2000 US Republican Party Platform
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.
We meet at a remarkable time in the life of our country. Our powerful economy gives America a unique chance to confront persistent challenges. Our country, after an era of drift, must now set itself to important tasks and higher goals. The Republican Party has the vision and leadership to address these issues.
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.
This platform makes clear that we are the party of ideas. We are the party that follows its bold words with bold deeds.
Since the election of 1860, the Republican Party has had a special calling – to advance the founding principles of freedom and limited government and the dignity and worth of every individual.
These principles form the foundation of both an agenda for America in the year 2000 and this platform for our party. They point us toward reforms in government, a restoration of timeless values, and a renewal of our national purpose.
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.
Under his leadership, the Republican Party commits itself to bold reforms in education – to make every school a place of learning and achievement for every child. We will preserve local control of public schools, while demanding high standards and accountability for results.
We commit ourselves to saving and strengthening Social Security. After years of neglect and delay, we will keep this fundamental commitment to the senior citizens of today and tomorrow.
We commit ourselves to rebuilding the American military and returning to a foreign policy of strength and purpose and a renewed commitment to our allies. We will deploy defenses against ballistic missiles and develop the weapons and strategies needed to win battles in this new technological era.
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 commit ourselves to aiding and encouraging the work of charitable and faith-based organizations, which today are making great strides in overcoming poverty and other social problems, bringing new hope into millions of lives. For every American there must be a ladder of opportunity, and for those most in need, a safety net of care.
We recommit ourselves to the values that strengthen our culture and sustain our nation: family, faith, personal responsibility, and a belief in the dignity of every human life.
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.
We seek to be faithful to the best traditions of our party. We are the party that ended slavery, granted homesteads, built land grant colleges, and moved control of government out of Washington, back into the hands of the people. We believe in service to the common good – and that good is not common until it is shared.
We believe that from freedom comes opportunity; from opportunity comes growth; and from growth comes progress and prosperity.
Our vision is one of clear direction, new ideas, civility in public life, and leadership with honor and distinction.
This is an election with clear alternatives. The Republican Party offers America a chance to begin anew: To give purpose to our plenty. To apply enduring principles to new challenges. To extend to all citizens the full promise of American life.
With confidence in our fellow Americans and great hopes for the future of our country, we respectfully submit this platform to the people of the United States.
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.
It takes both candor and courage to say, as George W. Bush has said, that, even in times of large surpluses, the economy is far from perfect and we should not be satisfied with the status quo. Budget surpluses are the result of over-taxation of the American people. The weak link in the chain of prosperity is the tax system. It not only burdens the American people; it threatens to slow, and perhaps to reverse, the economic expansion:
- The federal tax code is dysfunctional. It penalizes hard work, marriage, thrift, and success – the very factors that are the foundations for lasting prosperity.
- 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:
- Replace the five current tax brackets with four lower ones, ensuring all taxpayers significant tax relief while targeting it especially toward low-income workers.
- Help families by doubling the child tax credit to $1,000, making it available to more families, and eliminating the marriage penalty.
- Encourage entrepreneurship and growth by capping the top marginal rate, ending the death tax, and making permanent the Research and Development credit.
- 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.
In 1997 the Republican Congress cut the capital gains tax from 28 percent to 20 percent. As a result capital gains for Americans doubled and federal government tax receipts from capital gains jumped from $50 billion in 1996 to $75 billion in 1997. These tax cuts produce more economic growth and often more tax revenues. We cheer their lowering of the capital gains tax rate and look forward to further reductions that will stimulate property sales and development to bring jobs and renewal to our urban neighborhoods.
To guard against future tax hikes, we support legislation requiring a super-majority vote in both houses of Congress to raise taxes. We will prohibit retroactive taxation and will not tolerate attempts by federal judges to impose taxes. Because of the vital role of religious and fraternal benevolent societies in fostering charity and patriotism, they should not be subject to taxation.
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.
Affordable housing is in the national interest. That is why the mortgage interest deduction for primary residences was put into the federal tax code, and why tax reform of any kind should continue to encourage homeownership. At the same time, a balanced national housing policy must recognize that decent housing includes apartments, and addresses the needs of all citizens, including renters.
We will turn over to local communities foreclosed and abandoned HUD properties for urban homesteading, a citizen renovation effort that has been remarkably successful in revitalizing neighborhoods. We affirm our commitment to open housing, without quotas or controls, and we applaud the proactive efforts by the realty and housing industries to assure access for everyone.
In many areas, housing prices are higher than they need to be because of regulations that drive up building costs. Some regulation is of course necessary, and so is sensible zoning. But we urge states and localities to work with local builders and lenders to eliminate unnecessary burdens that price many families out of the market. We see no role for any federal regulation of homebuilding, but we do foresee a larger role for State and local governments in controlling the federally assisted housing that has been so poorly managed from Washington. We also encourage the modification of restrictions that inhibit the rehabilitation of existing distressed properties.
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.
We will end the harassment of small businesses by federal agencies. In the case of OSHA, we will withdraw its proposed ergonomics standard, ban its bureaucracy from the homes of telecommuting workers, and change the agency from an adversary to a partner for safer productivity. We will halt the IRS discrimination against independent contractors and, in order to guard against unwise regulation, will include the agency in the current procedures of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.
Providing health insurance is a major challenge for small business owners. Almost 60 percent of uninsured workers are either employed by small business or are self-employed. That is compelling reason to immediately allow 100 percent deductibility of health insurance premiums and let small businesses to band together, across State lines, to purchase insurance through association health plans.
Work Place of the Future
Individual Americans, on their own initiative, are already creating the work place of the future. Employees and employers alike need to act as a team, not as adversaries, to be competitive in the world market. Republicans want to empower them to do all of that, because we believe they know what is best for their families, their earnings, and their advancement in an opportunity economy. To help them reach their goals, government must replace antiquated laws that restrict opportunity, increase costs, and inhibit innovation.
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.
The vitality of that agenda depends upon the vigorous enforcement of U.S. trade laws against unfair competition. We will not tolerate the foreign practices, rules, and subsidization that put our exports on an unequal footing. It is not enough to secure signatures on a piece of paper; our trading partners must follow through on the promises they make. First and foremost, we must restore the credibility of U.S. trade leadership. We therefore propose to:
- 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.
- Negotiate reductions in tariffs on U.S. industrial goods and the elimination of other trade barriers so that our autos, heavy machinery, textiles, and other products will no longer be shut out of foreign markets.
- Take action against any trading partner that uses pseudo-science to block importation of U.S. bioengineered crops.
- Advance a Free Trade Area of the Americas to take advantage of burgeoning new markets at our doorstep.
- Revise export controls to tighten control over military technology and ease restrictions on technology already available commercially.
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.
The innovation at the heart of our New Economy has become the greatest force for change all over the world. With information technology, people in bondage can taste freedom, and people in freedom can bond more securely with each other. People who used to work for others are now independent entrepreneurs. And citizens are drilling through layers of entrenched bureaucracy to directly access information and transact business.
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.
Republicans recognize that the role of government in the New Economy is to foster an environment where innovation can flourish. The Information Revolution is the product of the creative efforts and hard work of men and women in the private sector, and not of government bureaucrats. At the same time, we recognize the magnitude and pace of change require vigilance to make the most of its opportunities and to mitigate its possible difficulties. For what we have experienced thus far is surely only the beginning of almost unimaginable growth, change, and more change. Let others be timid in the face of it, but let this country seize the opportunity.
The Republican Congress deserves great credit for what it has already done to fulfill its historic E-Contract with the American people:
- The Internet Tax Freedom Act put a three-year moratorium on new Internet taxes to ensure that electronic commerce would not be smothered in its infancy.
- An expanded visa program (H1-B) provided much of the highly skilled labor that makes rapid technological progress possible.
- The Securities Litigation Reform Act, enacted by overriding a veto, is preventing trial lawyers from preying on new cutting-edge companies. The threat of abusive lawsuits must not be allowed to cripple the capital formation that will drive the Information Revolution.
- A codified World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) agreement ensured that content providers are protected from foreign criminals.
- Our extended research and development tax credit allows companies to innovate, when innovation is the name of the high tech game.
- Deregulation of telecommunications, still in its early stages, shattered monopolies and opened the door to worldwide communication.
These initiatives are grounded in a steadfast commitment to open markets, to minimal regulations, and to reducing taxes that snuff out innovation – principles at the heart of the new economy and our party.
Our latest breakthrough, enacted only weeks ago, is a landmark commercial law granting electronic signatures used in the formation of contracts online the same legal validity as pen and ink signatures on paper. With this single stroke, business-to-business e-commerce will explode, paperwork costs will decline, convenience will increase, and consumers rack up another major victory.
The impact of the Internet on the daily workings of government to make it more responsive and citizen-centered is considered elsewhere in this platform. But Republicans welcome the Information Revolution to the political arena too. Democracy thrives on well-informed citizens, and now the public will have unprecedented access to the workings of government, including the voting records of their Members of Congress and the written opinions of judges, whose decisions will now be reviewable in the court of public opinion.
Where do we go from here?
- First, commit to global markets and free trade. Internet curtains must not take the place of the Iron Curtain through tariffs, duties, or taxes on Internet access. We call for a permanent ban on access taxes and an extension of the current moratorium on new and discriminatory taxes, which shall not prohibit a state from collecting taxes that are currently authorized by law.
- 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.
- Third, speed up the research and innovation that drive technological progress, along the lines of our proposed tax reforms, National Institute of Health (NIH) funding, and a $20 billion increase in the research and development budget of the Defense Department.
- Fourth, protect the technology industry from modern day pirates at home and abroad: both those who violate copyrights and those who loot by litigation.
- Restrain the hand of government so that it cannot smother or slow the growth of worldwide commerce and communication through the Internet.
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.
In recent years, America seemed to move away from some of the qualities that make her great, but we are now relearning some important lessons. The key is to acknowledge the mistakes, fix them, learn from them, and move on.
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:
- Raise academic standards through increased local control and accountability to parents, shrinking a multitude of federal programs into five flexible grants in exchange for real, measured progress in student achievement
- Assist states in closing the achievement gap and empower needy families to escape persistently failing schools by allowing federal dollars to follow their children to the school of their choice.
- 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.
- Help states ensure school safety by letting children in dangerous schools transfer to schools that are safe for learning and by forcefully prosecuting youths who carry or use guns and the adults who provide them.
- Ensure that all children learn to read by reforming Head Start and by facilitating state reading initiatives that focus on scientifically based reading research, including phonics.
Nothing is more important than literacy, and yet many children have trouble reading. This problem must be addressed at all grade levels. And as is so often the case in education, the solution is parent and child working together with teachers to help break a cycle of illiteracy that may have extended from generation to generation. We want to replace that pattern with the rich legacy of reading.
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.
Qualified teachers are the vanguard of education reform. With mastery of their subjects, a contagious enthusiasm for learning, and a heartfelt commitment to their students, they can make any school great. That is why we advocate merit pay for them and expanded opportunities for professional development. Today, however, many teachers face danger and disrespect in the classroom, and their efforts to maintain order are hampered by the threat of litigation. We propose special legal protection for teachers to shield them from meritless lawsuits. We advocate a zero-tolerance policy toward all students who disrupt the classroom and we reaffirm that school officials must have the right and responsibility to appropriately discipline all students, including students with disabilities, who are disruptive or violent. Toward the same end, we will encourage faith-based and community organizations to take leading roles in after-school programs that build character and improve behavior. We propose to improve teacher training and recruiting by expanding the Troops-to-Teachers program, which places retired military personnel in the classroom, and by rewarding states that enact a system for teacher accountability. We will expand teacher loan-forgiveness to encourage qualified candidates to serve in high-need schools. As a matter of fairness, we will establish a teacher tax deduction to help defray the out-of-pocket teaching expenses so many good home, private, and public school teachers make to benefit their students.
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
One of the most profound changes in American society in the last half-century was the opening of post-secondary education to virtually everyone. Competition among institutions has been the key to that success. What began with the GI Bill in the 1940s has now, through student loans and grants, become the best higher education system in the world. Ours is a system in which achievement can count for more than money or social status. Americans are rightly proud of that. Now the challenges we face in the technological revolution and in the global economy require us to continue to expand the extent and excellence of higher education.
That is why both Governor Bush and congressional Republicans have given priority to programs that increase access to higher education for qualified students. The centerpiece of this effort has been education savings accounts – the ideal combination of minimal red tape and maximum consumer choice. Along with that innovation, congressional Republicans passed legislation to allow tax-free distributions from state pre-paid tuition plans, enhance the tax deduction for student loans, and make it more practicable for employers to provide educational assistance to train workers. Unfortunately, that legislation was vetoed. Next year, a Republican president will sign it into law.
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.
- Attract science, math, and engineering grads to low-income schools and areas with shortages of those teachers.
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.
The time is here to act, to bring hope, to expand opportunity. Republican governors throughout the country sparked a revolution that brought about the greatest social policy change in nearly 60 years – welfare reform. Inspired by the innovative reforms of Republican governors that successfully moved families from welfare dependence to the independence of work, congressional Republicans passed landmark welfare reform legislation in 1996 that has helped millions of Americans break the cycle of welfare and gain independence for their families. Because of that legislation – turning welfare resources and decision-making back to the states, with the understanding that recipients must meet a work requirement and such assistance would be only temporary – about six million Americans are now gainfully employed, many for the first time. We salute them.
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:
- Reward work with tax reform that takes 6 million families off the tax rolls, cuts the rate for those who remain on the rolls, and doubles the child tax credit to $1,000.
- 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.
- Increase the supply of affordable housing for low-income working families and rehabilitate abandoned housing that blights neighborhoods by establishing the Renewing the Dream tax credit. This investor-based tax credit will create or renovate more than 100,000 single-family housing units in distressed communities.
- Build savings and personal wealth through Individual Development Accounts, in partnership with banks, to accelerate the savings of low-income earners.
For many individuals, poverty signals more than the lack of money. It often represents obstacles that cannot be overcome with just a paycheck. These are the challenging cases, where government aid is least effective. These, too, are the situations where neighborhood and faith-based intervention has its greatest power. For this reason, the Republican Congress mandated charitable choice in the welfare reform law of 1996, allowing states to contract with faith-based providers for welfare services on the same basis as any other providers. The current administration has done its utmost to block the implementation of that provision, insisting that all symbols of religion must be removed or covered over – precisely what the 1996 provisions set out to prevent. The result is that many of the most successful service programs are essentially blacklisted because they will neither conceal nor compromise the faith that makes them so effective in changing lives. While this is unfair to faith-based organizations, it is unjust to those whom they could help conquer abuse, addiction, and hopelessness.
Texas was the first state to implement charitable choice in welfare, and its governor intends to expand it to all federally-funded human services programs. We support his plans to unbar the gates of the government ghetto, inviting into the American dream those who are now in its shadows and using the dedication and expertise of faith communities to make it happen.
This is what we propose:
- Apply charitable Choice to all federal social service programs.
- Encourage an outpouring of giving by extending the current federal charity tax deduction to the 70 percent of all tax filers who do not itemize their deductions and by allowing people to make donations tax-free from their IRAs.
- Promote corporate giving by raising the cap on their charitable deductions and assuring them liability protection for their in-kind donations.
The renewal of entire communities is an awesome task and involves one human face, one human heart at a time. But the American people have a long and seasoned history of working wonders. Government does have a role to play, but as a partner, not a rival, to the armies of compassion. These forces have roots in the areas they serve, and their leaders are people to whom the disadvantaged are not statistics, but neighbors, friends, and moral individuals created in the image of God. With these approaches government becomes a partner with community and faith-based providers in supporting families and children and helping them improve their opportunities for a better life.
Children At Risk
Republicans recognize the importance of having a father and a mother in the home. The two-parent family still provides the best environment of stability, discipline, responsibility, and character. Documentation shows that where the father has deserted his family, children are more likely to commit a crime, drop out of school, become violent, become teen parents, take illegal drugs, become mired in poverty, or have emotional or behavioral problems. We support the courageous efforts of single-parent families to have a stable home.
The participation of faith-based and community groups will be especially important in dealing with the twin problems of non-marital pregnancy and substance abuse. Reducing those behaviors is the surest way to end the cycle of child poverty. After-school programs should be fully open to the community and faith-based groups that know best how to reach out to our children and help them reach their true potential.
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 contraception and abortion. We urge the states to enforce laws against statutory rape, which accounts for an enormous portion of teen pregnancy. We support the establishment of Second Chance Maternity Homes, like the ones Governor Bush has proposed, to give young unwed mothers the opportunity to develop parenting skills, finish school, and enter the workforce. Because many youngsters fall into poverty as a result of divorce, we also encourage states to review their divorce laws and to support projects that strengthen marriage, promote successful parenting, bolster the stability of the home, and protect the economic rights of the innocent spouse and children. Finally, because so many social ills plaguing America are fueled by the absence of fathers, we support initiatives that strengthen marriage rates and promote committed fatherhood.
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.
Illegal drugs and alcohol abuse are closely related to the incidence of child abuse. Government at all levels spends about $20 billion annually on a confusing array of programs to help either the children or adults in abusive or neglectful families. While the largest federal effort is the open-ended entitlements aimed at foster care and adoption, very little is allotted to preventive and family support services.
We must decrease abuse caseloads and increase accountability throughout the child protection system. We propose to restructure that system along the lines of our welfare reform success, by combining the separate and competing funding sources into a Child Protection Block Grant with guaranteed levels of funding. This will empower the states to respond more quickly, more flexibly, and with greater compassion to children in peril. We call for the stringent and effective enforcement of laws against the abuse of children.
For many of those children, adoption may be the only route to a stable and loving home. Government at all levels should work with the charitable and faith-based groups that provide adoption services to remove the obstacles they sometimes encounter in their efforts to unite children in need with families who need them.
We call for state and local efforts to help the more than two million children of prisoners through pre-schools, mentoring, and family rebuilding programs. These children are often the ignored victims of crime. Early intervention in their plight is essential to reduce the cycle of violence and to save a child. We should be tough on criminals but compassionate toward our children.
Renewing Family and Community
Individual rights – and the responsibilities that go with them – are the foundation of a free society. In protecting those rights, and in asserting those responsibilities, we affirm the common good, and common goals, that should unite all Americans.
We are the party of the open door, determined to strengthen the social, cultural, and political ties that bind us together and make our country the greatest force for good in the world. Steadfast in our commitment to our ideals, we recognize that members of our party can have deeply held and sometimes differing views. This diversity is a source of strength, not a sign of weakness, and so we welcome into our ranks all who may hold differing positions. We commit to resolve our differences with civility, trust, and mutual respect.
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.
Just as environmental pollution affects our physical health, so too does the pollution of our culture affect the health of our communities. There is much to celebrate in contemporary culture, but also much to deplore: The glorification of violence, the glamorizing of drugs, the abuse of women and children, whether in music or videos, advertising, or tabloid journalism. Still, there are individuals and organizations using their power as citizens and consumers to advance a cultural renewal in all aspects of American life. We support and applaud them.
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
Equality of individuals before the law has always been a cornerstone of our party. We therefore oppose discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin and will vigorously enforce anti-discrimination statutes. As we strive to forge a national consensus on the crucial issues of our time, we call on all Americans to reject the forces of hatred and bigotry. Accordingly, we denounce all who practice or promote racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic prejudice, and religious intolerance.
Our country was founded in faith and upon the truth that self-government is rooted in religious conviction. While the Constitution guards against the establishment of state-sponsored religion, it also honors the free exercise of religion. We believe the federal courts must respect this freedom and the original intent of the Framers. We assert the right of religious leaders to speak out on public issues and will not allow the EEOC or any other arm of government to regulate or ban religious symbols from the workplace. We condemn the desecration of places of worship and objects of religious devotion, and call upon the media to reconsider their role in fostering bias through negative stereotyping of religious citizens. We support the First Amendment right of freedom of association and stand united with private organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America, and support their positions.
Because we treasure freedom of conscience, we oppose attempts to compel individuals or institutions to violate their moral standards in providing health-related services. We believe religious institutions and schools should not be taxed. When government funds privately-operated social, welfare, or educational programs, it must not discriminate against faith-based organizations, whose record in providing services to those in need far exceeds that of the public sector. Their participation should be actively encouraged, and never conditioned upon the covering or removing of religious objects or symbols.
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 oppose the non-consensual withholding of care or treatment because of disability, age, or infirmity, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which endanger especially the poor and those on the margins of society. We applaud congressional Republicans for their leadership against those abuses and their pioneering legislation to focus research and treatment resources on the alleviation of pain and the care of terminally ill patients.
Seeking the counsel of those who would be most affected by it, the Republican Congress enacted the new Ticket-to-Work law, empowering persons with disabilities to choose their own support services by voucher. Equally important, and with the inspiration of initiatives by some Republican governors, we have made it possible for millions of individuals with disabilities to rejoin the work force without losing their health benefits. We pledge full enforcement of these and prior enactments that have helped bring individuals with disabilities into the mainstream of a society that needs their skills and their industry.
We support their full access to the polls and to the entire political process. The promise of assistive technology, so costly but offering hope to so many, makes it all the more crucial that we maintain the expanding economy that sustains the investment necessary to make miracles happen.
We defend the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and we affirm the individual responsibility to safely use and store firearms. Because self-defense is a basic human right, we will promote training in their safe usage, especially in federal programs for women and the elderly. A Republican administration will vigorously enforce current gun laws, neglected by the Democrats, especially by prosecuting dangerous offenders identified as felons in instant background checks. Although we support background checks to ensure that guns do not fall into the hands of criminals, we oppose federal licensing of law-abiding gun owners and national gun registration as a violation of the Second Amendment and an invasion of privacy of honest citizens. Through programs like Project Exile, we will hold criminals individually accountable for their actions by strong enforcement of federal and state firearm laws, especially when guns are used in violent or drug-related crimes. With a special emphasis upon school safety, we propose the crackdown on youth violence explained elsewhere in this platform.
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.
We have reaped enormous human capital in the genius and talent and industry of those who have escaped nations captive to totalitarianism. Our country still attracts the best and brightest to invent here, create wealth here, improve the quality of life here. As a nation of immigrants, we welcome all new Americans who have entered lawfully and are prepared to follow our laws and provide for themselves and their families. In their search for a better life, they strengthen our economy, enrich our culture, and defend the nation in war and in peace. To ensure fairness for those wishing to reside in this country, and to meet the manpower needs of our expanding economy, a total overhaul of the immigration system is sorely needed.
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.
Because free trade is the most powerful force for the kind of development that creates a middle class and offers opportunity at home, the long-term solution for illegal immigration is economic growth in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. In the short run, however, decisive action is needed. We therefore endorse the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform:
- Restore credibility to enforcement by devoting more resources both to border control and to internal operations.
- Reorganize family unification preferences to give priority to spouses and children, rather than extended family members.
- Emphasize needed skills in determining eligibility for admission.
- Overhaul the failed Labor Certification Program to end the huge delays in matching qualified workers with urgent work.
- Reform the Immigration and Naturalization Service by splitting its functions into two agencies, one focusing on enforcement and one exclusively devoted to service.
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
Most Americans over the age of fifty remember a time when streets and schoolyards were safe, doors unlocked, windows unbarred. The elderly did not live in fear and the young did not die in gunfire. That world is gone, swept away in the social upheaval provoked by the welfare, drug, and crime policies of the 1960s and later.
We cannot go back to that time of innocence, but we can go forward, step by difficult step, to recreate respect for law – and law that is worthy of respect. Most of that effort must come on the state and local levels, which have the primary responsibility for law enforcement. While we support community policing and other proven initiatives against crime, we strongly oppose any erosion of that responsibility by the federal government. Our Republican governors, legislators, and local leaders have taken a zero tolerance approach to crime that has led to the lowest crime and murder rates in a generation.
At the same time, we recognize the crucial leadership role the president and the Congress should play in restoring public safety. The congressional half of that team, in cooperation with governors and local officials who are the front line against crime, has been hard at work. Within proper federal jurisdiction, the Republican Congress has enacted legislation for an effective deterrent death penalty, restitution to victims, removal of criminal aliens, and vigilance against terrorism. They stopped federal judges from releasing criminals because of prison overcrowding, made it harder to file lawsuits about prison conditions, and, with a truth-in-sentencing law, pushed states to make sure violent felons actually do time. They have also provided billions of dollars, in the form of block grants, for law enforcement agencies to hire police and acquire new equipment and technology.
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:
- No-frills prisons, with productive work requirements, that make the threat of jail a powerful deterrent to crime.
- Increased penalties and resources to combat the dramatic rise in production and use of methamphetamine and new drugs such as ecstasy.
- An effective program of rehabilitation, where appropriate.
- Support of community-based diversion programs for first time, non-violent offenders.
- Reforming the Supreme Court's invented Exclusionary Rule, which has allowed countless criminals to get off on technicalities.
- 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.
We will reopen Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House as a symbolic expression of our confidence in the restoration of the rule of law.
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.
Millions of Americans suffer from problem or pathological gambling that can destroy families. We support legislation prohibiting gambling over the Internet or in student athletics by student athletes who are participating in competitive sports.
On both the federal and state levels, juvenile crime demands special attention, as the age of young offenders has fallen and their brutality has increased. We renew our call for a complete overhaul of the juvenile justice system that will punish juvenile offenders, open criminal proceedings to victims and the public, make conviction records more available, and enforce accountability for offenders, parents, and judges.
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.
Finally, continued assistance to state and local law enforcement is critical. Through research, grants, and joint task forces, the federal government should encourage smarter, more effective anti-crime efforts. In particular, we advocate assistance to police for their personal protection, continuing education and training, and family care.
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.
In the federal courts, scores of judges with activist backgrounds in the hard-left now have lifetime tenure. Our agenda for judicial reform is laid out elsewhere in this platform, but this is the heart of the matter: Whom do the American people trust to restore the rule of law, not just in our streets and playgrounds, not just in boardrooms and on Wall Street, but in our courts and in the Justice Department itself? The answer is clear. Governor Bush is determined to name only judges who have demonstrated respect for the Constitution and the processes of our republic.
Retirement Security and Quality Health Care: Our Pledge to America
There are those who say Americans must choose between security and freedom. They are wrong. Security and liberty are not enemies. When properly balanced, they are kindred means for advancing individual achievement. In the century past, that balance was not always maintained. There were times when the exercise of independence left too many Americans insecure, especially in their old age. And there were more times when the governmental imposition of security smothered the freedoms that should be at the center of American life.
The Republican vision for a good society restores the balance most Americans seek, by maintaining the structures that guard against unforeseen misfortune and, at the same time, encouraging individual decision-making and personal control.
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.
The current administration has treated Social Security as a slogan rather than a priority, demanding billions for new government programs instead of attending to the stability of our most important domestic program. Even worse, their proposal to let the government buy stocks on behalf of the Social Security trust fund was an unprecedented power grab over the entire American economy. Doing nothing is no longer an option, for it leads to three bitter choices in the near future: crippling levels of payroll taxation, significantly reduced benefits for Social Security recipients, or a crushing burden of public debt for generations to come.
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:
- Anyone currently receiving Social Security, or close to being eligible for it, will not be impacted by any changes.
- Key changes should merit bipartisan agreement so any reforms will be a win for the American people rather than a political victory for any one party.
- 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.
- Choice is the key. Any new options for retirement security should be voluntary, so workers can choose to remain in the current system or opt for something different.
- This is a challenge that demands the kind of presidential leadership the country has not seen in almost a decade. Governor Bush has shown his commitment by proposing a bold alternative to the collapse of Social Security. Along with Americans everywhere, we pledge to join him in this endeavor of a lifetime.
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.
No one in their right mind would choose a physician who limited her practice to the treatments and procedures of the 1960s. By the same token, no one should be content with a Medicare program based on benefit packages and delivery models of that same era. For example, it denies coverage for necessary preventive services, like cholesterol screenings, and limits access to new life-saving technologies. This must change. Every Medicare beneficiary should have a choice of health care options. We want them to have access to the health plan that best fits their medical needs. In short: no more governmental one-size-fits-all.
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
Americans enjoy the best health care in the world. Their system, the envy of all mankind, is the center of debate and controversy. This contradiction arises from the dynamism that is changing every aspect of American medicine. Change is seldom easy, and when it relates to the health of those we love, it can be downright scary. Still, the outcome of all this change is a world of unimagined promise in health. We must embrace that change, and master it as well.
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:
- There are currently 44 million uninsured Americans, an increase of one million for each of the past eight years.
- The institutions and the people who provide health care are at risk. Hospitals in our poorest urban and rural areas are being callously closed, by the same administration that budgets far less than was originally projected, while calling for greater coverage.
- The quality of health care is in jeopardy. Recent reports estimate that almost 100,000 patients die each year from medical errors. This is more than from auto accidents, murders, or AIDS.
- 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.
- The doctor-patient relationship has been eroded, and in some instances replaced, by external decision-making and managed care bureaucracy.
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.
Truly positive market forces occur when individuals have the ability to make individual marketplace decisions. We therefore strongly encourage support of the emerging concepts of defined contribution plans and medical savings accounts. Individuals should be free to manage their own health care needs through Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs) and Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs). These initiatives make a government takeover of health care as anachronistic as surgery without anesthesia. We will make these accounts the vanguard of a new consumer rights movement in health care. Individuals should be able to roll over excess FSA dollars from one year to the next, instead of losing their unspent money at the end of each year. MSAs should be a permanent part of tax law, offered to all workers without restriction, with both employers and employees allowed to contribute.
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.
One area of health care that is sadly ignored is the role of primary and preventive care. This is particularly important in our inner cities and rural communities, where the emergency room may be the only avenue for assistance. People in rural and underserved areas need access to critical primary care. We will boost funding for community health centers and establish stronger public-private partnerships for safety net providers and hospitals in rural and underserved communities.
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.
Across this country, and at all levels of government, Republicans are at the forefront in aggressively developing health care initiatives targeted specifically at the needs of women. The enormous increases in the NIH budget brought about by the Republican Congress will make possible aggressive new research and clinical trials into diseases and health issues that disproportionately affect women as well as into conditions that affect the elderly, the majority of whom are women. And we are leading efforts to reach out to underserved and minority female populations, where disparities persist in life expectancy, infant mortality and death rates from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
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.
The increasing focus upon health problems of the very elderly, the great majority of whom are women, holds the promise of advances concerning osteoporosis and other ailments which should no longer be considered the inevitable price of old age. Because nutrition is intimately related to health, we advocate state flexibility in managing the various federal nutrition programs for low-income families, especially those receiving TANF assistance, most of whom are female-headed households. Their transition to jobs and independence should include nutritional improvement both for mothers and for their children.
The united efforts of Republican leaders at all levels of government and within our communities will make sure that women gain greater access to relevant care, research, and education on health care issues important to them.
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.
Safe Clinical Trials. Ensuring the safety of patients who participate in investigational clinical trials is fundamental to the future of medical innovation. The lack of oversight by the current administration in gene therapy trials put patients at risk and undermined critical research. A Republican administration will require the Food and Drug Administration and NIH to make patient protection a priority in clinical trial research.
Emerging Threats and Bioterrorism. The current administration has left our public health system inadequate to respond to the threats of emerging infectious diseases and the possibility of bioterrorism. We pledge to ensure the ability of the public health service to detect, track, and prevent infectious outbreaks, whether natural or provoked by those who hate America.
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.
Our way is to trust the innate good sense and decency of the American people. We will make them partners with government, rather than adversaries of it. The way current laws have been implemented has often fostered costly litigation and discouraged personal innovation in environmental conservation. We need to get back on a common track, so that both the people and their government can jointly focus on the real problems at hand. As a basis for that cooperation, we propose these principles:
- Economic prosperity and environmental protection must advance together. Prosperity gives our society the wherewithal to advance environmental protection, and a thriving natural environment enhances the quality of life that makes prosperity worthwhile.
- Scare tactics and scapegoating of legitimate economic interests undermine support for environmental causes and, what is worse, can discredit actual threats to health and safety.
- Environmental regulations should be based upon the best science, peer-reviewed, and available for public consideration.
- 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.
While the very nature of environmental concerns at times requires federal intervention, the heartening progress made by many of the states and localities demonstrates their unique ability to solve problems at the local level. As the laboratories of innovation, they should be given flexibility, authority, and finality by the federal government. Many states have enacted environmental education and voluntary self-audit laws to encourage people to find and correct pollution; the Congress should remove disincentives for states to achieve these goals. Strong leadership by governors, legislators, and local officials is the key to solving the emerging environmental issues of this new century. For example, the reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act by the Republican Congress enabled states and communities to take stronger action to ensure reliable and safe water supplies. Another example is the way states are handling the problem of brownfields. In 35 states, voluntary programs are cleaning up thousands of brownfield sites faster and more effectively, and with less litigation, than under the federal Superfund program. A case in point is Texas, where, under Governor Bush, the number of brownfield sites restored to productive use climbed from zero to 451, not only improving the environment but restoring more than $200 million in property value to local tax rolls, most of it in poor communities.
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.
Wherever it is environmentally responsible to do so, we will promote market-based programs that are voluntary, flexible, comprehensive, and cost-effective. The Endangered Species Act (ESA), for example, is sometimes counter-productive toward its truly important goal of protecting rare species, 75 percent of which are located on private land. Its punitive approach actually encourages landowners to remove habitat to avoid federal intervention. This serves as a disincentive for private landowners to do more to restore habitat and become private stewards of wildlife. The legislation needs incentive-based cooperation among federal, state, local, and tribal governments, and private citizens. The result will be a more effective ESA that better protects wildlife diversity.
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.
While these are not the best of times for farmers and ranchers, the hopeful promise of our Freedom to Farm Act, which finally replaced decades of controls by a federal bureaucracy, has been limited by events at home and abroad. Farmers were promised that, along with the end of governmental protection for commodities markets, there would be reforms in tax, trade, and regulatory policy. Opposition from the current administration minimized progress in all three areas. As a result, American farmers were hard pressed to deal with the challenge of increased global production and slack demand in Asia. The ineptitude of current U.S. trade policy only made it worse.
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.
We call for the elimination of outdated laws that hamper the adaptation of agriculture to the demands and opportunities of a new century. Futures trading should be deregulated. Regional restrictions on dairy products that drive up consumer prices and penalize productive farmers should be ended. We commend the livestock industry for its efforts to ensure accurate and open price reporting to ensure a competitive market.
There is much more to rural America than agriculture, ranching, and forestry. The kind of economic development that generates family-sustaining jobs is critical to small towns and rural communities. We recognize the special challenges they face in working for good schools, accessible health care, decent housing, safe drinking water and waste disposal, and serviceable transportation. The federal government should be an active partner with state and local entities in that process, especially in advancing the availability of the Internet and modern telecommunications technology in rural America.
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:
- Increase domestic supplies of coal, oil, and natural gas. Our country does have ample energy resources waiting to be developed, and there is simply no substitute for an increase in their domestic production.
- 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.
- Expand the tax credit for renewable energy sources to include wind and open-loop biomass facilities, and electricity produced from steel cogeneration.
- 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 of abuse under Democrat-controlled Congresses but are now statutorily dedicated to building and maintaining the transportation system for which our citizens pay. The same budgetary protections should be extende