Drugs, Gambling, Gambling / Gaming, Politics, Pornography, Tax Law

Pol Dancing: Five Less Heralded GOP Platform Planks That Impact Lawyers

Yesterday, a bunch of Republican delegates, fresh off a night at Tattletale’s helping to repay the student loans of nubile gals one lap dance at a time, approved the 2012 Republican Party Platform.

While liberals and the “lamestream media” are fixated on the planks dealing with “abortion” and “gay marriage,” the platform includes some lower-profile planks worth checking out. Here are five that stuck out to me as a lawyer….

I’m not going to waste time on the predictable stuff. Obviously under this platform we can kiss Dodd-Frank and other corporate regulations goodbye, making it a lot easier to close deals when the entire corporate legal regime is enshrined on an index card.

And when it comes to addressing the scourge of crime in society, the GOP platform is predictably “law and order.” More incarceration and more mandatory sentences. Ho hum.

But while the platform mostly makes vague pledges to increase “enforcement,” one specific pledge, absent in the 2008 platform, did manage to worm its way into the 2012 platform:

Current laws on all forms of pornography and obscenity need to be vigorously enforced.

What did these people see in Tampa that prompted adding this? Well, I guess this answers my question. At least document review just got more interesting!

Former Congressman Chris Lee asking if we want to see his favorite plank.

The provision was added by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (who is not this Tony Perkins, though I would not be surprised if the head of the Family Research Council doesn’t have similar mother issues), who was upset that the previous GOP Platform limited its disdain to child pornography, stripping adult obscenity laws of their proper value and blowing an opportunity to stand up for a purer America. If the current federal laws against obscenity, (under 18 U.S.C. 1462, both the transmitter and the person viewing pornography could go down for five years for the offense) are “vigorously enforced,” the criminal justice system would grind to a halt as thousands of Republicans face prosecution.

Millions of Americans suffer from problem or pathological gambling that can destroy families. We support the prohibition of gambling over the Internet and call for reversal of the Justice Department’s decision distorting the formerly accepted meaning of the Wire Act that could open the door to Internet betting.

Between this and the anti-porn plank, what is Elie going to do with his day? While the platform calls for a reversal of the current DOJ interpretation of the Federal Wire Act (the Obama administration has concluded that the Act only applies to sports gambling — a move designed to protect state lotteries), it’s not as though the DOJ doesn’t pursue vigorous prosecution of online gambling sites now. Prosecutors just parlay the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and the Illegal Gambling Business Act into multi-count indictments. If the goal is shutting down online gambling, these statutes can easily cover it.

Note this strong stance against gambling is limited to online gambling because Sheldon Adelson’s casinos aren’t adding to the “problem of pathological gambling.” Got to know where your bread is buttered!

In other news, the Ron Paul brigade did get this hit in:

The resources of the federal government’s law enforcement and judicial systems have been strained by two unfortunate expansions: the overcriminalization of behavior and the over-federalization of offenses. The number of criminal offenses in the U.S. Code increased from 3,000 in the early 1980s to over 4,450 by 2008. Federal criminal law should focus on acts by federal employees or acts committed on federal property – and leave the rest to the States. Then Congress should withdraw from federal departments and agencies the power to criminalize behavior, a practice which, according to the Congressional Research Service, has created “tens of thousands” of criminal offenses.

Did the GOP platform just functionally call off the war on drugs? Because I don’t see where drug laws fit into that description of “acceptable” federal laws limited to federal employees and federal lands unless someone accuses Eric Holder of blowing rails inside the Pentagon (I’m sure Breitbart’s website will get right on that). Without federal laws targeting the interstate distribution of drugs, the whole regime would likely go up in smoke. On the plus side, a federal judiciary gig would become a cakewalk of a job.

One of my favorite planks in the platform looks like a potential game changer for tax lawyers:

In any restructuring of federal taxation, to guard against hypertaxation of the American people, any value added tax or national sales tax must be tied to the simultaneous repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, which established the federal income tax.

‘Don’t put a gun in the hands of a mentally unbalanced person in Act I if you don’t want a mass shooting in Act II,’ said no Republican ever.

This isn’t saying that the GOP supports replacing the primary tax system in this country with a VAT. But even bringing it up seems a lot like Chekov’s gun. This shuts down GOP Godfather Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan which required a national sales tax, but this platform would make his whole plan dependent on dropping all income tax (one of the other 9s). Now it sounds a lot less like a pizza special. Having never lived in a country with a VAT, I can only speculate that this would be an absolute pain to implement at every level of the supply chain.

But all is not lost…

Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax.

At least you’ll all hold a lot of cash in hand by the end of the year.

Joe Patrice is the author of Recess Appointment, a blog about political rhetoric, and he’ll be dropping in occasionally to write about the intersection of law and politics. To answer the question that you’re probably about to ask, he got his J.D. at NYU and spent ten years working at a Biglaw firm and a white-collar defense boutique. His favorite word is sesquipedalian. 

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