Reality Check Part II: Republican Party Platform | Citizens Against Government Waste

Reality Check Part II: Republican Party Platform

Press Release

For Immediate ReleaseContact: Mark Carpenter/Tom Finnigan
September 2, 2004(202) 467-5300


CAGW Sets the Record Straight on Health Care, Trade

(Washington, D.C.) – Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today released its fourth in a series of Reality Checks to slice through the rhetoric of the Democratic and Republican Party Conventions. 

Myth #1:  Medicare has been strengthened.  From the Republican Platform:  “In 2003, the Congress passed and President Bush signed historic legislation that strengthens and adds a prescription drug benefit to Medicare.”

Reality Check:  Far from strengthening Medicare, the prescription drug benefit accelerates the program’s drive toward bankruptcy while increasing overall healthcare costs.  Members of Congress thought they were approving a program that would cost $400 billion over 10 years, but the actual estimate was $534 billion, a 33 percent increase that was withheld from representatives and senators as they voted on the new benefit.  The second decade of the program could cost between $1.7 and $2 trillion, and overall will add $8 trillion to the nation’s $42 billion in unfunded entitlement liabilities.  In its current form, Medicare will consume 24 percent of federal income taxes by 2019, and 51 percent by 2042.  Some experts are predicting Medicare Part D will not be ready when the temporary discount card expires next year.  Instead of sticking to a Medicare reform package that resembles the Federal Employee Health Care Benefit Plan, Congress passed a massive program that is confusing seniors and saddling future generations with a massive debt.

Myth #2:  Republicans are free traders.  From the Republican Platform:   “Free trade must be fair trade that advances America’s economic goals and protects American jobs . . . we must act to negotiate new trade agreements and enforce existing trade commitments . . . we must make the interests of American workers and farmers paramount . . . we reject moves toward economic isolationism . . . the revival of (World Trade Organization) negotiations opens the door to lower tariffs on consumer and industrial goods, reductions in tariffs and trade-distorting export subsidies on agricultural products, and market access and lower regulatory barriers for services.”

Reality Check:  Creeping protectionism is casting doubt on the nation’s commitment to fair trade.  The 2002 Farm Security Act increased agricultural subsidies by 70 percent and completely reversed course from the free market reforms begun in the 1996 Farm Bill.  Peanut and sugar subsidies remain detrimental to agricultural export opportunities, and dairy programs continue to be costly to taxpayers and consumers.  Instead of simply eliminating a $5 billion tax break that the WTO found to be illegal, Congress passed $78 billion in targeted tax breaks that will not solve the problem.  Congress has not repealed the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act, known as the Byrd amendment, which distributes antidumping duties collected by U.S. Customs to the companies that made the original complaints.  Although President Bush repealed the tariffs on imported steel, they were imposed at a cost of $2 billion to consumers and taxpayers.  Finally, restrictions on the importation of Mexican avocados persist despite assurances from the Department of Agriculture that the Mexican avocado industry now has adequate safeguards.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.

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