September 23, 2010; Source: CNN Politics |The Republicans’ new party platform, officially titled, “A Pledge to America: A New Governing Agenda Built on the Priorities of Our Nation, the Principles We Stand for, & America’s Founding Values,” [PDF] articulates what the Republican Party believes in and offers a plan of action for candidates and voters. The new Republican plan contains an awful lot of language that sounds adapted from the founding fathers, making it difficult to find the specifics that might affect the nonprofit sector.

The two-page pledge is a compilation of phrases that sound like the Tea Party’s Contract from America, mixed with some language that sounds like it might have come from Thomas Jefferson. After the pledge and the three-page forward, the only mention of “nonprofit” in the 48-page document is in connection with a count of the more than 2,000 federal aid programs that the Republicans would like to sharply cut down both directly, through rescissions and terminations, and in the future with federal program sunset provisions.

For nonprofits, the specific recommendations do not augur good things:

  • Immediately . . . cancel unspent “stimulus” funds, and block any attempts to extend the timeline for spending “stimulus” funds;
  • With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops… roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels;
  • Set strict budget caps to limit federal spending on an annual basis and impos(e) a hard cap on future [discretionary program spending] growth;
  • Cancel the Troubled Asset Relief Program;
  • Impose a net hiring freeze on non-security federal employees and ensure that the public sector no longer grows at the expense of the private sector;
  • Require that programs end—or “sunset”—by a date certain . . . to force Congress to determine if a program is worthy of continued taxpayer support.

The glossy, picture and rhetoric-laden Republican brochure promotes budget approaches at a level of generality, that if implemented would starve nonprofits of the resources they use to deliver critical services to the American public. The Republican document imagines that these broad and deep budget cuts would unleash capital that would stimulate jobs and economic progress in the private sector. We don’t believe that for a moment, but even if that were true, the needs of American households for services and support from the nonprofit sector would continue unabated—and, in the Republican manifesto, unfunded.—Rick Cohen