federal programs must contribute to the deficit reduction necessary to put our country back on a sound fiscal footing, so must farm programs contribute to balancing the budget.

Programs like the Direct Payment program should end in favor of those, like crop insurance, that help manage risk and are counter-cyclical in nature.

We support the historic role of the USDA in agricultural research that has transformed farming here and around the world. Because food safety is a major concern of the American people, we urge Congress to ensure adequate resources for the Department’s responsibilities in that regard.

Forest Service

The U. S. Forest Service controls about 193 million acres of land and employs 30,000 workers. The Forest Service should be charged to use these resources to the best economic potential for the nation. 

We must limit injunctions by activist judges regarding environmental management. In order to secure one of the country’s most important natural resources, we will review the way the Forest Service handles wildfires. 

Water

This summer’s lack of rainfall over much of agricultural America highlights the importance of access to water for farmers and ranchers alike. 

We stand with growers and producers in defense of their water rights against attempts by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to expand jurisdiction over water, including water that is clearly not navigable.

Food Stamps and Food Aid

The productivity of America’s farmers makes possible the generosity of U.S. food aid efforts around the world. 

These programs are fragmented between the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Agency for International Development. They should be streamlined into one agency with a concentration on reducing overhead to maximize delivery of the actual goods.

The food stamp program now accounts for nearly 80 percent of the entire USDA budget. In finding ways to fight fraud and abuse, the Congress should consider block-granting that program to the States, along with the other domestic nutrition programs.

Energy

We encourage the cost effective development of renewable energy, but the taxpayers should not serve as venture capitalists for risky endeavors. 

It is important to create a pathway toward a market-based approach for renewable energy sources and to aggressively develop alternative sources for electricity generation such as wind, hydro, solar, biomass, geothermal, and tidal energy. 

Partnerships between traditional energy industries and emerging renewable industries can be a central component in meeting the nation’s long-term needs. Alternative forms of energy are part of our action agenda to power the homes and workplaces of the nation.

Coal

We look toward the private sector’s development of new, state-of-the-art coal-fired plants that will be low-cost, environmentally responsible, and efficient. We also encourage research and development of advanced technologies in this sector, including coal-to-liquid, coal gasification, and related technologies for enhanced oil recovery.

The current Administration—with a President who publicly threatened to bankrupt anyone who builds a coal-powered plant—seems determined to shut down coal production in the United States, even though there is no cost-effective substitute for it or for the hundreds of thousands of jobs that go with it as the nation’s largest source of electricity generation..

We will end the EPA’s war on coal and encourage the increased safe development in all regions of the nation’s coal resources, the jobs it produces, and the affordable, reliable energy that it provides for America. Further, we oppose any and all cap and trade legislation….

Keystone XL Pipeline

The current President personally blocked one of the most important energy and jobs projects in years. The Keystone XL Pipeline—which would have brought much needed Canadian and American oil to U.S. refineries—would create thousands of jobs. The current President’s job-killing combination of extremism and ineptitude threatens to create a permanent energy shortage. We are committed to approving the Keystone XL Pipeline and to streamlining permitting for the development of other oil and natural gas pipelines.

Broadband

The current Administration has been frozen in the past. It has conducted no auction of spectrum, has offered no incentives for investment, and, through the FCC’s net neutrality rule, is trying to micromanage telecom as if it were a railroad network.

It inherited from the previous Republican Administration 95 percent coverage of the nation with broadband. It will leave office with no progress toward the goal of universal coverage – after spending $7.2 billion more. 

That hurts rural America, where farmers, ranchers, and small business manufacturers need connectivity to expand their customer base and operate in real time with the world’s producers. We encourage public-private partnerships to provide predictable support for connecting rural areas so that every American can fully participate in the global economy.

We call for an inventory of federal agency spectrum to determine the surplus that could be auctioned for the taxpayers’ benefit. 

With special recognition of the role university technology centers are playing in attracting private investment to the field, we will replace the administration’s Luddite approach to technological progress with a regulatory partnership that will keep this country the world leader in technology and telecommunications.

Medical Costs and Tort Reform

Frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits have ballooned the cost of healthcare for the average American.

Physicians are increasingly practicing defensive medicine because of the looming threat of malpractice liability. Moreover, some medical practitioners are avoiding patients with complex and high-risk medical problems because of the high costs of medical malpractice lawsuits. 

Rural America is hurt especially hard as obstetricians, surgeons, and other healthcare providers are moving to urban settings or retiring, causing a significant healthcare workforce shortage and subsequently decreasing access to care for all patients. We are committed to aggressively pursuing tort reform legislation to help avoid the practice of defensive medicine, to keep healthcare costs low, and improve healthcare quality.

The Electoral College

We oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact or any other scheme to abolish or distort the procedures of the Electoral College. We recognize that an unconstitutional effort to impose “national popular vote” would be a mortal threat to our federal system and a guarantee of corruption as every ballot box in every state would become a chance to steal the presidency.

Post Office

The dire financial circumstances of the Postal Service require dramatic restructuring. 

In a world of rapidly advancing telecommunications, mail delivery from the era of the Pony Express cannot long survive. We call on Congress to restructure the Service to ensure the continuance of its essential function of delivering mail while preparing for the downsizing made inevitable by the advance of internet communication. 

In light of the Postal Service’s seriously underfunded pension system, Congress should explore a greater role for private enterprise in appropriate aspects of the mail-processing system.

Tribes

Based on both treaty and other law, the federal government has a unique government-to-government relationship with and trust responsibility for Indian Tribal Governments and American Indians and Alaska Natives. 

These obligations have not been sufficiently honored. The social and economic problems that plague Indian country have grown worse over the last several decades; we must reverse that trend. Ineffective federal programs deprive American Indians of the services they need, and long-term failures threaten to undermine tribal sovereignty itself.

American Indians have established elected tribal governments to carry out the public policies of the tribe, administer services to its tribal member constituents, and manage relations with federal, State, and local governments. 

We respect the tribal governments as the voice of their communities and encourage federal, State, and local governments to heed those voices in developing programs and partnerships to improve the quality of life for American Indians and their neighbors in their communities.

Republicans believe that economic self-sufficiency is the ultimate answer to the challenges confronting Indian country. We believe that tribal governments and their communities, not Washington bureaucracies, are best situated to craft solutions that will end systemic problems that create poverty and disenfranchisement. 

Just as the federal government should not burden States with regulations, it should not stifle the development of resources within the reservations, which need federal assistance to advance their commerce nationally through roads and technology. Federal and State regulations that thwart job creation must be withdrawn or redrawn so that tribal governments acting on behalf of American Indians are not disadvantaged. It is especially egregious that the Democratic Party has persistently undermined tribal sovereignty in order to provide advantage to union bosses in the tribal workplace.

Republicans recognize that each tribe has the right of consultation before any new regulatory policy is implemented on tribal land. To the extent possible, such consultation should take place in Indian country with the tribal government and its members. 

Before promulgating and imposing any new laws or regulations affecting trust land or members, the federal government should encourage Indian tribes to develop their own policies to achieve program objectives, and should defer to tribes to develop their own standards, or standards in conjunction with State governments.

Republicans reject a one-size-fits-all approach to federal-tribal-State partnerships and will work to expand local autonomy where tribal governments seek it. Better partnerships will help us to expand economic opportunity, deliver top-flight education to future generations, modernize and improve the Indian Health Service to make it more responsive to local needs, and build essential infrastructure in Indian country in cooperation with tribal neighbors. 

Our approach is to empower American Indians, through tribal self-determination and self-governance policies, to develop their greatest assets, human resources and the rich natural resources on their lands, without undue federal interference.

Like all Americans, American Indians want safe communities for their families; but inadequate resources and neglect have, over time, allowed criminal activities to plague Indian country. To protect everyone—and especially the most vulnerable: children, women, and elders—the legal system in tribal communities must provide stability and protect property rights. Everyone’s due process and civil rights must be safeguarded.

We support efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs by American Indians, including Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and to preserve their culture and languages that we consider to be national treasures. Lastly, we recognize that American Indians have responded to the call for military service in percentage numbers far greater than have other groups of Americans. 

We honor that commitment, loyalty, and sacrifice of all American Indians serving in the military today and in years past and will ensure that all veterans and their families receive the care and respect they have earned through their loyal service to America.

 

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