Trump’s First Platform Plank

By declaring against the Biden inflation the 45th president aims high and embraces a challenge that could stabilize our economy for generations.

AP/Barry Thumma, file
The basis of monetary value at the U.S. Depository at Fort Knox, September 24, 1974. AP/Barry Thumma, file

“Defeat Inflation” are the first two words in the table of contents of the draft GOP platform out today. It’s too early for an endorsement but what that says to us is that President Trump is putting a priority on what we have argued is the most important task before the voters — restoring sound money and abandoning the system of fiat currency that has saddled our government with debt and debased the value of the dollar.

We understand that platforms are more aspirational than binding. Yet one of the markers of the GOP is that in most of its recent platforms it put up planking for the establishment of a monetary commission to look at restoring a metallic monetary standard. Meaning a dollar that is convertible into a legislated weight of gold or silver. Under recent presidents, the dollar has collapsed to less than a 2,300th of an ounce of gold. 

That would have been unimaginable to the American Founders. It would have been unimaginable, too, to, say, President Nixon and his camarilla, who closed the gold window in the summer of 1971 and precipitated us into the age of fiat money legal tender, meaning money that has no value defined in law but that must, by law, be accepted in payment of public and private debts. At the time the dollar was at a 35th of an ounce of gold.

Closing the gold window was a betrayal of core Republican principles that dated back to the party’s formative years in the late 19th century, when the GOP was synonymous with a sound, meaning gold-backed, dollar that ensured high growth with low inflation. Between 1879 and 1913, monetary discipline based on a version of the gold standard held inflation to an annual average of but 0.1 percent a year.

It’s no coincidence that honest money accompanied America’s rise to global industrial supremacy. The 1904 GOP platform reminded the party how it had “firmly established the gold standard which was then menaced with destruction,” a reference to the 1896 election when the Democratic nominee, William Jennings Bryan, ran on a pro-inflation platform. “Confidence returned to business,” the GOP crowed, “and with confidence an unexampled prosperity.”

Yet the cause of honest money flagged in the years following the Great Depression, after FDR — whose picture has pride of place over Washington and Jefferson in President Biden’s Oval Office — and Democrats in Congress suspended gold convertibility and even barred private ownership of the monetary metal. Republicans in 1952 vowed to “restore a domestic economy” with “a dollar on a fully-convertible gold basis.”

That pledge, as these columns have lamented, fell by the wayside even as the call for honest money helped hoist President Eisenhower into office. The problem was that, as a Wall Street Journal editorial noted at the time, the GOP platform hedged its bets by insisting on “the restoration of both a sound domestic economy and a stable world economy” before returning to a gold standard. That, as the Journal realized, was putting the cart before the horse.

When, in 1980, Ronald Reagan acceded to the presidency, he did so on a GOP platform that decried the recent “hyper-inflation” that had ravaged the economy in the 1970s and proposed “the restoration of a dependable monetary standard—that is, an end to inflation.” Yet the gold commission that undertook to weigh this question was ultimately undermined by the fiat money faction in Congress. The GOP effort to restore sound money fizzled.

Hence our current crisis and hence Mr. Trump’s first platform plank. We understand that the platform lacks specifics and that the monetary question is but one part of the vast fiscal, regulatory, and policy reforms that will be needed to open the way for American glory. All the more encouraging to see defeating inflation emerge at the top of the platform. We look forward to seeing the issue taken to the voters — and the Congress — in the coming seasons.

The New York Sun

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