2008 Republican Party Platform
This platform is respectfully dedicated to our
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life."
America the Beautiful
Katharine Lee Bates
This is a platform of enduring principle, not passing convenience — the product of the most open and transparent process in American political history. We offer it to our fellow Americans in the assurance that our Republican ideals are those that unify our country: Courage in the face of foreign foes. An optimistic patriotism, driven by a passion for freedom. Devotion to the inherent dignity and rights of every person. Faith in the virtues of self-reliance, civic commitment, and concern for one another. Distrust of government's interference in people's lives. Dedication to a rule of law that both protects and preserves liberty.
We present this platform at an uncertain point in time. Our country remains at war and committed to victory, but reckless political forces would imperil that goal and endanger our nation. In the economy and in society at large, it is a time of transformation. But the American people will meet these challenges. Even with its uncertainties, they embrace the future, but they are also too wise to rush headlong into it. We are an adventurous, risk-taking people, but we are not gamblers. A sound democracy trusts new leadership but insists that it demonstrate the old virtues: the character and the command that, in times of conflict and crisis, have led the Republic through its trials.
This platform likewise rests on proven truths and tested wisdom as it looks ahead, both to deal with present challenges and to explore possibilities that may sometimes seem beyond our grasp. It shows what the American people can accomplish when government respects their rights, conserves their resources, and calls upon their love of country. It is not a tribute to bigger government.
Our platform is presented with enthusiasm and confidence in a vision for the future, but also with genuine humility — humility before God and before a nation of free and independent thinkers. As the party of ideas, rather than a mere coalition of interests, we consider vigorous debate a strength, not a weakness. Indeed, we are a party — as we are a nation —of mavericks.
Yet we stand united today because we are the one party that speaks to all Americans — conservatives, moderates, libertarians, independents, and even liberals. We welcome all to our deliberations in the firm belief that the principles embodied in this platform will prove to be as compelling and persuasive as they are vital and enduring. We do not fear disagreement, and we do not demand conformity, but we do fight for our principles with confidence that the best ideas will prevail in the end.
Our party embodies a uniquely American spirit. It is the spirit of independent minds, the conviction that open and honest debate is essential to the freedom we enjoy as Americans. This platform is a testament to that freedom and stands as our promise to future generations that we will do whatever it takes to preserve it. It is grounded on our heartfelt belief that our principles, our policies, and our vision will lead our American family, not just through present dangers, but to a horizon of prosperity and liberty mankind has only begun to explore.
With gratitude for eight years of honorable service from President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the Republican Party now stands united behind new leadership, an American patriot, John McCain. In support of his candidacy and those of our fellow Republicans across the nation — and ever grateful to Almighty God for the political, religious, and civil liberties we enjoy — we, the representatives of the Republican Party in the states and territories of the United States, offer this platform to the American people.
Defending Our Nation, Supporting Our Heroes, Securing the Peace
Three decades ago, in a world as dangerous as today's, Americans of all stripes came together to advance the cause of freedom. They had witnessed the wreckage of inexperienced good intentions at the highest levels of government, the folly of an amateur foreign policy. And so, in defiance of a world-wide Marxist advance, they announced a goal as enduring as the vision of Isaiah, to "proclaim liberty to the captives," and summed up America's strategy for achieving that end in a timeless slogan: Peace through strength — an enduring peace, based on freedom and the will to defend it.
That goal still requires the unity of Americans beyond differences of party and conflicts of personality. The rancor of past years must now give way to a common goal of security for our country and safety for our people. For seven years, the horror of September 11, 2001 has not been repeated on our soil. For that, we are prayerfully grateful and salute all who have played a role in defending our homeland. We pledge to continue their vigilance and to assure they have the authority and resources they need to protect the nation.
Defending Our Nation
The Current Conflict Abroad
All Americans should affirm that our first obligation is the security of our country. To all those who defend it, we owe our full support and gratitude.
The waging of war — and the achieving of peace — should never be micromanaged in a party platform, or on the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives for that matter. In dealing with present conflicts and future crises, our next president must preserve all options. It would be presumptuous to specify them in advance and foolhardy to rule out any action deemed necessary for our security.
We acknowledge and appreciate the significant contributions of all of America's First Responders, who keep us safe and secure and who are ever ready to come to our aid. The security of our country is now everyone's responsibility, from the Department of Homeland Security to state and local first responders, private businesses, and individual families. The fact that eighty percent of our critical infrastructure is in private hands highlights the need for public-private partnerships to safeguard it, especially in the energy industry.
Along with unrelenting vigilance to prevent bioterrorism and other WMD-related attacks, we must regularly exercise our ability to quickly respond if one were to occur. We must continue to remove barriers to cooperation and information sharing. Modernized 9-1-1 services must be made universally available and be adequately funded. We must be able to thwart cyber attacks that could cripple our economy, monitor terrorist activities while respecting Americans' civil liberties, and protect against military and industrial espionage and sabotage. All this requires experienced leadership.
Terrorism and Nuclear Proliferation
The attacks of September 11, 2001 were a pivot point in our national experience. They highlighted the failure of national policy to recognize and respond to the growth of a global terror network. They should have put an end to the Democrats' naive thinking that international terrorists could be dealt with within the normal criminal justice system, but that misconception persists.
The gravest threat we face — nuclear terrorism — demands a comprehensive strategy for reducing the world's nuclear stockpiles and preventing proliferation. The U.S. should lead that effort by reducing the size of our nuclear arsenal to the lowest number consistent with our security requirements and working with other nuclear powers to do the same. In cooperation with other nations, we should end the production of weapons-grade fissile material, improve our collective ability to interdict the spread of weapons of mass destruction and related materials, and ensure the highest possible security standards for existing nuclear materials wherever they may be located.
But that is not enough. We must develop and deploy both national and theater missile defenses to protect the American homeland, our people, our Armed Forces abroad, and our allies. Effective, layered missile defenses are critical to guard against the unpredictable actions of rogue regimes and outlaw states, reduce the possibility of strategic blackmail, and avoid the disastrous consequences of an accidental or unauthorized launch by a foreign power.
Better Intelligence — the Key to Prevention
Intelligence is America's first line of defense. We must increase the ranks and resources of our human intelligence capabilities, integrate technical and human sources, and get that information more quickly to the warfighter and the policy maker. The multi-jurisdictional arrangements that now prevail on Capitol Hill should be replaced by a single Joint Committee on Intelligence.
Intelligence is Key to Fighting Bioterrorism and Cyberterrorism
Bioterrorism and cyberterrorism, once the stuff of science fiction films, are immediate threats to our nation's health and safety. Our food and water distribution systems require special vigilance. By the same token, a well-placed cyber-attack could cripple our economy, shut down our energy and transportation systems, wreck our health care delivery systems, and put millions of lives at risk. Although our country has thwarted new terrorist attacks since 2001, those threats do persist. That is why our reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was so vital, and why the Democrats' opposition to it was so wrong.
Immigration, National Security, and the Rule of Law
Immigration policy is a national security issue, for which we have one test: Does it serve the national interest? By that standard, Republicans know America can have a strong immigration system without sacrificing the rule of law.
Enforcing the Rule of Law at the Border and Throughout the Nation
Border security is essential to national security. In an age of terrorism, drug cartels, and criminal gangs, allowing millions of unidentified persons to enter and remain in this country poses grave risks to the sovereignty of the United States and the security of its people. We simply must be able to track who is entering and leaving our country.
Our determination to uphold the rule of law begins with more effective enforcement, giving our agents the tools and resources they need to protect our sovereignty, completing the border fence quickly and securing the borders, and employing complementary strategies to secure our ports of entry. Experience shows that enforcement of existing laws is effective in reducing and reversing illegal immigration.
Our commitment to the rule of law means smarter enforcement at the workplace, against illegal workers and lawbreaking employers alike, along with those who practice identity theft and traffic in fraudulent documents. As long as jobs are available in the United States, economic incentives to enter illegally will persist. But we must empower employers so they can know with confidence that those they hire are permitted to work. That means that the EVerify system—which is an internet-based system that verifies the employment authorization and identity of employees—must be reauthorized. A phased in requirement that employers use the E-Verify system must be enacted.
The rule of law means guaranteeing to law enforcement the tools and coordination to deport criminal aliens without delay — and correcting court decisions that have made deportation so difficult. It means enforcing the law against those who overstay their visas, rather than letting millions flout the generosity that gave them temporary entry. It means imposing maximum penalties on those who smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S., both for their lawbreaking and for their cruel exploitation. It means requiring cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement and real consequences, including the denial of federal funds, for self-described sanctuary cities, which stand in open defiance of the federal and state statutes that expressly prohibit such sanctuary policies, and which endanger the lives of U.S. citizens. It does not mean driver's licenses for illegal aliens, nor does it mean that states should be allowed to flout the federal law barring them from giving in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, nor does it mean that illegal aliens should receive social security benefits, or other public benefits, except as provided by federal law.
We oppose amnesty. The rule of law suffers if government policies encourage or reward illegal activity. The American people's rejection of en masse legalizations is especially appropriate given the federal government's past failures to enforce the law.
Embracing Immigrant Communities
Today's immigrants are walking in the steps of most other Americans' ancestors, seeking the American dream and contributing culturally and economically to our nation. We celebrate the industry and love of liberty of these fellow Americans.
Both government and the private sector must do more to foster legally present immigrants' integration into American life to advance respect for the rule of law and a common American identity. It is a national disgrace that the first experience most new Americans have is with a dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy defined by delay and confusion; we will no longer tolerate those failures.
In our multi-ethnic nation, everyone — immigrants and native-born alike — must embrace our core values of liberty, equality, meritocracy, and respect for human dignity and the rights of women.
One sign of our unity is our English language. For newcomers, it has always been the fastest route to prosperity in America. English empowers. We support English as the official language in our nation, while welcoming the ethnic diversity in the United States and the territories, including language. Immigrants should be encouraged to learn English. English is the accepted language of business, commerce, and legal proceedings, and it is essential as a unifying cultural force. It is also important, as part of cultural integration, that our schools provide better education in U.S. history and civics for all children, thereby fostering a commitment to our national motto, E Pluribus Unum.
We are grateful to the thousands of new immigrants, many of them not yet citizens, who are serving in the Armed Forces. Their patriotism is inspiring; it should remind the institutions of civil society of the need to embrace newcomers, assist their journey to full citizenship, and help their communities avoid patterns of isolation.
Our country continues to accept refugees from troubled lands all over the world. In some cases, these are people who stood with America in dangerous times, and they have first call on our hospitality. We oppose, however, the granting of refugee status on the basis of lifestyle or other non-political factors
Supporting Our Heroes
Republican leadership, from the presidency to the Congress, has given America the best-manned, best-trained, best-equipped, and best-led military in the world. That is a radical change from the late 1990's, when national defense was neglected and under-funded by the Clinton Administration. Our Armed Forces today are modern, agile, and adaptable to the unpredictable range of challenges in the years ahead. We pledge to keep them that way.
Providing for the Armed Forces
The men and women who wear our country's uniform — whether on active duty or in the Reserves or National Guard — are the most important assets in our military arsenal. They and their families must have the pay, health care, housing, education, and overall support they need. We must significantly increase the size of our Armed Forces; crucial to that goal will be retention of combat veterans.
Injured military personnel deserve the best medical care our country has to offer. The special circumstances of the conflict in Iraq have resulted in an unprecedented incidence of traumatic brain injury, which calls for a new commitment of resources and personnel for its care and treatment. We must make military medicine the gold standard for advances in prosthetics and the treatment of trauma and eye injuries.
We must always remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice; their families must be assured meaningful financial assistance. It is the solemn duty we owe and honor we give to those who bravely don the uniform of freedom.
National Guard and Reserves
We pledge to maintain the strength of the National Guard and Reserves and to ensure they receive pay, benefits, and resources befitting their service. Their historic role as citizen-soldiers is a proud tradition linking every community with the cause of national security. We affirm service members' legal right to return to their civilian jobs, whether in government or in the private sector, when their active duty is completed, and we call for greater transition assistance from employers across the nation to smooth their return to the work force.
The all-volunteer force has been a success. We oppose reinstituting the draft, whether directly or through compulsory national service. We support the advancement of women in the military and their exemption from ground combat units. Military priorities and mission must determine personnel policies. Esprit and cohesion are necessary for military effectiveness and success on the battlefield. To protect our servicemen and women and ensure that America's Armed Forces remain the best in the world, we affirm the timelessness of those values, the benefits of traditional military culture, and the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service.
Fulfilling our Commitment to our Veterans
To military personnel who have served honorably and then retire or leave active duty, we owe a smooth transition to civilian life. Funding for the programs that assist them should be sufficient, timely, and predictable and never be subject to political gamesmanship.
Economic Opportunity for Veterans
Returning veterans must have access to education benefits, job training, and a wide variety of employment options. We want to build on the bipartisan expansion of the GI Bill by encouraging private colleges to bridge the gap between GI Bill education benefits and tuition costs. We will strongly enforce the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act so that returning veterans can promptly return to their former jobs. Our existing "veteran preference" regulations must lead to real action, not hollow promises. We encourage private businesses to expand their outreach to the veterans community, especially disabled veterans.
Veterans' Health Care and Disability System
We will hold the VA accountable for tangible results and steady improvement of its services. The VA must become more responsive and more efficient by eliminating its disability backlog and reducing waiting times for treatment. To ensure that the VA provides veterans with world class medical care, both at its own facilities and through partnerships with community providers, we must recruit the next generation of highly qualified medical professionals. Where distance or crowding is an obstacle to traditional VA facility-based care, our veterans should be provided access to qualified out-of-network providers. We call for greater attention by the VA to the special health care needs of women veterans, who will comprise an even larger percentage of VA patients in the future.
The VA's current disability compensation formulas need to be restructured and modernized. Those who have borne the burden of war must have access to training, rehabilitation, and education. Their families and caregivers deserve our concern and support.
We pledge special attention to combat stress injuries. There must be adequate counseling when veterans return home — for them and their families. They should have ongoing professional care, whether in a VA facility or closer to home, so that the natural and usually temporary responses to the horrors of war do not become permanent conditions. We recognize the need for more mental health professionals who can give the highest quality treatment to our veterans.
We applaud the non-profit organizations which assist veterans and their families materially and in other ways. They represent the best of the American spirit and merit our support.
The military's partners are the men and women who work in the defense industry and civilian sector, supplying the Armed Forces with weapons and equipment vital to the success of their mission. To ensure that our troops receive the best material at the best value, we must reform the defense budgeting and acquisition process to control costs and ensure vigorous and fair competition. We will not allow congressional pork to take the place of sound, sustained investment in the nation's security.
Securing the Peace
The Republican vision of peace through strength requires a sustained international effort, which complements our military activities, to develop and maintain alliances and relationships that will lead to greater peace and stability.
Promoting Human Rights and American Values
The international promotion of human rights reflects our heritage, our values, and our national interest. Societies that enjoy political and economic freedom and the rule of law are not given to aggression or fanaticism. They become our natural allies.
Republican leadership has made religious liberty a central element of U.S. foreign policy. Asserting religious freedom should be a priority in all America's international dealings. We salute the work of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and urge special training in religious liberty issues for all U.S. diplomatic personnel.
To be successful international leaders, we must uphold international law, including the laws of war, and update them when necessary. Our moral standing requires that we respect what are essentially American principles of justice. In any war of ideas, our values will triumph.
State Department Reform
Advancing America's values should be the core mission of every part of the federal government, including the Department of State. America's diplomatic establishment must energetically represent our country's agenda to the world. We propose a thorough reform of its structure to ensure that promotions and appointments are based on performance in supporting the nation's agenda. Our diplomats must be the best our country has to offer, and America's diplomatic abilities must be an integral part of America's national security system.
Throughout the Cold War, our international broadcasting of free and impartial information promoted American values to combat tyranny. It still does, through Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio/TV Marti, and it remains an important instrument in promoting a modernizing alternative to the culture of radical terror. Getting America's message out to the world is a critical element in the struggle against extremism, and our government must wage a much more effective battle in the war of ideas.
Generations after the end of slavery in America, new forms of bondage have emerged to exploit men, women and children. We salute those across the political spectrum who have come together to end the commerce in our fellow human beings. We advocate the establishment of an Inter- Agency Task Force on Human Trafficking, reporting directly to the President, and call for increased diplomatic efforts with foreign governments that have been negligent toward this evil. The principle underlying our Megan's Law — publicizing the identities of known offenders — should be extended to international travel in order to protect innocent children everywhere.
Sovereign American Leadership in International Organizations
The United States participates in various international organizations which can, at times, serve the cause of peace and prosperity, but those organizations must never serve as a substitute for principled American leadership. Nor should our participation in them prevent our joining with other democracies to protect our vital national interests.
At the United Nations, our country will pay a fair, but not disproportionate, share of dues, but we will never support a UN-imposed tax. The UN must reform its scandal-ridden and corrupt management and become more accountable and transparent in its operations and expenses. As a matter of U.S. sovereignty, American forces must remain under American command.
Discrimination against Israel at the UN is unacceptable. We welcome Israel's membership in the Western European and Others Group at the UN headquarters and demand its full acceptance and participation at all UN venues. We likewise oppose the ideological campaign against Vatican participation in UN conferences and other activities.
Because the UN has no mandate to promote radical social engineering, any effort to address global social problems must respect the fundamental institutions of marriage and family. We assert the rights of families in all international programs and will not fund organizations involved in abortion. We strongly support the long-held policy of the Republican Party known as the "Mexico City policy," which prohibits federal monies from being given to non-governmental organizations that provide abortions or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other countries. We reject any treaty or agreement that would violate those values. That includes the UN convention on women's rights, signed in the last months of the Carter Administration, and the UN convention on the rights of the child. For several reasons, particularly our concern for US sovereignty and America's long-term energy needs, we have deep reservations about the regulatory, legal, and tax regimes inherent in the Law of the Sea Treaty.
To shield the members of our Armed Forces and others in service to America from ideological prosecutions, the Republican Party does not accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over Americans. We support the American Service members Protection Act, to shield U.S. personnel and officials as they act abroad to meet global security requirements.
Helping Others Abroad
Americans are the most generous people in the world. No nation spends more in combined public and private efforts to combat disease and poverty around the world, and no nation works harder to ensure the continued vitality of the global economy. Our reasons for doing so are both moral and practical, for a world where half of the human race lives on a few dollars a day is neither just nor stable.
Including the world's poor in an expanding circle of development is part and parcel of the Republican approach to world trade through open markets and fair competition. It must also be a top priority of our foreign policy. Decades of massive aid have failed to spur economic growth in the poorest countries, where it has often propped up failed policies and corrupt rulers. We will target foreign assistance to high-impact goals: fostering the rule of law through democratic government; emphasizing literacy and learning; and, concentrating on the foundations for economic development — clean water, agricultural improvement, and microcredit funding for small enterprises. Maternal and child health, especially safer child-birthing and nutrition, must be priorities, especially in countries affected by epidemics of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.
Further, we call for the development of a strategy for foreign assistance that serves our national interest. Specifically we call for a review and improvement of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 oriented toward: alignment of foreign assistance policies, operations, budgets and statutory authorities; development of a consensus on what needs to be done to strengthen the non-military tools to further our national security goals; greater attention to core development programs — education, child survival, and agricultural development; and greater accountability by recipient countries so as to ensure against malfeasance, self-dealing, and corruption, and to ensure continued assistance is conditioned on performance.
Strengthening Ties in the Americas
Faith and family, culture and commerce, are enduring bonds among all the peoples of the Americas. Republicans envision a western hemisphere of sovereign nations with secure borders, working together to advance liberty and mutually beneficial trade based on sound and proven free enterprise principles. Our relations with our immediate neighbors, Canada and Mexico, are grounded on our shared values and common purpose, as well as our steadily increasing trade. We pledge to continue this close association and to advance mutually beneficial trade agreements throughout Latin America, promoting economic development and social stability there while opening markets to our goods and services. Our strong ties with Canada and Mexico should not lead to a North American union or a unified currency.
Two factors distort this hemispheric progress. One is narco-terrorism, with its ability to destabilize societies and corrupt the political process. In an era of porous borders, the war on drugs and the war on terror have become a single enterprise. We salute our allies in the fight against this evil, especially the people of Mexico and Colombia, who have set an example for their neighbors. We support approval of the free trade agreement with Colombia, currently blocked by Capitol Hill Democrats and their union boss supporters, as an overdue gesture of solidarity for this courageous ally of the United States.
The other malignant element in hemispheric affairs is the anachronistic regime in Havana, a mummified relic from the age of totalitarianism, and its buffoonish imitators. We call on the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean to join us in laying the groundwork for a democratic Cuba. Looking to the inevitable day of liberation, we support restrictions on trade with, and travel to, Cuba as a measure of solidarity with the political prisoners and all the oppressed Cuban people. We call for a dedicated platform for transmission of Radio and Television Marti into Cuba and, to prepare for the day when Cuba is free, we support the work of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. We affirm the principles of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, recognizing the rights of Cubans fleeing Communist tyranny, and support efforts to admit more of them through a safe, legal, orderly process.
Advancing Hope and Prosperity in Africa
The great promise of Africa has been dimmed by disease, hunger, and violence. Republicans have faced up to each of those challenges because, in addition to humanitarian concerns, the U.S. has important security interests in the stability and progress of African nations. The devastating toll of HIV/AIDS threatens to destabilize entire societies through large numbers of orphaned youths. In response, the U.S. has become the unrivaled leader in fighting the diseases that are the scourge of much of the continent. Republican-sponsored legislation has brought jobs and investment to sub-Saharan Africa. To continue that progress, we advocate continued expansion of trade with African nations.
Genocide must end. The horrendous suffering of the people in the Darfur region of Sudan, as well as less publicized human tragedies elsewhere, calls for a far more energetic and determined response from Africa's elected leaders. The United States stands ready to assist them with materiel, transportation, and humanitarian supplies. We will continue America's diplomatic efforts to secure a comprehensive and humane settlement for the people of the southern and western Sudan.
The promise of democracy and freedom in Africa is diminished by the government of Zimbabwe, which has seized lands without compensation, debased the currency, murdered and tortured its people, and so intimidated voters that free and fair elections are impossible. We support sanctions against this government, free elections, and the restoration of civil government in Zimbabwe.
Partnerships across the Asia-Pacific Region
The U.S. is a Pacific nation, and our historic ties to Asia will grow stronger in the years ahead. Australia has stood shoulder to shoulder with us in every major conflict. The ties between our peoples, our economies, and our governments are extraordinary. We cherish our bonds with our Freely Associated States in the Pacific Islands. Our longstanding alliance with Japan has been the foundation for peace and prosperity in Asia, and we look for Japan to forge a leadership role in regional and global affairs. Another valued ally, the Republic of Korea remains vigilant with us against the tyranny and international ambitions of the maniacal state on its border. The U.S. will not waver in its demand for the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, with a full accounting of its proliferation activities. We look toward the restoration of human rights to the suffering people of North Korea and the fulfillment of the wish of the Korean people to be one in peace and freedom.
We welcome America's new relationship with India, including the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Accord. Our common security concerns and shared commitment to political freedom and representative government can be the foundation for an enduring partnership.
We must expand our ties with the government and the people of Pakistan. We support their efforts to improve democratic governance and strengthen civil society, and we appreciate the difficult but essential role Pakistan plays in the fight against terror.
Our policy toward Taiwan, a sound democracy and economic model for mainland China, must continue to be based upon the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act. We oppose any unilateral steps by either side to alter the status quo in the Taiwan straits on the principle that all issues regarding the island's future must be resolved peacefully, through dialogue, and be agreeable to the people of Taiwan. If China were to violate these principles, the U.S., in accord with the Taiwan Relations Act, will help Taiwan defend itself. As a loyal friend of America, the democracy of Taiwan has merited our strong support, including the timely sale of defensive arms and full participation in the World Health Organization and other multilateral institutions.
We will welcome the emergence of a peaceful and prosperous China, and we will welcome even more the development of a democratic China. Its rulers have already discovered that economic freedom leads to national wealth; the next lesson is that political and religious freedom leads to national greatness. That is not likely to be learned while the government in Beijing pursues advanced military capabilities without any apparent need, imposes a "one-child" policy on its people, suppresses basic human rights in Tibet and elsewhere, and erodes democracy in Hong Kong. China must honor its obligations regarding free speech and a free press as announced prior to the Olympics.
Our bilateral trade with China has created export opportunities for American farmers and workers, while both the requirements of the World Trade Organization and the realities of the marketplace have increased openness and the rule of law in China. We must yet ensure that China fulfills its WTO obligations, especially those related to protecting intellectual property rights, elimination of subsidies, and repeal of import restrictions. China's full integration into the global economy requires that it adopt a flexible monetary exchange rate and allow free movement of capital. China's economic growth brings with it the responsibility for environmental improvement, both for its own people and for the world community.
Our relations with Vietnam have improved, but two grave matters remain. The first is the need for unceasing efforts to obtain an accounting for, and repatriation of the remains of, Americans who gave their lives in the cause of freedom. The second is continued repression of human rights and religious freedom, and the retribution by the government of Vietnam against its ethnic minorities and others who assisted U.S. forces there. We owe them a debt of honor and will do all we can to relieve their suffering.
We urge all the nations of East Asia to join the worldwide effort to restore the suffering people of Burma to the democratic family of nations. The military dictatorship in Burma is among the worst on the planet. Its savagery demands a strong response from the world community, including economic and financial sanctions and isolation of the illegitimate regime.
Strengthening Our Relations with Europe
Our country's ties to the peoples of Europe are based on shared culture and values, common interests and goals. We particularly appreciate our close friendship with the United Kingdom, a relationship that has led the forces of freedom for generations. The enduring truth — that America's security is inseparable from Europe's — was reaffirmed by our European allies after September 11, 2001. NATO, the most successful military alliance in history, has been greatly strengthened by the addition of new members in Central and Eastern Europe. We believe the door to NATO membership should remain open to all democratic nations who share our values and meet the requirements for NATO membership. We strongly support NATO-endorsed efforts to deploy missile defenses to protect our European allies from the threat of Iranian missiles, and we appreciate the willingness of the governments of Poland and the Czech Republic to host these needed defensive systems. We condemn the Russian Federation's attempts to intimidate states, formerly under Soviet domination, in order to prevent their deploying missile defenses. The decision on this question is for each sovereign nation to decide.
We support the ongoing reconciliation efforts in Cyprus and Northern Ireland, including the appointment of a U.S. Special Envoy for Northern Ireland. We condemn the escalation of anti-Semitic violence, arson, and desecration in Europe and other areas of the world.
Americans and the Russian people have common imperatives: ending terrorism, combating nuclear proliferation, promoting bilateral trade, and more. But matters of serious concern remain, particularly the Russian government's treatment of the press, opposition parties, and institutions of civil society. It continues its aggressive confrontations with its neighbors, from economic intimidation to outright warfare, and has aligned with dangerous anti-democratic forces in the Middle East. As a condition for its continued acceptance in world organizations, Russia must respect the independence and territorial integrity of all the nations of the former Soviet Union, beginning with the republic of Georgia, and move toward a free and democratic society.
The Middle East
The momentum of change in the Middle East has been in the right direction. From Morocco to the Gulf States, the overall trend has been toward cooperation and social and economic development, especially with regard to the rights of women. We acknowledge the substantial assistance the U.S. has received from most governments in the region in the war on terror. Those countries that have made peace with Israel, whether officially or in fact, deserve our appreciation and assistance.
We urge the continued isolation of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah because they do not meet the standards of the international community. We call for the restoration of Lebanon's independence and sovereignty and the full implementation of all UN resolutions concerning that country.
The struggle in which we are engaged is ideological, not ethnic or religious. The extremists we face are abusers of faith, not its champions. We appreciate the loyalty of all Americans whose family roots lie in the Middle East, and we gratefully acknowledge the contributions of American Arabs and Muslims, especially those in the Armed Forces and the intelligence community.
Israel is a vigorous democracy, unique in the Middle East. We reaffirm America's commitment to Israel's security and will ensure that Israel maintains a qualitative edge in military technology over any potential adversaries. Israel must have secure, defensible borders and we support its right to exist as a Jewish state able to defend itself against homicide bombings, rocket and mortar fire, and other attacks against its people. We support the vision of two democratic states living in peace and security: Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, and Palestine. For that to become a reality, the Palestinian people must support leaders who reject terror, embrace the institutions and ethos of democracy, and respect the rule of law. We call on Arab governments throughout the region to help advance that goal. We support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to that undivided capital of Israel.
The U.S. seeks a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, negotiated between the parties themselves, without the imposition of an artificial timetable, and without the demand that Israel deal with entities which continue to pledge her destruction. At the heart of any peace process must be a mutual commitment to resolve all issues through negotiation. Part of that process must be a just, fair, and realistic framework for dealing with the Palestinian refugee issue. Like all other elements in a meaningful agreement, this matter can be settled only on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect today's realities as well as tomorrow's hopes.
A stable, unified, and democratic Iraqi nation is within reach. Our success in Iraq will deny al Qaeda a safe haven, limit Iranian influence in the Middle East, strengthen moderate forces there, and give us a strategic ally in the struggle against extremism. To those who have sacrificed so much, we owe the commitment that American forces will leave that country in victory and with honor. That outcome is too critical to our own national security to be jeopardized by artificial or politically inspired timetables that neither reflect conditions on the ground nor respect the essential advice of our military commanders. As the people of Iraq assume their rightful place in the ranks of free and open societies, we offer them a continuing partnership.
In the seven years since U.S. troops helped topple the Taliban, there has been great progress — but much remains to be done. We must prevail in Afghanistan to prevent the reemergence of the Taliban or an al Qaeda sanctuary in that country. A nationwide counterinsurgency strategy led by a unified commander is an essential prerequisite to success. Additional forces are also necessary, both from NATO countries and through a doubling in size of the Afghan army. The international community must work with the Afghan government to better address the problems of illegal drugs, governance, and corruption. We flatly reject the Democratic Party's idea that America can succeed in Afghanistan only by failure in Iraq.
We express our respect for the people of Iran who seek peace and aspire to freedom. Their current regime, aggressive and repressive, is unworthy of them. The Iranian people, many of whom risk persecution to speak out for democracy, have a right to choose their own government.
As a rogue state, Iran's leadership supports terror, threatens its neighbors, and provides weapons that are killing our troops in Iraq. We affirm, in the plainest words we can use, that the U.S. government, in solidarity with the international community, will not allow the current regime in Tehran to develop nuclear weapons.
We call for a significant increase in political, economic, and diplomatic pressure to persuade Iran's rulers to halt their drive for a nuclear weapons capability, and we support tighter sanctions against Iran and the companies with business operations in or with Iran. We oppose entering into a presidential- level, unconditional dialogue with the regime in Iran until it takes steps to improve its behavior, particularly with respect to support of terrorism and suspension of its efforts to enrich uranium. At the same time, the U.S. must retain all options in dealing with a situation that gravely threatens our security, our interests, and the safety of our friends.
Reforming Government to Serve the People
The American people believe Washington is broken … and for good reason. Short-term politics overshadow the long-term interests of the nation. Our national legislature uses a budget process devised long before the Internet and seems unable to deal in realistic ways with the most pressing problems of families, businesses, and communities. Members of Congress have been indicted for violating the public trust. Public disgust with Washington is entirely warranted.
Republicans will uphold and defend our party's core principles: Constrain the federal government to its legitimate constitutional functions. Let it empower people, while limiting its reach into their lives. Spend only what is necessary, and tax only to raise revenue for essential government functions. Unleash the power of enterprise, innovation, civic energy, and the American spirit — and never pretend that government is a substitute for family or community.
The other party wants more government control over people's lives and earnings; Republicans do not. The other party wants to continue pork barrel politics; we are disgusted by it, no matter who practices it. The other party wants to ignore fiscal problems while squandering billions on ineffective programs; we are determined to end that waste. The entrenched culture of official Washington — an intrusive tax-and-spend liberalism — remains a formidable foe, but we will confront and ultimately defeat it.
Washington's Failure: the Scope of the Problem
The federal government collects $2.7 trillion a year from American families and businesses. That's $7.4 billion a day. Even worse, it spends over $3 trillion a year: $8.2 billion a day. Why? Largely because those who created this bloated government will not admit a single mistake or abolish a single program. Here are some staggering examples of the overall problem:
• Recent audits show that 22% of all federal programs are ineffective or incapable of demonstrating results.
• 69 separate programs, administered by 10 different agencies, provide education or care to children under the age of 5.
• Nine separate agencies administer 44 different programs for job training.
• 23 separate programs, each with its own overhead, provide housing assistance to the elderly.
With so many redundant, inefficient, and ineffective federal programs, it is no wonder that the American people have so little confidence in Washington to act effectively when federal action is really needed.
The Budget Process — A Fraud that Guarantees Runaway Spending
For more than three decades — since enactment of the Budget Act of 1974 by a Democrat-controlled Congress — the federal government has operated within a rigged system notable for its lack of transparency. The earlier approach — annual passage of the appropriation bills, amended and voted up or down, with the numbers there for all to see — had its flaws and generated much red ink. But its replacement, the current budget process, only worsened the money flow and came to rely on monstrous omnibus spending bills. The results are adverse to all seeking to limit government's growth. For example:
• The budget process assumes every spending project will be on the books forever, even if the law says the spending will expire — but it assumes tax relief will be temporary.
• It treats well-deserved tax cuts as a kind of spending, so that letting Americans keep more of their earnings is considered the same as more spending on pork projects.
• It fails to recognize the positive impact that lowering tax rates has on economic growth.
• In its deceptive and irresponsible accounting, an increase in a program's funding is actually a decrease if it is less than the rate of inflation.
• Once a budget is produced under that system, the budget law itself limits the time Congress can consider it before voting.
Moreover, the budget's review process is a sham. Of the $3 trillion spent annually, only one third is reviewed each year during the budget and appropriations process. The remaining $2 trillion automatically goes to interest on the national debt or entitlements. And because the budget process assumes an automatic increase in spending, the debate on the remaining one-third is only over how much more spending to approve.
Finally, while government requires corporations to budget for future pension and health care costs, our government ignores those requirements. No family or private sector business could keep its books the way Washington keeps ours.
A Plan to Control Spending
Republicans will attack wasteful Washington spending immediately. Current procedures should be replaced with simplicity and transparency. For example:
• We favor adoption of the Balanced Budget Amendment to require a balanced federal budget except in time of war.
• Earmarking must stop. To eliminate wasteful projects and pay-offs to special interests, we will impose an immediate moratorium on the earmarking system and reform the appropriations process through full transparency. Tax dollars must be distributed on the basis of clear national priorities, not a politician's seniority or party position.
• Government waste must be taken off autopilot. We call for a one-year pause in nondefense, non-veterans discretionary spending to force a critical, cost-benefit review of all current programs.
• We call for a constitutionally sound presidential line-item veto.
• If billions are worth spending, they should be spent in the light of day. We will insist that, before either the House or Senate considers a spending bill, every item in it should be presented in advance to the taxpayers on the Internet.
• Because the problem is too much spending, not too few taxes, we support a supermajority requirement in both the House and Senate to guard against tax hikes.
• New authorizations should be offset by reducing another program, and no appropriation should be permitted without a current authorization.
• Congressional ethics rules governing special interests should apply across the board, without the special exemptions now granted to favored institutions.
• We support the Government Shutdown Protection Act to ensure the continuance of essential federal functions when advocates of pork threaten to shut down the government unless their wasteful spending is accepted.
• We will insist that the budget reasonably plan for the long-term costs of pension and health care programs and urge the conversion of such programs to defined contribution programs.
Empowering the States, Improving Public Services
The long term solution for many of Washington's problems is structural. Congress must respect the limits imposed upon it by the Tenth Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
We look to the model of Republican welfare reform, which, since its enactment in 1996, has accomplished a major transfer of resources and responsibility from the federal government back to the states — with an accompanying improvement in the program itself. Applying that approach to other programs will steer Congress back into line with the Constitution, reversing both its intrusion into state matters and its neglect of its central duties.
To aid in the fulfillment of those duties, we propose a National Sunset Commission to review all federal programs and recommend which of them should be terminated due to redundancy, waste, or intrusion into the American family. The Congress would then be required by law to schedule one yea or nay vote on the entire sunset list with no amendments.
Additionally, as important as returning power to the states is returning power to the people. As the Declaration of Independence states, our rights are endowed to us by our Creator and are inalienable: rights to life, liberty, and property. Government does not confer these rights but is instituted by men to protect the rights that man already possesses. The Republican Party strongly affirms these rights and demands that government respect them.
Congress Must Improve Oversight of Government Programs
Congress has a fundamental duty to conduct meaningful oversight on the effectiveness of government programs, not use every hearing as an opportunity for political grandstanding. To that end:
• We urge every congressional committee to reserve at least one week every month to conduct oversight of the nearly 1,700 separate grant and loan programs of the federal government.
• To prevent conflicts of interest, a Truth in Testimony mandate should require all committee witnesses to detail the amount of federal funding they and their employer currently receive and, in the case of associations, how much federal money their members would receive from the proposed legislation.
• Because official Washington does not even know how much land it owns, we call for a national audit of all federally-owned properties as a first step toward returning unnecessary properties to the American people or to state and local government for public use.
Improving the Work of Government
Modern management of the federal government is long overdue. The expected retirement over the next ten years of more than 40 percent of the federal workforce, and 60 percent of its managers, presents a rare opportunity: a chance to gradually shrink the size of government while using technology to increase its effectiveness and reshape the way agencies do business.
Each agency must be able to pass a financial audit and set annual targets for improving efficiency with fewer resources. Civil service managers should be given incentives for more effective leadership, including protection against the current guilty-until-proven-innocent grievance procedures which disgruntled employees use against them to thwart reform. Due process cannot excuse bad behavior.
We will provide Internet transparency in all federal contracting as a necessary step in combating cost overruns. We will draw on the expertise of today's successful managers and entrepreneurs in the private sector, like the "dollar-a-year" businesspeople who answered their country's call during the Second World War, to build real-world competence and accountability into government procurement and operations.
Domestic Disaster Response
Americans hit by disaster must never again feel abandoned by their government. The Katrina disaster taught a painful lesson: The federal government's system for responding to a natural calamity needs a radical overhaul. We recognize the need for a natural disaster insurance policy.
State and local cooperation is crucial, as are private relief efforts, but Washington must take the lead in forging a partnership with America's best run businesses to ensure that FEMA's Emergency Operations Centers run as well as any Fortune 500 Company. We must make it easier for both businesses and non-profits to act as force-multipliers in relief situations. We believe it is critical to support those impacted by natural disasters and to complete the rebuilding of devastated areas, including the Gulf Coast.
Restoring Our Infrastructure
The American people can have safer roads and bridges, better airports and more efficient harbors, as long as we straighten out the government's spending priorities. The politics of pork distorts the allocation of resources for modernizing the nation's infrastructure. That can leave entire communities vulnerable to natural disasters and deprive others of the improvements necessary for economic growth and job creation. We pledge a business-like, cost-effective approach for infrastructure spending, always mindful of the special needs of both rural and urban communities.
We support a level of investment in the nation's transportation system that will promote a healthy economy, sustain jobs, and keep America globally competitive. We need to improve the system's performance and capacity to deal with congestion, move a massive amount of freight, reduce traffic fatalities, and ensure mobility across both rural and urban areas. We urgently need to preserve the highway, transit, and air facilities built over the last century so they can serve generations to come. At the same time, we are committed to minimizing transportation's impact on climate change, our local environments, and the nation's energy use. Careful reforms of environmental reviews and the permitting process should speed projects to completion.
Safeguarding our transportation infrastructure is critical to our homeland security. An integrated, flexible system — developed and sustained in partnership between state and local governments and the federal government — must also share responsibilities with the private sector. We call for more prudent stewardship of the nation's Highway Trust Fund to restore the program's purchasing power and ensure that it will meet the changing needs of a mobile nation.
The job of modernizing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid calls for bipartisanship, not political posturing. Through the last four presidential terms, we have sought that cooperation, but it has not been forthcoming. The public demands constructive action, and we will provide it.
We are committed to putting Social Security on a sound fiscal basis. Our society faces a profound demographic shift over the next twenty-five years, from today's ratio of 3.3 workers for every retiree to only 2.1 workers by 2034. Under the current system, younger workers will not be able to depend on Social Security as part of their retirement plan. We believe the solution should give workers control over, and a fair return on, their contributions. No changes in the system should adversely affect any current or near-retiree. Comprehensive reform should include the opportunity to freely choose to create your own personal investment accounts which are distinct from and supplemental to the overall Social Security system.
Medicare and Medicaid
As discussed in the health care section of this document, we commit to revive Medicare by rewarding quality care, promoting competition, eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse, and giving patients and providers control over treatment options. We envision a new Medicaid partnership with the states, improving public health through flexibility and innovation.
Appointing Constitutionalist Judges for the Nation's Courts
Judicial activism is a grave threat to the rule of law because unaccountable federal judges are usurping democracy, ignoring the Constitution and its separation of powers, and imposing their personal opinions upon the public. This must stop.
We condemn the Supreme Court's disregard of homeowners' property rights in its Kelo decision and deplore the Court's arbitrary extension of Americans' habeas corpus rights to enemy combatants held abroad. We object to the Court's unwarranted interference in the administration of the death penalty in this country for the benefit of savage criminals whose guilt is not at issue. We lament that judges have denied the people their right to set abortion policies in the states and are undermining traditional marriage laws from coast to coast. We are astounded that four justices of the Supreme Court believe that individual Americans have no individual right to bear arms to protect themselves and their families.
Republicans will insist on the appointment of constitutionalist judges, men and women who will not distort our founding documents to deny the people's right to self-government, sanction federal powers that violate our liberties, or inject foreign law into American jurisprudence.
We oppose stealth nominations to the federal bench, and especially to the Supreme Court, whose lack of a clear and distinguished record leaves doubt about their respect for the Constitution or their intellectual fortitude. Nominees must have a record of fidelity to the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.
We reject the Democrats' view that judicial nominees should guarantee particular results even before the case is filed. Judges should not be politicians. Jurists nominated by a Republican president will be thoughtful and open-minded, always prepared to view past error in light of stare decisis, including judicial fiats that disenfranchised the American people.
No qualified person should be denied the opportunity to serve on the federal bench due to race, ethnicity, religion or sex. In affirming Article VI of the Constitution — that no religious test shall ever be required for any office — we insist that the Senate should never inquire into a nominee's religious convictions and we condemn the opposition, by some members of the Democratic Party, to recent judicial nominees because of their ethnicity or religion.
Protecting the Right to Vote in Fair Elections
Many members of the Armed Services will find it difficult to participate in this year's elections because of the government's reliance on outdated and inadequate voting, notification, and ballot delivery systems. The mishandling and delaying of registration forms and absentee ballots disenfranchises thousands of our servicemen and servicewomen. The Commander-in-Chief, the Department of Defense, and state and local election officials must do more to protect the voting rights of those on the front lines of freedom. That means using expedited mail delivery to bring ballots to and from our troops abroad, including those serving in areas of conflict, while completing work on an electronic ballot delivery system that will enable our military personnel to receive and cast their ballots in a secure and convenient manner.
We oppose attempts to distort the electoral process by wholesale restoration of the franchise to convicted felons, by makeshift or hurried naturalization procedures, or by discretionary ballot-reading by election boards.
Preventing voting fraud is a civil rights issue. We support the right of states to require an official government-issued photo identification for voting and call upon the Department of Justice to deploy its resources to prevent ballot tampering in the November elections. We support efforts by state and local election officials to ensure integrity in the voting process and to prevent voter fraud and abuse, particularly as it relates to voter registration and absentee ballots.
The rights of citizenship do not stop at the ballot box. They include the free-speech right to devote one's resources to whatever cause or candidate one supports. We oppose any restrictions or conditions upon those activities that would discourage Americans from exercising their constitutional right to enter the political fray or limit their commitment to their ideals.
Guaranteeing a Constitutional Census in 2010
The integrity of the 2010 census, proportioning congressional representation among the states, must be preserved. The census should count every person legally abiding in the United States in an actual enumeration. We urge all who are legally eligible to participate in the census count to do so; at the same time, we urge Congress to specify — and to constitutionally justify — which census questions require a response.
Working with Americans in the Territories
We appreciate the extraordinary sacrifices the men and women of the territories are making to protect our freedom through their service in the U.S. Armed Forces. We welcome greater participation in all aspects of the political process by Americans residing in Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas, and Puerto Rico. We affirm their right to seek the full extension of the Constitution, with all the political rights and responsibilities it entails.
We recognize the valuable contributions made by the people of the United States Virgin Islands to the common welfare of the nation, including national defense, and their contributions to the federal treasury in the form of federal excise taxes paid on products produced in the territory.
We support the Native American Samoans' efforts to protect their right to self-government and to preserve their culture and land-tenure system, which fosters self-reliance and strong extended-family values. We support increased local self-government for the United States citizens of the Virgin Islands, and closer cooperation between the local and federal governments to promote private sector-led development and self-sufficiency. We recognize that Guam is a strategically vital U.S. territory, an American fortress in the western Pacific. We affirm our support for the patriotic U.S. citizens of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to achieve greater self-government, an improved federal territorial relationship, new economic development strategies, a strong health care system that meets their needs, and continued political self-determination. We support a review to determine the appropriate eligibility of territories as well as states for Supplemental Security Income and other federal programs.
We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a state, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the U.S. government.
Preserving the District of Columbia
The nation's capital is a special responsibility of the federal government. Yet some of the worst performing schools in the country are mere blocks from the Department of Education, and some of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the country are blocks from the Department of Justice. Washington should be made a model city. Two major Republican initiatives — a first-time D.C. homebuyers credit and a landmark school choice initiative — have pointed the way toward a civic resurgence, and a third piece of GOP legislation now guarantees young D.C. residents significant assistance in affording higher education. Because Washington's buildings and monuments may be top targets of terrorist groups, the federal government must work closely with local officials to improve security without burdening local residents. We call on the District of Columbia city council to pass laws consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in the Heller case. We honor the contributions of the residents of the District of Columbia, especially those who are serving honorably, or have served, in our Armed Forces.
Expanding Opportunity to Promote Prosperity
America's free economy has given our country the world's highest standard of living and allows us to share our prosperity with the rest of humanity. It is an engine of charity, empowering everything from Sabbath collection plate to great endowments. It creates opportunity, rewards self-reliance and hard work, and unleashes productive energies that other societies can only imagine.
Today, our economy faces challenges due to high energy costs. Our task is to strengthen our economy and build a greater degree of security — in availability of jobs, in accessibility of health care, in portability of pensions, and in affordability of energy. That is an urgent task because economic freedom — and the prosperity it makes possible — are not ends in themselves. They are means by which families and individuals can maintain their independence from government, raise their children by their own values, and build communities of self-reliant neighbors.
Economic freedom expands the prosperity pie; government can only divide it up. That is why Republicans advocate lower taxes, reasonable regulation, and smaller, smarter government. That agenda translates to more opportunity for more people. It represents the economics of inclusion, the path by which hopes become achievements. It is the way we will reach our goal of enabling everyone to have a chance to own, invest, and build.
Republican Tax Policy: Protecting Hardworking Americans
The most important distinction between Republicans and the leadership of today's Democratic Party concerning taxes is not just that we believe you should keep more of what you earn. That's true, but there is a more fundamental distinction. It concerns the purpose of taxation. We believe government should tax only to raise money for its essential functions.
Today's Democratic Party views the tax code as a tool for social engineering. They use it to control our behavior, steer our choices, and change the way we live our lives. The Republican Party will put a stop to both social engineering and corporate handouts by simplifying tax policy, eliminating special deals, and putting those saved dollars back into the taxpayers' pockets.
The Republican Agenda: Using Tax Relief to Grow the Economy
Sound tax policy alone may not ensure economic success, but terrible tax policy does guarantee economic failure. Along with making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent so American families will not face a large tax hike, Republicans will advance tax policies to support American families, promote savings and innovation, and put us on a path to fundamental tax reform.
Lower Taxes on Families and Individuals
• American families with children are the hardest hit during any economic downturn. Republicans will lower their tax burden by doubling the exemption for dependents.
• New technology should not occasion more taxation. We will permanently ban internet access taxes and stop all new cell phone taxes.
• For the sake of family farms and small businesses, we will continue our fight against the federal death tax.
• The Alternative Minimum Tax, a stealth levy on the middle-class that unduly targets large families, must be repealed.
• Republicans support tax credits for health care and medical expenses.
Keeping Good Jobs in America
America's producers can compete successfully in the international arena — as long as they have a level playing field. Today's tax code is tilted against them, with one of the highest corporate tax rates of all developed countries. That not only hurts American investors, managers, and the U.S. balance of trade; it also sends American jobs overseas. We support a major reduction in the corporate tax rate so that American companies stay competitive with their foreign counterparts and American jobs can remain in this country.
Promoting Savings through the Tax Code
We support a tax code that encourages personal savings. High tax rates discourage thrift by penalizing the return on savings and should be replaced with incentives to save. We support a plan to encourage employers to offer automatic enrollment in tax-deferred savings programs. The current limits on tax-free savings accounts should be removed.
Fundamental Tax Reform
Over the long run, the mammoth IRS tax code must be replaced with a system that is simple, transparent, and fair while maximizing economic growth and job creation. As a transition, we support giving all taxpayers the option of filing under current rules or under a two-rate flat tax with generous deductions for families. This gradual approach is the taxpayers' best hope of overcoming the lobbyist legions that have thwarted past simplification efforts.
As a matter of principle, we oppose retroactive taxation, and we condemn attempts by judges, at any level of government, to seize the power of the purse by ordering higher taxes.
Because of the vital role of religious organizations, charities and fraternal benevolent societies in fostering charity and patriotism, they should not be subject to taxation.
In any fundamental restructuring of federal taxation, to guard against the possibility of hyper-taxation of the American people, any value added tax or national sales tax must be tied to simultaneous repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, which established the federal income tax.
The Democrats Plan to Raise Your Taxes
The last thing Americans need right now is tax hikes. On the federal level, Republicans lowered taxes in 2001 and 2003 in order to encourage economic growth, put more money in the pockets of every taxpayer, and make the system fairer. It worked. If Congress had then controlled its spending, we could have done even more.
Ever since those tax cuts were enacted, the Democratic Party has been clear about its goals: It wants to raise taxes by eliminating those Republican tax reductions. The impact on American families would be disastrous:
• Marginal tax rates would rise. This is in addition to their proposal to target millions of taxpayers with even higher rates.
• The "marriage penalty" would return for two-earner couples.
• The child tax credit would fall to half its current value.
• Small businesses would lose their tax relief.
• The federal death tax would be enormously increased.
• Investment income — the seed money for new jobs — would be eaten away by higher rates for dividend and capital gain income.
All that and more would amount to an annual tax hike upwards of $250 billion — almost $700 per taxpayer every year, for a total of $1.1 trillion in additional taxes over the next decade. That is what today's Democratic Party calls "tax fairness." We call it an unconscionable assault on the paychecks and pocketbooks of every hard-working American household. Their promises to aim their tax hikes at families with high incomes is a smokescreen; history shows that when Democrats want more money, they raise taxes on everyone.
Small Business: the Engine of Job Growth
We proudly call ourselves the party of small business because small businesses are where national prosperity begins. Small businesses such as Main Street retailers, entrepreneurs, independent contractors, and direct sellers create most of the country's new jobs and have been the primary means of economic advancement by women and minorities.
Eight years ago, when Democrats controlled the Executive Branch, small business faced a hostile regulatory agenda, from OSHA's ergonomics standards and attempts to intrude into the homes of telecommuting employees to IRS discrimination against independent contractors. Republicans turned back those threats, along with much of the onerous taxation that limited the growth of small businesses. We reduced their marginal tax rates, quadrupled the limit on their expensing of investments, and phased out the death tax on family owned small businesses and family farms. We enacted Health Savings Accounts to help small business owners secure health insurance for themselves and their employees. All those gains are jeopardized if Democrats gain unfettered power once again.
Republicans will advance a multi-pronged plan to support small business and grow good-paying jobs:
• Through the energy agenda laid out elsewhere in this platform, we will attack the rise in energy costs that is making it so difficult for entrepreneurs to compete.
• Our tax reduction and tax simplification agenda will allow businesses to focus on producing and selling their products and services — not on paying taxes.
• Our plan to return control of health care to patients and providers will benefit small business employers and employees alike.
• Our determination to vigorously open foreign markets to American products is an opportunity for many small businesses to grow larger in the global economy.
• Our approach to regulation — basing it on sound science to achieve goals that are technically feasible — will protect against job killing intrusions into small businesses.
• Our commitment to legal reform means protecting small businesses from the effects of frivolous lawsuits.
Using history as our guide, we look to innovative entrepreneurs for the ingenuity and daring that can give us the next generation of technological progress. The advances our country needs, in everything from health care to energy to environmental protection, are most likely to come from the men and women of small business.
Technology and Innovation
American innovation has twin engines: technology and small business, employing over half the private-sector work force. The synergy of our technology and small business drove a world-wide economic transformation of the last quarter-century. To maintain our global leadership, we need to encourage innovators by reforming and making permanent the Research and Development Tax Credit as part of the overall agenda outlined in this platform.
Innovation is our future — in our approach to energy, to education, to health care, and especially to government. As a symbol of that commitment, we share the vision of returning Americans to the moon as a step toward a mission to Mars. In advancing our country's space and aeronautics program, NASA will remain one of the world's most important pioneers in technology, and from its explorations can come tremendous benefits for mankind.
Developing a Flexible and Innovative Workforce
To master the global economy, our work force must be creative, independent, and able to adapt to rapid change. That challenge calls for better education and training and new approaches to employer/employee relations. It means investing in people, not institutions.
The Failed Model of Employer-Employee Relations
The Democrats' approach to employment policy is a retreat to failed models of the past: new regulatory burdens on employers that make it more difficult for businesses, big and small, to hire and keep employees. That failed model empowers union bosses at the expense of their members, trial lawyers at the expense of small businesses, and government bureaucrats at the expense of employer-employee partnerships. Its goal is not to create jobs but to control the workplace and the work force.
The Republican Model: Investing in People
Republicans believe that the employer-employee relationship of the future will be built upon employee empowerment and workplace flexibility.
• The Industrial Revolution treated people like machines; today's economy must treat them as individuals. We recognize that work schedules should be more flexible when employers and employees are not negatively affected such as removing outdated distinctions between full time and part time, clock-punching and overtime. The federal government should set an example in that regard.
• The workplace must catch up with the way Americans live now. For increasing numbers of workers, especially those with children, the choice of working from home will be good for families, profitable for business, and energy efficient.
• All workers should have portability in their pension plans and their health insurance, giving them greater job mobility, financial independence, and security.
• Global competitiveness will increasingly require an entrepreneurial culture of cooperation and team work. Making the best talent part of our team is the rationale for the H-1B visa program, which needs updating to reflect our need for more leaders in science and technology while we take the necessary steps to create more of them in our own school systems. By complementing the U.S. work force with needed specialists from abroad, we can make sure American companies and their jobs remain here at home.
Businesses and employees, working together, are best suited to addressing the challenges ahead. Empowering official Washington and the trial bar, as Democrats prefer, will only lead to more antagonistic relations.
Individual-Based Unemployment Insurance and Training
Government can play an important role in addressing economic dislocations by modernizing its re-training and unemployment assistance programs. We must make these programs actually anticipate dislocations so that affected workers can get new skills quickly and return to the workforce. We advocate a seamless approach to helping employees stay on the job and advance through education. Workers should be able to direct a portion of their unemployment insurance into a tax-free Lost Earnings Buffer Account that could be used for retraining or relocation. With financial incentives to return to work as soon as possible, this approach will also require strengthening community colleges and making them more accessible through Flexible Training Accounts.
Protecting Union Workers
We affirm both the right of individuals to voluntarily participate in labor organizations and bargain collectively and the right of states to enact Right-to- Work laws. But the nation's labor laws, to a large extent formed out of conflicts several generations ago, should be modernized to make it easier for employers and employees to plan, execute, and profit together. To protect workers from misuse of their funds, we will conscientiously enforce federal law requiring financial reporting and transparency by labor unions. We advocate paycheck protection laws to guard the integrity of the political process and the security of workers' earnings.
Stopping the Assault on the Secret Ballot
The recent attempt by congressional Democrats to deny workers a secret ballot in union referenda is an assault, not only against a fundamental principle of labor law, but even more against the dignity and honor of the American work force. We oppose "card check" legislation, which deprives workers of their privacy and their right to vote, because it exposes workers to intimidation by union organizers.
Homeownership remains key to creating an opportunity society. We support timely and carefully targeted aid to those hurt by the housing crisis so that affected individuals can have a chance to trade a burdensome mortgage for a manageable loan that reflects their home's market value. At the same time, government action must not implicitly encourage anyone to borrow more than they can afford to repay. We support energetic federal investigation and, where appropriate, prosecution of criminal wrongdoing in the mortgage industry and investment sector. We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself. We believe in the free market as the best tool to sustained prosperity and opportunity for all. We encourage potential buyers to work in concert with the lending community to educate themselves about the responsibilities of purchasing a home, condo, or land.
Republican policy aims to make owning a home more accessible through enforcement of open housing laws, voucher programs, urban homesteading and — what is most important — a strong economy with low interest rates. Because affordable housing is in the national interest, any simplified tax system should continue to encourage homeownership, recognizing the tremendous social value that the home mortgage interest deduction has had for decades. In addition, sound housing policy should recognize the needs of renters so that apartments and multi-family homes remain important components of the housing stock.
Reforming the Civil Justice System to Improve Competitiveness
The rule of law demands that injured parties have access to the forums to vindicate their rights, but the rule of law does not mean the rule of lawyers — especially trial lawyers who manipulate the system to enrich themselves rather than protecting consumers, workers, or taxpayers. While no one should be denied access to the courts, the rule of lawyers threatens our global competitiveness, denies Americans access to the quality of justice they deserve, and puts every small business one lawsuit away from bankruptcy.
The Republican approach to eliminate frivolous lawsuits has advanced in Congress through efforts like the Class Action Fairness Act and in many states through the adoption of medical liability reforms, which we will continue to pursue on the federal and state level. But because their Democratic donees currently control Congress, the trial lawyers are on the offensive. They are trying to undermine federal health and safety regulations by allowing trial lawyers at the state level to preempt the reasoned judgments of independent experts. They seek to weaken lower-cost dispute resolution alternatives such as mediation and arbitration in order to put more cases into court. In bill after bill, their congressional allies insert new private causes of action — trial lawyer ear-marks — designed to drag more Americans into court.
Our repeated warnings about the corruption at the heart of the trial bar have been vindicated by high-profile criminal convictions and prison terms for some of the nation's leading class action and personal injury trial lawyers. All plaintiffs, especially those who must hire personal injury lawyers on a contingency basis, should be protected against abuse by their attorneys, and the attorney-client privilege should be defended as a bulwark in the defense of liberty.
Free and Fair Trade
Greater international trade, aggressively advanced on a truly level playing field, will mean more American jobs, higher wages, and a better standard of living. It is also a matter of national security and an instrument to promote democracy and civil society in developing nations.
With 95 percent of the world's customers outside our borders, we need to be at the table when trade rules are written to make sure that free trade is indeed a two-way street. We encourage multilateral, regional, and bilateral agreements to reduce trade barriers that limit market access for U.S. products, commodities and services. To achieve that goal, Congress should reinstate the trade promotion authority every president should have in dealing with foreign governments. Trade agreements that have already been signed and are pending before Congress should be debated and voted on immediately.
An aggressive trade strategy is especially important with regard to agriculture. Our farm economy produces for the world; its prosperity depends, more than ever before, on open markets. U.S. agricultural exports will top $100 billion this year. We will contest any restrictions upon our farm products within the World Trade Organization and will work to make the WTO's decision-making process more receptive to the arguments of American producers.
We pledge stronger action to protect intellectual property rights against pirating and will aggressively oppose the direct and indirect subsidies by which some governments tilt the world playing field against American producers. To protect American consumers, we call for greater vigilance and more resources to guard against the importation of tainted food, poisonous products, and dangerous toys.
Additionally, we recognize the need to support our growth in trade through appropriate development and support of our ports in order to ensure safe, efficient and timely handling of all goods.
Supporting our Agricultural Communities
Farming communities have been hard hit this year by flood and violent weather, as well as the escalation of fuel costs. Especially under those circumstances, federal agricultural aid should go to those who need it most as part of a sensible economic safety- net for farmers. We advocate the creation of Farm Savings Accounts to help growers manage risks brought on by turbulence in global markets and nature itself. Mindful that 98 percent of the 2 million farms in this country are owned by individuals or family farming partnerships, we affirm our fight against the death tax.
Those who live on and work the land are our finest environmental stewards. They understand, better than most, the need for safe water, clean air, and conservation of open space. We oppose attempts to hamper agricultural production with heavy-handed mandates, including any expansion of the Clean Water Act to regulate ditches, culverts, converted cropland, and farm and stock ponds. We reaffirm traditional state supremacy over water allocations and will continue to make available renewable rangeland under sound environmental conditions. We support greater investment in conservation incentive programs to help rural communities improve and sustain environmental quality. Agricultural policy should be formulated by giving careful consideration to the expert opinions of those most knowledgeable on the topic — the farmers and ranchers.
To meet surging global demand for food and biofuel, farmers must have the technology to grow higher yields using fewer inputs. The USDA must remain the international leader in agricultural research to ensure that America and the world will never have to choose between food and fuel. The U.S. government should end mandates for ethanol and let the free market work.
Energy Independence and Security
All Americans are acutely aware of the energy crisis our nation faces. Energy costs are spiraling upward, food prices continue to rise, and as a result, our entire economy suffers. This winter, families will spend for heat what they could have saved for college, and small businesses will spend for fuel what could have covered employee health insurance.
Our current dependence on foreign fossil fuels threatens both our national security and our economy and could also force drastic changes in the way we live. The ongoing transfer of Americans' wealth to OPEC — roughly $700 billion a year — helps underwrite terrorists' operations and creates little incentive for repressive regimes to accept democracy, whether in the Middle East or Latin America.
It didn't have to be this way, and it must not stay this way. Our nation must have a robust energy supply because energy drives prosperity and increases opportunity for every American. We reject the idea that America cannot overcome its energy challenges — or that high gasoline prices are okay, as long as they are phased in gradually. We reject half-measures and believe "No, we can't" is not a viable energy policy.
Together we can build a future around domestic energy sources that are diverse, reliable, and cleaner. We can strengthen our national security, create a pathway to growing prosperity, and preserve our environment. The American people will rise to this challenge.
Growing Our Energy Supply
We must aggressively increase our nation's energy supply, in an environmentally responsible way, and do so through a comprehensive strategy that meets both short and long term needs. No amount of wishing or hoping can suspend the laws of supply and demand. Leading economists agree that any actions that will increase future energy supplies will lead to lower energy prices today. Increasing our production of American made energy and reducing our excessive reliance on foreign oil will:
• Bring down the high cost of gasoline and diesel fuel.
• Create more jobs for American workers.
• Enhance our national security.
In the long run, American production should move to zero-emission sources, and our nation's fossil fuel resources are the bridge to that emissions-free future.
Growing American Energy Production
If we are to have the resources we need to achieve energy independence, we simply must draw more American oil from American soil. We support accelerated exploration, drilling and development in America, from new oilfields off the nation's coasts to onshore fields such as those in Montana, North Dakota, and Alaska. The Green River Basin in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming offers recoverable shale oil that is ready for development, and most of it is on federal lands.
To deliver that energy to American consumers, we will expand our refining capacity. Because of environmental extremism and regulatory blockades in Washington, not a single new refinery has been built in this country in 30 years. We will encourage refinery construction and modernization and, with sensitivity to environmental concerns, an expedited permitting process.
Any legislation to increase domestic exploration, drilling and production must minimize any protracted legal challenges that could unreasonably delay or even preclude actual production. We oppose any efforts that would permanently block access to the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Nuclear Power: the Earth's Clean Future
Nuclear energy is the most reliable zero-carbon emissions source of energy that we have. Unwarranted fear mongering with no relationship to current technologies and safeguards has prevented us from starting construction of a single nuclear power plant in 31 years. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy has for decades relied upon nuclear-powered vessels, and other nations have harnessed nuclear power to provide a major portion of their energy consumption. There is no reason why the United States cannot catch up and do the same. Confident in the promise offered by science and technology, Republicans will pursue dramatic increases in the use of all forms of safe, affordable, reliable — and clean — nuclear power.
As new plants are constructed using the highest safety and operation standards, the nation's industrial and manufacturing base will be rejuvenated. The labor force will expand, with nearly 15,000 high quality jobs created for every new nuclear plant built — and those workers will lead the nation away from its dependence on foreign oil.
Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Hydropower
Alternate power sources must enter the mainstream. The technology behind solar energy has improved significantly in recent years, and the commercial development of wind power promises major benefits both in costs and in environmental protection. Republicans support these and other alternative energy sources, including geothermal and hydropower, and anticipate technological developments that will increase their economic viability. We therefore advocate a long-term energy tax credit equally applicable to all renewable power sources.
Republicans support measures to modernize the nation's electricity grid to provide American consumers and businesses with more affordable, reliable power. We will work to unleash innovation so entrepreneurs can develop technologies for a more advanced and robust United States transmission system that meets our growing energy demands.
Although alternate fuels will shape our energy future, coal — America's most affordable and abundant energy resource and the source of most of our electricity — remains a strategic national resource that must play a major role in energy independence. We look to innovative technology to transform America's coal supplies into clean fuels capable of powering motor vehicles and aircraft. We support coal-to-liquid and gasification initiatives, just as we support investment in the development and deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies, which can reduce emissions. We firmly oppose efforts by Democrats to block the construction of new coal-fired power plants. No strategy for reducing energy costs will be viable without a commitment to continued coal production and utilization.
Natural gas is plentiful in North America, but we can extract more and do a better job of distributing it nationwide to cook our food, heat our homes, and serve as a growing option as a transportation fuel. Both independently and in cooperation with alternative fuels, natural gas will be an essential part of any long-term energy solution. We must ensure it gets to consumers safely and quickly.
We embrace the open energy cooperation and trading relationship with our neighbors Canada and Mexico, including proven oil reserves and vast, untapped Canadian hydroelectric generation.
Reducing Demand for Fossil Fuels
While we grow our supplies, we must also reduce our demand — not by changing our lifestyles but by putting the free market to work and taking advantage of technological breakthroughs.
Increase Conservation through Greater Efficiency
Conservation does not mean deprivation; it means efficiency and achieving more with less. Most Americans today endeavor to conserve fossil fuels, whether in their cars or in their home heating, but we can do better. We can construct better and smarter buildings, use smarter thermostats and transmission grids, increase recycling, and make energy-efficient consumer purchases. Wireless communications, for example, can increase telecommuting options and cut back on business travel. The Republican goal is to ensure that Americans have more conservation options that will enable them to make the best choices for their families.
New Technologies for Cars and Other Vehicles
We must continue to develop alternative fuels, such as biofuels, especially cellulosic ethanol, and hasten their technological advances to next-generation production. As America develops energy technology for the 21st century, policy makers must consider the burden that rising food prices and energy costs create for the poor and developing nations around the world. Because alternative fuels are useless if vehicles cannot use them, we must move quickly to flexible fuel vehicles; we cannot expect necessary investments in alternative fuels if this flexibility does not become standard. We must also produce more vehicles that operate on electricity and natural gas, both to reduce demand for oil and to cut CO2 emissions.
Given that fully 97 percent of our current transportation vehicles rely on oil, we will aggressively support technological advances to reduce our petroleum dependence. For example, lightweight composites could halve the weight and double the gas mileage of cars and trucks, and together with flex-fuel and electric vehicles, could usher in a renaissance in the American auto industry.
By increasing our American energy supply and decreasing the long term demand for oil, we will be well positioned to address the challenge of climate change and continue our longstanding responsibility for stewardship over the environment.
Addressing Climate Change Responsibly
The same human economic activity that has brought freedom and opportunity to billions has also increased the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. While the scope and long-term consequences of this are the subject of ongoing scientific research, common sense dictates that the United States should take measured and reasonable steps today to reduce any impact on the environment. Those steps, if consistent with our global competitiveness will also be good for our national security, our energy independence, and our economy. Any policies should be global in nature, based on sound science and technology, and should not harm the economy.
The Solution: Technology and the Market
As part of a global climate change strategy, Republicans support technology-driven, market-based solutions that will decrease emissions, reduce excess greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, increase energy efficiency, mitigate the impact of climate change where it occurs, and maximize any ancillary benefits climate change might offer for the economy.
To reduce emissions in the short run, we will rely upon the power of new technologies, as discussed above, especially zero-emission energy sources such as nuclear and other alternate power sources. But innovation must not be hamstrung by Washington bickering, regulatory briar patches, or obstructionist lawsuits. Empowering Washington will only lead to unintended consequences and unimagined economic and environmental pain; instead, we must unleash the power of scientific know-how and competitive markets.
Because the issue of climate change is global, it must become a truly global concern as well. All developed and developing economies, particularly India and China, can make significant contributions in dealing with the matter. It would be unrealistic and counterproductive to expect the U.S. to carry burdens which are more appropriately shared by all.
Using Cash Rewards to Encourage Innovation
Because Republicans believe that solutions to the risk of global climate change will be found in the ingenuity of the American people, we propose a Climate Prize for scientists who solve the challenges of climate change. Honoraria of many millions of dollars would be a small price for technological developments that eliminate our need for gas-powered cars or abate atmospheric carbon.
Doing No Harm
Republicans caution against the doomsday climate change scenarios peddled by the aficionados of centralized command-and-control government. We can — and should — address the risk of climate change based on sound science without succumbing to the no-growth radicalism that treats climate questions as dogma rather than as situations to be managed responsibly.
A robust economy will be essential to dealing with the risk of climate change, and we will insist on reasonable policies that do not force Americans to sacrifice their way of life or trim their hopes and dreams for their children. This perspective serves not only the people of the United States but also the world's poorest peoples, who would suffer terribly if climate change is severe — just as they would if the world economy itself were to be crippled. We must not allow either outcome.
Continuing Our Stewardship over the Environment
The Republican perspective on the environment is in keeping with our longstanding appreciation for nature and gratitude for the bounty the Almighty has bestowed upon the American people. It was Republican President Theodore Roosevelt who said, "The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem, it will avail us little to solve all others." We agree. Whether through family vacations, hunting or fishing trips, backpacking excursions, or weekend hikes, Americans of all backgrounds share a commitment to protecting the environment and the opportunities it offers. In addition, the public should have access to public lands for recreational activities such as hunting, hiking, and fishing.
In caring for the land and water, private ownership has been the best guarantee of conscientious stewardship, while the world's worst instances of environmental degradation have occurred under governmental control. By the same token, it is no accident that the most economically advanced countries also have the strongest environmental protections.
Our national progress toward cleaner air and water has been a major accomplishment of the American people. By balancing environmental goals with economic growth and job creation, our diverse economy has made possible the investment needed to safeguard natural resources, protect endangered species, and create healthier living conditions. State and local initiatives to clean up contaminated sites — brownfields — have exceeded efforts directed by Washington. That progress can continue if grounded in sound science, long-term planning, and a multiuse approach to resources.
Government at all levels should protect private property rights by cooperating with landowners' efforts and providing incentives to protect fragile environments, endangered species, and maintain the natural beauty of America. Republican leadership has led to the rejuvenation and renewal of our National Park system. Future expansion of that system, as well as designation of National Wilderness areas or Historic Districts, should be undertaken only with the active participation and consent of relevant state and local governments and private property owners.
Health Care Reform: Putting Patients First
Americans have the best doctors, the best hospitals, the most innovative medical technology, and the best scientists in the world. Our challenge and opportunity is to build around them the best health care system. Republicans believe the key to real reform is to give control of the health care system to patients and their health care providers, not bureaucrats in government or business.
There are reasons why American families and businesses are dissatisfied with the current state of health care:
• Most Americans work longer and harder to pay for health care.
• Dedicated health care providers are changing careers to avoid litigation.
• The need to hold onto health insurance is driving family decisions about where to live and work.
• Many new parents worry about the loss of coverage if they choose to stay at home with their children.
• The need — and the bills — for long-term care are challenging families and government alike.
• American businesses are becoming less competitive in the global marketplace because of insurance costs.
• Some federal programs with no benefit to patients have grown exponentially, adding layers of bureaucracy between patients and their care.
It is not enough to offer only increased access to a system that costs too much and does not work for millions of Americans. The Republican goal is more ambitious: Better health care for lower cost.
First Principle: Do No Harm
How do we ensure that all Americans have the peace of mind that comes from owning high-quality, comprehensive health coverage? The first rule of public policy is the same as with medicine: Do no harm.
The American people rejected Democrats' attempted government takeover of health care in 1993, and they remain skeptical of politicians who would send us down that road. Republicans support the private practice of medicine and oppose socialized medicine in the form of a government- run universal health care system. Republicans pledge that as we reform our health care system:
• We will protect citizens against any and all risky restructuring efforts that would complicate or ration health care.
• We will encourage health promotion and disease prevention.
• We will facilitate cooperation, not confrontation, among patients, providers, payers, and all stakeholders in the health care system.
• We will not put government between patients and their health care providers.
• We will not put the system on a path that empowers Washington bureaucrats at the expense of patients.
• We will not raise taxes instead of reducing health care costs.
• We will not replace the current system with the staggering inefficiency, maddening irrationality, and uncontrollable costs of a government monopoly.
Radical restructuring of health care would be unwise. We want all Americans to be able to choose the best health care provider, hospital, and health coverage for their needs. We believe that real reform is about improving your access to a health care provider, your control over care, and your ability to afford that care.
We will continue to advocate for simplification of the system and the empowerment of patients. This is in stark contrast to the other party's insistence on putting Washington in charge of patient care, which has blocked any progress on meeting these goals. We offer a detailed program that will improve the quality, cost, and coverage of health care throughout the nation, and we will turn that plan into reality.
Patient Control and Portability
Republicans believe all Americans should be able to obtain an affordable health care plan, including a health savings account, which meets their needs and the needs of their families.
Families and health care providers are the key to real reform, not lawyers and bureaucrats. To empower families, we must make insurance more affordable and more secure, and give employees the option of owning coverage that is not tied to their job. Patients should not have to worry about losing their insurance. Insurance companies should have to worry about losing patients' business.
The current tax system discriminates against individuals who do not receive health care from their employers, gives more generous health tax benefits to upper income employees, and fails to provide every American with the ability to purchase an affordable health care plan. Republicans propose to correct inequities in the current tax code that drive up the number of uninsured and to level the playing field so that individuals who choose a health insurance plan in the individual market face no tax penalty. All Americans should receive the same tax benefit as those who are insured through work, whether through a tax credit or other means.
Individuals with pre-existing conditions must be protected; we will help these individuals by building on the experiences of innovative states rather than by creating a new unmanageable federal entitlement. We strongly urge that managed care organizations use the practice patterns and medical treatment guidelines from the state in which the patient lives when making medical coverage decisions.
Because the family is our basic unit of society, we fully support parental rights to consent to medical treatment for their children including mental health treatment, drug treatment, alcohol treatment, and treatment involving pregnancy, contraceptives and abortion.
Improving Quality of Care and Lowering Costs
While delivering control of health coverage to families and individuals, Republicans will also advance a variety of targeted reforms to improve the quality of care, lower costs, and help Americans — men, women, and children — live longer and healthier lives.
Prevent Disease and End the "Sick Care" System
Chronic diseases — in many cases, preventable conditions — are driving health care costs, consuming three of every four health care dollars. We can reduce demand for medical care by fostering personal responsibility within a culture of wellness, while increasing access to preventive services, including improved nutrition and breakthrough medications that keep people healthy and out of the hospital. To reduce the incidence of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke, we call for a national grassroots campaign against obesity, especially among children. We call for continuation of efforts to decrease use of tobacco, especially among the young.
A culture of wellness needs to include the treatment of mental health conditions. We believe all Americans should have access to affordable, quality health care, including individuals struggling with mental illness. For this reason, we believe it is important that mental health care be treated equally with physical health care.
Empower Individuals to Make the Best Health Care Choices.
Clear information about health care empowers patients. It lets consumers make better decisions about where to spend their health care dollars, thereby fostering competition and lowering costs. Patients must have information to make sound decisions about their health care providers, hospitals, and insurance companies.
Use Health Information Technology to Save Lives
Advances in medical technology are revolutionizing medicine. Information technology is key to early detection and treatment of chronic disease as well as fetal care and health care in rural areas — especially where our growing wireless communications network is available. The simple step of modernizing record-keeping will mean faster, more accurate treatment, fewer medical errors, and lower costs. Closing the health care information gap can reduce both under-utilization (the diabetic who forgets to refill an insulin prescription) and over-utilization (the patient who endures repetitive tests because providers have not shared test results).
Protect Good Health Care Providers from Frivolous Lawsuits
Every patient must have access to legal remedies for malpractice, but meritless lawsuits drive up insurance rates to outrageous levels and ultimately drive up the number of uninsured. Frivolous lawsuits also drive up the cost of health care as health care providers are forced to practice defensive medicine, such as ordering unnecessary tests. Many leave their practices rather than deal with the current system. This emergency demands medical liability reform.
Reward Good Health Care Providers for Delivering Real Results
Patients deserve access to health care providers they trust who will personalize and coordinate their care to ensure they receive the right treatment with the right health care provider at the right time. Providers should be paid for keeping people well, not for the number of tests they run or procedures they perform. The current cookie-cutter system of reimbursement needs restructuring from the view of the patient, not the accountant or Washington bureaucrat.
Drive Costs Down With Interstate Competition
A state-regulated national market for health insurance means more competition, more choice, and lower costs. Families — as well as fraternal societies, churches and community groups, and small employers — should be able to purchase policies across state lines. The best practices and lowest prices should be available in every state. We call upon state legislators to carefully consider the cost of medical mandates, and we salute those Republican governors who are leading the way in demonstrating ways to provide affordable health care options.
Modernize Long-Term Care Options for All
The financial burdens and emotional challenges of ensuring adequate care for elderly family members affect every American, especially with today's aging population. We must develop new ways to support individuals, not just institutions, so that older Americans can have a real choice whether to stay in their homes. This is true not only with regard to Medicaid, where we spend $100 billion annually on long-term care, but also for those who do not qualify for that assistance.
Encourage Primary Care as a Specialty
We believe in the importance of primary care specialties and supporting the physician's role in the evaluation and management of disease. We also encourage practice in rural and under-served areas of America.
Funding Medical Research
We support federal investment in basic and applied biomedical research. This commitment will maintain America's global competitiveness, advance innovative science that can lead to medical breakthroughs, and turn the tide against diseases affecting millions of Americans — diseases that account for the majority of our health care costs. The United States leads in this research, as evidenced by our growing biotechnology industry, but foreign competition is increasing. One way government can help preserve the promise of American innovation is to ensure that our intellectual property laws remain robust.
Federal research dollars should be spent as though lives are at stake — because, in fact, they are. Research protocols must consider the special needs of formerly neglected groups if we are to make significant progress against breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, and other killers.
Taxpayer-funded medical research must be based on sound science, with a focus on both prevention and treatment, and in accordance with the humane ethics of the Hippocratic Oath. In that regard, we call for a major expansion of support for the stem-cell research that now shows amazing promise and offers the greatest hope for scores of diseases — with adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and cells reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells — without the destruction of embryonic human life. We call for a ban on human cloning and a ban on the creation of or experimentation on human embryos for research purposes.
We believe medicines and treatments should be designed to prolong and enhance life, not destroy it. Therefore, federal funds should not be used for drugs that cause the destruction of human life. Furthermore, the Drug Enforcement Administration ban on use of controlled substances for physician-assisted suicide should be restored.
Protecting Rights of Conscience
The health care profession can be both a profession and a calling. No health care professional — doctor, nurse, or pharmacist — or organization should ever be required to perform, provide for, or refer for a health care service against their conscience for any reason. This is especially true of the religious organizations which deliver a major portion of America's health care, a service rooted in the charity of faith communities.
We support the provision of quality and accessible health care options for our nation's seniors and disabled individuals and recognize that in order to meet this goal we must confront the special challenges posed by the growth of Medicare costs. Its projected growth is out of control and threatens to squeeze out other programs, while funding constraints lead to restricted access to treatment for many seniors. There are solutions. Medicare can be a leader for the rest of our health care system by encouraging treatment of the whole patient. Specifically, we should compensate doctors who coordinate care, especially for those with multiple chronic conditions, and eliminate waste and inefficiency. Medicare patients must have more control of their care and choice regarding their doctors, and the benefits of competition must be delivered to the patients themselves if Medicare is to provide quality health care. And Medicare patients must be free to add their own funds, if they choose, to any government benefits, to be assured of unrationed care.
Finally, because it is isolated from the free market forces that encourage innovation, competition, affordability, and expansion of options, Medicare is especially susceptible to fraud and abuse. The program loses tens of billions of dollars annually in erroneous and fraudulent payments. We are determined to root out the fraud and eliminate this assault on the taxpayer.
Our Medicaid obligations will consume $5 trillion over the next ten years. Medicaid now accounts for 20-25 percent of state budgets and threatens to overwhelm state governments for the indefinite future. We can do better while spending less. A first step is to give Medicaid recipients more health care options. Several states have allowed beneficiaries to buy regular health insurance with their Medicaid dollars. This removes the Medicaid "stamp" from people's foreheads, provides beneficiaries with better access to doctors, and saves taxpayers' money. We must ensure that taxpayer money is focused on caring for U.S. citizens and other individuals in our country legally.
Building a Health Care System for Future Emergencies
To protect the American people from the threats we face in the century ahead, we must develop and stockpile medicines and vaccines so we can deliver them where urgently needed. Our health care infrastructure must have the surge capacity to handle large numbers of patients in times of crisis, whether it is a repeat of Hurricane Katrina, a flu pandemic, or a bioterror attack on multiple cities. Republicans will ensure that this infrastructure, including the needed communications capacity, is closely integrated into our homeland security needs.
Education Means a More Competitive America
Education is a parental right, a state and local responsibility, and a national strategic interest.
Maintaining America's preeminence requires a world-class system of education, with high standards, in which all students can reach their potential. That requires considerable improvement over our current 70 percent high school graduation rate and six-year graduation rate of only 57 percent for colleges.
Education is essential to competitiveness, but it is more than just training for the work force of the future. It is through education that we ensure the transmission of a culture, a set of values we hold in common. It has prepared generations for responsible citizenship in a free society, and it must continue to do so. Our party is committed to restoring the civic mission of schools envisioned by the founders of the American public school system. Civic education, both in the classroom and through service learning, should be a cornerstone of American public education and should be central to future school reform efforts.
Principles for Elementary and Secondary Education
All children should have access to an excellent education that empowers them to secure their own freedom and contribute to the betterment of our society. We reaffirm the principles that have been the foundation of the nation's educational progress toward that goal: accountability for student academic achievement; periodic testing on the fundamentals of learning, especially math and reading, history and geography; transparency, so parents and the general public know which schools best serve their students; and flexibility and freedom to innovate so schools and districts can best meet the needs of their students.
We advocate policies and methods that are proven and effective: building on the basics, especially phonics; ending social promotion; merit pay for good teachers; classroom discipline; parental involvement; and strong leadership by principals. We reject a one-size-fits-all approach and support parental options, including home schooling, and local innovations such as schools or classes for boys only or for girls only and alternative and innovative school schedules. We recognize and appreciate the importance of innovative education environments, particularly homeschooling, for stimulating academic achievement. We oppose over-reaching judicial decisions which deny children access to such environments. We support state efforts to build coordination between elementary and secondary education and higher education such as K-16 councils and dual credit programs.
To ensure that all students will have access to the mainstream of American life, we support the English First approach and oppose divisive programs that limit students' future potential. All students must be literate in English, our common language, to participate in the promise of America.
Early Childhood Education
The family is the most powerful influence on a child's ability to succeed. As such, parents are our children's first and foremost teachers. We support family literacy, which improves the literacy, language, and life skills of both parents and children along with the continued improvement of early childhood programs, such as Head Start, from low-income families. We reaffirm our support for the child care tax credit that helps parents choose the care best for their family.
Giving Students the Best Teachers
For students to meet world class standards, they must have access to world class teachers, whether in person or through virtual public schools that can bring high-quality instruction into the classroom. School districts must have the authority to recruit, reward, and retain the best and brightest teachers, and principals must have the authority to select and assign teachers without regard to collective bargaining agreements. Because qualified teachers are often not available through traditional routes, we support local efforts to create an adjunct teacher corps of experts from higher education, business, and the military to fill in when needed.
Teachers must be protected against frivolous litigation and should be able to take reasonable actions to maintain discipline and order in the classroom. We encourage the private-public partnerships and mentoring that can make classroom time more meaningful to students by integrating it with learning beyond school walls. These efforts are crucial to lowering the drop-out rate and helping at-risk students realize their potential.
We encourage state efforts to ensure that personnel who interact with children pass thorough background checks and are held to the highest standards of conduct.
Partnerships between schools and businesses can be especially important in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math. The need to improve secondary education in those fields can be measured by the number of remedial courses now offered at the college level. Our country's reliance upon foreign talent in those areas begins with insufficient emphasis upon them in the high school years. We applaud those who are changing that situation by giving young people real-world experience in the private sector and by providing students with rigorous technical and academic courses that give students the skills and knowledge necessary to be productive members in a competitive American workforce.
Asserting Family Rights in Schooling
Parents should be able to decide the learning environment that is best for their child. We support choice in education for all families, especially those with children trapped in dangerous and failing schools, whether through charter schools, vouchers or tax credits for attending faith-based or other nonpublic schools, or the option of home schooling. We call for the vigilant enforcement of laws designed to protect family rights and privacy in education. We will energetically assert the right of students to engage in voluntary prayer in schools and to have equal access to school facilities for religious purposes. We renew our call for replacing "family planning" programs for teens with increased funding for abstinence education, which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and expected standard of behavior. Abstinence from sexual activity is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS when transmitted sexually. We oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion and contraception. Schools should not ask children to answer offensive or intrusive personal nonacademic questionnaires without parental consent. It is not the role of the teacher or school administration to recommend or require the use of psychotropic medications that must be prescribed by a physician.
Reviewing the Federal Role in Primary and Secondary Education
Although the Constitution assigns the federal government no role in local education, Washington's authority over the nation's schools has increased dramatically. In less than a decade, annual federal funding has shot up 41 percent to almost $25 billion, while the regulatory burden on state and local governments has risen by about 6.7 million hours — and added $141 million in costs — during that time. We call for a review of Department of Education programs and administration to identify and eliminate ineffective programs, to respect the role of states, and to better meet state needs.
To get our schools back to the basics of learning, we support initiatives to block-grant more Department of Education funding to the states, with requirements for state-level standards, assessments, and public reporting to ensure transparency. Local educators must be free to end ineffective programs and reallocate resources where they are most needed.
Maintaining our Commitment to IDEA
Because a federal mandate on the states must include the promised federal funding, we will fulfill the promise of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to cover 40 percent of the costs incurred because of that legislation. We urge preventive efforts in early childhood, especially assistance in gaining pre-reading skills, to help many youngsters move beyond the need for IDEA's protections.
Our country's system of higher education — public and private, secular and religious, large and small institutions — is unique for its excellence, its diversity, and its accessibility. Learning is a safeguard of liberty. Post-secondary education not only increases the earnings of individuals but advances economic development. Our colleges and universities drive much of the research that keeps America competitive. We must ensure that our higher education system meet the needs of the 21st century student and economy and remain innovative and accessible.
Meeting College Costs
Students and their parents face formidable challenges in planning for college as costs continue to outpace inflation. Higher education seems immune from market controls and the law of supply and demand. We commend those institutions which are directing a greater proportion of their endowment revenues toward tuition relief.
The Republican vision for expanding access to higher education has led to two major advances, Education Savings Accounts and Section 529 accounts, by which millions of families now save for college. While federal student loans and grants have opened doors to learning for untold numbers of low- and middle-income students, the overall financial aid system, with its daunting forms and confused rationales, is nothing less than Byzantine. It must be simplified. We call for a presidential commission to undertake that task and to review the role of government regulations and policies in the tuition spiral. We affirm our support for the public-private partnership that now offers students and their families a vibrant marketplace in selecting their student loan provider.
Innovation Will Lead to Lifelong Learning
The challenge to American higher education is to make sure students can access education in whatever forms they want. As mobility increases in all aspects of American life, student mobility, from school to school and from campus to campus, will require new approaches to admissions, evaluations, and credentialing. Distance learning propelled by an expanding telecommunications sector and especially broadband, is certain to grow in importance — whether through public or private institutions — and federal law should not discriminate against the latter. Lifelong learning will continue to transform the demographics of higher education, bringing older students and real-world experience to campus.
Community Colleges Continue to Play a Crucial Role
Community colleges are central to the future of higher education, especially as they build bridges between the world of work and the classroom. Many of our returning veterans find community colleges to be welcoming environments where they can develop specific skills for use in the civilian workforce. As the first responders to economic development and retraining of workers, these schools fulfill our national commitment of an affordable and readily accessible education for all.
Special Challenges in Higher Education
Free speech on college campuses is to be celebrated, but there should be no place in academia for anti-Semitism or racism of any kind. We oppose the hiring, firing, tenure, and promotion practices at universities that discriminate on the basis of political or ideological belief. When federal taxes are used to support such practices, it is inexcusable. We affirm the right of students and faculty to express their views in the face of the leftist dogmatism that dominates many institutions. To preserve the integrity and independence of the nation's colleges, we will continue to ensure alternatives to ideological accrediting systems.
Because some of the nation's leading universities create or tolerate a hostile atmosphere toward the ROTC, we will rigorously enforce the provision of law, unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court, which denies those institutions federal research grants unless their military students have the full rights and privileges of other students. That must include the right to engage in ROTC activities on their own campus, rather than being segregated elsewhere.
Protecting Our Families
Republicans remain the party of vigorous action against crime and the party that empowers the law-abiding by protecting their right to keep and bear arms for self-protection. Our national experience over the past twenty years has shown that vigilance, tough yet fair prosecutors, meaningful sentences, protection of victims' rights, and limits on judicial discretion protect the innocent by keeping criminals off the streets.
Stopping Online Child Predators and Ending Child Pornography
The Internet must be made safe for children. That's why Republicans have led efforts to increase the funding necessary to track down and jail online predators through the Adam Walsh Act. We commit to do whatever it takes, using all the tools of innovative technology, to thwart those who would prey upon our children. We call on service providers to exercise due care to ensure that the Internet cannot become a safe haven for criminals.
Child pornography is a hideous form of child abuse. Those who produce it — and those who traffic in it — must be punished to the maximum extent of the law. Because it is an international problem, the Executive branch must carry the fight overseas to where the molesters perpetrate their evil. Congress should expand the range of companies required to report the existence of child pornography, and we congratulate the social networking sites that agree to bar known sex offenders from participation.
Millions of Americans suffer from problem or pathological gambling that can destroy families. We support the law prohibiting gambling over the Internet.
Ridding the Nation of Criminal Street Gangs
Gang violence is a growing problem, not only in urban areas but in many suburbs and rural communities. It has escalated with the rise of gangs composed largely of illegal aliens, most of whose victims are law-abiding members of immigrant communities. We call for stronger enforcement and determined prosecution of gang conspiracies. Illegal alien gang members must be removed from the United States immediately upon arrest or after the completion of any sentence imposed. Aliens convicted of crimes that render them removable from the United States must be removed as soon as possible after the completion of their sentences through the immediate transfer of their custody to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Locking Up Criminals
Criminals behind bars cannot harm the general public. To that end:
• We support mandatory sentencing provisions for gang conspiracy crimes, violent or sexual offenses against children, rape, and assaults resulting in serious bodily injury.
• Gang rape, child rape, and rape committed in the course of another felony deserve, at the least, mandatory life imprisonment.
• We oppose the granting of parole to dangerous or repeat felons.
• Courts must have the option of imposing the death penalty in capital murder cases and other instances of heinous crime, while federal review of those sentences should be streamlined to focus on claims of innocence and to prevent delaying tactics by defense attorneys.
• We encourage the use of advanced technology to monitor nonviolent criminals.
Reforming Prisons and Serving Families
Public authorities at all levels must cooperate to regain control of the nation's correctional institutions. It is unacceptable that prison officers should live in fear of the inmates they guard. Similarly, persons jailed for whatever cause should be protected against cruel or degrading treatment by other inmates. We cannot allow correctional facilities to become ethnic or racial battlegrounds.
Breaking the cycle of crime begins with the children of those who are incarcerated. Deprived of a parent through no fault of their own, these youngsters should be a special concern of our schools, social services, and religious institutions. Government at all levels should work with faith-based institutions that have proven track records in diverting young and first offenders from criminal careers through Second Chance and similar programs. Individuals, including juveniles, who are repeat offenders or who commit serious crimes need to be prosecuted and punished.
Protecting Law Enforcement Officers
In solidarity with those who protect us, we call for mandatory prison time for all assaults involving bodily injury to law enforcement officers. Reviews of death sentences imposed for murdering a police officer should be expedited, and a retrial of the penalty phase of the killer's trial should be allowed in the absence of a unanimous verdict. We support the right of off-duty and retired officers to carry firearms. Criminals should be barred from seeking monetary damages for injuries they incur while committing a crime.
Improving Law Enforcement
In recent years, many federal resources for law enforcement have been shifted to the fight against terror. To compensate for that loss of manpower — and with the significant increase in cybercrime, identity theft, and human trafficking — several thousand new FBI agents, U.S. marshals, immigration officers, and Border Patrol agents are needed.
Continuing the Fight against Illegal Drugs
The human toll of drug addiction and abuse hits all segments of American society. It is an international problem as well, with most of the narcotics in this country coming from beyond our borders. We will continue the fight against producers, traffickers, and distributors of illegal substances through the collaboration of state, federal, and local law enforcement. We support the work of those who help individuals struggling with addiction, and we support strengthening drug education and prevention programs to avoid addiction. We endorse state and local initiatives, such as Drug Courts, that are trying new approaches to curbing drug abuse and diverting first-time offenders to rehabilitation.
Protecting the Victims of Crime
Twenty-six years ago, President Reagan's Task Force on Victims of Crime, calling the neglect of crime victims a "national disgrace," proposed a constitutional amendment to secure their formal rights. Today, that disgrace persists in courtrooms across the nation. Innocent victims — battered women, abused children, the loved ones of the murdered — still may not be told when their case is being heard. They can be excluded from the courtroom even when the defendant and his friends may be present. They have no right to a speedy trial, and a judge or parole board has no obligation to consider their personal safety in making release decisions. In short, the innocent have far fewer rights than the accused. We call on Congress to correct this imbalance by sending to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to protect the rights of crime victims. In addition, crime victims should be assured of access to legal and social services, and the Crime Victims Fund established under President Reagan should be used solely for that purpose.
Securing Our Civil Liberties
Because our Constitution is based on the principles of individual liberty and limited government, we must always ensure that law enforcement respects the civil and constitutional rights of the people. While we wage war on terrorism in foreign lands, it is sometimes necessary for intelligence agencies and law enforcement officials to pursue terrorist threats at home. However, no expansion of governmental powers should occur at the expense of our constitutional liberties.
Renewing Neighborhoods, Building Communities
The two most effective forces in reducing crime and other social ills are strong families and caring communities. Both reinforce constructive conduct and ethical standards by setting examples and providing safe havens from dangerous and destructive behaviors. Given the weight of social science evidence concerning the crucial role played by the traditional family in setting a child's future course, we urge a thoughtful review of governmental policies and programs to ensure that they do not undermine that institution.
Decentralized decision-making in the place of official controls empowers individuals and groups to tackle social problems in partnership with government. Bureaucracy is no longer a credible approach to helping those in need. This is especially true in light of alternatives such as faith-based organizations, which tend to have a greater degree of success than others in dealing with problems such as substance abuse and domestic violence. To accomplish their missions, those groups must be able to rely upon people who share their faith; their hiring must not be subjected to government regulation and mandates.
Preserving Our Values
From its founding, America has been an idea as much as a political or geographic entity. It has meant, for untold millions around the world, a set of ideals that speak to the highest aspirations of humanity. From its own beginning, the Republican Party has boldly asserted those ideals, as we now do again, to affirm the rights of the people under the rule of law.
Upholding the Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms
We uphold the right of individual Americans to own firearms, a right which antedated the Constitution and was solemnly confirmed by the Second Amendment. We applaud the Supreme Court's decision in Heller affirming that right, and we assert the individual responsibility to safely use and store firearms. We call on the next president to appoint judges who will similarly respect the Constitution. Gun ownership is responsible citizenship, enabling Americans to defend themselves, their property, and communities.
We call for education in constitutional rights in schools, and we support the option of firearms training in federal programs serving senior citizens and women. We urge immediate action to review the automatic denial of gun ownership to returning members of the Armed Forces who have suffered trauma during service to their country. We condemn frivolous lawsuits against firearms manufacturers, which are transparent attempts to deprive citizens of their rights. We oppose federal licensing of law-abiding gun owners and national gun registration as violations of the Second Amendment. We recognize that gun control only affects and penalizes law-abiding citizens, and that such proposals are ineffective at reducing violent crime.
Ensuring Equal Treatment for All
Individual rights — and the responsibilities that go with them — are the foundation of a free society. From the time of Lincoln, equality of individuals has been a cornerstone of the Republican Party. Our commitment to equal opportunity extends from landmark school-choice legislation for the students of Washington D.C. to historic appointments at the highest levels of government. We consider discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin to be immoral, and we will strongly enforce anti-discrimination statutes. We ask all to join us in rejecting the forces of hatred and bigotry and in denouncing all who practice or promote racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic prejudice, or religious intolerance. As a matter of principle, Republicans oppose any attempts to create race-based governments within the United States, as well as any domestic governments not bound by the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.
Precisely because we oppose discrimination, we reject preferences, quotas, and set-asides, whether in education or in corporate boardrooms. The government should not make contracts on this basis, and neither should corporations. We support efforts to help low-income individuals get a fair shot based on their potential and merit, and we affirm the commonsense approach of the Chief Justice of the United States: that the way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is to stop discriminating.
Protecting Our National Symbols
The symbol of our unity, to which we all pledge allegiance, is the flag. By whatever legislative method is most feasible, Old Glory should be given legal protection against desecration. We condemn decisions by activist judges to deny children the opportunity to say the Pledge of Allegiance in public school.
Freedom of Speech and of the Press
We support freedom of speech and freedom of the press and oppose attempts to violate or weaken those rights, such as reinstatement of the so-called Fairness Doctrine.
Maintaining The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life
Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity and dignity of innocent human life.
We have made progress. The Supreme Court has upheld prohibitions against the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion. States are now permitted to extend health-care coverage to children before birth. And the Born Alive Infants Protection Act has become law; this law ensures that infants who are born alive during an abortion receive all treatment and care that is provided to all newborn infants and are not neglected and left to die. We must protect girls from exploitation and statutory rape through a parental notification requirement. We all have a moral obligation to assist, not to penalize, women struggling with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy. At its core, abortion is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life. Women deserve better than abortion. Every effort should be made to work with women considering abortion to enable and empower them to choose life. We salute those who provide them alternatives, including pregnancy care centers, and we take pride in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.
Respect for life requires efforts to include persons with disabilities in education, employment, the justice system, and civic participation. In keeping with that commitment, we oppose the nonconsensual withholding of care or treatment from people with disabilities, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which endanger especially those on the margins of society. Because government should set a positive standard in hiring and contracting for the services of persons with disabilities, we need to update the statutory authority for the AbilityOne program, the main avenue by which those productive members of our society can offer high quality services at the best possible value.
Preserving Traditional Marriage
Because our children's future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it. In the absence of a national amendment, we support the right of the people of the various states to affirm traditional marriage through state initiatives.
Republicans recognize the importance of having in the home a father and a mother who are married. The two-parent family still provides the best environment of stability, discipline, responsibility, and character. Children in homes without fathers are more likely to commit a crime, drop out of school, become violent, become teen parents, use illegal drugs, become mired in poverty, or have emotional or behavioral problems. We support the courageous efforts of single-parent families to provide a stable home for their children. Children are our nation's most precious resource. We also salute and support the efforts of foster and adoptive families.
Republicans have been at the forefront of protecting traditional marriage laws, both in the states and in Congress. A Republican Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of states not to recognize same-sex "marriages" licensed in other states. Unbelievably, the Democratic Party has now pledged to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which would subject every state to the redefinition of marriage by a judge without ever allowing the people to vote on the matter. We also urge Congress to use its Article III, Section 2 power to prevent activist federal judges from imposing upon the rest of the nation the judicial activism in Massachusetts and California. We also encourage states to review their marriage and divorce laws in order to strengthen marriage.
As the family is our basic unit of society, we oppose initiatives to erode parental rights.
Safeguarding Religious Liberties
Our Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion and forbids any religious test for public office, and it likewise prohibits the establishment of a state-sponsored creed. The balance between those two ideals has been distorted by judicial rulings which attempt to drive faith out of the public arena. The public display of the Ten Commandments does not violate the U.S. Constitution and accurately reflects the Judeo-Christian heritage of our country. We support the right of students to engage in student-initiated, student-led prayer in public schools, athletic events, and graduation ceremonies, when done in conformity with constitutional standards.
We affirm every citizen's right to apply religious values to public policy and the right of faith-based organizations to participate fully in public programs without renouncing their beliefs, removing religious objects or symbols, or becoming subject to government-imposed hiring practices. Forcing religious groups to abandon their beliefs as applied to their hiring practices is religious discrimination. We support the First Amendment right of freedom of association of the Boy Scouts of America and other service organizations whose values are under assault, and we call upon the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to reverse its policy of blacklisting religious groups which decline to arrange adoptions by same-sex couples. Respectful of our nation's diversity in faith, we urge reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs in the private workplace. We deplore the increasing incidence of attacks against religious symbols, as well as incidents of anti-Semitism on college campuses.
Preserving Americans' Property Rights
At the center of a free economy is the right of citizens to be secure in their property. Every person has the right to acquire, own, use, possess, enjoy, and dispose of private property. That right was undermined by the Supreme Court's Kelo decision, allowing local governments to seize a person's home or land, not for vital public use, but for transfer to private developers. That 5-to-4 decision highlights what is at stake in the election of the next president, who may make new appointments to the Court. We call on state legislatures to moot the Kelo decision by appropriate legislation, and we pledge on the federal level to pass legislation to protect against unjust federal takings. We will enforce the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to ensure just compensation whenever private property is needed to achieve a compelling public use. We urge caution in the designation of National Historic Areas, which can set the stage for widespread governmental control of citizens' lands.
Supporting Native American Communities
The federal government has a special responsibility to the people in Indian country and a unique trust relationship with them, which has been insufficiently honored. The social and economic problems that plague Indian country have grown worse over the last several decades, and we must reverse that trend. Ineffective government programs deprive Indians of the services they need, and long-term failures threaten to undermine tribal sovereignty itself.
Republicans believe that economic self-sufficiency is the ultimate answer to the challenges in Indian country and that tribal communities, not Washington bureaucracies, are better situated to craft local solutions. Federal — and state — regulations that thwart job creation must be reconsidered so that tribal governments acting on Native Americans' behalf are not disadvantaged. The Democratic Party's repeated undermining of tribal sovereignty to advantage union bosses is especially egregious.
Republicans reject a one-size-fits-all approach to federal-state-tribal partnerships and will work to expand local autonomy where tribal governments seek it. Better partnerships will help us to expand opportunity, deliver top-flight education to future generations, modernize and improve the Indian Health Service to make it more responsive to local needs, and build essential infrastructure. Native Americans must be empowered to develop the rich natural resources on their lands without undue federal interference.
Crime in Indian country, especially against women, is a special problem demanding immediate attention. Inadequate resources and neglect have made Native Americans less safe and allowed safe havens to develop in Indian country for criminal narcotics enterprises. The government must increase funding for tribal officers and investigators, FBI agents, prosecutors, and tribal jails. The legal system must provide stability and protect property rights. Everyone's civil rights must be safeguarded, including the right to due process and freedom of the press, with accountability for all government officials.
We support efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs by Native Americans, including Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians, and to preserve their culture and languages. We honor the sacrifices of all Native Americans serving in the military today and in years past and will ensure that all veterans receive the care and respect they have earned through their service to America.
APP Note: The American Presidency Project used the first day of the national nominating convention as the "date" of this platform since the original document is undated.
Republican Party Platforms, 2008 Republican Party Platform Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/278999