The Republican platform

2012-08-29 11:13

New York - On Tuesday the Republican Party confirmed its presidential candidate to take on Democrat incumbent Barack Obama in November. Predictably, that man will be Mitt Romney.

The other really significant event on Tuesday was the adoption of the Republican platform – "a statement of who we are and what we believe as a Party and our vision for a stronger and freer America".
This document isn't binding – Romney will not be forced into taking into account this document in every presidential decision, should he win the election.

But it does form the basis of what the party stands for – it's branding, if you like. The preamble to the document describes it thus: "It is both a vision of where we are headed and an invitation to join us in that journey."
So let's give it a look, as Republicans form half of what is arguably the world's most important government.

The document calls for a reduction in regulation, a reduction in government spending and a simplification of the tax system in order to boost economic growth – what the document refers to as the key to job creation.

Republicans also call for federal-state-private sector partnerships to upgrade domestic infrastructure. There is a focus on small businesses – "the backbone of the US economy" – and intention to reform the tax code to raise capital to grow and invest, as well as encourage financing and credit.

The tax code is where the document gets firm, with the manifesto lashing taxes as "[reducing] a citizen's freedom" – this is alongside plans to extend the Bush tax cuts, executing a 20% marginal tax rate across the board, and ending some other taxes, such as the death tax.

"Religious organisations, charities, and fraternal benevolent societies", however, will face no taxation.

The document also promises to cut government spending in a host of idealistic reforms, including revamping the popular Medicare programme, but asks for a rule that the budget can't be balanced with tax increases.

Important philosophies governing international trade involve standing up to China, which it accuses of "[violating] world trade standards", and promises to add import tariffs on Chinese products if China continues to "amend its currency policies", and threatens to "end procurement of Chinese goods and services" by the US government.

In its final paragraph, the document lays out plans to take on the unions.
The Constitution:

Republicans have a human rights history – this is the party that led the fight against slavery, after all. The manifesto claims, "…we consider discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin unacceptable", although it is seemingly alright regarding sexual orientation.

The document explains that it doesn’t consider US equivalents of affirmative action as solutions: "we reject preferences, quotas, and set-asides".

The Republican party will support a "constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman", a balanced budget amendment, states' rights protection (there is often argy-bargy between the state and the federal governments over authority), the electoral college voting system, and voter ID laws.

The document backs the First Amendment (freedom of religion) to advocate for discrimination based on sexual orientation (citing the example of the Boy Scouts of America), and then re-endorses the right to bear arms, the right to privacy (against unreasonable searches) and private property.

The party endorses a call for a "human life" amendment to the Constitution – in other words, ratified opposition to abortion rights.

Both parties insist on something called "energy independence" which neither has ever really attained.

The objective is, naturally, not to have to rely on any other country in the world for domestic energy needs. The policy aims to create reliable energy sources, and to reduce foreign imports (incidentally, the document adds a reason for this is "some of the hundreds of billions of dollars we pay for foreign oil ends up in the hands of terrorist groups that wish to harm us").

Cultivation of US energy is recommended as a job growth opportunity in primary and secondary markets.

The manifesto pushes for more excavation of coal, natural gas and domestic oil exploration, and opposes all “cap and trade” legislation (which was originally a Republican idea to deal with environmental concerns), while also calling for the Keystone oil pipeline to be built (the project was suspended pending further review by Obama, conveniently until after the election).

In terms of agriculture, Republicans support all efforts by the US Department of Agriculture in terms of “agricultural research” while calling for an end to “counter-cyclical” programmes and lashing the Environmental Protection Agency (the government department tasked with protecting the environment) for over-stepping its role.
Reforming government:

Republicans are committed to reforming Medicare (a health programme for old people) and Medicaid (a similar programme for disabled and poor people), which both cost the USA tons of money.

With the American population aging and the baby boomers reaching the eligible ages for Medicare, the costs of these programmes are rising. Republicans plan to expose these programmes to free-market forces to attempt to reduce costs (essentially this is known as the vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan Plan).

The same applies to Social Security – all three major programmes should be reformed to take into account the rising age of the US population.

The manifesto also calls for an end to bailouts, specifically mentioning government agencies (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), Wall Street and others, claiming they "make financial institutions the coddled wards of government".

Calls for an end to "judicial activism" – a criticism of the US Supreme Court by both parties whenever decisions go to the other side – also make the document.

Republicans also insist on dropping the government lawsuits against states that have enacted their own laws to deal with illegal immigration, support the adoption of English as the official language of the USA and want plans to build a big fence along the border with Mexico.

Republicans are against statehood for the District of Colombia (where you will find the capital city of Washington DC) and want it to remain under the federal government, and believe in continuing the USA's space exploration efforts.

This arbitrarily named section encourages many policy implementations. These include making the internet family friendly, which includes restricting all gambling activity on it.

It also confirms its rejection of any euthanasia or assisted suicide, and has a whole paragraph devoted to repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which is the current administration's signature legislative achievement – the Republican party believes healthcare is best left up to the free market.

Republicans do, however, support federal investment into healthcare solutions and medical research, and support stem-cell research "without the destruction of embryonic human life".

The party doesn't believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to education and thinks responsibility for schools should be aimed at the state and local levels. Although nationally they wish to "[replace] 'family planning' programmes for teens with abstinence education". Support for the death penalty is also re-affirmed.
Foreign policy (referred to as American Exceptionalism):

Republicans reaffirmed the need for the US military and the role of the president as commander-in-chief. This is filed under American power, in which it is vital for Americans to be the most powerful economic nation in the world, and have the world's top military force.

The document blasts pretty much all of Barack Obama's foreign policy and his administration's approach to other nations, and argues the need for the USA's nuclear arsenal, while also warning about the dangers of cyber-warfare ("The US cannot afford to risk the cyber-equivalent of Pearl Harbor").

The document continues to lash Obama in terms of foreign aid, with one of the most bizarre sentences I have ever read: "The effectiveness of our foreign aid has been limited by the cultural agenda of the current Administration, attempting to impose on foreign countries, especially the peoples of Africa, legalised abortion and the homosexual rights agenda."

In terms of Africa, the manifesto makes mention of American-led programmes to reduce disease in Africa, such as Pepfar, but doesn't explicitly mention supporting them. The usual suspects are criticised: Cuba, North Korea, Iran and China, and friends praised: India, Taiwan, Israel, Europe

- You can see the full detailed document here.