1976 Republican Platform: Government That Works

We believe that Americans are fed up with and frustrated by national government that makes great promises -- and fails to deliver. We are! We think that Democrat Congresses -- in control for 40 out of the last 44 years -- are the grand masters of this practice. We think that a national government grown so big that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing has caused the condition we are in.

What we now have is a government organization that doesn't make any sense. It has not developed by design. It just grew -- by whim, bureaucratic fighting, and the caving in of Democrat Congresses to special interest demands. So today we find that nine federal departments and twenty independent agencies are involved in education; seven departments and eight agencies in health; federal recreation areas are administered by six agencies in three departments; and so forth.

What we need is a top-to-bottom overhaul. Two high level presidential commissions under two Presidents -- one a Democrat, one a Republican have investigated and come up with the same answer: There must be functional realignment of government, instead of the current arrangement by subject areas or constituencies.

We want federal domestic departments to reflect the major purposes of government, such as natural resources, human resources, community development and economic affairs. Unfortunately, the Democrat Congress has refused to address this problem. Now we insist that attention must be paid.

Too often in the past, we have been content with organization or procedural solutions to complex economic and social regulatory problems. We should no longer accept rhetoric as a substitute for concrete results. The President has proposed to Congress the Agenda for Government Reform Act, which would guarantee the systematic re-examination and reform of all federal regulatory activities within the next four years. This legislation requires Congress and the President to agree to undertake an exhaustive reassessment of the combined effects of all government regulations, and it requires them to adhere to a disciplined timetable to assure annual results. The American people deserve no less. Every agency of government must be made efficient, and every government regulation should be subjected to cost benefit analysis. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a typical example of a well-intentioned regulatory effort which has imposed large costs but has not solved our problems.

The beauty of America's original concept of government was its diversity, the belief that different purposes are best served by governments at different levels. In our lifetime, however, Democrat Congresses have allowed this system to become warped and over-nationalized. As powers have flowed to Washington, the ability to attend to our problems has often dried up in our communities and states. This trend must be reversed. Local government is simply more accountable to the people, and local people are perfectly capable of making decisions.

We reaffirm the long standing principle of the Republican Party that the best government is the one closest to the people. It is less costly, more accountable, and more responsive to the people's needs. Our confidence in the people of this nation was demonstrated by initiating the Revenue Sharing Program. To date, $30 billion of federal tax dollars have been returned to the states and localities. This program is administered with fewer than 100 people and a computer. Revenue Sharing is an effort to reverse the trend toward centralization. Revenue Sharing must continue without unwarranted federal strictures and regulations.

As a further step in this direction, the Republicans in Congress promoted the new concept of federal block grants to localities for much greater flexibility. Under block grants, federal funds can be tailored by the states and localities to the wishes of each community. There are now two block grant programs -- in community development and employment training. Block grant programs should be extended to replace many existing categorical health, education, child nutrition and social services programs. The Democrat Congress stands guilty of failing to enact these vital reforms. Our ultimate goal is to restore taxing and spending to the local level.

The Republican Party has always believed that the proper role of government is to do only those things which individuals cannot do for themselves. We encourage individual initiative and oppose the trend of ever expanding government programs which is destroying the volunteer spirit in America. We firmly believe that community involvement is essential to the development of effective solutions to the problems confronting our country.

While we oppose a uniform national primary, we encourage the concept of regional presidential primaries, which would group those states which voluntarily agree to have presidential primaries in a geographical area on a common date.

We encourage full participation in our electoral process. We further recognize the sanctity and value of the ballot. In that regard, we oppose "federal post card registration. " The possibilities of fraud are inherent in registration by mail. Such possibilities could not only cheapen our ballot, but in fact threaten the entire electoral process.

Control of the United States Congress by the Democrat Party for 40 of the past 44 years has resulted in a system dominated by powerful individuals and riddled with corruption. Recent events have demonstrated an unwillingness and inability by the Democrat Party to cleanse itself. Selective morality has been the order of the day. Positive Republican initiatives have languished in Democrat-controlled Congressional Committees while business as usual has continued in Washington. The American people demand and deserve reform of the United States Congress. We offer these proposals of far-reaching reform:

Citizens are demanding the end to the rapid and wasteful increase in the size of Washington government. All steps must be taken to insure that unnecessary federal agencies and programs are eliminated and that Congress carefully scrutinize the total budget of each agency. If it is determined that sunset laws and zero-based budgeting can accomplish these ends, then they will have our support. Washington programs must be made as cost-effective as those in the states and localities. Among the many serious complaints that we wish to register on behalf of the American people is the poor operation of the United States Postal Service.

We note the low respect the public has for Congress -- a Democrat-controlled institution -- and wonder how the Democrats can possibly honor their pledge to reform government when they have utterly failed to reform Congress.

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