Voter Guide: Republicans on the Federal Budget

As both political parties do as part of their party's national convention, last week the GOP adopted their "platform" – which is, in effect, a statement of principles and goals. It begins by stating "The 2012 Republican Platform is a statement of who we are and what we believe as a Party and our vision for a stronger and freer America.”

We thought we'd take a look at some of the provisions of the 62 page document that deal with the federal budget. Here are some highlights:

Enact a Balanced Budget Amendment: The GOP platform would amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced budget. ”Republican Members of Congress have repeatedly tried to reform the budget process to make it more transparent and accountable, in particular by voting for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution…”

Interestingly, a group of leading economists, including several Nobel laureates, wrote in July 2011 to the president and congressional leaders that a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution would be "very unsound policy."

Reform the Tax Code: The platform calls for extensive revamping of the current tax code, including substantial reductions to income tax rates “in a revenue-neutral manner” (i.e. finding other offsets to pay for the reduced revenue). Pending this reform, the platform calls for an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for all taxpayers.

These tax cuts are set to expire at the end of this year, and Congress is expected to attempt to address this issue after the November elections.

Limit Tax Increases: The platform sets a very high bar for Congress for any future increase in taxes. “We call for a Constitutional amendment requiring a super-majority [i.e. a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate] for any tax increase, with exceptions for only war and national emergencies.”

It is unclear whether closing existing tax loopholes – in effect raising taxes on certain economic activities – would require a similar super majority.

We’ll be watching the two major parties, and their candidates, throughout the election season to see what they have to say about the pressing budget issues that confront this nation, and how they’d go about trying to solve them. Stay tuned.