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.”
— George W. Bush
"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.