Category: Explainer

Note: This second article in a two-part series on the Republican Party Platform. Part I can be found here.

In the previous article we looked at summary outline of the Republican platform as it relates to several non-economic issues covered by the Acton Institute. Today, we’ll look at the GOP’s economic agenda as laid out in the platform. Because the document is long (66 pages) and covers an extensive variety of economic-related areas (agriculture, energy) this list won’t be exhaustive. But it does cover the primary economic positions that are being supported or opposed by the Republican Party.

(Next week, after the Democratic National Convention, we’ll examine their platform’s stance on the same and related issues.)

GOP Party PlatformDuring the recent Republican National Convention the GOP delegates voted to adopt their party’s platform, a document that outlines the statement of principles and policies that the party has decided it will support.

Although the document is not binding on the presidential nominee or any other politicians, political scientists have found that over the past 30 years lawmakers in Congress tend to vote in line with their party’s platform: 89 percent of the time for Republicans and 79 percent of the time for Democrats.

Because of its significance to political decision-making, Americans should be aware of what is proposed in these documents. In this article, we’ll examine a summary outline of the Republican platform as it relates to several non-economic issues covered by the Acton Institute. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the GOP’s economic agenda as laid out in the platform. (Next week, after the Democratic National Convention, we’ll examine their platform’s stance on the same and related issues.)

net-neutrality-op-660x528-660x420What just happened?

On Monday the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), saying the agency had the legal authority to enact their Open Internet Order (i.e., net neutrality rules.)

What was this case about?

Last Spring the CTIA, the trade group that represents the wireless communication sectors, filed a lawsuit with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the FCC’s decision to “impose sweeping new net neutrality rules and reclassifying mobile broadband as a common carrier utility.” The CTIA had argued that the the FCC had “opted to resuscitate a command-and-control regulatory regime, including a process where innovators must first seek permission from the FCC before rolling out new services.” In so doing, they claim, the FCC “usurped the role of Congress and departed from a bipartisan mobile-specific framework to create a new intrusive regulatory framework.”

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality (short for “network neutrality”) refers to both a design principle and laws that attempt to regulate and enforce that principle. The net neutrality principle is the idea that a public information network should aspire to treat all content, sites, and platforms equally. At its simplest, network neutrality is the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally and that every website — from to — should be treated the same when it comes to giving users the bandwidth to reach the internet-connected services they prefer.

Net neutrality laws are legislation or regulation that prevents Internet service providers (ISPs) from discriminating or charging different prices based on such criteria as user, content, site, platform, application, or type of attached equipment.

What is the basic argument in favor of net neutrality regulation?

paydayloansWhat just happened? 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the U.S. government’s consumer protection agency, has proposed new regulations that would affect payday lending in an attempt to end payday debt traps by requiring lenders to take steps to make sure consumers can repay their loans. 

What loans would the new regulation apply to?

The proposed regulations would cover two categories of loans. The first is loans with a term of 45 days or less. The second is loans with a term greater than 45 days, provided that they (1) have an all-in annual percentage rate greater than 36 percent; and (2) either are repaid directly from the consumer’s account or income or are secured by the consumer’s vehicle.

In other words, the regulation would cover almost all “payday lending” and “car title” loans.

What does the regulation do?

brexitWhat is Brexit?

British, Irish, and Commonwealth citizens will vote next month on the question “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” Brexit is merely the shorthand abbreviation for “British exit,” which refers to the UK leaving the European Union.

What is the European Union?

After two World Wars devastated the continent, Europe realized that increasing ties between nations through trade might increase stability and lead to peace.

In 1958, this led to the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC), an arrangement that increased economic cooperation between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Over the next few decades, more countries joined (there are now 28 member state) and it morphed into a federalist-style economic-political union. The UK joined in 1973, and in 1993, the name was changed to the European Union.

The EU institutions are: the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the European Court of Auditors.

Why is there a push for the UK to leave?

venezula-crisisWhat’s going on in Venezuela?

Because of high inflation and unemployment, Venezuela has the most miserable economy in the world. The country currently has an inflation rate of 180 percent, but that’s expected to increase 1,642 percent by next year. The current unemployment rate is 17 percent, and the IMF projects it will reach nearly 21 percent next year.

The country is also crippled by shortages of goods and services. A few weeks ago Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro instituted a two-day workweek for state employees because of power shortages. (Because most of the country’s energy is produced by a hydroelectric plant, critically low water levels are blamed for the energy crisis.)

President Maduro has declared a state of emergency, threatening to seize factories and jail business owners who have stopped production. 

Shortages of basic goods like food, toilet paper, and medicine has devastated a nation where more than 70 percent of the people already live in poverty.

What caused the crisis? 

no-signWhat just happened?

On May 18, the Obama administration announced the publication of a new Department of Labor rule updating and expanding overtime regulations.

Why did the overtime rule change?

Since the 1930s some white collar jobs (i.e., those performed in an administrative setting) have been exempt from the overtime requirement. The white collar exemption salary level was adjusted in 2004 to $455 per week or $23,660 a year. The new rule will entitle most salaried white collar workers earning less than $913 a week ($47,476 a year) to overtime pay.

The rule also updates the total annual compensation level above which most white collar workers will be ineligible for overtime. The final rule raises this level to the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally, or from the current $100,000 to $134,004 a year

The salary threshold will also automatically be updated every three years, beginning January 1, 2020. Each update will raise the standard threshold to the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census region, estimated to be $51,168 in 2020.

How is overtime pay determined?