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Dem Platform: Not Quite Defending Government

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A Secret Service agent stands guard at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. A Secret Service agent stands guard at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Jae C. Hong/AP

Last week, the Republican party issued a platform that included a full-throated attack on the federal government as "bloated, antiquated and unresponsive to taxpayers." The document pledged that the GOP would do more than "merely downsize government," but to "do things in a dramatically different way."

You might think that the Democrats, gathered for their own convention in Charlotte, N.C., this week, would take the opposite view. But their platform isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of government. While Democrats tout certain activist government actions, such as the auto industry bailout, and defend a long list of federal programs, when it comes to the overall role of government, the document mostly focuses on reforming operations and modernizing systems. 

Some excerpts:

The president put in place government reform that has led to the most open, efficient, and accountable government in history. We know that transparent and effective government makes economic sense. ...

President Obama and the Democrats are committed to rethinking, reforming, and remaking our government so that it can meet the challenges of our time. We reject the idea that we need to ask people to choose between their jobs and their safety. ...

President Obama proposed a simpler, smarter, and more cost-effective approach to regulation, rather than one riddled with special rules written by lobbyists. Efficient and effective regulations enforce common sense safeguards to protect the American people. That’s what we’ve done in this country for more than a century. It’s why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe. It’s why we put in place consumer protections against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies and new rules to prevent another financial crisis. That’s why the administration launched the Internet Privacy Bill of Rights and encouraged innovative solutions such as a Do Not Track option for consumers. But there’s no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly. That’s why President Obama asked all federal agencies to review and streamline outdated regulations, an effort that will save at least $10 billion over five years, and will eliminate tens of millions of hours in annual paperwork burdens. ...
Looking to make our government leaner, smarter, and more consumer-friendly, President Obama has asked Congress to reinstate the authority that past presidents had to reorganize and consolidate government agencies. President Obama has also called for an ambitious, transparent, and unprecedented government-wide review of existing federal regulations to eliminate unnecessary rules. ...
We are committed to the most open, efficient, and accountable government in history, and we believe that government is more accountable when it is transparent. This administration was the first to make public the list of visitors to the White House and create a centralized ethics and lobbying database available to the public online. Democrats led the fight to enact the STOCK Act to ban congressional insider trading.
President Obama launched the Open Government Initiative to empower the public – through greater openness and new technologies – to influence the decisions that affect their lives. We are committed to using government as a platform to spur innovation and collaboration. Forums such as Data.gov release more information to the public so that the private sector can pioneer innovative new services. ...

This administration has committed to hiring 100,000 Americans with disabilities within the federal government by 2015, and has proposed new rules to create employment opportunities with federal contractors. ...

The President and the administration have taken unprecedented steps to defend America from cyber attacks, including creating the first military command dedicated to cybersecurity and conducting a full review of the federal government’s efforts to protect our information and our infrastructure.

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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