2000 US Republican Party Platform
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This text, which purports to be the 2000 Platform of the US Republican Party, was originally found on CNN's web site. I don't know if it is considered copyrighted, but I am going on the doctrine of position statements should be freely copyable. --Woozle 10:31, 13 September 2006 (EDT)
Note: reformatting is incomplete.
Our platform is uplifting and visionary. It reflects the views of countless Americans all across this country who believe in prosperity with a purpose – who believe in Renewing America's Purpose. Together.
The twenty-fifth man to receive our party's nomination is equal to the challenges facing our country. After a period of bitter division in national politics, our nominee is a leader who brings people together. In a time of fierce partisanship, he calls all citizens to common goals. To longstanding problems, he brings a fresh outlook and innovative ideas and a record of results.
We commit ourselves to tax reforms that will sustain our nation's prosperity and reflect its decency. We will reduce the burden on all Americans, especially those who struggle most.
We offer not only a new agenda, but also a new approach – a vision of a welcoming society in which all have a place. To all Americans, particularly immigrants and minorities, we send a clear message: this is the party of freedom and progress, and it is your home.
The diversity of our nation is reflected in this platform. We ask for the support and participation of all who substantially share our agenda. In one way or another, every Republican is a dissenter. At the same time, we are not morally indifferent. In this, as in many things, Lincoln is our model. He spoke words of healing and words of conviction. We do likewise, for we are bound together in a great enterprise for our children's future.
to the memory of
Paul Douglas Coverdell
United States Senator from Georgia,
and our friend.
The American Dream: Prosperity with a Purpose
Old Truths For The New Economy
The highest hopes of the American people – a world at peace, scientific progress, a just and caring society – cannot be achieved by prosperity alone, but neither can they be fulfilled without it. Yet prosperity is not an end in itself. Rather, it is the means by which great things can be achieved for the common good. Our commitment to the nation's economic growth is an affirmation of the real riches of our country: the works of compassion that link home to home, community to community, and hand to helping hand. This is the foundation of America, and that foundation is sound. Even though our economy, and that of the world to which we are now so closely tied, has been utterly transformed over the last two decades, Americans remain true to the faith of our founding fathers.
Yesterday's wildest dreams are today's realities, and there is no limit on the promise of tomorrow. The headiness of technological progress has made our society more future-oriented than ever before. But the fascination with the future means that, more than ever, we need to preserve the foundation that has served us so well. We must not overlook the practical experience of the past. To successfully chart where we should go in the years ahead, we must first look back to see how we got where we are today.
Twenty years ago, the economy was in shambles. Unemployment was at 7.1 percent, inflation at 13.5 percent, and interest rates at 15.3 percent. The Democratic Party accepted that malaise as the price the nation had to pay for Big Government, and in so doing lost the confidence of the American people. Inspired by Presidents Reagan and Bush, Republicans hammered into place the framework for today's prosperity and surpluses. We cut tax rates, simplified the tax code, deregulated industries, and opened world markets to American enterprise. The result was the tremendous growth in the 1980s that created the venture capital to launch the technology revolution of the 1990s.
That's the origin of what is now called the New Economy: the longest economic boom in the Twentieth Century, 40 million new jobs, the lowest inflation and unemployment in memory. The stock market, once a preserve of the well to do, now drives forward with the modest investments of tens of millions of households as ownership in America's economy becomes the norm rather than the exception.
The Republican Congress
We could have lost it all after the Democratic Congress passed the largest tax hike in history in 1993 that threatened to bring back the tax-and-spend follies of the bad old days. But the voters wouldn't have it and, in the next election, for the first time in forty years, they put Republican majorities in charge of both Houses of Congress. The difference that made can be put into numbers. In the four decades from 1954 to 1994, government spending increased at an average annual rate of 7.9 percent, and the public's debt increased from $224 billion to $3.4 trillion. Since 1994, with Republicans leading the House and Senate, spending has been held to an annual 3.1 percent rate of growth, and the nation's debt will be nearly $400 billion lower by the end of this year. The federal government has operated in the black for the last two years and is now projected to run a surplus of nearly $5 trillion over ten years.
That wasn't magic. It took honesty and guts from a Congress that manages the nation's purse strings. Over a five year period, as surpluses continue to grow, we will return half a trillion dollars to the taxpayers who really own it, without touching the Social Security surplus. That's what we mean by our Lock-Box: The Social Security surplus is off-limits, off budget, and will not be touched. We will not stop there, for we are also determined to protect Medicare and to pay down the national debt. Reducing that debt is both a sound policy goal and a moral imperative. Our families and most states are required to balance their budgets; it is reasonable to assume the federal government should do the same. Therefore, we reaffirm our support for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget.
Taxes And Budget: Render to Caesar, But Let The People Keep Their Own
I believe our country must be prosperous, but prosperity must have a purpose... to make sure the American dream touches every willing heart.
- Federal taxes are the highest they have ever been in peacetime.
- Taxes at all levels of government absorb 36 percent of the net national product.
When the average American family has to work more than four months out of every year to fund all levels of government, it's time to change the tax system, to make it simpler, flatter, and fairer for everyone. It's time for an economics of inclusion that will let people keep more of what they earn and accelerate movement up the opportunity ladder.
We therefore enthusiastically endorse the principles of Governor Bush's Tax Cut with a Purpose:
- Promote charitable giving and education.
- Foster capital investment and savings to boost today's dangerously low personal savings rate.
This is more than just an economic program to promote growth and job creation. It is our blueprint for the kind of society we want for our children and grandchildren. It is a call to conscience, a reminder that, even in times of great prosperity, there are those who bear great burdens. That is why, with the tax cuts we propose, while every taxpayer benefits, six million families – one in five taxpaying families with children – will no longer pay any federal income tax.
It took a Republican Congress to stand up to the Internal Revenue Service by publicly exposing its abuses and enacting a Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. Within the simpler and fairer tax system proposed by Governor Bush, the IRS will be downsized and made less intrusive. IRS rules should be understandable by all, enforced by few, with low-cost compliance. We applaud the efforts of the Republican Congress to expand the use and availability of Individual Retirement Accounts.
Income taxes and payroll taxes are the most obvious parts of the public's tax burden but consumers foot the bills in higher prices for most of the user fees that are nothing but under-radar taxes. Excise taxes of all kinds have snowballed, because they shift public resentment from government to the businesses that are forced to collect them. One example is the gas tax of 1993. Another is the phone tax imposed to finance the Spanish-American War – and still in place a century later. We call for the immediate repeal of the phone tax.
Homeownership is central to the American dream, and Republicans want to make it more accessible for everyone. That starts with access to capital for entrepreneurs and access to credit for consumers. Our proposals for helping millions of low-income families move from renting to owning are detailed elsewhere in this platform as major elements in Governor Bush's program for a New Prosperity. For those families, and for all other potential homebuyers, low interest rates make mortgages affordable and open up more housing opportunities than any government program.
Small Business: Where Prosperity Starts
Small businesses are the underlying essence of our economy. Small businesses create most of the new jobs and keep this country a land of opportunity. They have been the primary engines of economic advance by American women, whose dynamic entry into small business in recent years has accounted for much of the nation's growth. Small businesses generate more than half the gross domestic product. Their willingness to give people a chance, and their ability to train individuals new to the work force, made welfare reform the success that it is. They deserve far better treatment from government than they have received. We will provide it through many of the initiatives explained elsewhere in this platform: lower tax rates, ending the death tax, cutting through red tape, legal and product liability reform, and the aggressive expansion of overseas markets for their goods and services.
Work Place of the Future
Trade: The Force Of Economic Freedom
The fearful build walls; the confident demolish them. I am confident in American workers, farmers, and producers, and I am confident that America's best is the best in the world.
International trade has become the world's most powerful economic force. International trade is not the creation of the world's rulers, but of the world's peoples, who strive for a better future and break down any barriers governments may erect to it. The result is today's global economy of open markets in democratic nations. That system is poised to sweep away both the counterproductive vestiges of protectionism and the backwater remnants of Marxism. We launched this revolution during the Reagan and Bush Administrations. Now we will bring it to completion: U.S. leadership of a global economy without limits to growth.
For our country, that outcome will be critical. Exports account for almost one-third of U.S. economic growth, while average wages in export-related industries are significantly higher. As for agriculture, expanding exports is key to saving the family farm. We must secure America's competitive advantage in the New Economy by preventing other countries from erecting barriers to innovation. For American producers and consumers alike, the benefits of free trade are already enormous. In the near future, they will be incalculable.
But free trade must be fair trade, within an open, rules-based international trading system. That will depend on American leadership, which has been lacking for the last eight years. The administration's failure to renew fast track (expedited legislative procedures to approve free trade legislation) has undermined its ability to open new markets abroad for American goods and services. As a result, America's trade deficit with the rest of the world has surged to record highs. We must be at the table when trade agreements are negotiated, make the interests of American workers and farmers paramount, and ensure that the drive to open new markets is successful.
- Launch a new and ambitious round of multilateral negotiations focused solely on opening markets.
- Revitalize the World Trade Organization negotiations on agriculture and services.
- Give the next president fast-track negotiating authority.
Technology And The New Economy: The Force For Change
Governments don't create wealth. Wealth is created by Americans – by creativity and enterprise and risk-taking. The great engine of wealth has become the human mind – creating value out of genius.
Republicans have embraced this change, for it advances the central values of our party and our country: a reduced role for government, greater personal liberty, economic freedom, reliance on the market and decentralized decision-making. This revolution also suits our national character – rewarding creativity, hard work, tenacity, and a willingness to take risks. It empowers. This is America's moment.
Where do we go from here?
- Second, maintain a highly educated work force so that continued progress need not depend on imported personnel. Like Governor Bush, we have made this a vital part of our education program that is detailed elsewhere in this platform. Instead of burdening schools with red tape and narrow government programs, we will give them maximum flexibility in using federal education technology dollars to meet their specific needs – whether it be for computers, teacher training, software development, or systems integration.
In addition, we must encourage government at all levels to work with the private sector to ensure that the Internet must be a medium for everyone. The old liberal approach – using the threat of stifling regulations to redistribute wealth and opportunity – will work no better than it ever has, and perhaps much worse, in the new economy. The Republican Party embraces a creative, incentive-based, public/private approach and a Republican president will use the influence of his office to urge high-tech philanthropy, with such initiatives as Governor Bush's plan to create and strengthen more than 2,000 community technology centers every year – centers which provide such services as free Internet access and technology skills training. The prosperity of our New Economy provides unprecedented opportunities for philanthropic giving.
What holds true for the Internet applies as well to other areas of scientific advance, from biotechnology to chemistry. These fields require enormous infusions of capital, as well as regulatory flexibility by government. The federal government must refocus and reinvigorate its role in promoting cutting-edge, basic research, and the tax code must foster research and development. These policies will increase the pace of technological developments by de-emphasizing the direct role of government while strengthening private-public partnerships and the role of the private sector. In addition, the Republican Party will remain committed to America's leadership in space research and exploration. We will ensure that this Nation can expand our knowledge of the universe, and with the support of the American people, continue the exploration of Mars and the rest of the solar system. We consider space travel and space science a national priority with virtually unlimited benefits, in areas ranging from medicine to micro-machinery, for those on earth. Development of space will give us a growing economic resource and a source of new scientific discoveries. The potential benefits of new science and technology to the American people, indeed to all humanity, are incalculable and can only be hastened by the international free market in ideas that the Information Revolution has created.
Privacy and Secure Technologies
Government also has a responsibility to protect personal privacy, which is the single greatest concern Americans now have about the Information Revolution. Citizens must have the confidence that their personal privacy will be respected in the use of technology by both business and government. That privacy is an essential part of our personal freedom and our family life, and it must not be sacrificed in the name of progress. At the same time, consumers should have the benefit of new products, services, and treatments that result from the legitimate use of data with appropriate safeguards. We applaud the leadership already demonstrated in this regard by many outstanding businesses, which are ensuring individuals' privacy in various ways and promoting public education about the consumer's right to privacy.
Education and Opportunity: Leave No American Behind
A Responsibility Era
Sometimes it's important to state the obvious. This is one of those times. America is a great country. There are many reasons for this, foremost among them our long tradition of personal responsibility, the demand for high standards and clear values, and the central importance of family in social and economic progress.
We're coming to understand that a good and civil society cannot be packaged into government programs but must originate in our homes, in our neighborhoods, and in the private institutions that bring us together, in all our diversity, for the works of mercy and labors of love.
This section of our platform deals with some of America's most enduring, and seemingly intractable, challenges. We approach these challenges with compassionate conservatism, a concept that is as old as the pioneers heading West in wagon trains, in which everyone had responsibility to follow the rules, but no one would be left behind.
Real Education Reform: Strengthening Accountability and Empowering Parents
No child in America should be segregated by low expectations... imprisoned by illiteracy... abandoned to frustration and the darkness of self-doubt.
The question is "Are our schools better off now than they were eight years ago?" At a time of remarkable economic growth, when a world of opportunity awaits students who are prepared for it, American colleges and universities are offering remedial courses and American businesses are unable to find enough qualified or trainable workers to meet the demand. Worst of all, so many of our children, America's most precious asset, are headed toward failure in school, and that will hold them back throughout their lives. Republicans desire a better result. We believe that every child in this land should have access to a high quality, indeed, a world-class education, and we're determined to meet that goal.
It's long past time to debate what works in education. The verdict is in, and our Republican governors provided the key testimony: strong parental involvement, excellent teachers, safe and orderly classrooms, high academic standards, and a commitment to teaching the basics – from an early start in phonics to mastery of computer technology. Federal programs that fail to support these fundamental principles are sadly out of date and, under the next president, out of time. For dramatic and swift improvement, we endorse the principles of Governor Bush's education reforms, which will:
- Expand parental choice and encourage competition by providing parents with information on their child's school, increasing the number of charter schools, and expanding education savings accounts for use from kindergarten through college.
We recognize that under the American constitutional system, education is a state, local, and family responsibility, not a federal obligation. Since over 90 percent of public school funding is state and local, not federal, it is obvious that state and local governments must assume most of the responsibility to improve the schools, and the role of the federal government must be progressively limited as we return control to parents, teachers, and local school boards. Programs beginning the process by congressional Republicans to return power to the people, such as "Straight As" legislation and "Dollars to the Classroom" are a good step to reach this goal. The Republican Congress rightly opposed attempts by the Department of Education to establish federal testing that would set the stage for a national curriculum. We believe it's time to test the Department, and each of its programs, instead.
Over thirty years ago, the federal government assumed a special financial responsibility to advance the education of disadvantaged children through the Title I program. Today, $120 billion later, the achievement gap between those youngsters and their peers has only widened. The fiscal loss is not a good thing, but the human loss is tragic. We cannot allow another generation of kids to be written off. For dramatic and swift improvement, we endorse Governor Bush's principles of local control, with accountability, parental choice, and meaningful student achievement as essential to education reform.
Local responsibility for neighborhood schools has been the key to successful education since the days of the little red schoolhouse. We salute congressional Republicans for their continuing efforts, through Ed-Flex and other initiatives, to shift decision-making away from the federal bureaucracy and back to localities. We strongly endorse Governor Bush's proposal to consolidate cumbersome categorical programs into flexible performance grants, targeting resources to the classroom and tying them directly to student achievement. That is real reform.
In the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Congress required that every community in the country provide a free and appropriate education for all students with special needs and fund their schooling at higher levels. In return, the federal government promised to pay 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure to cover the excess costs. During all the years the Democrats controlled Congress that was not done. It was congressional Republicans who took the first real strides toward fulfillment of the IDEA promise. We applaud them for recognizing that federal mandates must include federal funding. We will strive to promote the early diagnosis of learning deficiencies. Preventive efforts in early childhood should reduce the demand for special education and help many youngsters move beyond the need for IDEA's protections.
In the final analysis, education remains a parental right and responsibility. We advocate choice in education, not as an abstract theory, but as the surest way for families, especially low-income families, to free their youngsters from failing or dangerous schools and put them onto the road to opportunity and success. By the same token, we defend the option for home schooling and call for vigilant enforcement of laws designed to protect family rights and privacy in education. Children should not be compelled to answer offensive or intrusive questionnaires. We will continue to work for the return of voluntary school prayer to our schools and will strongly enforce the Republican legislation that guarantees equal access to school facilities by student religious groups. We strongly support voluntary student-initiated prayer in school without governmental interference. We strongly disagree with the Supreme Court's recent ruling, backed by the current administration, against student-initiated prayer.
Higher Education: Increased Access For All
Meanwhile, under Republican fiscal discipline, interest rates on federally guaranteed student loans are lower than ever before so student aspirations can reach higher than ever before. Pell Grants, the doorway to learning for millions of low-income families, are greater than ever – and will become a dynamic force in math, science, and technology when a Republican Congress enacts Governor Bush's proposal to:
- Target increased benefits to students taking challenging course in those fields.
- Form partnerships with colleges and universities to improve science and math education.
Overall college costs, however, continue to climb, usually far ahead of inflation. Whatever the reasons, these costs squeeze the budgets of the middle class. Many families feel they're on a treadmill, working harder to pay tuition bills that never stop rising. We call upon campus administrators to search for ways to hold down that price spiral; and, in fairness to them, we propose a presidentially directed study on the effect of government regulation and paperwork demands.
At many institutions of higher learning, the ideal of academic freedom is threatened by intolerance. Students should not be compelled to support, through mandatory student fees, anyone's political agenda. The Republican party stands in solidarity with the dedicated faculty who are penalized for their conservatism and also with the courageous students who run independent campus newspapers to confront the powerful with the power of truth. To protect the nation's colleges and universities against intolerance, we will work with independent educators to maintain alternatives to ideological accrediting bodies. We also support a reasonable approach to Title IX that seeks to expand opportunities for women without adversely affecting men's teams.
A New Prosperity: Seats for All at the Welcome Table
America has been successful because it offers a realistic shot at a better life. America has been successful because poverty has been a stage, not a fate. America has been successful because anyone can ascend the ladder and transcend their birth.
We want to expand opportunity instead of government. Governor Bush calls this "the Duty of Hope." We see it as our duty to act. But whatever we name it, the goal is the same – to give hope and real upward mobility to those who have never known either. It's clear that the old left-liberal order of social policy has collapsed in failure; and its failure was the most egregious among whom it most professed to serve: the poor and those on the margins of society.
And now it's time to take more steps in the right direction by helping these families climb the opportunity ladder. It won't be easy, but welfare reform wasn't easy either, though the results were surely worth the fight. Here are our next steps:
- Implement the "American Dream Down Payment" program, which will allow a half million families who currently draw federal rental assistance to become homeowners, and allow families receiving federal rental payments to apply one year's worth of their existing assistance money toward the purchase of their own first home, thus becoming independent of any further government housing assistance. This approach builds upon our long standing commitment to resident management of public housing and other initiatives.
This is what we propose:
- Apply charitable Choice to all federal social service programs.
Children At Risk
The entire nation has suffered from the administration's virtual surrender in the war against drugs, but children in poor communities have paid the highest price in the threat of addiction and the daily reality of violence. Drug kingpins have turned entire neighborhoods into wastelands and ruined uncounted lives with their poison. The statistics are shocking. Since 1992, among 10th graders, overall drug use has increased 55 percent, marijuana and hashish use has risen 91 percent, heroin use has gone up 92 percent, and cocaine use has soared 133 percent. Not surprisingly, teen attitudes toward drug abuse have veered sharply away from disapproval. With abundant supplies in their deadly arsenal, drug traffickers are targeting younger children, as well as rural kids.
Still, there is no substitute for presidential leadership, whether internationally or here at home, where America's families cry out for safe, drug-free schools. A Republican president will hear those cries and work with parents to protect children. We will bring accountability to anti-drug programs, promote those that work, and cease funding for those that waste resources. Equally important, in a Republican administration the Department of Justice will require all federal prosecutors to aggressively pursue drug dealers, from the kingpins to the lackeys. We renew our support for capital punishment for drug traffickers who take innocent life.
Renewing Family and Community
The family is society's central core of energy. That is why efforts to strengthen family life are the surest way to improve life for everyone. For this reason, congressional Republicans made adoption easier and enacted the child tax credit – and that is why Governor Bush wants to double that credit to $1,000 per child and increase the adoption credit. It's why we advocate a family-friendly tax code; why we promote comp-time and flex-time to accommodate family needs; and why we advocate choice in childcare. We support the traditional definition of "marriage" as the legal union of one man and one woman, and we believe that federal judges and bureaucrats should not force states to recognize other living arrangements as marriages. We rely on the home, as did the founders of the American Republic, to instill the virtues that sustain democracy itself. That belief led Congress to enact the Defense of Marriage Act, which a Republican Department of Justice will energetically defend in the courts. For the same reason, we do not believe sexual preference should be given special legal protection or standing in law.
Their efforts will be critically important in the Information Age, which, with all its tremendous benefits, brings a major challenge to families. When the FBI reports that porn sites are the most frequently accessed on the Internet, it's time for parents at home – and communities through their public institutions – to take action. We endorse Republican legislation pending in the Congress to require schools and libraries to secure their computers against on-line porn and predators if they accept federal subsides to connect to the Internet. This is not a question of free speech. Kids in a public library should not be victims of filth, and porn addicts should not use library facilities for their addiction. Therefore, public libraries and schools should secure their computers against on-line pornography.
Upholding the Rights of All
We believe rights inhere in individuals, not in groups. We will attain our nation's goal of equal opportunity without quotas or other forms of preferential treatment. It is as simple as this: No one should be denied a job, promotion, contract, or chance at higher education because of their race or gender. Equal access, energetically offered, should guarantee every person a fair shot based on their potential and merit.
The Supreme Court's recent decision, prohibiting states from banning partial-birth abortions – a procedure denounced by a committee of the American Medical Association and rightly branded as four-fifths infanticide – shocks the conscience of the nation. As a country, we must keep our pledge to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence. That is why we say 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. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions. We oppose using public revenues for abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.
Our goal is to ensure that women with problem pregnancies have the kind of support, material and otherwise, they need for themselves and for their babies, not to be punitive towards those for whose difficult situation we have only compassion. We oppose abortion, but our pro-life agenda does not include punitive action against women who have an abortion. We salute those who provide alternatives to abortion and offer adoption services, and we commend congressional Republicans for expanding assistance to adopting families and for removing racial barriers to adoption. The impact of those measures and of our Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 has been spectacular. Adoptions out of foster care have jumped forty percent and the incidence of child abuse and neglect has actually declined. We second Governor Bush's call to make permanent the adoption tax credit and expand it to $7,500.
An essential part of a culture that respects life is integration and inclusion of persons with disabilities. That is the goal of Governor Bush's New Freedom Initiative, a comprehensive agenda for the breakthrough research and practical assistance that can help individuals with disabilities live independently, hold jobs, and take part in the daily life of their communities. We applaud his proposal, and we salute congressional Republicans for the way they have protected access to health care for individuals with disabilities against the administration's attempts to ration it. We pledge continued vigilance in that regard, especially in Medicare and Medicaid.
We affirm the right of individuals to voluntarily participate in labor organizations and to bargain collectively. We therefore support the right of states to enact Right-to-Work laws. No one should be forced to contribute to a campaign or a candidate, so we will vigorously implement the Supreme Court's Beck decision to stop the involuntary use of union dues for political purposes. We will revoke the illegal executive order excluding millions of workers from federal contracts, and safeguard the unemployment compensation system against the diversion of its funds for political purposes.
From Many, One
Our country's ethnic diversity within a shared national culture is unique in all the world. We benefit from our differences, but we must also strengthen the ties that bind us to one another. Foremost among those is the flag. Its deliberate desecration is not "free speech" but an assault against both our proud history and our greatest hopes. We therefore support a constitutional amendment that will restore to the people, through their elected representatives, their right to safeguard Old Glory.
Another sign of our unity is the role of English as our common language. It has enabled people from every corner of the world to come together to build this nation. For newcomers, it has always been the fastest route to the mainstream of American life. English empowers. That is why fluency in English must be the goal of bilingual education programs. We support the recognition of English as the nation's common language. At the same time, mastery of other languages is important for America's competitiveness in the world market. We advocate foreign language training in our schools and the fostering of respect for other languages and cultures throughout our society.
The administration's lax enforcement of our borders has led to tragic exploitation of smuggled immigrants, and untold suffering, at the hands of law-breakers. We call for harsh penalties against smugglers and those who provide fake documents. We oppose the creation of any national ID card.
- Emphasize needed skills in determining eligibility for admission.
The education reforms we propose elsewhere in this platform will, over time, greatly increase the number of highly qualified workers in all sectors of the American economy. To meet immediate needs, however, we support increasing the number of H-1B visas to ensure high-tech workers in specialized positions, provided such workers do not pose a national security risk; and we will expand the H-2A program for the temporary agricultural workers so important to the nation's farms.
Justice And Safety
The other part of the team – a president engaged in the fight against crime – has been ineffective for the last eight years. To the contrary, sixteen hard-core terrorists were granted clemency, sending the wrong signal to others who would use terror against the American people. The administration started out by slashing the nation's funding for drug interdiction and overseas operations against the narcotics cartel. It finishes by presiding over the near collapse of drug policy. The only bright spot has been the determination of the Republican Congress. Its Western Hemisphere Drug Elimination Act of 1998 has just begun to restore the nation's ability to strike at the source of illegal drugs. Now the Congress is taking the lead to assist Colombia against the narco-insurgents who control large parts of that country, a stone's throw from the Panama Canal.
A Republican president will advance an agenda to restore the public's safety:
- An effective program of rehabilitation, where appropriate.
- Support of community-based diversion programs for first time, non-violent offenders.
- A constitutional amendment to protect victims' rights at every stage of the criminal justice system.
- Reservation of two seats on the U.S. Sentencing Commission for victims of violent crimes.
Crimes against women and children demand an emphatic response. That is why the Republican Congress enacted Megan's Law, requiring local notification when sex offenders are released, and why we advocate special penalties against thugs who, in assaults against pregnant women, harm them or their unborn children. Federal obscenity and child pornography laws, especially crimes involving the Internet, must be vigorously enforced – in contrast to the current administration's failure in this area. We urge States to follow the lead of congressional Republicans by making admissible in court the prior similar criminal acts of defendants in sexual assault cases.
With regard to school safety, we encourage local school systems to develop a single system of discipline for all students who commit offenses involving drugs or violence in school, not the federally imposed dual system which leaves today's teachers and students at risk from the behavior of others.
Any juvenile who commits any crime while carrying a gun should automatically be detained, not released to someone's custody. We urge localities to consider zero-tolerance for juvenile drinking and driving and early intervention to keep delinquency from escalating to crime. While recognizing the important role of both parents to the well-being of their children, we must acknowledge the critical need for positive role models to put a generation of fatherless boys on the right road to manhood. We affirm the right of public schools, courthouses, and other public buildings to post copies of the Ten Commandments.
What Is At Stake
The rule of law, the very foundation for a free society, has been under assault, not only by criminals from the ground up, but also from the top down. An administration that lives by evasion, coverup, stonewalling, and duplicity has given us a totally discredited Department of Justice. The credibility of those who now manage the nation's top law enforcement agency is tragically eroded. We are fortunate to have its dedicated career workforce, especially its criminal prosecutors, who have faced the unprecedented politicization of decisions regarding both personnel and investigations.
Retirement Security and Quality Health Care: Our Pledge to America
Saving Social Security: Helping Individuals Build Wealth
Social Security is a defining American promise, and we will not turn back. This issue is a test of government's capacity to give its word and to keep it, to act in good faith and to pursue the common good.
"A defining American promise" – a strong phrase from a strong leader, with which we strongly agree. The Social Security program is the touchstone by which the American people now gauge the reliability, competence, and integrity of government. Unfortunately, the gauge is registering real problems. This is not breaking news to most Americans. They have known for years of the deterioration of Social Security's fiscal health but fully expected their leaders to address it. But with each passing year leading to an ever grimmer prognosis, the gauge has dropped, notch by notch, into the red zone.
Since 1992, Social Security's unfunded liability has increased from $7.4 trillion to $8.8 trillion. Its trustees project that, by the year 2015, there will not be enough cash coming in from payroll taxes to pay currently promised Social Security benefits.
We reject each of those outcomes and accept the mandate which others have abandoned: To keep faith with both the past and the future by saving Social Security. For starters, congressional Republicans stopped the annual raids on the Social Security trust funds by balancing the federal budget without that program's surplus. In addition, government agencies have and should continue efforts to improve the accuracy of economic indicators. Now a Republican president will forge a national consensus on these principles to protect this national priority:
- Real reform does not require, and will not include, tax increases.
- Personal savings accounts must be the cornerstone of restructuring. Each of today's workers should be free to direct a portion of their payroll taxes to personal investments for their retirement future. It is crucial that individuals be offered a variety of investment alternatives and that detailed information be provided to each participant to help them judge the risks and benefits of each plan. Today's financial markets offer a variety of investment options, including some that guarantee a rate of return higher than the current Social Security system with no risk to the investor.
Security for Older Americans
For most of us, retirement holds both promise and problems. Today's elderly have far more economic security than earlier generations; and opportunities for learning, teaching, and leading are greater than ever. Public policy must encourage, not inhibit, this. To that end, for half a century, the Republican Party fought to repeal the Democrats' earnings limitation on Social Security recipients, which took away a dollar for every three they earned. That fight has finally been won, and we salute congressional Republicans for leading it. We likewise note with pride the Republican legislation that has simplified pension law and made it easier for more businesses, especially small ones, to offer pension plans.
We call for full repeal of the death tax, as proposed in Governor Bush's program, Prosperity with a Purpose, and as recently passed by congressional Republicans. Hard-working Americans should not live with the fear that the fruits of their lifetime of labor will fall into the hands of government instead of their children.
The growing need for long-term care calls for long-term planning both by individuals and by government. We encourage, at all levels of government, regulatory flexibility and sensitivity to human needs in nursing homes and related facilities. In this area, as in so many other unheralded corners of American lives, heroic sacrifices are being made by millions of families to care for their mothers and fathers as their parents cared for them. We support Governor Bush's call for a 100 percent above-the-line tax deduction for premiums for long-term care insurance, recognizing and rewarding individual responsibility, and we welcome his proposal to allow an additional exemption for each elderly spouse, parent, or relative a family tends to in their own residence.
Preserving and Improving Medicare
Our nation must reform Medicare – and in doing so, ensure that prescription drugs are affordable and available for every senior who needs them. Seniors deserve a wider scope of coverage, and they deserve to have more choices among health plans. Over the last few years, both Republicans and Democrats have embraced these goals, yet the Clinton-Gore administration has blocked bipartisan Medicare reform. When I am president, I will lead Republicans and Democrats to reform and strengthen Medicare and set it on firm financial ground.
Medicare, at age 35, needs a new lease on life. It's time to bring this program, so critical for 39 million seniors and individuals with disabilities, into the Twenty-First Century. It's time to modernize the benefit package to match current medical science, improve the program's financial stability, and cut back the bureaucratic jungle that is smothering it. It's time to give older Americans access to the same health insurance plan the Congress has created for itself, so that seniors will have the same choices and security as Members of Congress, including elimination of all current limitations and restrictions that prevent the establishment of medical savings accounts. To do that, we need to build on the strengths of the free market system, offer seniors real choices in coverage, give participants flexibility, and make sure there are incentives for the private sector to develop new and inexpensive drugs.
Medicare also needs new measures of solvency that look at total program expenses and provide an honest reading of how we can guarantee benefits for decades to come. At the same time, we must dramatically reduce the program's administrative complexities symbolized both by its 130,000 pages of regulations and by its $13.5 billion in improper payments in 1999 alone. Some of that is due to fraud, waste, and abuse, but most of it comes from the sad fact that Medicare is a creaking, bureaucratic, and oppressive dinosaur in the age of MRIs. This frustrates health care providers, hospitals, and patients alike. Let us be clear: We support vigorous enforcement of anti-fraud laws in cases where there is intent to commit fraud, but it is unfair to blame honest health care providers who must seek reimbursement within a minefield of confusing Medicare regulations.
For Medicare to survive – and more important, to succeed – it must become a common enterprise of government, health professionals, and hospitals alike. Rather than continue the practice of recurrent and unpredictable cuts in provider payments, a reformed Medicare program will allow health care providers, particularly those helping rural and underserved populations, to adapt to changing conditions in health care by providing reimbursement at levels that will permit health care providers to continue to care for these patients. Republican leadership will reopen and broaden the door to health care by fulfilling the promise of medical research and innovation, by offering choice and protecting consumer rights, and by modernizing antiquated systems to deliver affordable care for all its beneficiaries.
Quality Health Care: A Commitment to All Americans
The mapping of the human genome, identifying every gene in the human body, may, over time, translate into new treatments and cures for scourges like cancer, Alzheimer's, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS, as well as diseases that affect the very young, such as muscular dystrophy and juvenile diabetes. A century ago, the average American life span was 55. Today, it is 78, and children born in this decade have the realistic prospect of living into the Twenty-Second Century. A simple blood test can now screen for prostate cancer at its earliest appearance. Biochemistry is revolutionizing the field of mental health. Millions of operations have been replaced with CAT scans. We want that progress to continue. But translating the promise of medical research into readily available treatments requires more than just money; it needs a whole new prescription for health care. That prescription is what the Republican party offers in the elections of 2000.
Let's start with the diagnosis. After eight years of pressure from the current administration, the foundations of our health care system are cracking. We can spot the fissures everywhere:
- Medicare, the bedrock of care for our elderly, is suffocating under more than 130,000 pages of federal rules, three times the size of the entire IRS code. It pays for only 53 percent of seniors' care, provides no outpatient prescription drugs, and does not cover real long-term care, and it is still headed for bankruptcy in the near future.
We intend to save this beleaguered system with a vision of health care adapted to the changing demands of a new century. It is as simple, and yet as profound, as this: All Americans should have access to high-quality and affordable health care. They should have a range of options and be able to select what is the best care for their individual and family needs. The integration of access, affordability, quality, and choice into the nation's health care system is the goal that brings together all of the following proposals. In achieving that goal, we will promote a health care system that supports, not supplants, the private sector; that promotes personal responsibility in health care decision-making; and that ensures the least intrusive role for the federal government.
Affordable, Quality Health Insurance
We will not nationalize our health care system. We will promote individual choice. We will rely on private insurance. But make no mistake: In my administration, low-income Americans will have access to high-quality health care.
Let's give credit where due: More than 100 million American workers and their families have sound health insurance through their places of employment. The job-creating dynamism of our free economy has thus done more to advance health care than any government program possibly could. The tie between good jobs and good insurance coverage is the single most important factor in advancing health care for those who need it.
That's why the Republican party remains determined to change federal law to give small employers the liberty to band together to purchase group insurance for their employees at reduced rates, thus providing them that important security. The tragedy is that this urgent expansion of coverage has this far been blocked by veto threats. With a Republican president, that will change.
Uninsured Americans do not have a single face. Their situations vary tremendously, with changes in family status, age, and income. It makes sense to let them decide what kind of coverage best suits their needs. To give them that power of choice, we propose an unprecedented tax credit that will enable 27 million individuals and families to purchase the private health insurance that's right for them. We also support full deductibility of health insurance premiums for the self-employed.
Still, more needs to be done. A major reason why health insurance is so expensive is that many state legislatures now require all insurance policies to provide benefits and treatments which many families do not want and do not need. It is as if automakers were required by law to sell only fully equipped cars, even to buyers who didn't want or need all the extras. These mandates, extending far beyond minimum standards, increase costs for everyone, price low-income families out of the insurance market, and advance the interests of specific providers. They have no place in a health care system based on consumer rights and patient choice.
When Congressional Republicans established the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) program in 1997, they enabled us to secure health insurance coverage for approximately 8 million youngsters. Republicans want to ensure that children have access to quality health care, and that states have the flexibility to innovate, expand family coverage without interference from the Health Care Financing Administration, and reach out to eligible households that are currently not enrolled in a health insurance program or in Medicaid. In a Republican administration, the first order of business at the Department of Health and Human Services will be to eliminate regulations that are stymieing the effectiveness of S-CHIP program and to stop imposing unwarranted mandates, so states can make sure children who need health care can get it. A streamlined enrollment process and energetic outreach efforts will finally fulfill the promise of S-CHIP. All it takes is caring.
Improving the Quality of Health Care
Protecting Patients' Rights. The tremendous growth of managed health care was driven by a market response to the fractured system of health care delivery that preceded it. One result of that growth has been a welcomed slowing of the rapid increases in health costs that were a regular occurrence of the 1970s and 1980s. However, this has come at the cost of patient dissatisfaction with the at times impersonal or insufficient health care delivery mechanism. Simply put, patients deserve more protections if we are to achieve a patient-centered system that offers high-quality, affordable care. The parents of a sick child should have access to the nearest emergency care. A patient in need of a heart specialist's expertise should be allowed to seek that opinion. A woman with breast cancer should be able to participate in a potentially life-saving clinical trial, and patients should have prompt access to independent physicians, or when appropriate, other health care professionals, to override any wrongful denial of treatment.
The traditional patient-doctor relationship must be preserved. Medical decision-making should be in the hands of physicians and their patients. In cases when a health plan denies treatment, a rapid appeals process geared toward ensuring that patients receive the right treatment without delays that might threaten a patient's health – as opposed to a lengthy trial – must be readily accessible to everyone in all health plans. We believe a quick and fair resolution to treatment disputes without going to court is the best result. However, as a last resort, we also support a patient's right to adjudicate claims in court to receive necessary medical care. In the interest of fairness to the thousands of businesses that purchase health benefits for their employees and for physicians who care for patients, employers and physicians should not be liable for the actions of the health plan and should be shielded from frivolous and unnecessary lawsuits.
Our overall philosophy is to trust state and local government to know what best suits the needs of their people. We believe the federal government should respect the states' traditional authority to regulate health insurance, health care professionals, and health practice guidelines through their medical boards.
Medical Errors and Malpractice Reform. Our goal is to reduce the rate of medical errors, especially those that result in a patient's death. We will support scientific research to provide the public and health care providers with information about why these errors occur and what can be done to prevent them. We should not displace the current, very effective hospital peer review system.
Another key step will be reform of malpractice law. In its current form, it encourages health care providers to conceal even innocent mistakes, lest they be subject to vilifying publicity through the trial lawyers' system of jackpot justice. That is why a cloak of secrecy envelops operating rooms. We must open up the free flow of information concerning medical errors, both to protect patients and to reduce the cost of modern medicine. Patients who are genuinely injured should be rightly compensated, but the punitive and random aspects of today's litigation lottery cry out for reform. Just as we hold all health care personnel to the highest standards, so too must public policy respect their ethical conscience. No individual or institution should be compelled to assist in providing any medical service that violates their moral or religious convictions.
Women's Health. As Republicans, we hold dear the health and vitality of our families. Our efforts to build healthier families must begin with women – our mothers, daughters, grandmothers and grand-daughters. This nation needs far greater focus on the needs of women who have historically been underrepresented in medical research and access to the proper level of medical attention. We are reversing this historic trend.
Republicans are dedicated to pursuing comprehensive women's health care initiatives that include access to state-of-the-art medical advances and technology; equality for women in the delivery of health care services; medical research that focuses specifically on women; appropriate representation of women in clinical trials; and direct access to women's health providers.
Children's Health. The huge strides we have already made in improving children's health must be balanced against sobering statistics. Asthma affects nearly five million children, and the incidence is dramatically increasing. Childhood obesity has jumped 100 percent in the last 15 years and can be a forerunner of the most serious illnesses later in life. Diabetes is now the second most common chronic disease in children. Youth drug abuse has more than doubled in the past eight years. Smoking rates for youth have risen alarmingly. Every year, 2,500 babies are born with fetal alcohol syndrome. So much of the suffering caused by childhood diseases can be prevented – by increasing immunization rates; by increasing resources for biomedical research, not by crippling pharmaceutical progress; by sensible strategies against teen smoking rather than the folly of prohibition; by a real war on drugs in place of the white flag policies of recent years. Our commitment is to address the emotional, behavioral, and mental illnesses affecting children. With parental involvement as the critical component, we can help our youth make the healthy and the right choice in avoiding risk behaviors involving alcohol, drugs, premarital sex, tobacco, and violence.
Biomedical Research. Recognizing the critical importance of research, the Republican Congress, rejecting the administration's lower figures, has already begun to fulfill its pledge to double funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is one of the few areas in which government investment yields tangible results; and those benefits can be greatest for currently underserved and minority populations, in which disparities persist in life expectancy, infant mortality, as well as death rates from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. With one out of four Americans contracting cancer, we need to increase not only research but also early detection and prevention efforts. Since Republicans took control of Congress in January 1995, our party has led in setting sound HIV/AIDS policy, including increased research funding and access to health services. We remain committed to, and place a high priority on, finding a cure for HIV/AIDS. With the enormous increase in resources for biomedical research comes accountability for its use, as well as responsibility to maintain the highest ethical standards. We applaud congressional Republicans for the steps they have taken for protection of human embryos and against human cloning, the trafficking in fetal tissue organs, and related abuses.
Academic Medical Centers. Adequate government reimbursement for medical services is critical to our nation's comprehensive academic medical centers, which serve as the primary health care resource for our poorest citizens, provide cutting-edge medical discovery, and teach and train our next generation of physicians.
Medical Privacy. The revolution in information and medical technology has created concerns about who has access to personal data – and how it might be used. Patients and their families should feel free to share all medical information with their doctor, but they will feel safe in doing so only if that information is protected. A related concern is genetic discrimination, now that genetic testing will become a routine part of medical health care. Well-conceived, thoughtful action is clearly needed, action that will protect and not harm patients. In both Congress and the Executive Branch, Republicans will work with patients, health care providers, researchers, and insurers to establish new rules for dealing with these new challenges.
Wellness. We repeat our statement that America has the finest health care delivery system that is still the envy of the world. We also recognize that an individual's health is often a reflection of the everyday choices made.
While government's role is to help ensure a quality health care system, only individuals can make healthy choices.
American Partners in Conservation and Preservation: Stewardship of Our Natural Resources
As an avid outdoorsman, I know all our prosperity as a nation will mean little if we leave future generations a world of polluted air, toxic waste, and vanished wilderness and forests.
Today's Republican party stands in the proud tradition of Teddy Roosevelt, the first president to stress the importance of environmental conservation. We approach both the national and individual stewardship of natural resources in the spirit of his maxim: "The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value." Over the past three decades, we have made progress. Air and water are cleaner. Some endangered species have made comebacks. Wetlands are being preserved. Recycling is commonplace in our homes. That progress itself has brought us to the threshold of a new era in environmental policy. The lessons we have learned over the last three decades, along with the steady advance of environmental technology, gives us the opportunity to explore better ways to achieve even higher goals.
- We support the federal, local, state, and tribal responsibilities for environmental protection. We believe the government's main role should be to provide market-based incentives to innovate and develop the new technologies for Americans to meet – and exceed – environmental standards.
- We condemn the current administration's policy of resorting to confrontation first. Instead we should work cooperatively to ensure that our environmental policy meets the particular needs of geographic regions and localities.
- Environmental policy should focus on achieving results – cleaner air, water, and lands – not crafting bureaucratic processes. Where environmental standards are violated, the government should take consistent enforcement.
We will replicate Governor Bush's success on the national level. We will use Superfund resources to actually clean up places where people live and labor, rather than waste it on costly litigation. The old approach of mandate, regulate, and litigate has sent potential developers away from brownfield neighborhoods. The result: no new businesses, no new jobs – only dirty and dangerous sites. Governor Bush has pledged to transform this failure into an environmental win for those communities, just as he did in Texas, and we heartily endorse his agenda for doing so.
As environmental issues become increasingly international, progress will increasingly depend on strong and credible presidential leadership. Complex and contentious issues like global warming call for a far more realistic approach than that of the Kyoto Conference. Its deliberations were not based on the best science; its proposed agreements would be ineffective and unfair inasmuch as they do not apply to the developing world; and the current administration is still trying to implement it, without authority of law. More research is needed to understand both the cause and the impact of global warming. That is why the Kyoto treaty was repudiated in a lopsided, bipartisan Senate vote. A Republican president will work with businesses and with other nations to reduce harmful emissions through new technologies without compromising America's sovereignty or competitiveness – and without forcing Americans to walk to work.
Protecting Property Rights
We link the security of private property to our environmental agenda for the best of reasons: Environmental stewardship has best advanced where property is privately held. After all, people who live on the land, work the land, and own the land also love the land and protect it. As Governor Bush has said, "For the American farmer, every day is Earth Day." Conversely, the world's worst cases of environmental degradation have occurred in places where most property is under government control. For reasons both constitutional and environmental, therefore, we will safeguard private property rights by enforcing the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment and by providing just compensation whenever private property is needed to achieve a compelling public purpose.
Public Lands for the Public Good
Collaborative conservation represents the future for the 657 million acres of America we call the "Public Lands." Working from the grass roots up, local groups are finding solutions for the problems of the public lands in their areas. Republicans want to encourage that approach, for it holds the greatest promise of sound environmental stewardship and productive use of the nation's natural resources. We will change the operating culture of the federal agencies that manage public lands, giving a greater role to states and to their political subdivisions in order to foster a creative partnership with the American people. As a sign of that partnership, we applaud Governor Bush's intention to make all federal facilities comply with the environmental laws by which the American people live.
If there had been any doubt that major reform is needed in the management of public lands, it was burnt away in the catastrophic wildfires of recent months. This avoidable devastation was the price innocent people and helpless communities paid for the extreme policies – and environmental arrogance – of the current administration. Greater tragedies await the people of our Western States if those policies are not changed. Republicans will employ the best techniques of forestry science to implement a national management strategy for public lands that minimizes the risk to local communities while preserving our natural heritage.
Our national parks are the crown jewels of the country's environmental heritage. They belong to all Americans and should be accessible to all. Congressional Republicans have taken the lead in reversing years of neglect and abuse of these treasures, and we will continue that proactive agenda to keep the park system healthy and accessible to all. We should make it a priority to alleviate the maintenance and operations backlog at our national parks. Rather than adding to this magnificent legacy by unilateral executive branch action, such as the administration's recent National Monument designations, we will seek to actively involve Congress, as well as affected states and local communities, in land acquisition decisions.
We support multiple use of public lands conducted in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner. We are committed to preserving high priority wilderness and wetlands. The Everglades are a crucial example of a special federal responsibility. We call for a review of lands owned by the national government – half the total territory of our Western States – to develop a comprehensive plan to better manage existing holdings. In some cases, that may mean transferring or sharing responsibility for managing those lands with state or local governments, while all levels of government should recognize existing rights to water, minerals, and grazing. We reaffirm the traditional state primacy over water allocations and will continue the availability of renewable rangeland under conditions that ensure both expanded production of livestock and protection of the range environment. We also reaffirm our commitment to preserve access to public lands for multiple use.
We recognize the vital role the timber industry plays in our economy, particularly in homebuilding, and we support its efforts to improve the health of the country's forests. Because so many people in rural America rely on public forests for their livelihood, a Republican administration will promote sustainable forest management, using the best science in place of the no-growth policies that have devastated communities in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
American Agriculture and Rural America in the Global Economy
Agriculture is at the heart of the U.S. economy. The food and fiber sector accounts for 13 percent of the nation's economic output and employs, directly or indirectly, more than 22 million people. When agriculture is hurting, the entire country aches. In all our policies and programs, the Republican party is guided by two principles. First, to farmers and ranchers, nothing beats production and sales at a good price. As long as they have truly fair and open domestic and foreign markets, they can do for themselves far better than anything government can do for them. Second, they want to produce what makes sense on their own private property, not what official Washington thinks should be grown there. Under Republican leadership, government will never again run our family farms.
For American agriculture, prosperity depends in large measure on expansion of global markets. Our farmers already export some $54 billion in products and commodities every year. For them, for the aspirations of their families and the dreams of their children, the opening of foreign markets is essential. Governor Bush understands that. That's why he has asked for restoration of presidential fast-track negotiating authority, the key to forceful trade negotiations abroad. And it's why he's determined to open the China market for America's farmers and ranchers. It's why he's called for the U.S. to demand, in the next round of global trade talks, the complete elimination of agricultural export subsidies and tariffs. It's why he will fight the European Community's outrageous restrictions against imports of U.S. crops and livestock. And it's why he has pledged to exempt food exports from any new trade sanctions.
Results will take time, and so, looking toward the Farm Bill of the year 2002, we call for immediate action on a safety net that will give farmers the means to manage cyclical downturns. This year's reform of the Federal Crop Insurance Act by the Republican Congress was a good start. In its wake, we propose: Emergency assistance to facilitate the transition to a market-driven regime.
A farm income savings plan: tax-deferred accounts to soften fluctuations in farm earnings.
- Total repeal of the death tax.
- Immediate 100 percent deductibility for health insurance costs.
- A one-time exemption from capital gains tax on the sale of farms.
- Regulatory relief.
We reaffirm our strong support for agricultural research, including biotech and biomass research, and for a permanent research and development tax credit. We likewise support the ethanol tax credit, which is good for both the environment and for farmers. Our program of regulatory reform has special relevance to farming, which bears an annual regulatory burden of $20 billion. Every farm family has better uses for that money. Apart from costs, there are grave questions about the impact of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act. Its implementation must not disrupt farmers' access to safe crop protection products. We reaffirm our support for cooperative partnerships between federal, state, and local governments and private landowners for the conservation of our soil, water and biological resources on private land. The federal government should work with the states to adopt water quality standards that rely on the best science and implementation of best management practices, including addressing hypoxia and runoff issues.
What happened? Eight years ago, the nation was energy confident. Our standing in the Middle East was at its zenith. The oil cartel was in retreat; gasoline was affordable, even as automotive progress reduced emissions from cars. Today, gas prices have skyrocketed, and oil imports are at all-time highs. Foreign oil now accounts for one-third of our total trade deficit. Meanwhile, domestic oil production has fallen 17 percent over the last eight years, as vast areas of the continental U.S. have been put off limits to energy leasing – though we depend on oil and natural gas for 65 percent of our energy supply. Additional oil reserves and deposits of low-sulfur coal may be out of reach because of unilateral designation of new national monuments.
By any reasonable standard, the Department of Energy has utterly failed in its mission to safeguard America's energy security. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been no better, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been shutting off America's energy pipeline with a regulatory blitz that has only just begun. In fact, 36 oil refineries have closed in just the last eight years, while not a single new refinery has been built in this country in the last quarter-century. EPA's patchwork of regulations has driven fuel prices higher in some areas than in others and has made energy supplies no longer fungible. What meets EPA's standards in one city may not be legally sold in another. The result has been localized shortages and sharp price spikes, as suppliers scramble to get acceptable fuels to the markets where they are needed.
Environmental concerns are not at the heart of the matter. In fact, the current administration has turned its back on the two sources that produce virtually all of the nation's emission-free power: nuclear and hydro, the sources for 30 percent of the country's electricity. Because of cumbersome federal relicensing of hydro and nuclear operations, we face the prospect of increasing emissions and dirtier air. Meanwhile, nuclear plants are choking on waste because the current administration breached its contract to remove it – and then vetoed bipartisan legislation to store it at a safe, permanent repository for which the taxpayers have already paid $7 billion. At the same time, power-producing dams are being torn down, by federal edict, in energy-short areas, and the Pacific Northwest is their next target. Breaching dams would not only raise electric rates but would deny western farmers irreplaceable water for irrigation and a cost-effective means of moving their crops to West Coast ports. We should develop and use technologies that will help entrance salmon runs while keeping the dams in place.
It's a man-made nightmare, but at last the public is waking up and demanding change. What is at stake, after all, is not just the price we pay to heat and cool our homes. What is at stake is the nation's New Economy, which relies heavily on electricity for its infrastructure and on petroleum for its trade. Affordable energy, the result of Republican policies in the 1980s, helped create the New Economy. If we do not carefully plan for our energy needs, the entire economy could be significantly weakened. The Republican Congress has moved to deregulate the electricity industry and empower consumers through a competitive market – but congressional Democrats are holding up the process, and the administration has provided no leadership. America needs a national energy strategy – and a Republican president will work with congressional Republicans to enact their National Energy Security Act. That strategy will:
- Improve federal oil and gas lease permit processing and management, including coalbed methane.
- Provide tax incentives for production.
- Promote environmentally responsible exploration and development of oil and gas reserves on federally-owned land, including the Coastal Plain of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
- Offer a degree of price certainty to keep small domestic stripper producers in operation.
- Advance clean coal technology.
- Maintain the ethanol tax credit.
- Provide a tax incentive for residential use of solar power.
This agenda will reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, help consumers by lowering energy prices, and result in lower carbon emissions than would result from the current administration's policies. To protect consumers against seasonal price spikes, that legislation also authorizes a home heating oil reserve for the Northeastern States and allows expensing of costs for its storage. It will also make low-income housing more energy-efficient. All in all, it is a dramatic reversal of the nation's present course, and that's just what America needs: a balanced portfolio of energy options that is stable, secure, and affordable, with minimal impact on the environment.
A Nation On The Move
Commerce is the lifeblood of our economy, and the transportation infrastructure is its circulatory system. Without safe and efficient transport, the economy withers away. Maintaining that vital infrastructure has always been, in part, a federal responsibility, and Republicans have historically been the party of builders. From the era of the transcontinental railroad and the Panama Canal to President Eisenhower's establishment of the Interstate Highway System, we have championed investment in transportation assets as a cornerstone of the economy and, indeed, our national way of life.
More recently, the Republican-led Congress has enacted two historic pieces of legislation: the 1998 Transportation Equity Act for the Twenty-First Century and this year's Aviation Investment and Reform Act. These landmark laws represent an unprecedented federal investment in roads, bridges, transit systems, airports and air traffic control systems – without additional taxes. They simply unlock the transportation trust funds to invest the dollars motorists and the traveling public have already paid. Those funds had been subject to years