August 30, 2004
RONALD REAGAN believed that people were basically good, and had the right to be free. He believed that bigotry and prejudice were the worst things a person could be guilty of. He believed in the Golden Rule and in the power of prayer. He believed that America was not just a place in the world, but the hope of the world. As Ronald Wilson Reagan goes his way, we are left with a joyful hope he shared.
May God bless Ronald Reagan and the country he loved.
President George W. Bush Funeral Service for Former President Ronald Wilson Reagan Washington National Cathedral Washington, D.C. June 11, 2004
INTRODUCTION AND PREAMBLE
One hundred and fifty years ago, Americans who had gathered to protest the expansion of slavery gave birth to a political Party that would save the Union – the Republican Party.
In 1860, Abraham Lincoln of Illinois carried the Republican banner in the Presidential election and was elected the Party's first President. He became our nation's greatest leader … and one of our Party's greatest heroes.
Every day, we strive to fulfill Lincoln's vision: a country united and free, in which all people are guaranteed equal rights and the opportunity to pursue their dreams. His legacy goes beyond the borders of America. It can be seen in free governments all over the world.
Lincoln's successors have been united by a common purpose – defending freedom at home and promoting it abroad. Today, the Republican Party gathers to renominate a man who carries on the best traditions of our Party by carrying the banner of freedom.
When America was struck by terrorists on September 11, 2001, President Bush immediately realized that it was an act of war, not just a crime. Working with Congress, the President drew up plans to take the fight to the enemy, vowing to bring the terrorists to justice, or bring justice to the terrorists. And together, the President and Congress took steps to help the wounded, honor the dead, and secure our homeland.
Thanks to President Bush's leadership, the skill of the American military, and the commitment of our allies, today there are more than 50 million newly free people in the nations of Afghanistan and Iraq – and America is safer.
The President's leadership has also been bold and visionary at home. When the President came to office, our economy was faltering, seniors were having trouble paying for their prescription drugs, and schools were stuck in a pattern of low expectations and poor results.
President Bush worked with Congress to lower taxes, so Americans can keep more of their own hard-earned money to spend, save, or invest, thereby growing our economy and putting people back to work.
He worked with Congress to strengthen Medicare by adding a prescription drug benefit and giving seniors more choices to meet their individual health care needs.
And the President worked with Congress to pass historic education reforms to ensure that every child can read. Today, higher standards and stronger accountability are getting results in classrooms across America.
We are proud of the record we offer to the American people. We have helped America overcome extraordinary challenges. We are re-shaping our government to meet the demands of the modern world and better serve our citizens.
We are also proud of our agenda for America's future. President George W. Bush will lead this nation with courage, hope, and resolve over the next four years. Republicans have always been the Party of fresh ideas and new thinking. We encourage debate on the major issues of our day, and we will consistently act in accord with the greatest values of our country – freedom and opportunity for all.
Our plans focus on ensuring that America remains safe, terrorists are defeated, and democracy flourishes in the world … on expanding opportunities for ownership and investment … on making tax relief permanent and ensuring greater energy independence … on increasing the affordability and accessibility of health care … on promoting works of compassion and strengthening our greatest values … on preparing students for success in life by bringing the benefits of education reform to high schools … and on helping workers adjust to a changing economy by offering flexible training options that meet their individual needs.
Our Party's 2004 platform addresses the major issues facing America in the first decade of the 21st century:
Winning the War on Terror … because our government's most solemn duty is to keep its citizens safe.
Ushering in an Ownership Era … because a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit will keep our economy strong and provide more opportunities for workers and families.
Building an Innovative Economy to Compete in the World … because America can compete with anyone, anywhere, thanks to our entrepreneurs and risk-takers who keep us on the cutting edge of technology and commerce.
Strengthening Our Communities … because our children deserve to grow up in an America in which all their hopes and dreams can come true.
Protecting Our Families … because we respect the family's role as a touchstone of stability and strength in an ever- changing world.
This platform makes clear that the American people will have a choice on November 2nd.
A choice between strength and uncertainty.
A choice between results and rhetoric.
A choice between optimism and pessimism.
A choice between opportunity and dependence.
A choice between freedom and fear.
And a choice between moving forward and turning back.
The 2004 Republican Party Platform makes clear:
We choose strength.
We choose results.
We choose optimism.
We choose opportunity.
We choose freedom.
And we choose moving forward with President Bush. A man of courage and compassion, of integrity and action.
One hundred and fifty years after our founding, we Republicans proudly carry forward our time-honored banner of freedom. And we endorse the bold and visionary leadership of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Winning the War on Terror
Ushering in an Ownership Era
Building an Innovative, Globally Competitive Economy
Strengthening Our Communities
Protecting Our Families
Summary and Call to Action
WINNING THE WAR ON TERROR
"Our nation's cause has always been larger than our nation's defense. We fight, as we always fight, for a just peace – a peace that favors liberty. We will defend the peace against the threats from terrorists and tyrants. We will preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. And we will extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent." — President George W. Bush
President Bush has confronted unprecedented challenges, including a world scarred by terrorism. The President and the American people have risen to the occasion by acting on a bold new statement of America's place and purpose in the world. Today, we are filled with hope for the most dramatic advance of liberty in 60 years. President Bush's leadership is rooted in the timeless values that have made America a unique and exalted nation: respect for individual rights; a deep commitment to freedom; a desire to serve as a living example of the power of democracy. The President's leadership has achieved successes once deemed impossible to realize in so short a period of time. His forward-looking strategy for freedom and peace is making progress in every part of the world. The President and Republicans in Congress recognize that new threats demand new tools and new methods for defending America and promoting our goals in the world. They have responded swiftly to the challenges of a new era, rather than remaining wedded to outdated theories and fighting battles that ended long ago. Their accomplishments are the foundation upon which future progress will be built.
A Comprehensive Strategy to Win the War on Terror, Promote Peace, and Build a Better World
The world changed on September 11, 2001, and since that day, under the strong, steady, and visionary leadership of President George W. Bush, Americans have helped make the world not only safer, but better. The President continues to lead a steady, confident, systematic campaign to defend America against the dangers of our time. We are going after terrorists wherever they plot and plan and hide, changing the old course of pinprick strikes that did little to get at the root of terrorism. We eliminated many of al Qaeda's key leaders and put the world on notice that nations that train, harbor, or finance terrorists are just as guilty as the terrorists themselves.
We will not allow the world's most dangerous regimes to possess the world's most dangerous weapons. Our message is getting through, as indicated by Libya's leader, who decided to turn over his weapons of mass destruction and cooperate with the international community. Today, because America has acted, and because America has led, the forces of terror and tyranny have suffered defeat after defeat, and America and the world are safer.
On September 11, 2001, we saw the cruelty of the terrorists, and we glimpsed the future they intend for us. They intend to strike the United States to the limits of their power. They seek weapons of mass destruction to kill Americans on an even greater scale. This danger is increased when outlaw regimes build or acquire weapons of mass destruction and maintain ties to terrorist groups.
On September 11, 2001, we saw the spirit of courage and optimism of the American people – that greatest assurance of the ultimate triumph of our cause. Courage and optimism led colleagues to help each other in escaping from collapsing buildings. Courage and optimism led policemen, firefighters, emergency medical professionals, public works employees, our men and women in uniform, and selfless volunteers to run into burning buildings to save others and undertake a mammoth rescue and recovery effort. Courage and optimism led the passengers on Flight 93 to rush their murderers to save lives on the ground. Courage and optimism led America's parents and teachers to battle their own fears to keep children calm and safe. In those and countless other acts of heroism on that day, and many times since, terrorists have learned that Americans will not be intimidated. We will fight them with everything we have – and we will prevail.
President Bush answered the challenge of September 11, 2001, not only with steadfast resolve, but also with vision, optimism, and unshakable confidence in the will and faith of the American people. That is what we all saw on September 14, 2001, when our President stood with the brave workers at Ground Zero and resolutely assured our nation amidst our shock, anger, and grief that while the terrorists had struck first, America would have the last word.
The President's most solemn duty is to protect our country. George W. Bush has kept that charge.
To protect our people, President Bush is leading America, staying on the offensive against threats within our own country. He worked with Congress to establish the Department of Homeland Security in the most significant reorganization of the federal government since 1947. The PATRIOT Act is being used to track terrorist activity and to break up terror cells. Now, the FBI can use tools that have been long available to fight organized crime and drug trafficking, but could not be used in the past to fight terrorism. Intelligence and law enforcement officials are sharing information as never before. The President transformed the mission of the FBI to focus first and foremost on preventing terrorism. Every element of America's homeland security plan is critical, because the terrorists are ruthless and resourceful – and we know they are preparing to attack us again. It is not possible to guarantee perfect security in our vast, free nation. But the President and Vice President, along with many fine professionals in intelligence, homeland security, law enforcement, and the military are working tirelessly to protect the country. We are grateful to them all.
President Bush recognized that to overcome the dangers of our time, America would have to take a new approach in the world. That approach is marked by a determination to challenge new threats, not ignore them, or simply wait for future tragedy – and by a renewed commitment to building a hopeful future in hopeless places, instead of allowing troubled regions to remain in despair and explode in violence.
Before entering office, President Bush recognized that our age is a time of opportunity for America – opportunity to translate this moment of influence into decades of peace, prosperity, and liberty. That conviction is in the finest traditions of the Republican Party. As our platform said in 1984, during the height of Cold War confrontation: "The supreme purpose of our foreign policy must be to maintain our freedom in a peaceful international environment in which the United States and our allies and friends are secure against military threats, and democratic governments are flourishing in a world of increasing prosperity."
The reality of 9/11 does not diminish our generation's opportunity to advance the cause of freedom but in fact makes it all the more important that we take up that challenge.
President Bush has rallied America to its calling – to make the world safer and better. This calling is answered by a distinctly American internationalism that reflects the union of our values and our national interests. Americans everywhere are remaining faithful to that duty. By keeping our word and holding firm to our values, this generation is showing the world the power of liberty once again.
Republicans support President Bush's steadfast commitment to the goal of a lasting, democratic peace, in which all nations are free from the threat of sudden terror. We affirm the three commitments of the President's strategy for peace:
* Terrorists long ago declared war on America, and now America has declared war against terrorists. We are defending the peace by taking the fight to the enemy. We are confronting terrorists overseas so we do not have to confront them here at home. We are destroying the leadership of terrorist networks in sudden raids, disrupting their planning and financing, and keeping them on the run. Month by month, we are shrinking the space in which they can freely operate, by denying them territory and the support of governments.
* Nations that support terrorism are just as dangerous, and just as guilty, as the perpetrators of terrorism. Every nation must make a choice to support terror or to support America and our coalition to defeat terror. We are preserving the peace by working with more than 80 allied nations, as well as international institutions, to isolate and confront terrorists and outlaw regimes. America is leading a broad coalition of nations to disrupt proliferation. We are working with the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other international organizations to take action in our common security. The global threat of terrorism requires a global response. To be effective, that global response requires leadership – and America is leading.
* There is no negotiation with terrorists. No form of therapy or coercion will turn them from their murderous ways. Only total and complete destruction of terrorism will allow freedom to flourish. We will extend the peace by supporting the rise of democracy, and the hope and progress that democracy brings, as the alternative to hatred and terror in the broader Middle East. In democratic societies, men and women do not swear allegiance to malcontents and murderers; they turn their hearts and labor to building better lives. Democratic governments do not shelter terrorist camps or attack their neighbors. When justice and democracy advance, so does the hope of lasting peace.
* We are proud of the President's steady leadership in executing this strategy. We are dealing with terrorist threats as they gather, rather than waiting for them to become imminent dangers. The results are clear to see.
* Three years ago, our nation was not on a war footing against al Qaeda – even though Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States in 1996 and again in 1998. The al Qaeda leadership believed itself to be impervious to any American response, continued to raise funds practically without restriction, and operated in a world in which there was no cohesive global approach to fighting terror.
* Today, al Qaeda has been wounded, having lost many of its known leaders and most of its important sanctuaries. America and its allies and friends have broken al Qaeda cells here in the United States and overseas. A global coalition, led by the United States, has dried up sources of terrorist financing. Thousands of very skilled and determined military personnel remain on the manhunt, going after the remaining killers who hide in cities and caves. Today, because of the solidarity of the international coalition in the War on Terror, we are bringing these terrorists to justice, and the American people are safer.
* Three years ago, al Qaeda's secure home base was in Afghanistan, a country ruled by the Taliban, one of the most backward and brutal regimes of modern history. Schooling was denied to girls. Women were whipped and executed in public. Millions lived in fear. With protection from the Taliban, al Qaeda and its associates trained, indoctrinated, and sent forth thousands of killers to set up terror cells in dozens of countries, including our own.
Today, Afghanistan is a world away from the nightmare of the Taliban. Twenty-eight million people are free. That country has a good and just president. Boys and girls are being educated. Women are respected. Many refugees have returned home to rebuild their country, and a presidential election is scheduled for this fall. The terror camps are closed and the Afghan government is helping us to hunt the Taliban and terrorists in remote regions. Today, because we acted to liberate Afghanistan, a threat has been removed, and the American people are safer.
* Three years ago, Pakistan was one of the few countries in the world that recognized the Taliban regime. Al Qaeda was active and recruiting in Pakistan. Pakistan served as a transit point for al Qaeda terrorists leaving Afghanistan on missions of murder. The United States could not count on the support of Pakistan's military and civilian leaders – the very people we would need to help shut down al Qaeda operations in that part of the world.
* Today, the governments of the United States and Pakistan are working closely in the fight against terror. Pakistan has helped capture Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the operational planner behind the September 11 attacks, and other terrorists. Pakistani forces are rounding up terrorists along their nation's western border. Today, because we are working with Pakistani leaders, Pakistan is an ally in the War on Terror, and the American people are safer.
* Three years ago, terrorists were well-established in Saudi Arabia. Inside that country, fundraisers and other facilitators gave al Qaeda financial and logistical help with little scrutiny or opposition.
* Today, after the attacks in Riyadh and elsewhere, the Saudi government knows that al Qaeda is its enemy. Saudi Arabia is working hard to shut down the facilitators and financial supporters of terrorism. The government has captured or killed many first-tier leaders of the al Qaeda organization in Saudi Arabia. Today, because Saudi Arabia has seen the danger and has joined the War on Terror, the American people are safer.
* Three years ago, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn enemy of America who provided safe haven for terrorists, used weapons of mass destruction, and turned his nation into a prison. Saddam Hussein was not just a dictator; he was a proven mass murderer who refused to account for weapons of mass murder. He defied the international community and seventeen United Nations resolutions over the course of twelve years, giving no indication that Iraq would ever disarm and comply with the just demands of the world. In 2002 – in Resolution 1441 – the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted that Saddam Hussein had one final chance to comply with his obligations to the international community, or there would be serious consequences. As he had for over a decade, he refused to comply. Every responsible nation recognized this threat, and knew it could not go on forever.
Today, the dictator who caused decades of death and turmoil, who twice invaded his neighbors, who harbored terrorist leaders, who used chemical weapons on innocent men, women, and children, finally stands before the bar of justice. Iraq, which once had the worst government in the Middle East, is now becoming an example of reform to the region. Iraqi security forces are fighting beside coalition troops to defeat the terrorists and foreign fighters who threaten their nation and the world. Today, because America and our coalition helped to end the violent regime of Saddam Hussein, and because we are helping to raise a peaceful democracy in its place, 25 million Iraqis are free and the American people are safer.
* Three years ago, the nation of Libya, a longtime supporter of terror, was spending millions to acquire chemical and nuclear weapons.
* Today, thousands of Libya's chemical munitions have been destroyed. Libya's nuclear equipment that could ultimately have threatened the lives of hundreds of thousands is stored away in the United States. Today, because the Libyan government saw the seriousness of the civilized world, and correctly judged its own interests, the American people are safer.
* Three years ago, a private weapons proliferation network was doing business around the world. This network, operated by the Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, was selling nuclear plans and equipment to the highest bidder, and found willing buyers in places like Libya, Iran, and North Korea.
Today, the A.Q. Khan network is out of business. We have ended one of the most dangerous sources of proliferation in the world, and the American people are safer.
Republicans applaud President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and those who have supported them in the Congress for the steady leadership that led to these successes. America must stay the course.
Consolidating Gains in the War on Terror
In Afghanistan and Iraq, our enemies have seen the results of what civilized nations can, and will, do against regimes that harbor, support, and use terrorism to achieve their political goals. Republicans believe that America and the world must keep our commitments to the people of those countries, who are building the world's newest democracies and counting on the world to help. Delivering these nations from tyranny has required sacrifice and loss. We must honor that sacrifice by finishing the great work we have begun.
Republicans appreciate the military, financial, and technical assistance provided by the dozens of nations contributing to the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq. The success of free and stable governments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere will further shrink the space in which terrorists can operate. As the entire region sees the promise of freedom in its midst, the terrorist ideology will become more and more irrelevant, until that day when it is viewed with contempt or ignored altogether.
The forces of many nations are working with Afghans to find and defeat Taliban remnants and eliminate al Qaeda terrorists. We applaud the work of American forces and coalition partners in helping to build the new Afghan national army and to train new Afghan police and border patrol. Together, Afghan and international forces will maintain the peace, secure Afghanistan's borders, and deny terrorists any foothold in that country.
We applaud President Bush's announcement of U.S. support for five new initiatives that will help the Afghan people achieve the peace, stability, and prosperity they deserve – through support for the development of democracy, educational assistance, cultural exchanges, enhanced bilateral economic ties, and increased economic opportunity for women.
The road ahead for Afghanistan is still long and difficult. Yet the Afghan people can know that their country will never be abandoned to terrorists and killers. The world and the United States look forward to elections this year in Afghanistan and stand with the Afghan people as partners in their quest for peace and prosperity, stability, and democracy.
As Republicans, we do not equivocate, as others have done, about whether America should have gone to war in Iraq. The best intelligence available at the time indicated that Saddam Hussein was a threat. On that point, President Bush, members of both parties in Congress, and the United Nations agreed. While the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction we expected to find in Iraq have not yet materialized, we have confirmed that Saddam Hussein had the capability to reconstitute his weapons programs and the desire to do so. Our nation did the right thing, and the American people are now safer because we and our allies ended the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, halting his decades-long pursuit of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. President Bush had a choice to make: Trust a madman or defend America. He chose defending America.
Supported by brave coalition allies such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Poland, and Denmark, and displaying courage, skill, and resourcefulness on the battlefield, the men and women of our Armed Forces removed the dictator of Iraq, a declared enemy of America who had the capability and intent to produce weapons of mass murder, and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on killing Americans. That was a risk we could not take.
America's men and women in uniform have been unrelenting in the performance of their duty. Our nation has asked much of our military, and there is still much hard work ahead. We are proud of the sacrifice made by all who have served and are serving, and we are immensely grateful for the sacrifices made by their families and loved ones. Further, we honor the memories of those who have died in combat serving the cause of freedom. Defending our homeland with their ultimate sacrifice on behalf of all Americans merits our prayers and our thanksgiving. We also commit to continued honor and care for our wounded veterans, and support for all who return home from service. Together, we look forward to that day when the War on Terror is won and our military can return home, no longer at risk, our world and our country safer.
We also salute our coalition allies. Their efforts with us to shape a world where freedom is honored and liberty is cherished deserves respect and admiration; their sacrifice, too, does not go without notice and appreciation.
We are ever mindful that American troops remain on the ground in Iraq, working steadfastly to help the Iraqi people achieve stability and democracy. We therefore welcome declarations from responsible political leaders of both parties that our nation will persevere in our mission there, not cut and run. The American people need to hear this message. People in Baghdad and beyond need to hear it. The enemy needs to hear it. Most importantly, American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines risking their lives in Iraq need to hear it.
We condemn inconsistent, ambiguous, and politically expedient statements on that point. To the extent such wavering encourages our adversaries to fight harder, our men and women in uniform suffer the consequences. Their mission is difficult enough. Uncertainty about America's commitment to that mission makes it immeasurably more difficult.
In Iraq, America is serving the cause of liberty, peace, and our own security. America accepted a difficult task in Iraq. We know that for all these reasons, we will finish that task.
We also know that Iraqi sovereignty is a tribute to the will of the Iraqi people and the courage of Iraqi leaders. It is a proud moral achievement for members of our coalition. We have full confidence in the plan for Iraqi self-government that is currently being implemented by Iraq's interim government. That government has gained broad international support, and has been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. The United States and our coalition partners are helping prepare Iraqis for the defense of their own country, including through the work of the NATO mission to train Iraqi security forces. We are helping Iraqis rebuild their country's infrastructure, and Iraq is continuing to move toward free elections, with important assistance from the United Nations.
We applaud President Bush for establishing a visionary and resolute policy – a Forward Strategy of Freedom in the Middle East – to stand with the people of that region as they seek their future in freedom. Republicans support President Bush's policy of working with every government in the Middle East dedicated to destroying the terrorist networks, while in the longer term expecting a higher standard of reform and democracy from our friends in the region. We believe that democracy and reform will make those nations stronger and more stable, and make the world more secure by undermining terrorism at its source.
As a result of President Bush's leadership, G-8 members adopted the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative at this year's Sea Island Summit. We applaud the commitment of the world's leading industrial nations to this historic initiative to support political, economic, and social reform throughout the region.
Halting the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Republicans agree with the Bush Administration that there is no greater danger to our people than the nexus of terrorists and weapons of mass destruction (WMD). That judgment is shared by leading allies and friends. As President Bush and his fellow G-8 leaders declared in 2003, the spread of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism constitute "the pre-eminent threat to international security."
The risks posed by this dangerous relationship cannot be contained or deterred by traditional means. We applaud President Bush for pursuing from the beginning of his Administration a comprehensive strategy through which the United States works with its allies to:
* ensure that international agreements against the proliferation of WMD are observed and enforced;
* detect, disrupt, and block the spread of dangerous weapons and technology;
* confront emerging threats from any person or state before those threats have fully materialized; and
* improve our capabilities to respond to the use of WMD and minimize the consequences of an attack.
* Over the last two years, under President Bush's leadership and working with like-minded nations, America has:
* ended Saddam Hussein's decades-long pursuit of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons;
* achieved the elimination of Libya's WMD and ballistic missile programs;
* shut down the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network;
* led the Proliferation Security Initiative to interdict dangerous WMD and their means of delivery;
* strengthened efforts to secure weapons-usable materials and sensitive technologies in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere;
* insisted on confronting the threat from North Korea through Six-Party Talks involving the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, and Russia;
* supported the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency to hold the Iranian regime to its treaty obligations;
* strengthened international non-proliferation export control and treaty regimes;
* secured unanimous passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires states to enact legislation that criminalizes proliferation activities; and
* achieved agreement among the G-8 nations to refrain for one year from initiating new transfers of uranium enrichment and reprocessing technology to additional states.
* Republicans applaud these achievements, as well as the successes of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, backed by the Republican Congress, here at home to make America safer from the threat of weapons of mass destruction – including:
* creating Biodefense for the 21st Century, a national strategy for meeting the full range of biological threats;
* signing into law Project BioShield, which provides new tools to improve medical countermeasures protecting Americans against a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack;
* putting in place major new biodefense capabilities;
* creating the Container Security Initiative to screen cargo destined for the United States; and
* deploying missile defenses to defend the United States and its friends and allies.
Libya's decision to disclose and dismantle its WMD programs is a product of the President's strategy that gives regimes a choice. They can choose to pursue WMD at great peril and cost, including international isolation. Or they can choose to renounce these weapons, take steps to rejoin the international community, and have its help in creating a better future for their citizens.
The Libya case also demonstrates the President's success in forging increased international cooperation to prevent the spread of WMD technology through his groundbreaking Proliferation Security Initiative, a broad international partnership to coordinate actions to interdict proliferation shipments of WMD and related materials and shut down proliferation networks and entities. Republicans applaud the support of more than 60 nations in this crucial multilateral effort to stop the trade in weapons of mass destruction and their related components.
We commend the President's leadership in expanding greatly the resources to prevent proliferation, including record-level U.S. and multilateral resources devoted to the Nunn-Lugar programs and other nonproliferation assistance, including that made available through the creation of the G-8 Global Partnership, which will provide $20 billion to this effort over 10 years. We hail the commitment of the other G-8 nations (the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, Canada, Germany, France, and Russia) to this vital initiative, as well as commitments by other countries, including Poland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Australia.
Republicans share President Bush's understanding that in an age in which the enemies of civilization openly and actively seek the world's most destructive technologies, the United States cannot remain idle while dangers gather. We therefore believe that to forestall or prevent hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States must, if necessary, act preemptively.
Strengthening Alliances to Win the War on Terror, Promote Peace, and Build a Better World
Republicans recognize that our progress in the War on Terror has been achieved with the help of other responsible nations. We hail the strong and broad-based cooperation of America's allies in the War on Terror. We are grateful to the more than 30 nations with forces serving in Iraq, and the nearly 40 nations with forces serving in Afghanistan. In the fight against terror, America has asked our allies to do hard things. They have taken up these responsibilities in a spirit of solidarity that America should never forget.
We applaud President Bush for his success in mobilizing such international cooperation in the War on Terror, which the 9/11 Commission judges to be "on a vastly enlarged scale" and to have expanded dramatically since September 11, 2001.
We also question the credibility of our opponents, who claim to support global alliances while nominating a candidate who has insulted our allies by calling the nations fighting in Iraq "window-dressing" and referring to them as a "coalition of the coerced and the bribed." Directing ugly rhetoric at America's allies in a time of war is irresponsible. It does not represent the gratitude and respect the vast majority of Americans have for the men and women from other nations who are risking their lives to make the world safer.
Republicans welcome the enlargement of NATO, which has strengthened history's most successful Alliance. The Atlantic Alliance has widened the circle of its friends, while also creating a new chapter in our relationship with Russia.
Under President Bush's leadership, the United States is working with responsible governments and international institutions to convince the leaders of North Korea and Iran that their nuclear weapons ambitions are deeply contrary to their own interests. With allies, America has launched the Broader Middle East Initiative, to encourage reform and democracy throughout the region, a project that will shape the history of our times for the better. Our nation is helping governments fight poverty and disease, so they do not become failed states and future havens for terror.
Strengthening America's National Security Institutions
The major institutions of American national security were designed in a different era to meet different requirements. All of them are being transformed to meet the challenge of defending America in a new era. In this endeavor, America will rely – as always – on the character and skill of our citizens, especially the bravery, pride, and hard work of America's men and women in the military, our first responders, our diplomats, and our law enforcement and intelligence agents.
The freedom we enjoy also makes us vulnerable to attack. Since September 11, 2001, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, the Congress, and governors across the nation have taken significant steps to:
* streamline the federal government to make it more effective at combating terrorism;
* tighten security at entry points like ports, airports, and borders;
* strengthen protections at critical infrastructure landmarks such as power and water plants; and
* reduce the threats of bioterrorism and cyberterrorism.
Through all their actions, President Bush and Congress have been careful to protect the rights and liberties that make America a beacon of freedom and justice. The President and Congress have also provided unprecedented resources to support local first responders.
The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, and the first responders at the state and local level with whom they have partnered, vigilantly safeguard the security of America each and every day. They have moved swiftly but thoughtfully to direct enhanced resources to counter the dangers of the new and shifting threats we face, and they have proved themselves equal to the task. The Republican Party salutes the work of the:
* Coast Guard in protecting our shores;
* Customs and Border Patrol who police our borders;
* Air marshals and baggage screeners of the Transportation Security Administration in safeguarding our airports and our skies;
* Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in ensuring that the identity of foreign citizens who enter our borders is known;
* Directorate of Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection and the Secret Service for partnering with private industry to protect millions of Americans by enhancing security at chemical plants and other critical infrastructure;
* Federal Bureau of Investigation in applying enhanced law enforcement tools provided by the PATRIOT Act to track down terrorists and thwart their plots before they can be executed to murderous effect;
* Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health for their work in safeguarding the nation from biological attacks; and
* Law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS personnel, and other first responders in state and local jurisdictions throughout the country who have diligently employed increased federal resources to train and prepare for the prevention and mitigation of future terrorist attacks.
These dedicated men and women, the nation's last line of defense and first hope in response, give their utmost every day to keep us safe.
Department of Homeland Security
Just as the Cold War prompted a massive reorganization of the federal government's foreign policy apparatus, the War on Terror demanded a thorough reorganization of America's domestic preparedness agencies. President Bush led this effort with a plan to merge 22 separate government entities into the new Department of Homeland Security, a cohesive department with the primary mission of keeping America safe. After the American people returned control of the Senate to Republicans in the 2002 mid-term elections, Congress passed legislation enacting the President's plan. Further, to ensure that America's law enforcement, intelligence, and first responders have the resources they need to protect America, President Bush and Congress have nearly tripled homeland security funding since 2001.
Waging War against Terrorists on Every Front
We endorse the efforts of President Bush and Republicans in Congress to keep our homeland safe by taking action on multiple fronts, all aimed at stopping terrorists before they strike.
* The FBI has been refocused to track down terrorists before they attack.
* The Treasury Department is now leading the effort to find and eliminate sources of terrorist financing around the world. Since September 11, 2001, the United States and our allies have designated 345 terrorist-related entities and frozen more than $139 million in terrorist assets in more than 1,400 accounts worldwide.
* The President signed into law the PATRIOT Act, which gives law enforcement and intelligence agents the same tools to fight terror that have long been available to fight organized crime and drug trafficking. The PATRIOT Act also made it possible for law enforcement and intelligence agents to share information and coordinate efforts to prevent terrorism. The 9/11 Commission rightly praised the PATRIOT Act's role in improving information sharing.
* Since the PATRIOT Act was passed, four terrorist cells have been broken up inside the United States and more than 189 individuals have been convicted or pled guilty to terrorism-related offenses.
President Bush knows that America's firefighters, local law enforcement, and other first responders play a critical role in protecting the homeland. Hundreds of firefighters and police officers gave their lives to help their fellow citizens on September 11, 2001, and should another attack ever come, they will be first at the scene again. They must have the tools they need to perform their jobs as safely and effectively as possible. To this end, the President and Congress have massively increased spending for our nation's first responders. They have worked with governors, mayors, and tribal and local leaders to implement an integrated and federally supported approach to protecting communities.
* States and localities have received more than $13 billion since 2001.
* Assistance to Firefighter Grants are up 400 percent since 2001.
* State Domestic Preparedness funding is up more than 2,600 percent since 2001. President Bush has taken steps to send money to the areas that are most at risk of terrorist attack, and instituted measures to speed the money to the first responders on the ground.
President Bush has overhauled and greatly enhanced security at the nation's airports. Our infrastructure to protect airplanes, passengers, crews, and cargo from terrorist acts has never been stronger than it is today. Cockpit doors have been hardened, more than 5,000 air marshals and 45,000 federal screeners have been hired, new screening technology has been developed, and 100 percent of commercial air passengers and checked bags are now screened. As tagging and tracking citizens is inconsistent with American freedom, we oppose the creation of a national identification card or system.
Proposed funding for port security in 2005 represents a 600 percent increase since President Bush came to office. In addition, the Container Security Initiative ensures that:
* all cargo is now screened by customs agents;
* screening takes place in foreign ports, well before potentially dangerous cargo ever reaches our shores; and
* all high-risk cargo is physically inspected.
Our nation has been enriched by immigrants seeking a better life. In many cases, immigrants of the past fled violence and oppression searching for peace and freedom. All suffered and sacrificed but hoped for a better future for their children in America. Our nation has been enriched by their determination, energy, and diversity.
Ensuring the integrity of our borders is vital to ensuring the safety of our citizens. We must know the identity of all visitors who enter the United States, and we must know when they leave. The US-VISIT system, which uses biometric data to better track the entry and exit of foreign travelers, has been implemented at more than 115 airports and is presently being implemented at land border crossings. Reconnaissance cameras, border patrol agents, and unmanned aerial flights have all been increased at our borders.
We must strengthen our Border Patrol to stop illegal crossings, and we will equip the Border Patrol with the tools, technologies, structures, and sufficient force necessary to secure the border. We will seek stiff penalties for those who smuggle illegal aliens into the country and for those who sell fraudulent documents. We urge continued support for state, local, and federal law enforcement to work in a cohesive manner in securing our borders to prevent illegal entry.
Most critical infrastructure is not federally owned or operated, requiring cooperation from all levels of government and private industry for effective protection. As part of a nationwide review of critical infrastructure initiated by President Bush, due to be completed by December 2004, the Department of Homeland Security has already identified the highest-risk chemical sites and partnered with industry to enhance protections at those sites. We endorse the President's request to have the Department of Homeland Security establish minimum safety requirements at chemical plants and enforce compliance when voluntary measures are deemed inadequate.
It is no secret that the enemies of the United States are determined to acquire and use biological and chemical weapons. The potential exists for terrorists to use genetically engineered bioweapons that incorporate some of the deadliest diseases known to man, such as anthrax, ebola, smallpox, sarin, or ricin. Such weapons are capable of inflicting grievous harm on any nation caught unprepared. For this reason, President George W. Bush has long made bolstering the nation's defenses against bioterrorism a central focus of his Administration. President Bush has worked with the Congress to:
* increase the federal bioterrorism budget by more than 1,600 percent, from $294 million in 2001 to $5.2 billion in 2004;
* expand bioterror research by an even greater margin, from $53 million in 2001 to $1.7 billion in 2005, an increase of more than 3,100 percent;
* increase the size of the Strategic National Stockpile of vaccines and countermeasures by 50 percent since 2001; and
* further secure more than $5.5 billion to enhance the stockpile and to encourage the development of new vaccines and countermeasures.
Although there is no such thing as perfect safety from biological attacks, President Bush's historic commitment to building up the biological defenses of the United States has made us far less vulnerable to the threat of bioterrorism than we were just three years ago. The President's continuing commitment to implement further biodefense projects holds the promise of an even more secure future.
Republicans recognize the critical new role played by the U.S. Coast Guard in upholding America's maritime security against terrorist threats. Our nation saw the dedication and the versatility of the Coast Guard in the aftermath of September 11, 2001
– a performance that demonstrated the Coast Guard's vital contribution to homeland security. We applaud the men and women of the Coast Guard for rising to meet new challenges, even as they continue to accomplish traditional missions such as search and rescue, navigation assistance, drug interdiction, fisheries enforcement, and environmental protection. We also applaud the Coast Guard men and women who serve and have served in the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Under the leadership of President Bush and the Republican Congress, our nation has significantly increased budget support for the Coast Guard to achieve its expanded mission. We affirm the importance of continued strong support, including for efforts to recapitalize and enlarge the Coast Guard's fleet, a critical component of our overall national fleet. This should not be done at the expense of or by in any way reducing the
U.S. Navy's shipbuilding program. Our nation asks much of the men and women of the Coast Guard – uniformed warfighters who serve on the front line of the War on Terror. We applaud the President and the Republican Congress for ensuring that the service has the resources needed to accomplish its expanded mission.
Republicans believe that just as our nation relies on our men and women in uniform to fight and win the War on Terror, we also depend on America's diplomats, who serve in the vanguard of our present struggle. Defeating terrorism requires the United States to:
* help establish stable and democratic governments in nations such as Afghanistan and Iraq that once supported terrorism;
* support front-line states and coalition partners;
* deepen counterterrorism, intelligence, and law enforcement cooperation with allies and friends; and
* energetically promote democracy, especially in the Broader Middle East.
In all of these areas and more, the professionals of America's foreign affairs agencies serve at the front line of advancing U.S. national interests and values. We salute their strong record of achievement during this consequential era of American foreign policy and support the efforts of President Bush and the Republican Congress to provide the Department of State funding sufficient to ensure the continued success of American diplomacy.
Republicans believe that intelligence – and how we use it – is our first line of defense against terrorists and the threat posed by hostile states.
The dedicated, hardworking men and women of our intelligence community are laboring every day to keep our country safe. Republicans are proud of their work and grateful for their service. America's intelligence professionals have been pivotal to the major successes in the War on Terror – disrupting multiple planned terrorist attacks around the world, continuing to expand our insight into terrorist organizations and plans, and greatly enhancing working relationships with foreign partners.
Working together, the President and the Republican Congress have steadfastly advanced toward the goal of an integrated, unified national intelligence effort. They have taken important steps to expand and strengthen America's intelligence system and capabilities, including reversing devastating cuts in the intelligence community budget and closing dangerous gaps between counterterrorism intelligence collected abroad and at home by creating the Terrorist Threat Integration Center and consolidating all U.S. government watchlist information on suspected terrorists in the new Terrorist Screening Center. They have also broken down the unnecessary "wall" between intelligence and law enforcement with the PATRIOT Act. Because it has proved to be instrumental in helping to break up terror cells and plots and seizing terrorist assets, Republicans believe that Congress needs to reauthorize this important law.
We applaud President Bush's continued strong leadership in intelligence reform. We share the guiding principles for reform that President Bush has laid out, including:
* increasing both the quality and quantity of human intelligence collection to disrupt terrorist attacks;
* investing more in our technical intelligence capabilities so that we stay ahead of our enemies' changing communications technology and tactics; and
* ensuring the most effective and coordinated use of these resources and personnel.
It is essential that the people in government responsible for defending America and countering terrorism have the best possible information to make the best decisions about the safety of our country. We therefore support President Bush's request to Congress to create the position of a National Intelligence Director to be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The National Intelligence Director will serve as the President's principal intelligence advisor and will oversee the foreign and domestic activities of the intelligence community.
We also support President Bush's plan to establish a National Counterterrorism Center that will build on the analytical work of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center and become our government's knowledge bank for information about known and suspected terrorists. The new center will coordinate and monitor counterterrorism plans and activities of all government agencies and departments to ensure effective joint action, and to ensure that our efforts are unified in priority and purpose. The center will also be responsible for preparing the daily terrorism threat report for the President and senior officials.
We also support President Bush's judgment that legislative oversight of intelligence and homeland security must be restructured and made more effective. Currently there are too many committees with overlapping jurisdiction, which wastes time and makes it difficult for meaningful oversight and reform.
Honoring and Supporting Our Armed Forces
America's men and women in uniform are currently on the front lines of the War on Terror. In the midst of a global struggle, the armed services continue to meet their goals for new recruits and retentions, and every American is grateful for the patriotism and honor of these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. Republicans hail their historic achievements since September 11, 2001 – especially the removal of the repressive regimes of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. Their victories on the battlefield have not only made America safer but are making way for new governments in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are paving the way for societies that are free.
With the support of the Republican Congress, President Bush has consistently built defense strength. Defense spending has only been higher twice since World War II – during the Korean War and at the peak of the Cold War buildup. These long-overdue budget increases help fulfill the President's commitments and ensure a fighting force that is second to none.
In 2000, the President promised to provide members of the Armed Forces "better pay, better treatment, and better training." He has fulfilled that promise to our troops.
Supported by the Republican Congress, President Bush has increased basic pay by nearly 21 percent. Many servicemembers have seen much more than that. The increase in basic salary and payments for food and housing has reached nearly 30 percent. We hail those much-deserved increases, as well as the action of the President and the Republican Congress in this year's Defense Appropriations Act to fund permanent increases for the Family Separation Allowance and Imminent Danger Pay.
Until the mid-1990s, servicemembers who lived off-base were expected to pay for 15 percent of their housing costs. In reality, this cost grew to almost 20 percent. Republicans applaud the leadership of the President and the Republican Congress for making sure that by the end of 2005, out-of-pocket expenses will be eliminated, meaning that the average servicemember who lives off-base will have all basic housing costs covered.
President Bush and the Republican Congress have also increased funds for defense health programs, including improving medical services for Ready Reserve members and their families.
The men and women of the National Guard and Reserve are an important part of the nation's military readiness, and we will maintain their strength in the states. Their role as citizen soldiers must continue to be a proud tradition that links every community in the country with the cause of national security. We affirm traditional military culture, and we affirm that homosexuality is incompatible with military service. The Republican Party created the all-volunteer force and opposes reinstitution of the draft, whether directly or through compulsory national service. We support the advancement of women in the military, support their exemption from ground combat units, and support the implementation of the recommendations of the Kassebaum Commission, which unanimously recommended that co-ed basic training be ended. We support sound priorities in the making of personnel policies, and candid analysis of the consequences of unprecedented social changes in the military.
As the traditional advocate of America's veterans, the Republican Party has continued to fulfill America's obligations to them. When President Bush took office, many of the programs designed to assist veterans cried out for modernization and reform. President Bush and Congress have increased funding for VA health care by more than 40 percent since 2001. This additional funding has made it possible for the VA to improve health care access for veterans who need it most, including low-income veterans, those with service-related disabilities, and those who need VA's specialized services. President Bush signed into law authorization for the concurrent receipt of both military retired pay and VA disability compensation for combat-injured and highly-disabled veterans. We support these actions to keep faith with America's veterans and applaud President Bush and the Republican Congress for attending to the solemn duty of maintaining and expanding our national cemeteries.
In promising "better training," the President committed to strengthen the military readiness of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. Since taking office, the President has added billions to operations and maintenance accounts to make good on this promise. This investment is paying off as critical readiness indicators are improving. However, the real proof of military readiness is combat performance. Our combined military forces have demonstrated overwhelming combat effectiveness in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in other operations around the world. The readiness of U.S. Armed Forces to carry out combat operations anywhere in the world is now unparalleled.
The vast majority of Americans agree that when our troops are engaged in battle, we have a responsibility to provide everything they need to complete their mission. It is irresponsible for public officials to support sending Americans into battle and then reject the funding they need for such things as ammunition, body armor, and better health care for their dependents. We call to account the Democratic nominees for President and Vice President, both of whom voted to authorize war in Iraq then later rejected legislation to provide $87 billion in critical supplies and benefits for servicemembers and their families. Earlier this year, Senator Kerry claimed to have "voted for the $87 billion before [he voted against it." Recently he said he was "proud" of his vote against supporting our troops. And in yet another attempt to explain his irresponsible vote, Senator Kerry claimed his decision was "complicated." Republicans affirm that there is nothing complicated about supporting soldiers in battle. America's Commander in Chief must always support the men and women on the frontlines, and we applaud President Bush for his steadfast support of our military.
President Bush also fulfilled his promise to begin transforming how our nation organizes and equips itself to fight 21st Century adversaries. Leveraging rapidly changing technology with flexible organizations and adaptable doctrine, the President and the Republican Congress have led the transformation of the U.S. military to become lighter, faster, and more lethal. To support the President's transformational goals, the Administration has worked with the Republican Congress to:
* double investment in missile defense systems to put America on track to field an operational system in 2004;
* dramatically increase R&D investments;
* commit a significant amount of the procurement budget to transformation; and
* pursue transformational programs across the services such as the Army's Future Combat System, the Navy's conversion of ballistic missile submarines to guided missile submarines, and the Air Force's unmanned combat aerial vehicles.
In December 2002, President Bush directed the deployment of a missile defense system to protect the United States from the threat of long-range missiles with the ability to deliver weapons of mass destruction. The 2005 Defense Appropriations Act provides $10 billion for systems to defend against the threat from ballistic missiles. Later this year, the first components of America's missile defense system will become operational. This will fulfill a pledge that President Bush made to the American people more than four years ago. America and our allies face a deadly threat from ballistic missiles armed with the world's most dangerous weapons. Republicans affirm that America must deploy the technologies necessary to protect our people.
Republicans applaud President Bush's announcement of the most comprehensive restructuring of U.S. military forces overseas since the end of the Korean War. By closing bases overseas that are no longer needed to meet Cold War threats that have ended, his new initiative will bring home many Cold War-era forces while deploying more flexible and rapidly deployable capabilities in strategic locations around the world. The plan will make America safer by better preparing our military to address the new dangers associated with rogue nations, global terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction. It will also give our servicemembers more time on the home front and fewer moves over a career. It will give military spouses fewer job changes and offer greater stability for their families. It will save the taxpayers money by closing hundreds of unneeded facilities around the world.
Republicans know that workers in the defense industry and broader civilian sector
– including manufacturing workers, engineers, scientists, and farmers – who supply our Armed Forces with cutting-edge weapons, combat materiel, and sustenance are also vital to the success of our troops on the battlefield. We hail their indispensable contributions to victory in the War on Terror.
Building a Better World Based on Democratic Governments, Free Markets, and International Compassion
Republicans applaud President Bush for launching groundbreaking efforts to address the needs and hopes of the world's poor, cutting across traditional boundaries to focus on what works. We agree with President Bush that the United States must use this moment of opportunity to extend the benefits of freedom across the globe – by actively working to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets, and free trade to every corner of the world.
The events of September 11, 2001, taught us that weak states, like Afghanistan, can pose as great a danger to our national interests as strong states. Poverty does not make poor people into terrorists and murderers. Yet poverty, weak institutions, and corruption can make weak states vulnerable to terrorist networks and drug cartels within their borders.
Republicans believe that a world where some live in comfort and plenty, while half of the human race lives on less than $2 a day, is neither just nor stable. We applaud President Bush and the Republican Congress for their leadership and moral clarity in making the inclusion of all of the world's poor in an expanding circle of development – and opportunity – one of the top priorities of U.S. international policy.
Decades of massive development assistance have failed to spur economic growth in the poorest countries. Worse, development aid has often served to prop up failed policies, relieving the pressure for reform and perpetuating misery. Results of aid are typically measured in dollars spent by donors, not in the rates of growth and poverty reduction achieved by recipients. These are the indicators of a failed strategy.
Working with other nations, and under the leadership of President Bush and the Republican Congress, the United States has confronted this failure. President Bush helped to forge a new consensus at the United Nations Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey that the objectives of assistance – and the strategies to achieve those objectives – must change.
Republicans support the President's goal to help unleash the productive potential of individuals in all nations. Sustained growth and poverty reduction are impossible without the right national policies. Where governments have implemented real policy changes, we will provide significant new levels of assistance. The United States and other developed countries should set an ambitious and specific target: to double the size of the world's poorest economies within a decade.
We endorse the strategies that the United States is pursuing to achieve this goal, including:
* providing resources through the Millennium Challenge Account to aid countries that have met the challenge of reform;
* improving the effectiveness of the World Bank and other development banks in raising living standards;
* insisting upon measurable results to ensure that development assistance is actually making a difference in the lives of the world's poor;
* increasing the amount of development assistance that is provided in the form of grants instead of loans;
* opening societies to commerce and investment;
* enhancing public health in countries afflicted by epidemics and pandemics like HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis;
* emphasizing education, literacy, and learning as the foundation of democracy and development; and
* continuing to aid agricultural development.
Republicans know that a strong world economy enhances our national security by advancing prosperity and freedom in the rest of the world. Economic growth supported by free trade and free markets creates new jobs and higher incomes. It allows people to lift their lives out of poverty, spurs economic and legal reform, enhances the fight against corruption, and reinforces the habits of liberty.
Under Republican leadership, the United States has fostered an environment of economic openness to capitalize on our country's greatest asset in the information age: a vital, innovative society that welcomes creative ideas and adapts to them. American companies continue to show the world innovative ways to improve productivity and redraw traditional business models. Upon this extraordinary foundation, President Bush and the Republican Congress have rebuilt an effective American trade policy. Rooted in America's political and economic ideals, the Republican blueprint they have implemented promotes open markets and open societies, free trade and the free flow of information, and the development of new ideas and private sectors. This self-sustaining economic and commercial progress has nurtured the human spirit, the middle class, law, and liberty.
Republicans applaud the renewal of the executive-Congressional partnership on trade matters under Republican leadership. After a gap of eight years, the Administration reestablished majority support in the Congress for free and fair trade by passing Trade Promotion Authority and the other market-opening measures for developing countries in the Trade Act of 2002.
We commend the strong record of President Bush and the Republican Congress in using their authority to promote economic growth and economic freedom beyond America's shores, especially through free trade initiatives. We support the Administration's comprehensive strategy to promote free trade, exemplified by the launch of the Doha negotiation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), regional and sub-regional initiatives such as the Central American Free Trade Agreement, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and the Middle East Free Trade Area, extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and the conclusion of bilateral free trade agreements with nations such as Australia, Morocco, Chile, and Singapore.
We hail the strong record of President Bush and the Republican Congress in:
* completing agreements with 12 countries, and currently negotiating with 10 other nations, to reduce trade barriers – together, these 22 nations represent America's third largest export market, with economies totaling $2.5 trillion in purchasing power;
* enforcing trade agreements and laws against unfair practices, including staunch opposition to regulations that impede farm exports and improved agriculture;
* opposing unfair manipulation of currency rates by U.S. trading partners; and
* taking timely action to help domestic industries and workers adjust to foreign competition, including through safeguard actions in support of America's manufacturing sector and trade adjustment assistance for workers;
* incorporating appropriate labor and environmental concerns into U.S. trade negotiations, promoting mutually supportive trade and environmental policies and agreements; and
* using the International Labor Organization, trade preference programs, and trade talks to improve working conditions in conjunction with freer trade.
We recognize that there is a fundamental connection between trade and development. Trade policies can help developing countries strengthen property rights, competition, the rule of law, investment, the spread of knowledge, open societies, the efficient allocation of resources, and regional integration – all leading to growth, opportunity, and confidence in developing countries. We therefore welcome the Republican-led reauthorization in the Trade Act of 2002 of preference programs with the nations of the Caribbean and Andean regions.
Steady American Leadership in the World
We affirm America's role in leading the world toward greater freedom, opportunity, and prosperity. Our efforts to expand the reach of economic and political freedom are complemented by our work in fostering religious liberty. Republicans will continue to make the protection and promotion of religious freedom abroad a cardinal principle of our foreign policy. This reflects our national values and protects our national interests, and renders our actions in the world consistent with our ideals as a people. America is a working example of religious liberty, home to millions of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and people of many other faiths who live in harmony and contribute to our culture. In the President's words, "It is not an accident that freedom of religion is one of the central freedoms in our Bill of Rights. It is the first freedom of the human soul.… We must stand for that freedom in our country. We must speak for that freedom in the world." We applaud President Bush's record of accomplishment in broadening the realm of liberty and promoting prosperity and opportunity in the world, and we endorse his vision for the future.
Republicans are guided by the conviction that no nation can build a safer, better world alone. In addition to NATO, the Organization of American States, and other long-standing alliances, the United States is committed to lasting institutions like the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. While international organizations can serve the cause of peace, Republicans believe they can never serve as a substitute for, or exercise a veto over, principled American leadership. The United Nations was not designed to summon or lead armies in the field and, as a matter of U.S. sovereignty, American troops must never serve under United Nations command.
The United Nations can provide a valuable forum for nations to peacefully resolve their differences, and it can help monitor international agreements and organize international humanitarian assistance. Under Republican leadership, the United States will pay a fair, not disproportionate, share of dues to the United Nations, which must continue to reform its management and take steps to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse. All funds that the U.S. contributes for operations, conferences, and peacekeeping should count against these dues.
We hail the actions of President Bush and the Republican Congress to ensure that our nation's efforts to meet our global security commitments and protect Americans are not impaired by the potential for investigations, inquiry, or prosecution by the International Criminal Court, whose jurisdiction we do not accept as extending to Americans. We support full implementation of the American Servicemembers Protection Act, whose provisions are intended to ensure and enhance the protection of U.S. personnel and officials.
We applaud President Bush and the Republican Congress for working to end the unacceptable discrimination against Israel at the United Nations, by that institution's denying committee assignments to Israel. We welcome Israel's membership in the Western European and Others Group at the United Nations headquarters and urge its full acceptance at other United Nations venues. We support adoption of bipartisan legislation to withhold the annual headquarters contribution made by the U.S. Department of State to the International Committee of the Red Cross if Magen David Adom is not given the opportunity to participate fully in the activities of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
Republicans continue to oppose the ideological campaign against participation by the Vatican in United Nations conferences and other activities. The United Nations was created to benefit all peoples and nations, not to promote a radical agenda of social engineering. Any effort to address global social problems must be firmly placed within a context of respect for the fundamental social institutions of marriage and family. We reject any treaty or convention that would contradict these values. For that reason, we support protecting the rights of families in international programs and oppose funding organizations involved in abortion.
Republicans support the leadership of President Bush and Vice President Cheney in speaking out honestly about violations of the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity using our voice and vote in international institutions to advance freedom. Worldwide, at least 600,000 to 800,000 human beings are trafficked across international borders each year. Of those, it is believed that more than 80 percent are women and girls, and that 70 percent of them were forced into sexual servitude. We applaud the President for his efforts to rally the international community, including at the United Nations, in combating human trafficking, for his call to the nations of the world to pass laws criminalizing these abhorrent practices, and for working with Republicans in Congress to provide the funds necessary to combat trafficking on the international level. We also praise President Bush for his efforts at home, where he has tripled the number of traffickers criminally charged and doubled the number of convictions, while supporting the good work of organizations that are rescuing women and children from exploitation.
Neighborhood of the Americas
Republicans believe that sound American foreign policy starts in our own neighborhood. Family and faith, culture and commerce, are enduring bonds among all the peoples of the Americas. Our nation's future is fundamentally linked to our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere. Republicans share President Bush's vision of the Americas as a fully democratic hemisphere, working together to achieve representative democracy, security, and market-based development. We also applaud his proven track record in advancing trade liberalization in the Americas in order to promote economic development and democratic governance.
We praise President Bush's strong record of serious and sustained attention to the American neighborhood and coalition-building with countries such as Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia that share our democratic priorities.
Under President Bush's leadership, the United States and Mexico have developed a historic level of trust and mutual respect. Strengthened by common values and purposes, this relationship has provided an unprecedented degree of bilateral cooperation. Republicans believe that it is a high national priority for America to continue building on that cooperation with Mexico over the coming years to ensure safe, orderly, and legal migration flows; further reduce the cost of remittances; expand access to credit for small business entrepreneurs; and further strengthen bilateral ties in education, civil society, housing, agriculture, infrastructure, communications, and information technologies. Republicans also recognize that as a respected voice in the region, Mexico will continue to be a vital partner in supporting democracy throughout the hemisphere, as demonstrated by Mexico's contributions to regional and multilateral approaches in Bolivia and Venezuela.
Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the United States has received excellent cooperation from our hemispheric partners to combat terror in North America. In particular, our longstanding allies Canada and Mexico have been steadfast partners in joint efforts to enhance border security, while ensuring that the swift pace of legal movement of people and goods along our land borders is maintained.
Republicans applaud Canada's contributions to the War on Terror, not only as a partner in the Americas but as a steadfast transatlantic ally, including in deployments during Operation Enduring Freedom and in the current NATO-led operation in Afghanistan. We also appreciate the continuing participation of El Salvador in the multinational force in Iraq, as well as the past contributions of the Dominican Republic and Honduras in support of the goal of stability and democracy for the Iraqi people.
Republicans support the leadership of the President and the Republican Congress to advance prosperity throughout the Americas through free trade. We applaud the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement implemented by the Bush Administration – the first such agreement with a South American nation in U.S. history. We also applaud President Bush's conclusion of a free trade agreement with six countries in our neighborhood – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. We support the President's goal of negotiating free trade agreements with Panama and the Andean nations. These initiatives complement the goal of achieving a genuine, comprehensive free trade area in the hemisphere. As Republicans, we believe that the Free Trade Area of the Americas is the best route to achieving that goal.
Our Party believes that the United States must continue to support the democracies of South America with strong economic and security assistance. We therefore endorse the increased support that the President and the Republican Congress have provided to Colombia in the fight against narco-terrorists, in the eradication of coca and poppy crops, and in the interdiction of illicit drugs and the extradition of criminals. We also support the Bush Administration's active strategy to help the Andean nations adjust their economies, enforce their laws, defeat terrorist organizations, and cut off the supply of illegal drugs.
We share President Bush's commitment to strengthening the region's democratic institutions by working with leaders in the region to promote good governance and combat corruption. We applaud the Administration's work with regional institutions, such as the Summit of the Americas process, the Organization of American States, and the Defense Ministerial of the Americas. Republicans support the Bush Administration's efforts to achieve a peaceful, democratic, constitutional, and electoral solution to Venezuela's political crisis.
The Castro regime is an anachronism in a region where democracy and open markets prevail. The current political and economic crisis in Cuba reflects four decades of Castro's failed policies. The Cuban government rightfully remains on the State Department's Terrorist List due to its continued support for terrorism, including the harboring of fugitives from justice wanted in the United States for terrorism-related offenses. The Castro regime continues to pursue policies of Marxist-Leninist dictatorship, police state tactics, and total economic control. Because of these policies, the Castro regime remains hostile to America's interests and values.
As Republicans, we support President Bush's principled position that the current embargo on trade with, and restrictions on travel to, Cuba must remain in place as along as the Cuban government refuses to hold free and fair elections, ease its stranglehold on private enterprise, and allow the Cuban people to organize, assemble, and speak freely.
Republicans understand that the Castro regime will not change by its own choice. But Cuba must change. That is why we support President Bush's decision to provide additional resources for:
* democracy-building activities in Cuba, support for the family members of the political opposition, and support for efforts to help youth, women, and Afro-Cubans take their rightful place in the pro-democracy movement;
* regular airborne broadcasts to Cuba and the purchase of a dedicated airborne platform for the transmission of Radio and Television Martí into Cuba; and
* public diplomacy efforts to disseminate information abroad about Castro's record of abusing human rights, harboring terrorists, committing espionage against other countries, and fomenting subversion of democratically elected governments in Latin America.
* Republicans applaud the work of the President's Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, which identified measures to help the Cuban people bring to an end the Castro dictatorship and provided a plan for agile, effective, and decisive assistance to the people of Cuba when they have finally achieved freedom and democracy. We support the Commission's recommendations, which include:
* denying resources and legitimacy to the Castro regime by eliminating abuses of educational travel programs;
* countering the regime's manipulation of our humanitarian policies by limiting recipients of remittances and gift parcels to immediate family members; and
* limiting family visits to Cuba to immediate family.
Republicans also support efforts to increase the number of new migrants admitted from Cuba through a safe, legal, and orderly process and believe that the United States should adhere to the principles established by the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, which recognizes the rights of Cuban refugees fleeing communist tyranny.
Republicans applaud the strong support President Bush has demonstrated for the people of Haiti and agree that it is essential that Haiti have a hopeful future. We support the President's leadership of multilateral efforts to bring order and stability to Haiti and assist the Haitian people in achieving a democratic and constitutional government. American troops and their partners in the initial stabilization force from France, Canada, and Chile responded swiftly and humanely to the needs of the Haitian people. We applaud the contributions of Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Canada, Spain, and other nations to the current peacekeeping force, as well as financial pledges from the international community to provide economic and humanitarian assistance to the Haitian people.
Republicans believe that because Africans and Americans share a belief in the values of liberty and dignity, we must share in the labor of advancing those values. We endorse President Bush's conviction that in a time of growing commerce across the globe, America must work to ensure that the nations of Africa are full partners in the trade and prosperity of the world. Under the leadership of President Bush and the Republican Congress, our nation is standing together with leaders in Africa against the tragic violence of civil war and against the merciless terrorists who threaten every nation. We are answering the challenge of desperate hunger with human compassion and the tools of human technology. In the face of spreading disease, we are joining with courageous people throughout the continent who are turning the tide against HIV/AIDS in Africa.
We applaud the President's leadership in establishing an unprecedented level of engagement with Africa, exemplified by the high priority placed on dialogue between the President and his African counterparts and supported by historic initiatives such as the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the African Education Initiative. We further commend President Bush for visiting South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, Botswana, and Uganda last year – the first Republican President to do so.
Republicans believe that South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia are leaders for regional engagement and require focused attention. We applaud the President and the Republican Congress for deepening American engagement with those nations. Republicans also applaud increased support for African nations that have chosen the path of economic, political, and social reform and are therefore eligible for funding from the MCA: Senegal, Ghana, Benin, Cape Verde, Mali, Mozambique, Madagascar, and Lesotho. We believe that to be effective, development aid requires pro-growth policies and strong reforms in the nations that receive aid. We endorse the MCA's direction of resources to countries with governments that rule justly, root out corruption, encourage entrepreneurship, and invest in the health and education of their people.
Republicans also applaud the strong record of President Bush and the Republican Congress in promoting development and economic growth in Africa as a means to eradicating poverty and encouraging the habits of freedom and enterprise. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is bringing hundreds of thousands of jobs and investment opportunity to sub-Saharan Africa. Under President Bush's leadership, Congress has extended AGOA beyond 2008 – an achievement that will help give businesses the confidence to make long-term investments in Africa. Republicans believe that the United States must continue to work to complete a free trade agreement with the nations of the Southern African Customs Union to create new opportunities for farmers and workers and entrepreneurs all across Africa. We also applaud the efforts of the Bush Administration to strengthen and broaden capital markets on the continent. With the ability to borrow money to buy homes and to start businesses, more Africans will have the tools to achieve their dreams.
Republicans also commend President Bush and the Republican Congress for helping to provide Africa's children with the advantages of literacy and basic education through the Africa Education Initiative. This important initiative will provide teacher training, textbooks, and scholarships for girls to improve primary education on the continent.
Many of Africa's leaders are committed to the spread of democratic institutions and democratic values throughout their continent. Yet those institutions and values are threatened in some parts of Africa by terrorism, chaos, and civil war. To extend liberty in Africa, we must help African leaders who seek to achieve security and peace on the continent.
Republicans believe that together with our allies and friends, America must help strengthen Africa's fragile states, help build indigenous capability to secure porous borders, and help build up the law enforcement and intelligence infrastructures to deny havens for terrorists. An ever more lethal environment exists in Africa as local civil wars spread beyond borders to create regional war zones. Forming coalitions and cooperative security arrangements is key to confronting these emerging transnational threats.
We welcome President Bush's leadership in the establishment of a consensus among the G-8 nations to support peacekeeping capabilities among the nations of Africa, so that they may more effectively prevent and resolve violent conflict on the continent.
Republicans applaud President Bush's strong record of promoting regional peace and stability and helping to end conflict and war on the continent. Working in concert with allies, friends, and international institutions, the Bush Administration has helped achieve progress toward resolving conflicts in Liberia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, and Sudan.
We applaud the efforts of the Bush Administration in working closely with the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement to bring peace to Sudan. Sudan's civil war is one of the worst humanitarian tragedies of our time, responsible for the deaths of two million people over two decades. Achieving peace, and concluding a just and comprehensive agreement, must be an urgent priority for both sides in Sudan. President Bush has made peace in Sudan a top priority of his foreign policy, including the appointment of a Special Envoy to facilitate discussions and the signing of the Sudan Peace Act. The President's commitment has paved the way for significant progress and we welcome continued movement this year toward a comprehensive peace agreement that will put an end to 20 years of conflict in southern Sudan.
We commend the efforts of the President and the Republican Congress to help the people of Darfur, in western Sudan. Brutal militias there are causing human suffering on an immense scale. American assistance has been provided for famine relief, assistance for refugees, and other humanitarian aid. Yet no amount of aid can substitute for true and lasting peace. The Government of Sudan must stop the violence of Janjaweed militias, and all parties must respect the cease-fire and allow the free movement of humanitarian workers and supplies. We continue to hope for peace for the people of Sudan and for normalization of relations between Sudan and the United States. However, the Government of Sudan must not remain complicit in the brutalization of Darfur.
Republicans deplore the Government of Zimbabwe's refusal to adhere to the rule of law. The Bush Administration has rightly condemned the Government of Zimbabwe's assaults against human rights. We support the President's decision to suspend non-humanitarian aid and impose targeted sanctions on the Zimbabwean regime and its supporters.
Republicans recognize that several African governments face particular dangers from terrorists, including in East Africa. The Bush Administration is working closely with those nations to fight terror, and the Republican Congress has expanded efforts to help governments in East Africa protect their people and to fight terrorist networks. We will not allow terrorists to threaten African peoples, or to use Africa as a base to threaten the world. We hail the continuing cooperation of Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, Tanzania, and other African nations in the War on Terror.
Republicans are proud of President Bush's historic leadership that has placed America at the forefront of helping the people of Africa, their governments, and private groups combat the catastrophic HIV/AIDS pandemic. We hail the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a five-year, $15 billion initiative, strongly backed by the Congress, to turn the tide against HIV/AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean. By undertaking a comprehensive approach to the pandemic that involves education, abstinence, prevention, testing, treatment, and care – including advanced antiretroviral drugs – the President's groundbreaking initiative follows in the finest American tradition of harnessing the power of human technology in the service of human compassion. We also applaud other major steps by President Bush and the Republican Congress to make fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic a priority of U.S. foreign policy, including America's contribution to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, and other initiatives.
The United States is leading the world by example and the global community can – and must – do more to halt the advance of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We applaud the numerous African, American, and other international private organizations – including faith-based groups, hospitals, medical schools, corporations, and philanthropies – that are helping the people of Africa as they fight HIV/AIDS with courage. The progress we are already seeing in parts of Africa is proof that HIV/AIDS can be defeated.
Across the Pacific
Republicans believe that, as in every region of the world, America's foreign policy in Asia starts with its allies: Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines. In the Asia-Pacific region, these alliances are bolstered by strong relationships with American friends such as Singapore, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, and New Zealand.
President Bush has demonstrated a clear commitment to the region, and Republicans recognize that under his leadership, alliance relations in Asia have never been better. In every major security issue of our time – including counterterrorism, nonproliferation, Iraq, and North Korea – our allies in Asia are providing unprecedented cooperation. The Republican Party hails the brave and energetic response of America's allies in the Asia-Pacific region in the wake of the September 11th attacks.
* Australia invoked the ANZUS Treaty to declare that the September 11th attacks were attacks on Australia itself, following that historic decision with the dispatch of some of the world's finest combat forces for Operation Enduring Freedom.
* Japan and the Republic of Korea provided unprecedented levels of military logistical support within weeks of the terrorist attacks.
* America has deepened cooperation on counterterrorism with our alliance partners in Thailand and the Philippines and received invaluable assistance from close friends like Singapore and New Zealand.
Republicans also applaud Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and other nations in the Asia-Pacific region for their contributions to the multinational effort to achieve security and democracy for the Iraqi people.
Japan is a key partner of the United States and the U.S.-Japan alliance is an important foundation of peace, stability, security, and prosperity in Asia. America supports an economically vibrant and open Japan that serves as an engine of expanding prosperity and trade in the Asia-Pacific region. Republicans support an American policy in the Asia-Pacific region that looks to Japan to continue forging a leading role in regional and global affairs based on our common interests, our common values, and our close defense and diplomatic cooperation.
The Republic of Korea is a valued democratic ally of the United States. Our two nations are maintaining vigilance toward North Korea while preparing our alliance to make contributions to the broader stability of the region over the longer term. In concert with America's allies South Korea and Japan, and supported by China and Russia, our nation is leading the international community to speak with one voice to demand the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear programs. Republicans support the Bush Administration's efforts to protect the peace on the Korean peninsula. North Korea lies outside of the international system. Americans have shed their blood to stop North Korean aggression before and remain prepared to resist aggression today.
After fighting together in both world wars, the United States forged a formal alliance with Australia. Australians have stood shoulder to shoulder with Americans in every major conflict since – Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, and now Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Republicans hail the signing into law of the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement and look forward to building on more than 50 years of alliance cooperation to resolve regional and global problems.
American ties to the Philippines have been close for more than a hundred years. We Republicans have supported the victory of Filipino democracy and cherish our continuing friendship with this great nation and its people who have been by our side in war and in peace.
Under President Bush's leadership, the United States has undertaken an historic transformation in its bilateral relationship with India, based upon his conviction that U.S. interests require a strong relationship between the world's largest democracies. Since 2001, the United States has started with a view of India as a growing world power with which we have common security interests and a shared, fundamental commitment to political freedom and representative government. Through a strong partnership with India, we can best address any differences and shape a dynamic future. The prospects for that partnership were further enhanced by the announcement this January of the "Next Steps in Strategic Partnership" between the United States and India, a new effort to further deepen and accelerate cooperation between our two nations.
Republicans applaud India's move toward greater economic freedom. We hold a common interest in the free flow of commerce, including through the vital sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. Bilateral trade between the U.S. and India increased from $15.9 billion in 2002 to nearly $18 billion in 2003, with U.S. exports to India increasing by 22 percent, the largest increase ever. Finally, we share the commitment to fighting terrorism and creating a strategically stable Asia.
Republicans support President Bush's view that America must maintain forces in the Asia-Pacific region that reflect our commitments to our allies, our security requirements, our technological advances, and the strategic environment. America will also build on stability provided by our Asian alliances, as well as with institutions such as ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, to develop a mix of regional and bilateral strategies to advance progress and deepen our ties to the peoples of this region.
Republicans applaud President Bush for his leadership in dramatically refashioning America's relationship with Pakistan. The United States and Pakistan are working closely in the fight against terror. We endorse continued American support for Pakistan's security, economic, and social programs.
Republicans believe that America's relationship with China is an important part of our strategy to promote a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Asia-Pacific region. We welcome the emergence of a strong, peaceful, and prosperous China. The democratic development of China is crucial to that future. Yet, a quarter-century after beginning the process of shedding the worst features of the Communist legacy, China's leaders have not yet made the next series of fundamental choices about the character of their state. In pursuing advanced military capabilities that can threaten its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region, China is following an outdated path that, in the end, will hamper its own pursuit of national greatness. In time, China will find that social and political freedoms are the only source of that greatness.
Under President Bush's leadership, the United States has sought a constructive relationship with a changing China. Our two nations have cooperated well where our interests overlap, including the current War on Terror and in promoting stability on the Korean peninsula. Likewise, we have coordinated on the future of Afghanistan and have initiated a comprehensive dialogue on counterterrorism. Shared health and environmental threats, such as the threat of HIV/AIDS, SARS, and other infectious diseases, challenge us to promote jointly the welfare of our citizens.
Addressing these transnational threats will challenge China to become more open with information, promote the development of civil society, enhance individual human rights, and end suppression of the media. To make that nation accountable to its citizens' needs and aspirations, much work remains to be done. Only by allowing the Chinese people to think, speak, assemble, and worship freely can China reach its full potential. China has discovered that economic freedom leads to national wealth. China's leaders will also discover that freedom is indivisible – that social and religious freedoms are also essential to national greatness and national dignity. Eventually, men and women who are allowed to control their own wealth will insist on controlling their own lives and their own country.
Our important bilateral trade relationship has benefited from China's entry into the World Trade Organization, creating export opportunities and jobs for American farmers, workers, and companies. The power of market principles and the WTO's requirements for transparency and accountability have bolstered openness and the rule of law in China. Republicans support the commitment of President Bush and Republicans in Congress to ensure that China fulfills its WTO obligations.
There are, however, other areas in which we have profound disagreements, including human rights, China's observance of its nonproliferation commitments, and America's commitment to the self-defense of Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act.
We support President Bush's efforts to narrow differences where they exist but not to allow them to preclude cooperation where there is agreement.
The United States government's policy is that there is one China, as reflected in the three communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act. America opposes any unilateral decision by either China or Taiwan to change the status quo. Republicans recognize that America's policy is based on the principle that there must be no use of force by China against Taiwan. We deny the right of Beijing to impose its rule on the free Taiwanese people. All issues regarding Taiwan's future must be resolved peacefully and must be agreeable to the people of Taiwan. If China violates these principles and attacks Taiwan, then the United States will respond appropriately in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act. America will help Taiwan defend itself.
Republicans applaud President Bush and the Republican Congress for honoring our nation's promises to the people of Taiwan, a longstanding friend of the United States and a genuine democracy. Taiwan deserves America's strong support, including the timely sale of defensive arms to enhance Taiwan's security. In recognition of its growing importance in the global economy, Republicans applaud Taiwan's membership in the World Trade Organization and support its participation in the World Health Organization and other multilateral institutions.
America's relations with Vietnam are still overshadowed by two grave concerns. The first is uncertainty concerning the Americans who became prisoners of war or were missing in action. Republicans commend President Bush for enhancing efforts to obtain the fullest possible accounting for those still missing and for the repatriation of the remains of those who died in the cause of freedom. The second is continued retribution by the government of Vietnam against its ethnic minorities and others who fought alongside our forces there. The United States owes those individuals a debt of honor and will not be blind to their suffering.
The Republican Party is committed to democracy in Burma, and to Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic leaders whose election in 1990 was brutally suppressed and who have been arrested and imprisoned for their belief in freedom and democracy. Republicans share with her the view that the basic principles of human freedom and dignity are universal. We are committed to working with our allies in Europe and Asia to maintain a firm and resolute opposition to the military junta in Rangoon.
Because of the strategic location and historical ties of the Pacific island nations to the United States, Republicans will continue to work closely with the countries of this region on a wide variety of issues of common concern.
Republicans applaud President Bush for the visionary agenda he set forth at the beginning of his Administration: the establishment of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. That agenda is in the finest tradition of America's historical commitment to the freedom and security of Europe. It builds on the legacy of the courageous and resolute leadership of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, through which the Cold War was won.
We hail the President's success in achieving unprecedented cooperation with Europe – at NATO, through the European Union, and with individual nations – in combating terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, building peace and democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, and advancing the cause of freedom, democracy, and opportunity throughout the broader Middle East and North Africa. In particular, we are grateful for the close friendship and strong partnership with the United Kingdom, upholding the tradition of a special relationship between our two nations. Together and with strong U.S. leadership, America and Europe are decisively confronting the greatest challenges and boldly seizing the historic opportunities of our time.
We believe that the security of the United States is inseparable from the security of Europe. This enduring truth was reaffirmed by our European allies after the attacks of September 11, 2001, when NATO invoked its Article V self-defense clause for the first time in the history of the Alliance, recognizing that the attack on America was also an attack on the Alliance as a whole.
Republicans know that a strong NATO is the foundation of peace in Europe and beyond. We commend NATO's leadership of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan – a mission that has been led in the past by the United Kingdom, Turkey, Germany, and the Netherlands and is being supported by European partners such as Ireland, Albania, and Croatia. We applaud the establishment of a NATO operation to train Iraqi security forces. We hail those NATO nations and NATO partners that are contributing forces to Iraq, including the Polish-led division for which the Alliance has provided technical support.
Republicans remain steadfast supporters of NATO enlargement. We recall that the leadership of a Republican Senate helped Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary return to the Euro-Atlantic Community through membership in the Alliance. We hail the President's leadership in NATO's decision to welcome seven new democracies into the Alliance this year – Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Republicans support the continued enlargement of NATO to include other democratic nations willing and able to share the burden of defending and advancing our common interests.
Republicans recognize and applaud the fact that especially since September 11, 2001, some of America's strongest allies and friends have been the democracies of Central and Eastern Europe – many of whom inspired the world during the Cold War by assaulting the Iron Curtain again and again until it finally crashed down forever. Republicans hail the participation in the multinational coalition in Iraq of NATO members that joined the Alliance in 1999 and 2004 – Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia – as well as the contributions of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Albania, and Macedonia. Through their dedication to the cause of security and freedom in Iraq, these nations – together with the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, and Norway – are demonstrating their commitment to the values shared by members of the transatlantic community. We also applaud the contribution of forces in Iraq by Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan and support strengthening NATO's partnerships with these nations and their neighbors in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
President Bush is forging a new relationship with Russia based on the central reality that the United States and Russia are no longer strategic adversaries. We hail the President's visionary leadership in reassessing the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which was a relic of the Cold War and treated Russia as an enemy. The President has strengthened this new relationship by concluding the historic Moscow Treaty on Strategic Reductions, which will reduce the nuclear arsenals of our two nations to their lowest levels in decades. President Bush is rightly refocusing the relationship on emerging and potential common interests and challenges, especially broadening our already extensive cooperation in the War on Terror and promoting beneficial bilateral trade and investment relations. At the same time, Republicans believe that Russia's uneven commitment to the basic values of democracy remains a matter of great concern. We continue to support the independence and stability of the states of the former Soviet Union in the belief that a prosperous and stable neighborhood will reinforce Russia's integration into the Euro-Atlantic community.
Republicans recognize and hail President Bush's use of the prestige and influence of the United States to support the efforts of leaders in Ireland and the United Kingdom and the many other people of goodwill who are working to achieve a lasting and peaceful settlement in Northern Ireland. We endorse President Bush's personal reaffirmation of America's commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and to its full and complete implementation, as expressed during his visit to Northern Ireland in April 2003. We applaud the President's appointment of a Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, who is participating in the peace process and supporting efforts of Ireland and the United Kingdom to restore the democratic process in Northern Ireland. We share the President's commitment that America's support for this vital work will continue.
Republicans support America's commitment to Northern Ireland's economic development, including our nation's contributions to the International Fund for Ireland and private U.S. investment in the North, with care to ensure fair employment and better opportunities for all. Though the burdens of history weigh heavily upon that land, we cheer its people for taking the lead in building for themselves and for their children a future of peace and understanding.
Our Party continues to support a peaceful settlement for Cyprus and respect by all parties for the wishes of the Cypriot people. A fair and lasting Cyprus settlement will benefit the people of Cyprus, as well as serve the interests of America and our allies, Greece and Turkey.
The Broader Middle East and North Africa
Republicans share President Bush's understanding that just as events in Europe determined the outcome of the Cold War, events in the broader Middle East will set the course for the victory of free nations in the War on Terror.
It is important to reaffirm that the war we wage against terrorists is not a battle of faiths. As the home to millions of Muslim believers, America welcomes the valuable role of Muslim leaders in promoting peace. We recognize that acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. We know that in this struggle against terrorism free nations have strong allies, of every faith, including millions of people in the Middle East who want to live in freedom. As Republicans, we share the President's conviction that if that region grows in democracy, prosperity, and hope, the terrorist movement will lose its sponsors, lose its recruits, and lose the festering grievances that keep terrorists in business.
We affirm our support for President Bush's Forward Strategy of Freedom in the Middle East, as well as the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative adopted at the G-8 Summit this year.
Republicans support efforts by the President, Vice President, and Republican Congress to ensure that America takes the side of reformers who are committed to democratic change. We support doubling the budget for the National Endowment for Democracy and focusing its new work on bringing free elections, free markets, free speech, and free labor unions to the Middle East. We support the President's expansion of America's public diplomacy efforts, including the use of radio and television to broadcast uncensored information and a message of tolerance in Arabic and Persian to tens of millions of people.
We applaud the commitment represented by the President's Middle East Partnership Initiative, which funds economic, political, and educational reform efforts in the Middle East and champions opportunity for all people of the region, especially women and youth.
We are pleased that the momentum of freedom in the Middle East is beginning to benefit women. In Afghanistan, women are preparing to vote in free elections, having participated in the drafting of a new constitution and taken on key responsibilities in a liberated nation. Under the ruthless grip of the Taliban regime, Afghan girls were barred from getting an education, and women were banned from holding jobs and were publicly whipped when they did not follow the Taliban's rules. Afghanistan's new constitution affords equal rights to all Afghan citizens, and Afghan women are now being integrated into the economic, social, and political life of their liberated country. In Iraq, the systematic use of rape by Saddam Hussein's regime to dishonor families has ended, and the country's interim constitution guarantees all Iraqis the right to vote and makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender, ethnicity, or religion.
As a fundamental element of the President's strategy, Republicans support the expansion of economic opportunities for the peoples of the Middle East, including through free trade. We applaud the enactment of free trade agreements with Jordan and Morocco, and the completion of negotiations toward such an agreement with Bahrain. We support the President's goal of a Middle East Free Trade Area by 2013 and highlight the conclusion of Trade and Investment Framework Agreements with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Tunisia, among others. Republicans endorse continued assistance and support for countries that have made peace with Israel – led by Egypt and Jordan. We applaud the actions of President Bush and the Republican Congress to provide both nations with new grants and loan guarantees to promote economic reform measures.
The Republican Party shares President Bush's commitment to the security of America's democratic ally Israel and the safety of the Israeli people. We remain committed to ensuring that Israel maintains a qualitative edge in defensive technology over any potential adversaries.
We believe that terror attacks against Israelis are part of the same evil as the September 11, 2001, attacks against America. We recognize Israel's right to defend itself in the face of homicide bombings and other attacks against the people of Israel.
We are very concerned about the escalation of anti-Semitic violence worldwide, including in Europe. This violence has included physical assaults, use of weapons, arson of synagogues, and desecration of Jewish cemeteries and statues. We are proud of President Bush's outspoken condemnation of anti-Semitism. We share his conviction that anti-Semitism poisons public debates within democratic nations and that mankind must come together to fight such dark impulses.
We support President Bush's vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. However, as he observed in his remarks of June 24, 2002, for such a vision to become a reality, Palestinians need a new leadership, not compromised by terror. Like all other people, Palestinians deserve a government that serves their interests and listens to their voices. If Palestinians embrace democracy and the rule of law, confront corruption, and firmly reject terror, they can count on American support for the creation of a Palestinian state. The Bush Administration has been clear about the obligations of Arab nations in achieving peace in the Middle East.
Republicans agree with President Bush that Israel's plan to remove all settlements from Gaza and several settlements from the West Bank is a courageous step toward peace in the face of continuing terrorist violence. This initiative can stimulate progress toward peace as laid out in the Road Map launched by President Bush.
Republicans commend the government of Israel for its desire to pursue peace, even in the face of continuing terrorist attacks. This is demonstrated by steps Israel has taken, such as removing unauthorized outposts and improving the humanitarian situation by easing restrictions on the movement of Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities.
Republicans agree with President Bush's assessment that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue, as part of any final status agreement, will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel. We also share the President's view that as part of a final peace settlement, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949. All previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities. Republicans continue to support moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel's capital, Jerusalem.
In Iran, we continue to see a government that represses its people, pursues weapons of mass destruction, and supports terror. We also see Iranian citizens risking intimidation and death as they speak out for liberty, human rights, and democracy. The Iranian people have a right to choose their own government and determine their own destiny. We applaud President Bush's leadership in ensuring them that the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom, including by broadcasting uncensored information to the Iranian people nearly 24 hours a day. We also support the President's practice of forming policy toward Iran based on Iranian actions, not words, and applaud his Administration's progress in convincing America's friends and allies, most importantly in Europe, to join us in a firm, common approach to ending Iran's nuclear weapons programs. Under President Bush's leadership, the United States and our European allies are speaking as plainly as possible to the Iranians, making it absolutely clear that the development of a nuclear weapon in Iran is intolerable to the international community.
USHERING IN AN OWNERSHIP ERA
"The role of government is not to control or dominate the lives of our citizens. The role of government is to help our citizens gain the time and the tools to make their own choices and improve their own lives. That's why I will continue to work to usher in a new era of ownership and opportunity in America." — President George W. Bush
Ownership gives citizens a vital stake in their communities and their country. By expanding ownership, we will help turn economic growth into lasting prosperity. As Republicans, we trust people to make decisions about how to spend, save, and invest their own money. We want individuals to own and control their income. We want people to have a tangible asset that they can build and rely on, making their own choices and directing their own future. Ownership should not be the preserve of the wealthy or the privileged. As Republicans who believe in the power of ownership to create better lives, we want more people to own a home. We want more people to own and build small businesses. We want more people to own and control their health care. We want more people to own personal retirement accounts. With President Bush's leadership we have taken great strides in making the dream of ownership available to millions of Americans, and in the next four years the President and Republicans in Congress will unlock the door to ownership for many more.
Tax Relief: Making it Happen, Making it Permanent
George W. Bush ran for President on a promise of lower taxes, so that people could keep more of the income they earn. He fulfilled that pledge. The fundamental premise of tax relief is that everyone who pays income taxes should see their income taxes reduced. The President offered a plan to lower all tax rates. Republicans in Congress strongly supported the President's plan. In 2001, President Bush signed historic tax relief into law. This year, 43 million families with children are receiving an average tax cut of over $2,000. The 2001 law:
* Created a new, low 10 percent income tax bracket;
* Lowered individual income tax rates for all Americans who pay income taxes;
* Doubled the child tax credit to $1,000;
* Reduced the marriage penalty for 33 million married couples;
* Expanded education IRAs, made pre-paid tuition plans tax-free, and created a deduction for higher education expenses;
* Phased-out the death tax that penalizes family-owned small businesses and farms;
* Simplified and expanded IRAs and 401(k)s so workers can save more for their retirement; and
* Increased the adoption tax credit and the child care tax credit.
President Bush and the Republican Congress built on the reforms of 2001 by passing the Jobs and Growth Act of 2003. This legislation assisted our economic recovery by accelerating the 2001 tax relief and encouraging investment. The tax rates on capital gains and dividend income were reduced to the same, lower rate of 15 percent to encourage saving and investment. Seven million senior citizens who rely on dividend income are benefiting from this tax relief. The law also quadrupled small business expensing so entrepreneurs can deduct from their taxes the first $100,000 of investment. Because of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, 111 million families are receiving an average tax cut of over $1,500 and the overall tax burden on working Americans is the lowest it has been in 37 years.
We believe that good government is based on a system of limited taxes and spending. Furthermore, we believe that the federal government should be limited and restricted to the functions mandated by the United States Constitution. The taxation system should not be used to redistribute wealth or fund ever-increasing entitlements and social programs.
Many Democrats, however, believe the government has a right to claim the money earned by working Americans. They fight any attempt to return the balance of power from Washington to individual families and businesses. Furthermore, the slim majority held by Republicans in the Senate and the rules of the Senate make it difficult to pass permanent tax relief. All of the tax relief provided over the last four years will be eliminated in the next six years if Congress does not take action to make the relief permanent. Our Party endorses the President's proposals to make tax relief permanent, so that families and businesses can plan for the future with confidence. Anything less will result in a significant tax increase on Americans. Making the tax cuts permanent is a crucial first step toward expanding ownership and ensuring that America turns economic growth into lasting prosperity. The only way to accomplish this goal is to elect a solid Republican majority to both houses of Congress. We look forward to a new Congress with larger Republican majorities working with President Bush to ensure that taxes do not go back up on American families.
More than half of all Americans save and invest in private markets. We want even more people to build assets that they own and can use to meet a variety of needs over the course of their lives. In the past few years President Bush and Congressional Republicans have passed into law a variety of measures to improve, simplify, expand, and protect retirement savings in IRAs, 401(k)s, and other retirement plans. Their actions:
* Increased the amount you can save each year tax-free.
* Made it easier to take your retirement plan from one job to the next.
* Allowed women who take time off from work to start a family to catch up on their missed retirement plan contributions.
* Required more disclosure for employer sponsored retirement plans and required that rules apply to both executives and rank-and-file employees.
Republicans will not rest on this success. We will build upon it by promoting policies that encourage workers to save. We support the President's proposal to create a new Lifetime Savings Account (LSA) so workers can save for a variety of needs, to consolidate the three types of current law IRAs into a single Retirement Savings Account (RSA), and to consolidate numerous employer-based retirement plans into a single Employer Retirement Savings Account (ERSA). These account options will promote personal saving, which opens up more opportunities for the saver and increases private capital that is available to entrepreneurs for investing, growing the economy, and creating jobs.
Strengthening Social Security with Ownership
Social Security needs to be strengthened and enhanced for our children and grandchildren. Republicans remain committed to the principles the President outlined:
* Anyone now receiving Social Security, or close to being eligible for it, is guaranteed that their benefits will not be cut and their taxes will not be raised. Social Security is a promise made by this country to its citizens and Republicans will keep that promise.
* Key changes to Social Security should merit bipartisan agreement so all improvements are a win for the American people rather than a political victory for any one party.
* Personal retirement accounts must be the cornerstone of strengthening and enhancing Social Security. Each of today's workers should be free to direct a portion of their payroll taxes to personal investments for their retirement. 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.
* Young people deserve to know their Social Security will in fact be there when they retire, just as we have guaranteed it to their grandparents and parents today. This new generation of American workers deserves to have ownership of their future. They must have choices.
* Assets in personal accounts should belong to each individual. Every American should have the opportunity to build a nest egg for the future and pass along that money to their children or grandchildren, who could use the funds to pay for college, buy a home, start a small business, or begin saving for their own retirement.
* 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 leadership. President Bush has shown this leadership 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.
Individual ownership of voluntary personal retirement accounts for today's workers will make Social Security more equitable, but, just as importantly, will put the system on sure financial footing. Fifty years ago there were 16 workers to support every one beneficiary of Social Security. Today there are just 3.3 workers for each beneficiary. By the time young men and women who are entering the workforce today turn 65, there will be only two workers for each beneficiary. Doing nothing is not an option. We must keep faith with both the past and the future by strengthening and enhancing Social Security. We believe that everyone who participates in the Social Security program should use legal and accurate identification.
President Bush formed a bipartisan commission that recommended three models for reform and many Republicans in Congress have exhibited leadership in sponsoring six different bills. Non-partisan analysis of these proposals shows that each strengthens Social Security and that each shares a common characteristic: giving workers the option of supplementing Social Security with personal retirement accounts that they own. Our Party supports the efforts of President Bush and Congressional Republicans to enact legislation during the next term.
Homeownership is central to the American dream, and Republicans want to make it a reality for everyone. That starts with access to capital for entrepreneurs and access to credit for consumers. Both have improved immensely in the past four years, resulting in record levels of homeownership. For the first time, more than half of all minorities own their home.
We support the President's goal of increasing the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families by the end of the decade. Since President Bush announced his initiative in 2002, an additional 1.6 million minorities have become homeowners. The Self-Help Homeownership Opportunities Program helps low-income families purchase a home. The most significant barrier to homeownership is the down payment. We support efforts to reduce that barrier, like the American Dream Downpayment Act and Zero Downpayment Mortgages. The President and Congress have taken action to provide counseling and education to help first-time homebuyers navigate the process of buying a home. The Administration has also taken steps to alert people to the dangers of predatory lending, in an effort to help Americans maintain a positive credit history.
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. We support efforts to enact the Single-Family Affordable Housing Tax Credit. 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.
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. 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. 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 businesses are the most potent force of economic growth and job creation in America. They generate more than half of our nation's gross domestic product and create seven out of ten new private-sector jobs in America. Small businesses have been the primary vehicles of economic advance for American women.
Republicans pledged in 2000 to lower tax rates for small business owners and entrepreneurs, end the death tax, cut red tape, reform our liability system, and aggressively expand overseas markets for our goods and services. Though more work remains to be done, including reauthorizing the Small Business Administration, President Bush and Congressional Republicans have made good on each of those commitments. They have:
* Reduced taxes on 25 million small business owners and entrepreneurs. Much of the tax relief came from reductions in individual income tax rates. Ninety percent of businesses pay income taxes at individual rates, not corporate rates. This includes hundreds of thousands of successful small business owners and entrepreneurs who pay taxes in the top tax rates and whose taxes would increase considerably under John Kerry's economic plan.
* Lowered the tax burden on investment in new equipment by quadrupling the limit on small business expensing from $25,000 to $100,000 and allowing additional first-year depreciation of that equipment.
* Phased-out the death tax that punishes family-owned small businesses and family farms.
* Increased federal contracts to small businesses. In 2003, small businesses received the largest percentage ever of all federal contracts. In addition, President Bush developed a strategy to reverse the trend toward bundling of contracts, a practice that has denied small businesses the ability to compete for billions of procurement dollars.
* Reduced paperwork. For example, 22.4 million small business taxpayers now have fewer lines to fill out on tax forms, freeing up an estimated 9.5 million hours previously used for paperwork every year.
* Enacted Health Savings Accounts, which allow individuals to save and pay for their health care tax-free. Combined with a catastrophic health plan, they are an easier and less costly way for small businesses to provide health insurance for their employees.
* Enacted common sense liability protections in the Terrorism Risk Insurance and SAFETY Acts.
* Negotiated agreements to reduce trade barriers and expand access to foreign markets.
An area in special need of more work is liability reform. Frivolous lawsuits put more money in the pockets of trial lawyers and leave businesses with less money to create jobs. They raise health care costs on small businesses, often preventing them from offering health insurance to their employees. We support efforts by President Bush, Congressional Republicans, and Republican governors to curb the burden of frivolous lawsuits. We recognize that the Democrats' nominees, one of whom made his fortune as a trial lawyer, are beholden to the interests of the trial lawyer lobby and offer no hope for reform of this badly broken system.
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
Health Savings Accounts allow people to own and control their health care. They are an important step toward creating a system of consumer-driven health care that puts patients and doctors at the center of decision-making – not government bureaucrats. When consumers make decisions about health care, individuals control their health care dollars and health care decisions. Health Savings Accounts allow people to save, earn interest, and spend tax free on their health care needs. HSAs are combined with a low-premium, high-deductible health insurance plan to offer flexible, affordable insurance options for small businesses and individuals. Health Savings Accounts are now available to all Americans thanks to the efforts of President Bush and the Republican Congress. The next step, which our Party endorses, is to extend tax deductibility to the insurance premiums associated with HSAs. We also support efforts to expand the use of Health Savings Accounts to help control health care costs and give individuals more power in making important medical decisions.
Private Property Rights
The core of ownership in America has always been ownership of private property that a citizen can call his or her own. Republicans respect this tradition. For reasons both Constitutional and environmental, therefore, President Bush and the Republican Congress 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. We oppose efforts to diminish the rights of private citizens to the land they own.
BUILDING AN INNOVATIVE, GLOBALLY COMPETITIVE ECONOMY
"By leading the world when it comes to innovation and change, we'll make America a hopeful place for those who want to work, and those who want to dream, and those who want to start their own business." — President George W. Bush
America's economy is the strongest in the world, and it is getting stronger thanks to lower taxes, fewer burdensome regulations, and a focus on encouraging investment. Our goal is to make sure America remains the strongest economy in a dynamic world and to make it possible for every American who wants a job to find one. We must ensure that workers are equipped with the education and training to succeed in the best jobs of the 21st century, and we must encourage the strong spirit of innovation that has put America at the forefront of new technology industries. Future prosperity demands that we have affordable, cleaner, more independent energy supplies and affordable, high-quality health care. We must maintain our commitment to free and fair trade, lower taxes, limited regulation, and a limited, efficient government that keeps up with the new realities of a changing world. By keeping the costs of running a business low and ensuring that our workers have the skills to compete in a dynamic global economy, President Bush and the Republican Congress will continue to ensure that America is the best nation in the world in which to create jobs.
Lower Taxes and Economic Growth
In 2001, President Bush and the Republican Congress worked together to pass the most sweeping tax relief in a generation. By letting families, workers, and small business owners keep more of the money they earn, they helped bring America from recession to a steadily expanding economy. Despite enduring the after-effects of the stock market's irrational exuberance in the late 1990s, terrorist attacks on our nation, and corporate scandals that bubbled to the surface after years of inattention, the U.S. economy has now grown for 33 straight months. And unlike four years ago, there are no signs of an end to the current economic growth.
The proof is in the numbers, and the numbers prove our economy is strong and growing stronger.
* Over the past year, gross domestic product (GDP) grew at one of the fastest rates in two decades.
* Without the President's tax relief, real GDP would have been more than 3 percent lower and 2 million fewer Americans would have been working at the end of last year.
* Since last August, 1.5 million new jobs have been created.
* The unemployment rate has fallen from 6.3 to 5.5 percent, which is below the average of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
* Employment over the last year is up in 46 of the 50 states, and the unemployment rate is down in 49 of the 50 states. In addition to the official figures, household surveys show that hundreds of thousands of new jobs have been created, unreported, through self-employment and by small businesses.
* Real after-tax incomes are up by 9.6 percent since December 2000.
* Homeownership rates are at record levels – seven out of ten American families own their own home today.
* Consumer confidence is up from the levels seen at this time last year.
* Inflation remains low by historical standards, as do mortgage rates.
We know what brought us this success – the hard work of the American people and the Republican commitment to low taxes. Now we must keep our economy on the right path by preventing taxes on families from going up next year, making the tax relief of the last four years permanent, and reforming the tax code to make it simpler, fairer, and more growth-oriented.
In 2000 we rightly declared: "The federal tax code is dysfunctional. It penalizes hard work, marriage, thrift, and success – the very factors that are the foundations for lasting prosperity." As noted earlier, from reducing marginal income tax rates to phasing out the death tax, President Bush and the Republican Congress have made great strides in addressing each of these problems. However, it is equally obvious that much more remains to be done to reform the federal tax code. Instead of being simple, the current tax system is needlessly complex, making it susceptible to abusive tax avoidance schemes. Instead of being efficient, it punishes hard work, discourages savings and investment, and hinders the international competitiveness of U.S. firms. Instead of being fair, it is out of line with our basic values and undermines our sense of fairness. Instead of being predictable, it is highly unpredictable and uncertain. Tax reform is necessary to achieve the simplicity, efficiency, fairness, and predictability that the American people deserve, and to give all Americans the freedom to determine their own spending priorities.
In particular, we must:
* Make the tax relief of 2001 and 2003 permanent. The various expiring tax relief provisions, ranging from 2005 to 2011, make the tax code confusing for everybody and limits the ability of workers, families, and businesses to plan for the future with confidence. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the death tax, which is reduced now, disappears in 2010, and then comes fully back to life in 2011.
* Build on efforts to develop a tax code that does not punish taxpayers for saving.
* Replace the tax code with a system that is simpler, provides more freedom to our citizens, is pro-growth, boosts the economy, and encourages savings and investment. A code that provides several definitions of a child is a code that needs to be reformed.
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. We oppose all attempts by the United Nations to impose a global tax and reject any claims of authority by United Nations to do so. Because of the vital role of religious and fraternal benevolent societies in fostering charity and patriotism, they should not be subject to taxation.
Alternative Minimum Tax
The alternative minimum tax (AMT) represents a second tax system for individuals. Its stated goal is to insure that high-income taxpayers pay some amount of income tax. But due to the lack of indexing, the broad base and reach of the current AMT will make it apply increasingly to middle-income taxpayers. Millions of additional taxpayers must complete AMT forms just to determine that they are not subject to the tax. As we look at the broader issue of tax reform, we call upon Congress to address this increasingly unfair second tax system on hardworking Americans.
Fiscal Discipline and Government Reform
To make sure the private sector has the capital it needs to invest, grow the economy, and expand prosperity, our leaders must make sure that the growth of the federal government remains in check. The challenges America has faced over the last four years have created an unwelcome but manageable budget deficit. These deficits are due to a number of factors: the stock market downturn that began in 2000 and the subsequent recession that President Bush inherited when he took office; the terrorist attacks on America and the necessary spending for homeland security and the War on Terror those attacks precipitated; and the crisis in confidence produced by corporate scandals that were years in the making.
It is important to view the size of the deficit in relation to the size of the nation's economy. By that measure, today's deficit, although unwelcome, is well within historical ranges. A deficit that is 3.8 percent of GDP, as is now projected for this year, would be smaller than the deficits in nine of the last 25 years, and far below the peak deficit figure of 6 percent of GDP reached in 1983. This deficit is also in line with what other industrialized nations are facing today. The U.S. deficit matches the average deficit within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and is below the levels of France, Germany, and Japan.
Much more importantly, because the President and Congress enacted pro-growth economic policies, the deficit is headed strongly in the right direction. Next year's projected deficit, at 2.7 percent of GDP, would be smaller than those in 14 of the last 25 years. As Republicans in Congress work with the President to restrain spending and strengthen economic growth, the federal deficit will fall to 1.5 percent of the nation's economic output in 2009 – well below the 2.2 percent average of the last 40 years.
The events that brought us into deficit are not completely behind us. The War on Terror goes on. The recession has passed, but some industries and workers are still feeling its effects. Republicans are committed to winning the War on Terror and will continue to implement policies that promote jobs, investment, and growth in every region of the country and every sector of our economy.
Let us be clear: If government is to meet the most pressing needs of our time and still maintain fiscal discipline, government leaders must set priorities and stick with them. President Bush has shown genuine leadership in doing just that. Time and again, he has made difficult decisions and followed through with clear determination. He has made it plain that his top budgetary priority is to protect America and win the War on Terror. He also remains committed to the education reforms he spearheaded in 2001. All discretionary spending must be kept in check and taxes must remain low to stimulate economic growth.
We endorse the President's pro-growth economic policies and his disciplined approach to spending taxpayers' dollars. And we applaud the efforts of President Bush and Republicans in Congress to meet our nation's priorities and cut the deficit by more than half within five years.
Tax cuts and spending are not the same. They do not have the same effect on the economy or on the federal budget. Tax cuts allow American workers, families, business owners, and investors to keep more of their own money. New spending requires the government to take control of a bigger slice of the economy. We recognize that the problem is not that the American people are taxed too little but that the federal government spends too much. To ensure that the federal government respects the burdens on taxpayers and spends only as much as is necessary to accomplish our common goals, we support extending the pay-as-you-go requirement for mandatory spending only.
Limiting Spending Growth
Spending limits will help Congress restrain the growth of government. We support a cap on discretionary spending that will limit the growth of overall spending while ensuring that priorities such as our nation's security will continue to be met. We applaud President Bush for submitting a budget for 2005 that provides significant increases in funding to win the War on Terror and protect the homeland, while limiting the growth in all other non-security related discretionary spending to less than one percent.
To further the goal of respecting taxpayers' dollars and restraining spending, we endorse the creation of a line-item veto, which the President could use consistent with the Constitution to reject new appropriations, new mandatory spending, or limited grants of tax benefits (to 100 or fewer beneficiaries) whenever he determines the spending or tax benefits are not essential priorities. Under this approach, all savings from the line-item veto would be used for deficit reduction, and could not be applied to other spending. Governors across the nation already have and use this tool to reduce unnecessary spending. The President should have the same option.
It is often said that a government program is the closest man has come to achieving immortality. Government programs are designed with specific purposes, and they ought to be assessed to determine whether they are meeting their goals. We endorse creating a commission to evaluate discretionary spending on federal agencies and programs to ensure that taxpayer funds are being used for the best, most efficient purposes. Such a commission would determine whether certain programs are duplicative, wasteful or inefficient, outdated or irrelevant, or failed. It would recommend to Congress programs that could be terminated, moved, or restructured to make the government more efficient.
New government programs are frequently created with little review of programs that already exist to address the same perceived problem. Over time, numerous programs with overlapping missions and competing agendas grow up alongside one another – wasting money and baffling citizens. We support President Bush's vision for government reform, which is guided by three principles. Government should be: citizen-centered, not bureaucracy-centered; results-oriented; and market-based, actively promoting rather than stifling innovation through competition. The President's management agenda is an effective tool for making sure government is active but limited, focusing on results and obtaining them efficiently.
The Republican Party respects and appreciates the private sector as the primary creator of jobs, economic growth, opportunity, and prosperity in our society. The private sector functions most effectively when laws are transparent and people respect them – this includes people in positions of power. When corporate leaders break the law, they should be punished.
After fraudulent corporate practices rooted in the irrational exuberance of the late 1990s began to surface in the closing months of 2001, President Bush worked with the Congress to take decisive action to restore honesty and integrity to America's corporate boardrooms. In July 2002, President Bush signed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the most far-reaching reform of American business practices since the 1940s. Under this new law, CEOs and Chief Financial Officers are required to personally vouch for the truth and fairness of their companies' disclosures; for the first time, an independent board has been established to oversee the accounting profession; investigators have been given new tools to root out corporate fraud; and enhanced penalties are ensuring that dishonest corporate officials do hard time.
We applaud President Bush for vigorously enforcing the law to deter and punish further corporate abuses. He established an interagency Corporate Fraud Task Force to investigate and prosecute financial crimes; to recover the proceeds of those crimes; and to hold corporate criminals to account. Since the Task Force was established two years ago, over 700 violators have been charged and over 300 convictions or guilty pleas secured, including more than 25 former CEOs. More than $1 billion in forfeited funds has also been recovered from corporate wrongdoers for return to defrauded creditors and investors. Separately, the enforcement budget of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has more than doubled, and the SEC has issued new rules to ban late-trading and other fraudulent practices engaged in by certain mutual funds.
Thanks to swift and decisive action by President Bush and the Congress, Americans can trust that corporate executives who operate outside the law will be prosecuted.
Enforcing Trade Agreements and Opening New Markets
International trade has become the world's most powerful economic force, and Americans are seeing great benefits from free and fair trade. Exports accounted for about 25 percent of the economic growth in the 1990s and supported about 12 million jobs. An additional 6 million jobs are made possible by companies based in foreign countries investing here in the United States. Consumers have benefited – recent trade agreements save the average family of four $2000 per year by lowering regulatory barriers, eliminating tariffs, and providing more consumer choices.
Free trade must be fair trade that advances America's economic goals and protects American jobs. To achieve this goal, we must act globally, regionally, and bilaterally to negotiate new trade agreements and enforce existing trade commitments. 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. We reject moves toward economic isolationism. America is the best place in the world to do business, and our workers and products are the best in the world. On a level playing field we can outmatch any other nation. We applaud the President's actions to open foreign markets to American manufacturing products, agricultural goods, services, and intellectual property, while ensuring enforcement of trade agreements so that other nations live up to their promises.
In 2000 we resolved to renew Trade Promotion Authority so the President could more easily negotiate trade agreements. In 2002 President Bush and Republicans in Congress did exactly that. After lapsing for eight years, the law now allows President Bush to work with other countries to reduce barriers to our products and services. And he is using the new authority:
* The Bush Administration has negotiated trade agreements with 12 countries.
* They have made progress on agreements with another 10 countries.
* These free trade partners represent $2.5 trillion in purchasing power – the equivalent of America's third-largest export market.
* The agreements include high levels of protection and strong enforcement measures for intellectual property.
* The Administration has also made significant progress in negotiating multi-lateral trade agreements, having just last month revived World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations for the final phase of the Doha round.
* The revival of these negotiations opens the door to lower tariffs on consumer and industrial goods, reductions in tariffs and trade-distorting export subsidies on agricultural products, and market access and lower regulatory barriers for services.
The vitality of the U.S. trade agenda depends upon the vigorous enforcement of U.S. trade laws against unfair competition. We will not tolerate foreign practices, rules, and subsidization that put our exports and manufacturers 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. As part of its trade enforcement efforts, the Bush Administration has imposed more anti-dumping orders on average each year than the previous Administration. The United States was the first country in the world to impose a safeguard action against Chinese textile and apparel imports and to file a case against China in the WTO. China settled that case, agreeing to repeal its subsidy of semiconductors that was penalizing U.S. manufacturers. Also this year, through bilateral consultations with China, the United States resolved seven other potential trade disputes over high technology products, agriculture, and intellectual property protection.
We strongly endorse the Bush Administration's unprecedented effort to persuade and encourage China to desist in its policy of manipulating its currency to give Chinese manufacturers an artificial advantage in global markets.
Reforming the Litigation System
America's litigation system is broken. Junk and frivolous lawsuits are driving up the cost of doing business in America by forcing companies to pay excessive legal expenses to fight off or settle often baseless lawsuits. Those costs are being paid by small business owners, manufacturers, their employees, and consumers. A typical small business with $10 million in annual revenue pays about $150,000 a year in tort liability costs. That is money that could be used to invest and hire new employees. Inefficiency and waste in the legal system is costing the average American family of four $1,800 every year, equivalent to an extra 3 percent tax on wages. And the bulk of jury awards to plaintiffs don't even go to the people who deserve it. Injured persons on average collect less than 50 cents of every dollar that the legal system costs. Trial lawyers get rich from the misfortune of others. If small business is America's economic engine, trial lawyers are the brakes: They cost hundreds of thousands of good jobs, drive honest employers out of business, deprive women of critical medical care – then skip out with fat wallets and nary a thought for the economic havoc and human misery they leave in their wake.
We praise President Bush and Republicans in Congress for their efforts to reform the legal system by passing meaningful class action reform, asbestos reform, and medical liability reform. And we call to account Senate Democrats and the powerful trial lawyer lobby, who have shown no shame in utilizing obstructionist tactics to thwart the efforts of majorities in Congress to provide meaningful relief to all Americans. The Republican Party reaffirms its support for meaningful reform of the legal system, and will continue its fight to guarantee the rights of all plaintiffs to swift and speedy justice.
A safe and efficient transportation system is essential to keeping people and goods moving and cities and communities prosperous. Congestion and delay not only waste our time as individuals, they also burden businesses and our entire economy with inefficiency and higher costs. Republicans strongly support a comprehensive transportation policy agenda that enhances safety, reduces congestion, modernizes infrastructure, and promotes economic growth.
Our national railroad network is a crucial component of our public transportation system. Railroads helped build our country, and our national passenger railroad network plays a key role in transportation and economic growth. Republicans support, where economically viable, the development of a high-speed passenger railroad system as an instrument of economic development and enhanced mobility.
Republicans support a healthy intercity passenger rail system. Amtrak provides a valuable service to passengers, especially in the Northeast corridor. But we recognize that the goal of establishing a national passenger rail system with modest federal support has failed to materialize. Clearly the financial problems plaguing Amtrak cannot be solved simply by continued infusions of taxpayer dollars. Fundamental reforms should be enacted to transition Amtrak into operational self-sufficiency.
Ensuring an Affordable, Reliable, More Independent Energy Supply
A stable, affordable, more independent energy supply is vital to fueling America's economic growth, increasing prosperity, helping families afford prices at the pump, and making America more secure. President Bush and Republicans in Congress recognize the need for a balanced energy policy that increases both energy production and conservation. We need a comprehensive energy policy so that we will no longer lurch from one energy crisis to the next. Recent electricity blackouts, the California energy crisis, natural gas and oil price spikes, and high gasoline prices remind us that only a comprehensive energy policy will produce energy stability for America's families and businesses.
As one of his first acts in office, President Bush released the National Energy Policy (NEP) report, a comprehensive plan to reduce America's dependence on foreign sources of energy by increasing domestic energy production and supporting conservation and alternative and renewable energy. The President's proposal would make America more energy independent while creating jobs and promoting economic growth. It includes over 100 recommendations, nearly half of which addressed renewable energy, energy efficiency, and conservation. President Bush has implemented nearly every non-legislative recommendation outlined in the NEP report. Republicans in the House and Senate have stood solidly with the President. We endorse the President's policy, appreciate the hard work of Congressional Republicans in the face of intractable partisan opposition, and urge final passage of a bill to secure America's energy future.
* Republicans support developing new technologies for more efficient generation and use of power. New technologies will allow us to create new job-producing industries and save jobs in industries that have long been staples of America's economy. For instance, working with Congressional Republicans, the President has already committed $2 billion over 10 years for clean coal research and development – which helps keep America's coal industry strong and reduces the emissions associated with coal use. As part of that commitment, we support FutureGen, an international, public-private initiative to build the world's first integrated sequestration and hydrogen research power plant that would burn coal more cleanly. President Bush's Clear Skies Initiative would create a $50 billion private market to deploy these clean coal technologies.
* The Republican Party supports research and investment designed to realize the enormous benefits of a hydrogen economy and put the United States on the cutting edge of energy technology. The FreedomCar Partnership and Hydrogen Fuel Initiative include $1.7 billion over five years to begin building hydrogen cars and the infrastructure to support them.
* Using the most sophisticated technologies, we can explore and develop oil resources here at home with minimal environmental impact. Our Party continues to support energy development in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), which, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, holds as much as 16 billion barrels of oil – enough to replace oil imports from Saudi Arabia for nearly 20 years. The drilling footprint can be confined to just 2,000 acres (the entire refuge contains 19 million acres), about the size of Washington's Dulles Airport, on ice roads that melt away in the summer, leaving little trace of human intervention. We have already wasted precious time. If the previous Administration had not vetoed the ANWR proposal passed by the Republican Congress in 1995, at this moment ANWR would be producing up to one million barrels of oil a day.
* Republicans strongly support removing unnecessary barriers to domestic natural gas production and expanding environmentally sound production in new areas, such as Alaska and the Rocky Mountains. Increasing supply, including the construction of a new natural gas pipeline from Alaska to the lower 48, will bring needed relief to consumers and make America's businesses more competitive in the global marketplace.
* Last summer, the largest blackout in North American history affected 8 states, leaving more than 50 million Americans without power. Republicans support measures to modernize the nation's electricity grid to prevent future blackouts and provide American consumers and businesses with more affordable, reliable power. We will work to unleash innovation so entrepreneurs can develop technologies for a more advanced and robust transmission system that meets our growing energy demands. We also support the establishment of mandatory, enforceable reliability rules for electric utilities to reduce the likelihood of future blackouts.
* Republicans will continue to support renewable energy through extension of the production tax credit for wind and biomass, as well as efforts to expand the use of biodiesel and ethanol, which can reduce America's dependence on foreign oil while increasing revenues to farmers.
* Nuclear power provides America with affordable, emissions-free energy. We believe nuclear power can help reduce our dependence on foreign energy and play an invaluable role in addressing global climate change. President Bush supports construction of new nuclear power plants through the Nuclear Power 2010 initiative, and continues to move forward on creating an environmentally sound nuclear waste repository.
Education: No Child Left Behind
Public education, access for every child to an excellent education, is a foundation of a free, civil society. The children who enter schools today will leave as young adults, full of dreams for the future. They will soon become the scientists and researchers who make great discoveries, the engineers and mathematicians who build our communities, the doctors and nurses who heal and comfort the sick, the teachers who will educate the next generation, the leaders who transform government, the poets, artists, and writers who entertain and inspire. Every child deserves a first-rate education, because every child holds infinite potential, and we should give them every opportunity to reach it.
We believe there is an inseparable link between a vibrant economy and a high-quality education system. It takes a vibrant economy to provide the tax base necessary to fund a high-quality education system. Equally, it takes a quality education system to provide the highly skilled labor force necessary to meet the demands of a growing, vibrant economy.
Strong schools will also produce a workforce with the skills to compete in the 21st century economy. We must have citizens capable of conceiving the next generation of new technologies and innovations, mastering the art of analyzing problems and crafting their solutions. Education is the key to prosperity and fulfillment – the foundation on which all other success is built.
On just his fourth day in office, President Bush presented the No Child Left Behind initiative to Congress. Less than a year later, he secured an overwhelming bipartisan majority to pass the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. It was the most significant overhaul of federal education policy since 1965. And it became a promise kept to parents, students, teachers, and every American.
The law is based on four fundamental pillars:
* Ensuring stronger accountability for student achievement, for all children
* Encouraging education methods that work
* Providing flexibility and control to states and local communities
* Giving parents more information about the quality of their children's schools and offering them choices and resources for their children's education
Results are now measured on the basis of student achievement rather than simply dollars spent. Students are benefiting from education reforms that set high academic standards, encourage strong parental involvement, recognize the role of excellent teachers, foster safe and orderly classrooms, and establish a commitment to teaching the basics of reading and math.
With this success, Republicans have transformed the debate on education. We are the Party parents can trust to improve schools and provide opportunity for all children, in every neighborhood, regardless of background or income. We are the party willing to embrace new ideas and put them to the test. Americans agree that the status quo in education is no longer acceptable. We have challenged low expectations and poor achievement, and we are seeing results.
Now is the time to extend the progress we've made. The No Child Left Behind Act is already showing gains in elementary school, as student achievement scores for fourth- and eighth-graders have increased in classrooms across America. Our next mission is to take the reforms that we know are working in elementary schools and apply them up and down the education ladder – starting in early childhood education, so that children enter school ready to learn, and finishing in high school, so that every young adult who graduates has the skills he or she needs to succeed in the 21st century economy. For too long, the value of a high school diploma has declined as students leave school without even basic skills like reading and math, let alone the advanced math and science skills the modern workforce demands. We pledge to bring real reform to high schools. Thanks to President Bush's vision and the success of the No Child Left Behind Act, we have a track record worthy of Americans' trust.
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 limited as we return control to parents, teachers, and local school boards.
Historic Levels of Funding
President Bush and Congressional Republicans have provided the largest increase in federal education funding in history and the highest percentage gain since the 1960s. Support for elementary and secondary education has had the largest increase in any single Presidential term since the 1960s – an increase of nearly 50 percent since 2001. The President and Congress are particularly focused on programs for America's neediest students, including minorities and children with special needs. With this increased funding comes a new focus on achievement and results.
High Standards and Accountability
The President and Republicans in Congress recognize that states and local communities are most directly responsible for the quality of education in their schools. That is why the No Child Left Behind Act stipulates that the states, not the federal government, develop an accountability plan that will work best for them. Since President Bush signed NCLB into law, all states have developed an accountability plan of assessments, graduation rates, and other key indicators of student achievement for all individual students and groups of students. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, every child counts. No child will be hidden in a maze of numbers. If some children are struggling while others succeed, we will praise success and deliver help to students who need it.
Our Party believes, as does the President, that reading is the new civil right. Every child must be able to read by the end of the third grade. The President and Congressional Republicans have taken important steps to help every student achieve that goal. The Reading First initiative brings scientifically based reading instruction, including phonics, to children in the early grades. Over $1.4 billion in funding for reading programs provides training for teachers and materials for children. In addition, since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, states have received additional funds for early childhood reading efforts.
Options for Parents
The Republican Party strongly supports school choice, because choice creates competition and competition puts the focus on quality. President Bush, Republican governors, and members of Congress have worked to 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.
Under NCLB, states and school districts publish report cards showing how well students are achieving so communities and parents can know how well their schools are doing. Parents of children in schools identified as needing improvement can choose another public school or get tutoring or other help for their child. President Bush and the Republican Congress enacted the D.C. School Choice initiative – the first federally funded school choice demonstration program. We commend the President and Congress for making DC's schoolchildren the most important special interest in education improvement. And we support state efforts to expand school choice, as well as the President's call to provide funding for new and existing charter schools, including assistance for school facilities. We believe that competition between schools is an effective option to improve the educational benefits for our children. The Republican Party supports the efforts of parents who choose faith-based and other nonpublic school options for their children.
High School Education
We are beginning to see success as a result of the No Child Left Behind Act at the elementary level, and now we must improve our high schools so that every graduate is prepared for the rigors of college, for the best jobs of the 21st century economy, or for military service. President Bush has proposed a number of initiatives to improve math and science education, help striving readers, and raise standards for high schools.
Research confirms what every parent knows to be true through commonsense and experience – a good teacher makes all the difference in a child's education. The No Child Left Behind Act set the goal of having a highly qualified teacher in every classroom by the 2005-2006 school year. States have been provided flexibility and resources to make sure teachers have the skills and tools to be successful with all children. These needed reforms are backed by historic levels of funding for teacher quality initiatives and support for teachers, including training, recruitment incentives, loan forgiveness, and tax relief.
We must also work to reduce the barriers that are keeping qualified professionals from entering the classroom by expanding alternative pathways to teacher certification – programs like Troops to Teachers, which helps former military personnel become classroom teachers; and Transition to Teaching, which provides training for people who want to become teachers and encourages states to develop and expand alternative routes to teacher licensure and certification.
Every teacher and every student deserves a safe classroom in which to work and learn. The No Child Left Behind Act ensures that teachers and other school professionals can undertake reasonable actions to maintain order and discipline in the classroom without the fear of litigation. The law provides civil immunity in any state court and limits the financial liability of teachers, instructors, principals, administrators, and other education professionals for actions taken to maintain discipline, order, or control in the school or classroom.
Head Start and Early Childhood Education
We support the President's "Good Start, Grow Smart" initiative, which strengthens Head Start by increasing accountability in the program so that students start kindergarten with the early skills they need. It also includes the Early Reading First initiative, designed to improve existing early education programs to prepare young children to succeed in school, especially those from low-income families. States should be able to coordinate preschool programs with Head Start programs in exchange for meeting certain accountability requirements.
Community colleges play a vital role in not only cultivating citizens for the 21st century, but also equipping them with the essential skills and training needed for jobs in the new economy. Because they are so adaptable and accessible, community colleges are increasingly critical providers of job training, both for degree-seekers and for workers seeking to retool, refine, and broaden their skills. We support the President's High-Growth Job Training Initiative, which has provided seed money to fund job training partnerships between community colleges and local high-growth industries.
Higher Education Affordability
Republicans are working to ensure that college is affordable and accessible for America's low- and middle-income families through increased funding of grants, lowinterest student loans, and tax breaks for working families. As a result of Republican leadership, total student aid for higher education has increased to a historic $73 billion proposed for 2005. Next year, almost 10 million students and parents will receive one or more grants, loans, or work-study awards.
The President has requested record levels of Pell Grant funding. These grants will help an estimated 5.3 million low-income students pay for higher education – one million more students than when President Bush and Vice President Cheney came to office. Under a new Enhanced Pell Grant proposal, low-income students who take a rigorous high school curriculum – the kind of curriculum that will best prepare them for success in college – will be eligible to receive an additional $1,000 per year.
To ensure that America remains the world leader in the innovation economy – and to ensure that America's graduates have the training they need to compete for the best jobs of the 21st century – President Bush proposes to expand opportunities for math and science education in colleges and universities. Needy students studying math and science will be eligible to receive additional college aid.
Republicans have made Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) a priority. For more than a century, HBCUs and HSIs have played a vital role in providing opportunities for excellence in higher education to millions of African American and Hispanic students. Today, their mission continues, and it deserves our support. We applaud President Bush for fulfilling his pledge to increase funding for HBCUs and HSIs by 30 percent since 2001.
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. Training Our 21st Century Workforce
As the dynamic global economy forces many workers to consider changing fields or adding new skills, the President and Republican Congress want to make training for new jobs easier to come by and more flexible in providing individualized assistance. Ensuring that workers have the tools they need to succeed in the 21st Century Economy is a critical step in helping Americans be self-sufficient and successful. It is also critical to maintaining our position as the most productive and strongest economy in the world.
We support effective and enhanced job training programs that offer states additional flexibility and individuals more choice to design their own workforce training programs. The President's Personal Reemployment Accounts would provide unemployed workers flexible support and incentives in finding a job. And President Bush and Congressional Republicans are also providing unprecedented assistance for workers adversely affected by foreign trade – including additional training, income support, and health care assistance.
With English as our nation's common language, people from every corner of the world have come together to build this great nation. English empowers. For newcomers, it is the fastest route to mainstream American life, better paying jobs, and owning a piece of the American Dream. Furthermore, fluency in English should be the goal of bilingual education. 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 fostering respect for other languages and cultures throughout society.
Protecting the Rights of Workers
We affirm the time-honored right of individuals to voluntarily participate in labor organizations and to bargain collectively. We also believe that no American should be coerced into an association they do not wish to join. And no one should be kept out of a job for which they are qualified simply because they choose to remain independent of labor unions. We therefore support the right of states to enact Right-to-Work laws.
Republicans respect the enormous sacrifices and commitment of the workers, including building tradesmen, who responded to the attacks of September 11th. Thanks to their skill, courage, and patriotism, the very dangerous work at the World Trade Center and Pentagon was done remarkably quickly and without a single fatality. We will always remember and honor the efforts of the rescue and recovery workers who dedicated countless hours to helping America recover.
All American workers deserve workplaces that are safe, healthy, and fair. The President and Republican Congress have supported efforts to improve workplace safety without burdening businesses with costly and unnecessary regulations. And these efforts are showing results – overall workplace fatalities and injuries are at record low levels.
American workers deserve fair wages for hours spent working overtime. We are proud of the fact that 1.3 million additional workers now have guaranteed overtime protections as a result of Republican efforts to modernize labor laws left untouched since 1949. For the first time ever, the regulations explicitly guarantee overtime protection to blue collar workers, police, firefighters, EMTs, factory workers, construction workers, and licensed practical nurses, among others. With clearly defined overtime rules that recognize the realities of the modern workforce, employees and employers will have a greater understanding of their rights and responsibilities.
Workers who pay dues through their workplace deserve to know how their dues are being used – especially when the money is being used to support political activity. Republicans have enhanced financial disclosure requirements for political campaigns, corporations, and pension funds in order to bring about more transparency and accountability in the political system. And the Bush Administration improved union financial disclosure forms to offer union members more information about how their dues money is spent. We encourage management and unions to find common ground thereby ensuring economic viability for both.
Men and women who retire after decades spent in the workforce are entitled to the pensions they and their employers have contributed to throughout their careers. As part of the 2001 economic growth and tax relief bill, workers' pension payments are now calculated on the basis of their best three years of earnings rather than their last three. This protects workers whose earnings decline with their age. In addition, criminal prosecutions against employers and plan trustees who abuse pension and health plans have increased by more than 50 percent since 2001. More than $3 billion has been secured through court judgments, settlements, and fines covering 150 million workers and their dependents by holding those who manage benefit plans accountable for their legal obligations to protect plan participants. Thanks to Republican efforts to enforce the law, the word is getting out that benefits managers should invest and manage employees' retirement funds as carefully as they would handle their own.
Republicans recognize the historical federal health care promise made to coal industry retirees. The Party will seek to ensure that health care needs of "orphan retirees" in the coal industry will be covered and will seek to ensure the continuation of those benefits.
True Solutions for Affordable, High-Quality Health Care
The cost of providing health care for employees is a major burden for American businesses. Health insurance costs for employers have been rising every year since 1996, causing businesses to hire fewer new employees and too many families to go without insurance. Studies show that 60 percent of uninsured Americans either work for a small business or are dependent upon someone who does. The way to alleviate that burden is to bring down the cost of health care in America. Shifting the cost-burden onto the federal or state governments – costs that will ultimately be borne by the taxpayers – is not an effective solution to the problem. We must attack the root causes of high health care costs by: aiding small businesses in offering health care to their employees; empowering the self-employed through access to affordable coverage; putting patients and doctors in charge of medical decisions; reducing junk lawsuits and limiting punitive damage awards that raise the cost of health care; and seizing the cost-saving and quality-enhancing potential of emerging health technologies. It is also important that we reaffirm our Party's firm rejection of any measure aimed at making health care a government-run enterprise.
Association Health Plans (AHPs)
We support legislation to enable small employers to pool together to offer health insurance options to their employees. The legislation, already passed by the House, gives small businesses the same purchasing power currently enjoyed by large employers and labor unions. This will go a long way toward providing health care coverage for America's uninsured, 60 percent of whom are estimated to work for or be dependent on someone who works for a small business.
Medical Liability Reform
The medical liability system is harming our medical delivery system. Doctors are afraid to practice medicine. Frequent, unwarranted, lawsuits force doctors out of certain specialty areas and geographic regions. The most dangerous result of this is the declining availability of emergency trauma care and women's health services. In many cases, costs are so prohibitive that many obstetrics/gynecology practices are scaling back service or choosing not to practice altogether. Junk lawsuits add at least $60 billion to health care costs in America because doctors are forced to practice defensive medicine, ordering extensive, unnecessary, and expensive tests and procedures to keep trial lawyers at bay.
The President has proposed, and the Republican House of Representatives has passed, reforms that would speed compensation to injured patients, reduce health care costs, and improve Americans' access to quality health care. Shamefully driven by the powerful trial lawyer lobby, Democrat Senators have repeatedly thwarted the efforts of the Republican majority to deliver meaningful medical liability reform. They have employed their obstructionist tactics three times in the current Congress alone. The Republican Party reaffirms its commitment to putting patients and doctors ahead of trial lawyers. We will continue to battle for litigation reforms that help keep doctors in practice, adopt reasonable caps on non-economic awards in medical malpractice suits, and ensure that Americans have access to quality affordable health care.
Health Information Technology
Estimates indicate that between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die each year from medical errors, while as much as $300 billion is spent each year on health care that does not help patients – unnecessary, inappropriate, inefficient, or ineffective treatments. This is absolutely unacceptable. High costs, medical errors, administrative inefficiencies, and poor coordination are all closely connected to our failure to use health information technology as an integral part of medical care.
Republicans support President Bush's goal of ensuring that most Americans have electronic health records within the next 10 years. He has requested funding for demonstration projects for broader adoption of health IT systems in communities and states. Already, the use of health IT in the Veterans Administration has shown improvements in the quality of care and reductions in the cost. The Administration is working with private sector innovators to develop reliable, secure methods of storing personal medical information that will broaden the benefits of health IT. Privacy is paramount, and participation by patients will be voluntary. These electronic health records will be designed to share information among and between health care providers only when authorized by a patient.
Advances at the nexus of science and technology raise serious moral and legal questions. For example, although medical conditions have been linked to certain genetic markers, there is no certainty that many of these diseases will actually develop. There is growing concern that employers and insurance companies will use genetic information to discriminate by denying jobs or insurance coverage to individuals who have predictive genetic markers for certain diseases. We support efforts to enact genetic discrimination legislation that is fair, reasonable, and consistent with existing laws to prevent discrimination.
In addition, we must take action to allow doctors and hospitals to review best practices without fear of litigation. By sharing information, health professionals can determine ways to avoid errors and complications. These efforts are blocked, however, because good-faith efforts to improve quality and safety are targets for lawsuits based on new information that is made public in the review process. We support the work of the President and Republicans in Congress on legislation to make it possible for health professionals to work together more effectively to provide the best possible care for all patients.
Investing in Science, Technology, and Telecommunications
Republicans recognize that the role of government in the 21st century economy is to foster an environment in which innovation can flourish. The Information Revolution is the product of the creative efforts and hard work of men and women in the private sector who have had the freedom to innovate. At the same time, we recognize the magnitude and pace of change require vigilance by government to make the most of the opportunities, mitigate the possible downsides of rapid technological advancement, and protect the technology industry from modern day pirates at home and abroad – both those who violate copyrights and those who loot by litigation. The technological innovation we have experienced thus far is surely only the beginning of almost unimaginable growth and change. We will seize this historic opportunity.
The United States remains the largest producer and exporter of manufactured goods in the world, despite enduring significant challenges during the economic downturn. The U.S. needs a national minerals strategy to supply the country with minerals and metals vital to national and economic security and to the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing. The continued primacy of U.S. manufacturing is due in large part to the Administration's manufacturing initiative, which represents the first time in modern history that an Administration has made U.S. manufacturing a top priority. We support the Administration's efforts in this regard as a recognition of the critical role of manufacturing to job creation, national security, and the economy.
Research and Development
America's economy is undergoing a fundamental transition from one based primarily on manufacturing to one based on innovation, services, and ideas. Two-thirds of America's economic growth in the 1990s resulted from the introduction of new technology and 60 percent of the new jobs of the 21st century require post-secondary education, yet only one-third of America's workforce has achieved that level.
In order to maintain America's global leadership, Republicans have provided unprecedented support for federal research and development to help spur innovation. Federal R&D funding is up 44 percent from 2001 to $132 billion in 2005, which includes a 26 percent increase in support for basic research. The President has doubled the budget for the National Institutes of Health and increased the National Science Foundation budget by 30 percent. President Bush and the Republican Party also support making the R&D tax credit permanent.
The rapid pace of technological development demands that we remain on the leading edge of innovation and science. Republicans are committed to providing the investment and incentives needed to foster next generation technologies. The 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by President Bush, increased funding for nanotechnology research. In addition, the President has dedicated $1.7 billion over five years to develop hydrogen fuel cells and related next-generation energy technologies. The President's support for NASA and vision for space exploration will also enhance scientific development and technological breakthroughs.
Broadband provides Americans with high-speed Internet access connections that improve the nation's economic productivity and offer life-enhancing applications, such as distance learning, remote medical diagnostics, and the ability to work from home more effectively. Broadband technology will enhance our nation's economic competitiveness and will help improve education and health care for all Americans. Republicans have implemented a wide range of policies to create economic incentives, remove regulatory barriers, and promote new technologies, all of which are essential to making broadband competitively available and affordable.
President Bush established the goal of providing every American with access to affordable broadband by 2007. We recognize that taxing broadband access would increase its cost to consumers and stifle the extension of broadband service. The President has signed into law a two-year extension of the Internet Access Tax moratorium and is working with Congressional Republicans to pass legislation that would explicitly extend the moratorium to broadband and make it permanent.
Republicans are working to reduce burdensome regulations that discourage broadband investment. High-speed Internet access should not be governed by regulations established decades ago for the telephone. Consumers should have more options for affordable broadband access. The promise of broadband over power lines and wireless Internet access provide new opportunities to connect households, schools, and businesses to the Internet. Under the President's leadership, the Administration has nearly doubled the amount of spectrum available for innovative wireless broadband applications such as Wi-Fi and Wi-Max.
Republican policies are working:
* Broadband adoption has grown 300 percent from December 2000 to December 2003 – from 7 million to 28 million lines.
* Over 93 percent of zip codes have broadband access.
* Ninety-four percent of public schools have broadband access to the Internet.
By applying 21st century policy to 21st century technology, we will encourage new investment that will bring broadband to even more homes in more areas of America.
STRENGTHENING OUR COMMUNITIES
"The measure of compassion is more than good intentions, it is good results. By being involved and by taking responsibility upon ourselves, we gain something…. We contribute to the life of our country. We become more than taxpayers and occasional voters, we become citizens. Citizens, not spectators. Citizens who hear the call of duty, who stand up for their beliefs, who care for their families, who control their lives, and who treat their neighbors with respect and compassion." — President George W. Bush
Community is more than just a set of streets and sidewalks and homes. The strength of communities is the people who inhabit them, the American citizens who spend their days working, striving, and caring for their families, and advancing toward the realization of their dreams. To ensure that all Americans have an opportunity to build better lives, we must provide the framework in which communities can flourish. That requires access to affordable and accessible health care, protection of America's environment and natural resources, the maintenance of public safety and prosecution of people who violate the peace of communities, guaranteed rights and equal opportunities for all members of society, and compassionate help for our fellow citizens who are trapped in unhealthy or harmful situations. Republicans know that the heart and soul of America are found in communities across the nation. We honor the individual character and diversity of communities throughout America, and we seek to help citizens strengthen the places they call home.
Promoting Affordable, Accessible Health Care
Republicans recognize that health care is intrinsic to every family's economic comfort. Americans must have the security to know that the next illness will not wipe out their savings or drive them into debt. We appreciate the fact that market-based health care has given America the most advanced medical system in the world. Proposals discussed earlier, such as Health Savings Accounts and Association Health Plans, provide economic benefits while also making health care more consumer-driven and increasing access to high-quality, affordable health care. We reject any notion of government-run universal health care because we have seen evidence from around the world that government-run health care leads to inefficiencies, long waiting periods, and often substandard health care. And we applaud efforts by President Bush and the Republican Congress to reform the broken medical liability system that is raising health care costs and limiting patients' access to doctors – doctors who are being driven out of their practices by excessive medical liability costs. We support continued efforts to make health care more affordable, more accessible, and more consumer-driven.
In 2003, the Congress passed and President Bush signed historic legislation that strengthens and adds a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. The new prescription drug benefit will be available to 40 million seniors and people with disabilities on January 1, 2006. Until that time, beneficiaries have access to immediate and significant savings on prescription drugs through Medicare-approved prescription drug discount cards. Since drug discount cards became available on June 1, four million Medicare beneficiaries have enrolled in the program and 100,000 more enroll each week. Seniors are saving up to 30 percent off the retail price of brand name drugs and up to 60 percent off the price of generic drugs. In addition, more help is available for those who need it most. Low-income seniors receive $600 this year and next year to assist them with the costs of their prescriptions.
Under the new drug benefit, seniors who like the coverage they have today can keep it. The new law will encourage employers to continue their retiree health benefits by offering them subsidies for their current plans and giving them the option to supplement the new Medicare drug benefit in the same way they supplement current Medicare doctor and hospital benefits.
The Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act improves many facets of the Medicare program. It increases funding for doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, especially in rural areas where reimbursement levels are far below what is paid in other regions of the country. The new law will also transform Medicare into a program that not only enables the treatment of disease, but helps people stay healthy. In addition to a new "Welcome to Medicare" physical, the program will contain new services and screenings to help detect and prevent heart disease, diabetes, and other major illnesses.
We also applaud the addition of income relation for the Medicare Part B premium to further protect the Medicare program for the future and to protect low income seniors from increased costs.
We applaud the President and Republicans in Congress for their determination to follow through on this promise to America's seniors. While others spent many years talking about adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, this President and this Congress got it done.
Community Health Centers
To improve access for the underserved, the Republican Congress and the White House have championed the largest expansion in the history of the community health centers program. Community health centers are locally-controlled, private providers of primary and preventive care services in the most underserved communities in the country. Health centers are not federal providers. Funds are awarded competitively to underserved communities through the federal grant program. Community health centers provide access to doctors and nurses regardless of a patient's ability to pay. One in four children from low-income families receives health care at community health centers.
The President and Congress have already made it possible for community health centers to serve an additional 3 million Americans – a total of 13 million – as part of the President's five-year plan to fund 1,200 new or expanded sites to serve an additional 6.1 million people. Today, there are more than 600 new or expanded health centers delivering preventive and primary care to patients in medically underserved communities across America. We endorse plans to continue increasing access to community health centers, so that uninsured and low-income Americans have reliable options for receiving high-quality medical care.
Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
The President has worked to help states develop new approaches to expand coverage in their Medicaid and SCHIP programs. Waivers and state plan amendments approved by the Department of Health and Human Services have expanded eligibility under these programs to more than 2.6 million children and improved benefits for more than 8 million children and adults since 2001. By working with governors of both parties, the Bush Administration is fostering the creation of innovative approaches to health care access and delivery by the states. We support enhancing efforts to reach the parents of children who are eligible for SCHIP so that more children receive health coverage.
Health Insurance Tax Relief
We applaud the President's commitment to increasing health coverage for all Americans. He proposed a refundable tax credit that will make health insurance more affordable to millions of Americans who do not have employer-provided insurance or public insurance. The Treasury Department estimates the tax credit will extend insurance to between four and five million Americans.
The Trade Promotion Authority bill, supported by the Republican Congress and signed by President Bush, provides a tax credit to help workers obtain health insurance coverage if they have lost their jobs due to international trade. The tax credit has helped thousands of displaced workers get insurance coverage.
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 granddaughters. Women have unique health care needs. They are underrepresented in medical research and often do not have access to the appropriate level of medical care and treatment. Across this country, and at all levels of government, Republicans are aggressively developing health care initiatives targeted specifically at the needs of women – through expanded research, treatment, disease management, prevention, and screening initiatives.
The enormous increases in the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) brought about by the Republican Congress and President Bush are making possible groundbreaking clinical trials and new research into diseases and health issues that disproportionately affect women. This new research also has yielded important discoveries pertaining to conditions that affect the elderly, the majority of whom are women, and should promote future benefit.
The increasing focus upon health care for the elderly holds promise for advances in the treatment of osteoporosis, heart disease, and other ailments that should no longer be considered the inevitable price of old age. We also 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, diabetes, and other illnesses. Moreover, we favor increased efforts – both through expanded research and expanded care – to improve maternal and child health care, as well as health care services for women before, during, and after pregnancy.
Republicans are dedicated to pursuing 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; expanded access to prevention, screening, health promotion, chronic care, and disease management services; and direct access to women's health providers.
Eliminating Health Care Disparities
Disparities in health and health care based upon race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, or geography are unacceptable. Historically, African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Alaska Natives have experienced poorer health outcomes and received lower-quality care than the majority of Americans. For example, infant mortality rates are twice as high among African Americans as whites, and African American children are twice as likely to have asthma and six times as likely to die from asthma as white children. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Latino populations is four times higher than among whites while the prevalence among African Americans is nine times higher than that of whites. In addition, Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to die from diabetes as whites, and African American adults are almost twice as likely to die from heart disease as whites. There is also strong evidence that people living in rural and other non-metropolitan areas, regardless of their race or ethnicity, are more likely to experience access problems and poorer health outcomes. Republicans are committed to addressing these health and health care disparities.
Progress has been made in recent years in a number of areas, including enhancement of federal research on health disparities, identification of barriers to care for our increasingly diverse population, expansion of the number of health professionals who are committed to serving minority and underserved patients and their communities, and improvement in the quality of care for uninsured and underserved populations. Republicans believe we must build on this success and increase these efforts.
We strongly support initiatives to improve the quality of care delivered to all Americans. We applaud President Bush for supporting treatment of mental illness. Mental and physical illness should be treated equitably and fairly. In addition, we support improved training for health providers, including efforts to improve communication, collaboration, and understanding between patients and doctors. We are funding research to find cures and treatments for illnesses that disproportionately affect minority populations, as well as targeted, well-coordinated programs to prevent, manage, and treat these diseases. We support efforts to encourage qualified minorities to enter the fields of science and medicine.
Investing in Cutting Edge Medical Research
America is the world's leader in developing the medical and pharmaceutical breakthroughs that have revolutionized health care. President Bush and the Republican Congress recognize and strongly support scientific advancement, especially in the area of biomedical research. Working together with President Bush, the Republican Congress has fulfilled its pledge to double funding for the National Institutes of Health. With increased funding, the NIH is now supporting nearly 40,000 projects, an all-time high. Government investment in biomedical research yields tangible benefits, resulting in decreased death rates, better access to health care, and a better quality of life for all Americans – especially for underserved and minority populations. Quality research provides benefits including disease prevention, early detection, and new, more effective treatments for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's, and HIV/AIDS. Republicans continue to be active leaders in setting sound biomedical research policy and remain committed to placing a high priority on continued world leadership in research, while maintaining accountability for the use of resources and a responsibility to uphold the highest ethical standards.
Stem Cell Research
Republicans have supported, and will continue to support, important scientific research without undermining the fundamental ethical principles that have guided medical research in this country for decades. We especially welcome and encourage a stronger emphasis on adult stem cell and cord blood stem cell research, which has already provided benefits to hundreds of patients and provides real promise for treatments to help millions of Americans.
We recognize that President Bush made a carefully considered decision to allow federal funding for stem cell research for the first time, and did not affect stem cell research in the private sector. We strongly support the President's policy that prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to encourage the future destruction of human embryos. In addition, we applaud the President's call for a comprehensive ban on human cloning and on the creation of human embryos solely for experimentation.
In August 2001, President Bush stated: "[The hope [it offers is amazing…. Yet the ethics of medicine are not infinitely adaptable. There is at least one bright line: We do not end some lives for the medical benefit of others." We wholeheartedly agree.
Long-Term Care Insurance
As Americans live longer, we must consider the costs of spending more years in retirement and the increasing health care needs associated with aging. There is a growing need for long-term care and it calls for long-term planning, both by individuals and by government. We encourage, at all levels of government, regulatory flexibility and sensitivity to individual needs in nursing homes and related facilities. Sacrifices are being made by millions of men and women to care for their mothers and fathers. We support proposals by President Bush and Republicans in Congress to recognize and reward individual responsibility and compassion by creating an above-the-line tax deduction for premiums of long-term care insurance and allowing an additional personal tax exemption for taking care of an elderly parent at home.
Honoring America's Veterans
As Americans, we must honor our commitment to the 25 million veterans in the United States. America is dedicated to honoring its commitment to these patriots. Veterans have helped shape the American character, and their service represents the highest form of national service. President Bush and Congress have increased funding for veterans services, including substantial increases in Veterans' Administration (VA) health care funding. This additional funding has made it possible for the VA to improve health care access for veterans who need it most, including low-income veterans, those with service-connected disabilities, and those who need VA's specialized services. President Bush has twice signed legislation effectively providing "concurrent receipt" of both military retiree pay and VA disability compensation for combat-injured and highly-disabled veterans, thus reversing a century-old law preventing concurrent receipts. In addition, President Bush has fulfilled his promise to cut the disability claims backlog that existed when he took office and reduce waiting times for veterans seeking initial medical care. We support more care to more veterans in more places where they need it most. We also applaud the President's efforts to maintain and expand our national cemeteries. And with World War II veterans dying at the rate of 4,000 a day, we note with great appreciation the opening of the nation's World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Our veterans have fought and defended this country in many wars and proudly raised the American flag on such far-away places as San Juan Hill, Iwo Jima, and Pork Chop Hill, and it has become a symbol of our American spirit and unity. We, as well as they, deplore the deliberate desecration of our flag and state that its deliberate desecration is not "free speech," but rather 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.
Respecting and Protecting the Environment
Republicans know that economic prosperity is essential to environmental progress. That belief is supported by compelling historical evidence. For example, over the last 30 years, air pollution from the six major pollutants decreased substantially, even as our population grew, our energy consumption increased, and the economy expanded.
Our Party's environmental policies are geared towards results. Thanks to President Bush's strong leadership and the commitment of Congressional Republicans to reform and innovation, air pollution has been reduced, water quality has improved, wetlands have been restored, and more than a thousand brownfields sites are being revitalized. Republicans also acknowledge the progress made by states and local communities in environmental stewardship efforts. As the laboratories of innovation, they should be given flexibility and authority to address many environmental concerns.
Finally, we link the security of private property to our environmental agenda because environmental stewardship has been 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. President Bush and the Republican Congress 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.
We support President Bush's Clear Skies proposal, the most aggressive Presidential initiative in history to reduce power plant emissions. Clear Skies, through a proven cap-and-trade system, will reduce by 70 percent emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury. The market-based policies in Clear Skies, along with a 90 percent cut in pollution from diesel vehicles, will help states meet new, more stringent standards to protect public health. The President's plan also provides regulatory certainty, enabling power plants to install state-of-the-art pollution control technologies. These steps will lead to significant environmental improvements while ensuring a reliable, affordable electricity supply and keeping America's coal industry strong.
Revitalizing Urban Communities
Two years ago, President Bush fulfilled a campaign promise and signed legislation to clean up more of the abandoned and polluted industrial sites known as brownfields. So far, the Bush Administration has restored more than 1,000 brownfields to usable condition, which is more than were restored in the previous seven years. And that work continues. By prioritizing cleanup of brownfields, we are encouraging growth on existing sites and thus preserving greenfields and undeveloped land. We are also opening usable land for small businesses and residents in hundreds of communities, and creating thousands of jobs. We support these efforts to revitalize urban neighborhoods, both aesthetically and economically.
President Bush's commitment to national parks is producing results: parks are better managed, better funded, and better protected. Over the last four years, President Bush has been fulfilling his campaign promise to address the $4.9 billion maintenance backlog plaguing the National Park system. Republicans will continue to support President Bush's approach to improving national parks, and will move forward with common-sense management reforms that maximize visitor satisfaction and protect and conserve the parks' natural resources for future generations.
Land Conservation and Stewardship
Our air, land, and water have all become cleaner in the last four years – and this progress can be seen all across America. The 2002 Farm Bill provided unprecedented levels of funding to enhance conservation efforts by farmers and ranchers. And last year President Bush worked with the Republican leadership in Congress to pass the Healthy Forests Restoration Act. This law, based on the President's Healthy Forests Initiative, is reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire, saving lives and property, and improving the health of our forests.
Protecting America's Water Resources
America's wetlands serve as habitat for thousands of species of wildlife. They also help to trap pollution, clean the water, reduce the impact of floods, and stabilize shore areas. Three decades ago, the United States was losing wetlands at the rate of about 500,000 acres each year. President Bush is working with the Republican Congress and state and local officials to fulfill his new national goal to increase wetland acres and quality by restoring, improving, and protecting at least three million wetland acres over the next five years. To achieve this worthy goal, our Party also will focus on critical resource needs, including implementing a sensible plan to address coastal erosion in the Gulf Coast region.
Chronic water shortages in the West are one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the nation in the coming decades. We support efforts by the Administration to work with states and local communities in the West to expand the use of proven tools like market-based voluntary transfers through water banks and other water-marketing tools. We also endorse the President's efforts to work with the state of Florida to implement the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Our Party reaffirms the traditional primacy of states over water allocation. We steadfastly oppose diverting water away from the Great Lakes region.
Republicans are committed to developing an integrated, comprehensive national oceans policy. The President and Congress have supported the work of the U.S. Oceans Commission, which will offer important recommendations to improve management, observation, and conservation of oceans and coastal resources for future generations.
Global Climate Change
Republicans are committed to meeting the challenge of long-term global climate change by relying on markets and new technologies to improve energy efficiency. These efforts will help reduce emissions over time while allowing the economy to grow. Our President and our Party strongly oppose the Kyoto Protocol and similar mandatory carbon emissions controls that harm economic growth and destroy American jobs.
Modernizing the Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) serves a noble purpose, which Americans overwhelmingly support. Our Party remains committed to the goal of protecting species to enhance their chances for survival. Over the last 30 years, successes under ESA have been limited due to confrontation and polarization – including an ever-growing barrage of litigation preventing the Fish and Wildlife Service from protecting new species and recovering plants and animals already listed as threatened or endangered.
Republicans believe we can achieve greater progress in protecting species for future generations through results-based cooperative conservation programs and voluntary agreements that encourage private stewardship. The ESA must be updated to reflect new approaches that focus resources on species in need of recovery, not lawsuits. As with other major federal environmental laws, ESA should require peer-reviewed science, so resources can be focused on the most pressing recovery efforts. Just as importantly, the Act should encourage expansion of voluntary agreements with private property owners while ensuring that ESA enforcement respects and upholds private property rights.
Agriculture and Rural America
American farm and ranch families embody some of the best values of our nation: hard work and risk-taking, love of the land and love of our country. Farming is the first industry of America – the industry that feeds us, the industry that clothes us, and the industry that increasingly provides more of our energy. The success of America's farmers and ranchers is essential to the success of the American economy. The President put his words into action when he signed the 2002 Farm Bill, passed with strong support from Republicans in Congress. And President Bush continues to pursue and enforce international trade agreements that affect farmers and ranchers.
Republican policies are working, such as the recently revitalized WTO Doha round negotiations that will create new opportunities for U.S. farmers and ranchers by cutting foreign tariffs, expanding quotas for American products, and eliminating agricultural export subsidies. Since 2001, the U.S. farm economy has enjoyed tremendous improvement and is today in a position of historic strength. Farmers' net cash income for 2003 was $63 billion, an 11.5 percent increase from 2000. And farmers' equity reached a record $1.16 trillion last year, putting American agriculture in its best financial health ever.
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. President Bush and the Republican Congress are promoting good schools, accessible health care, decent housing, safe drinking water and waste disposal, and efficient transportation. They also are expanding the availability of the Internet and broadband service to allow people in rural America to access world-class technology.
Revitalizing America's Cities
We are proud to meet in a city that enjoyed a new birth of vitality under the leadership of one of America's foremost Republican mayors, Rudy Giuliani. New York City evolved from a city plagued by crime, smothered by government, and void of opportunity, into one that attracts both families and young people looking to build careers and enjoy an urban lifestyle. New York's turnaround is a testament to the great power of turning Republican ideals into policies and solutions. By focusing on economic growth and opportunity, business development, crime control, and the revitalization of urban eyesores, we can inject fresh energy and opportunity into America's urban centers.
Lower taxes, passed by the Republican Congress, are stimulating development and investment in cities around the country. New homeownership opportunities are giving residents a stake in urban neighborhoods. Violent crime rates, including robberies and rapes, were down in 2003. The President's commitment to cleaning up brownfields and making them ready for productive purposes is transforming once-crumbling communities. His Faith-Based Initiative is extending the work of religious and charitable groups that operate in cities – serving meals, helping the homeless, and providing mentors for children. And the No Child Left Behind law is bringing new hope to parents and students in inner city schools.
President Bush is building on the successes of Republican mayors who bring opportunity to inner cities. At the same time, the President is working with mayors and local leaders across America to ensure that the unprecedented homeland security funding provided by the Republican Congress is spent on shoring up the security of major cities and preparing first responders for any potential future attack. By making America's cities places of opportunity and safety, attractive to citizens of all backgrounds, we ensure that urban centers remain vital and vibrant communities.
The District of Columbia
Washington, D.C., is a special responsibility of the federal government and should be a model for urban areas throughout the country. The city's downhill slide was stopped in the 1990s, both through its own internal efforts and through the active intervention of Congressional Republicans. The D.C. homebuyer's tax credit helped to revitalize marginal neighborhoods and should be reinstated. A landmark tuition assistance act opened the doors of America's public colleges and universities to residents of the District. And, thanks to President Bush acting in concert with Republicans in Congress, District elementary and high school students are now benefiting from the $14 million D.C. School Choice initiative – the first federally-funded school choice demonstration program.
Local government reform is an issue of importance to both Congress and residents of the District. Recent city administrations have made great strides in improving the operations of city government and, as these efforts continue, we support yielding more budgetary and legal autonomy to local elected officials.
As the seat of our federal government and a likely target of the September 11th attacks, Washington, D.C. also plays a critical role in homeland security. The federal government should continue to work closely with city officials to ensure maximum public safety for both residents of and visitors to the District, and respect the unique budgetary constraints under which the city operates.
We respect the design of the Framers of the Constitution that our nation's capital has a unique status and should remain independent of any individual state.
Combating Chronic Homelessness
We support efforts to end chronic homelessness by providing support services and housing for chronically homeless individuals. Although these individuals comprise roughly ten percent of the homeless population, they consume a disproportionately large share of all homeless emergency services because their housing, health, and other needs have not before been comprehensively addressed. By taking on the toughest cases, we can bring help and hope to individuals who may feel that society long ago left them behind.
Protecting Our Rights, Fighting Criminals, and Supporting Victims
Republicans and President Bush strongly support an individual right to own guns, which is explicitly protected by the Constitution's Second Amendment. Our Party honors the great American tradition of hunting and we applaud efforts by the Bush Administration to make more public lands available to hunters, to increase access to hunting clinics and safety programs for children and adults, and to improve opportunities for hunting for Americans with disabilities.
We believe the Second Amendment and all of the rights guaranteed by it should enable law-abiding citizens throughout the country to own firearms in their homes for self-defense. To protect the rights and safety of law-abiding citizens, the Congress passed and President Bush signed the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, which allows active and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed guns in public while off-duty. We support efforts by the Administration and Congress to enhance the instant background check system for gun purchases and to ensure that records of lawful transactions are destroyed in a timely manner. We applaud Congressional Republicans for seeking to stop frivolous lawsuits against firearms manufacturers, which is a transparent attempt to deprive citizens of their Second Amendment rights. 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.
We agree that the best way to deter crime is to enforce existing laws and hand down tough penalties against anyone who commits a crime with a gun. This approach is working. Since Project Safe Neighborhoods was instituted in 2001, hundreds of new federal, state, and local prosecutors have been hired to target criminals who use guns. Prosecutions are up 68 percent, and the violent crime victimization rate is down 21 percent. The Republican Party and President Bush support a federal Constitutional amendment for victims of violent crime that would provide specific rights for victims protected under the U.S. Constitution. We support courts having the option to impose the death penalty in capital murder cases. We praise President Bush and Republicans in Congress for the measures they have taken to protect pregnant women from violent crime by passing Laci and Conner's law, which recognizes the common-sense proposition that when a crime of violence against a pregnant woman kills or injures her unborn child, there are two victims and two offenses that should be punished.
Helping Ex-Offenders Contribute to Society
This year, more than 600,000 inmates will be released from prison. Studies show that, without intervention, approximately two-thirds will likely be rearrested within three years of their release. The President has proposed a four-year, $300 million initiative to reduce recidivism and help released inmates contribute to their communities. The initiative will harness the resources and experience of faith-based and community organizations in providing job training and placement services to 50,000 non-violent adult ex-offenders, transitional housing for up to 30,000, and voluntary mentoring support for those desiring it.
Promoting Drug-Free Communities
Drug abuse and addiction ruin lives. There can be no debate about it. Every adult has a responsibility to teach children about the dangers of drugs – in terms of both physical harm and potential death, as well as lost opportunities for success. After witnessing eight years of Presidential inaction on the war against drugs during the prior Administration, we applaud President Bush for his steady commitment to reducing drug use among teens. The Administration recently exceeded its two-year goal of reducing drug use among young people. The most recent survey shows an 11 percent drop between 2001 and 2003 in the use of illicit drugs by teenagers. Among teens, some drugs— such as LSD— have dropped to record-low levels of use. For other drugs, we are seeing the lowest levels of use in almost a decade.
To continue this progress, we must ensure that jail time is used as an effective deterrent to drug use and support the continued funding of grants to assist schools in drug testing. At the same time, we should make drug treatment available to people willing to take the courageous step of admitting they have a problem and working hard to overcome it. The President's Access to Recovery (ATR) program is giving individuals seeking drug treatment expanded access to effective providers through a new voucher program.
Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
The renewal of entire communities is an awesome task that involves one human face, and 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, often based in local churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples. Their leaders are people to whom the disadvantaged are not statistics, but neighbors, friends, and moral individuals created in the image of God.
We applaud President Bush's efforts to promote the generous and compassionate work of America's faith-based and neighborhood charities. The President established the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in the White House to coordinate federal, state, and local efforts to tear down barriers that have prevented religiously affiliated groups from applying for government grants on an equal footing with secular organizations. While the federal government must not promote religious activity, advocate on behalf of any religion, or fund any organization that discriminates on the basis of religion when providing taxpayer-funded services, no organization should be disqualified from receiving federal funds simply because it displays religious symbols, has a statement of faith in its mission statement, or has a religious leader on its board.
As a result of the President's leadership, the federal government is ending discrimination against faith-based organizations and now welcomes these groups as partners and allies in the effort to deliver social services to people in need. Faith-based groups must show that their programs are effective at providing help – whether it be serving the needs of the homeless, mentoring children, or helping Americans who battle addiction. Faith can often be a crucial element in the struggle to overcome personal challenges – and now Americans have the option of receiving treatment that meets their physical as well as spiritual needs. We commend the President for his steadfast support of people and institutions of faith, and we urge the Congress to act on legislative proposals to enhance private-sector works of charity and compassion. We also affirm that the hiring rights of religious organizations must be maintained so that religious charities do not have to abandon their religious character in order to provide publicly funded services.
Calling Americans to Service
We support the President's efforts to encourage volunteer service and civic involvement to strengthen our communities and our nation, and to help people in need. In 2002, the President called on all Americans to dedicate at least two years or 4,000 hours over the course of their lifetimes to serving others, and created the USA Freedom Corps to strengthen America's culture of service. Today more than 63 million Americans are answering the call to serve. The number of volunteers has increased by 4 million since 2002. The new Citizens Corps is training people to respond to law enforcement and emergency needs in more than 1,300 communities across America and Peace Corps enrollment is at its highest level in 28 years.
Ensuring Equal Opportunities
Our nation is a land of opportunity for all, and our communities must represent the ideal of equality and justice for every citizen. The Republican Party favors aggressive, proactive measures to ensure that no individual is discriminated against on the basis of race, national origin, gender, or other characteristics covered by our civil rights laws. We also favor recruitment and outreach policies that cast the widest possible net so that the best qualified individuals are encouraged to apply for jobs, contracts, and university admissions. We believe in the principle of affirmative access – taking steps to ensure that disadvantaged individuals of all colors and ethnic backgrounds have the opportunity to compete economically and that no child is left behind educationally. We support a reasonable approach to Title IX that seeks to expand opportunities for women without adversely affecting men's athletics. We praise President Bush for his strong record on civil rights enforcement, and for becoming the first President ever to ban racial profiling by the federal government. Finally, because we are opposed to discrimination, we reject preferences, quotas, and set-asides based on skin color, ethnicity, or gender, which perpetuate divisions and can lead people to question the accomplishments of successful minorities and women.
The foundation of our democratic republic is our commitment to conducting free and fair elections. Unfortunately, in November 2000, too many people believed they were denied the right to vote. Many African Americans, Hispanics, and others fear they may lose the right to vote because of inaccurate or insecure technology or because of a rolling back in the gains made by the passage of civil rights legislation. Our national commitment to a voting process that has integrity was underscored in 2002 when the Congress passed and the President signed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). We will continue to do all we can to ensure that every lawful vote counts for all Americans.
Removing Barriers for Americans with Disabilities
We support the New Freedom Initiative, President Bush's plan for fully integrating Americans with disabilities into all aspects of American life. The New Freedom Initiative is helping Americans with disabilities by increasing access to assistive technologies, expanding educational opportunities, increasing the ability of Americans with disabilities to integrate into the workforce, and promoting increased access into daily community life. These are strong efforts to help Americans with disabilities lead independent, fulfilling lives.
We applaud the President and Congress for increasing funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which requires that eligible students with disabilities be provided a free, appropriate public education. We also endorse efforts to protect children and their parents from being coerced into administering a controlled substance in order to attend school.
The federal government has a special responsibility, ethical and legal, to make the American dream accessible to Native Americans. Unfortunately, the resources that the United States holds in trust for them, financial and otherwise, have been misused and abused. While many tribes have become energetic participants in the mainstream of American life, the serious social ills afflicting some reservations have been worsened by decades of mismanagement from Washington. In its place, we offer these guiding principles:
* Tribal governments are best situated to gauge the needs of their communities and members.
* Political self-determination and economic self-sufficiency are twin pillars of an effective Indian policy.
* Private sector initiatives, rather than public assistance, can best improve material conditions in Indian communities.
* High taxes and unreasonable regulations stifle new and expanded businesses and thwart the creation of job opportunities and prosperity.
We will continue to work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to make the tribal recognition process more transparent. We will strengthen Native American self-determination by respecting tribal sovereignty, encouraging economic development on Native lands, and working with them to reorganize the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service. We applaud President Bush for keeping his promise to eliminate within five years the maintenance and repairs backlog afflicting Indian schools. This promise will be achieved in only four years with funding in the 2005 budget. We support efforts to provide higher quality health care through the Indian Health Service. We uphold the unique government-to-government relationship between the tribes and the United States and honor our nation's trust obligations to them. We support efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs by Native Americans, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians and to preserve their cultures and languages.
In an age of new threats, we recognize the critical role tribes play in securing our homeland and contributing to our national defense. We honor the sacrifices made by Native Americans serving in the military today. They are upholding the high ideal of service on behalf of liberty. We will ensure that Indian veterans receive the care and respect they have earned through their service to America.
Supporting Judges Who Uphold the Law
In the federal courts, scores of judges with activist backgrounds in the hard-left now have lifetime tenure. Recent events have made it clear that these judges threaten America's dearest institutions and our very way of life. In some states, activist judges are redefining the institution of marriage. The Pledge of Allegiance has already been invalidated by the courts once, and the Supreme Court's ruling has left the Pledge in danger of being struck down again – not because the American people have rejected it and the values that it embodies, but because a handful of activist judges threaten to overturn commonsense and tradition. And while the vast majority of Americans support a ban on partial birth abortion, this brutal and violent practice will likely continue by judicial fiat. We believe that the self-proclaimed supremacy of these judicial activists is antithetical to the democratic ideals on which our nation was founded. President Bush has established a solid record of nominating only judges who have demonstrated respect for the Constitution and the democratic processes of our republic, and Republicans in the Senate have strongly supported those nominees. We call upon obstructionist Democrats in the Senate to abandon their unprecedented and highly irresponsible filibuster of President Bush's highly qualified judicial nominees, and to allow the Republican Party to restore respect for the law to America's courts.
The sound principle of judicial review has turned into an intolerable presumption of judicial supremacy. A Republican Congress, working with a Republican president, will restore the separation of powers and re-establish a government of law. There are different ways to achieve that goal, such as using Article III of the Constitution to limit federal court jurisdiction; for example, in instances where judges are abusing their power by banning the use of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance or prohibiting depictions of the Ten Commandments, and potential actions invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Additionally, we condemn judicial activists and their unwarranted and unconstitutional restrictions on the free exercise of religion in the public square.
Leading the Fight against HIV/AIDS – At Home and Abroad
HIV/AIDS is one of the deadliest epidemics in human history. An estimated 38 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS and more than 20 million people have died as a result of the disease. This disease has created an estimated 14 million HIV/AIDS orphans – children who have lost at least one parent to HIV/AIDS. In the U.S., nearly one million Americans are believed to be infected with HIV.
We fully support the President's leadership in dramatically expanding resources to find an HIV/AIDS vaccine and in devoting at least $15 billion over five years towards global prevention, care, and treatment programs. Since taking office, President Bush has virtually tripled the United States' annual financial commitment to the global war on HIV/AIDS.
We support the emphasis on prevention in the President's Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS relief and endorse its embrace of the successful Ugandan model promoting the "ABC" approach to prevention that encourages abstinence and being faithful to one lifetime partner, along with other behavioral changes intended to eliminate or reduce exposure risk. We support the President's Advancing HIV Prevention Initiative that emphasizes routine testing, early diagnosis, ongoing monitoring, and elimination of HIV/AIDS in newborn babies and infants. We also support the President's efforts to double the amount spent on abstinence-only education and to promote healthy relationships.
We recognize the unique and special vulnerability of women and girls to HIV infection from abusive and coercive behavior beyond their control and encourage expanded efforts to address this problem through legal and cultural reform. We also support more efforts to eradicate sex trafficking and prostitution and their underlying causes.
We support the expansion of programs providing support for those orphaned by HIV/AIDS. We fully support the use of faith-based organizations as partners on the ground in HIV/AIDS relief efforts because they often have the most capability, credibility, and conviction for performing this important work in different communities, regions, and countries. We also believe treatment and prevention of drug abuse are essential components of HIV protection.
We commend the President for his support of the Ryan White CARE Act and call for its reauthorization. We believe that ensuring access to treatment must be the priority of HIV/AIDS care programs. The President's policy is to provide safe, effective, high quality HIV/AIDS drugs at the lowest possible cost. He has accelerated the FDA review process for HIV/AIDS drugs and therapies for use under the Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS Relief.
President Bush led the G-8 in endorsing the establishment of a Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, a virtual consortium to accelerate HIV vaccine development. The President also announced plans to establish a second HIV Vaccine Research and Development Center in the U.S., in addition to the one at the National Institutes of Health. The new center will become a key component of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise.
Americans In The Territories
We welcome greater participation in all aspects of the political process by Americans residing in Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas, and Puerto Rico. Since no single approach can meet the needs of those diverse communities, we emphasize respect for their wishes regarding their relationship to the rest of the Union. We affirm their right to seek the full extension of the Constitution, with all the rights and responsibilities it entails.
We support the Native American Samoans' efforts to preserve their culture and land-tenure system, which fosters self-reliance and strong extended-family values.
We support increased local self-government for the United States citizens of the Virgin Islands, and closer cooperation between the local and federal governments to promote private sector-led development and self-sufficiency. We recognize that Guam is a strategically vital U.S. territory in the far western Pacific, an American fortress in the Asian region. We affirm our support for the patriotic U.S. citizens of Guam to achieve greater local self-government, an improved federal-territorial relationship, new economic development strategies, and continued self-determination as desired with respect to political status.
We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the Constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a state, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the United States government.
Supporting Humane and Legal Immigration
The Republican Party supports reforming the immigration system to ensure that it is legal, safe, orderly and humane. It also supports measures to ensure that the immigration system is structured to address the needs of national security. America is a stronger and better nation because of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants, and the Republican Party honors them. A growing economy requires a growing number of workers, and President Bush has proposed a new temporary worker program that applies when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs. This new program would allow workers who currently hold jobs to come out of the shadows and to participate legally in America's economy. It would allow men and women who enter the program to apply for citizenship in the same manner as those who apply from outside the United States. There must be strong workplace enforcement with tough penalties against employees and employers who violate immigration laws. We oppose amnesty because it would have the effect of encouraging illegal immigration and would give an unfair advantage to those who have broken our laws.
To better ensure that immigrants enter the United States only through legal means that allow for verification of their identity, reconnaissance cameras, border patrol agents, and unmanned aerial flights have all been increased at the border. In addition, Border Patrol agents now have sweeping new powers to deport illegal aliens without having first to go through the cumbersome process of allowing the illegal alien to have a hearing before an immigration judge. We support these efforts to enforce the law while welcoming immigrants who enter America through legal avenues.
PROTECTING OUR FAMILIES
"We are living in a time of great change – in our world, in our economy, in science and medicine. Yet some things endure – courage and compassion, reverence and integrity, respect for differences of faith and race. The values we try to live by never change. And they are instilled in us by fundamental institutions, such as families and schools and religious congregations. These institutions, these unseen pillars of civilization, must remain strong in America, and we will defend them. We must stand with our families to help them raise healthy, responsible children." — President George W. Bush
Families are the cornerstone of our culture — the building blocks of a strong society. In families, children learn values and ideals, as well as the basic lessons that get them started on a lifelong path of education. We believe that every child deserves the chance to be born and grow up in a loving family. We also believe that while families exist in many different forms, there are ideals to strive for. Evidence shows us that children have the best chance at success when raised by a mother and a father who love and respect each other as well as their children. We also know that family breakdown makes America less stable. To create a sturdy foundation for the strength and success of our citizens and our nation, Republicans support policies that promote strong families. We also support a government that makes it easier for parents to raise their children in a world that offers unprecedented opportunities and new challenges. We offer an approach based on our common values and our common hopes. It will lead to a better America, one family at a time.
The Next Steps in Welfare Reform
In 1996, the Republican Congress made history by passing welfare reform that revolutionized the way the government helps people build better lives for themselves. The federal government gave states the flexibility to manage the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and both states and federal authorities began treating welfare as a step up rather than a way of life. Since the 1996 Republican-led law, welfare caseloads have declined by half, and nearly three million Americans have been lifted out of poverty.
But there is more work to do. We need to build on the results of the 1996 reforms and continue to move welfare recipients into jobs and off the welfare rolls. This is especially important for single women and mothers, who continue to rely on welfare and fear that they cannot find a job or enter a training program because they need to care for their children.
We endorse President Bush's plan to extend the benefits of welfare reform by strengthening work requirements and promoting healthy marriages, and offering training, transportation, and child care services to help people become self-sufficient. Every American deserves a chance to know the pride of earning a paycheck and providing for his or her family.
Promoting Healthy Marriages and Responsible Fatherhood
We support the President's welfare reform proposals that promote child wellbeing and stronger marriages. We recognize the importance of having in the home a father and a mother who are married. The two-parent family still provides the best environment of stability, discipline, responsibility, and character. We recognize that fathers play a critical role in providing stability for their children. Studies show that children are much more likely to do well in school and avoid crime and drugs when they have a responsible father in their lives. Promoting responsible fatherhood will have long-lasting benefits for families and for communities. We support President Bush's initiatives to reaffirm the important role fathers play in their children's lives and to help men meet the responsibilities of fatherhood.
Supporting Adoption and Foster Children
We support the President's strong efforts to promote adoption through increased tax incentives and bonuses to states that place older children in permanent family homes, as well as his efforts to promote foster care by increasing the allocation of funds for preventive and family services.
Promoting Healthy Choices, Including Abstinence
Children's health remains a top priority for every family and for our country. Despite advances in medicine, environmental progress, and increased efforts to keep children safe at home and in communities, alarming trends in overweight children and childhood obesity jeopardize the health of millions of children. Too many of America's youth do not exercise, are overweight, and have poor dietary habits. This leads to complications in childhood and as adults. Five chronic diseases associated with obesity – heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (such as bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma), and diabetes – account for more than two-thirds of all deaths in the United States.
Extensive research, much of it conducted or funded by the federal government, has shown that improving overall health, and thus preventing disease and premature death, is as easy as making small adjustments and improvements in the activities of daily life. We applaud the President's effort to increase public awareness about the benefits of physical fitness through programs like "HealthierUS," which focuses on physical activity; a nutritious diet; medical screenings; and healthy choices – and "VERB," which encourages young people to be physically active every day.
Each year more than three million American teenagers contract sexually transmitted diseases, causing emotional harm and serious health consequences, even death. We support efforts to educate teens and parents about the health risks associated with early sexual activity and provide the tools needed to help teens make healthy choices. Abstinence from sexual activity is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including sexually transmitted HIV/AIDS. Therefore, we support doubling abstinence education funding. We oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for contraception and abortion. We oppose school-based mental health programs that include recommendations for the use of psychotropic drugs.
Improving Work Schedule Flexibility
The President and Republicans in Congress are working to provide private-sector workers the same flexible scheduling options that government employees already enjoy. Now that more families have both parents in the workforce, American workers need more control over their work schedules. More flexibility in the workplace will help Americans to better manage the demands of work and family. And that will make families stronger. Comp-time and flex-time enable employees to choose paid time off as an alternative to overtime pay. Both of these programs would be voluntary to employees and would include employee protections to prevent employers from coercing or forcing employees to take time off in lieu of receiving overtime pay.
Protecting Family Privacy
President Bush created the National Do Not Call Registry, a tool that will help ensure that telemarketers respect the privacy of our nation's citizens. It will allow people to limit most unwanted telemarketing calls by registering their home or cell phone numbers. Registration can be completed by phone or over the Internet, and it is free of charge. The service also comes at no expense to the taxpayers.
Unauthorized and unwelcome email, commonly known as spam, interferes with efficient and effective business and family communications. We support efforts to address this growing problem.
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing financial crimes in our nation. Last year alone, nearly 10 million Americans had their identities stolen by criminals who robbed them and the nation's businesses of nearly $50 billion through fraudulent transactions. The crime of identity theft undermines the basic trust on which our economy depends. And like other forms of stealing, identity theft leaves the victim poorer and feeling terribly violated.
We praise President Bush and Republicans in Congress for passing the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, which established a national system of fraud detection so that identity thieves can be stopped before they run up tens of thousands of dollars in illegal purchases. Thanks to this law, victims can make one phone call to report the crime to alert all three major credit rating agencies and to protect their credit ratings. We further praise President Bush and Republicans in Congress for passing the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, which provides a real deterrent by toughening the prison sentences for those who use identity theft to commit other crimes, including terrorism. It reflects our government's resolve to answer serious offenses with serious penalties. And we praise President Bush for the broader effort he has waged to prevent identity theft. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI, and Secret Service are working with local and state officials to crack down on the criminal networks that are responsible for much of the identity theft that occurs in America. The Federal Trade Commission is training local law enforcement in the detection of identity theft and has set up the ID Theft Data Clearinghouse, which keeps track of complaints across the country and provides those records to prosecutors seeking to take down organized identity theft rings.
Protecting the Educational Rights of Parents and Students
As stated earlier, we applaud efforts to promote school choice initiatives that give parents more control over their children's education. 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 rulings against student-initiated prayer.
Protecting Children from Obscenity and Exploitation
The Republican Party shares the position of the United States Supreme Court in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973), that obscene material is "unprotected by the first amendment" (413 U.S. at 23) and that "to equate the free and robust exchange of ideas and political debate with commercial exploitation of obscene material demeans the grand conception of the first amendment and its high purposes in the historic struggle for freedom." Miller, 413 U.S. at 34. We therefore support vigorous prosecution of obscene material by the U.S. Department of Justice.
We applaud the Congress for passing, and the President for signing, the Protect Act. As the President said, this law "will greatly assist law enforcement in tracking criminals who would harm our children, and will greatly help in rescuing the youngest victims of crime." The law formally established a national Amber Alert coordinator in the Department of Justice to help facilitate efforts to find missing children. It also added important tools to fight child exploitation by making obscene images of children, even those created with computer technology, illegal. We agree that strengthening the laws against child abuse will protect our children, help preserve the family structure, and promote a healthy environment in which our children can grow.
With ever more children accessing material over the Internet, we support efforts to bolster online protections that prevent children from being exposed to pornographic images and solicitations. And we applaud public and private efforts to create online safe areas for children. We praise President Bush and Congressional Republicans for their leadership in passing the Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act, which created a secure domain on the Internet where parents know that it is safe for their children to learn and play and explore.
We strongly support President Bush's call for a Constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage, and we believe that neither federal nor state judges nor bureaucrats should force states to recognize other living arrangements as equivalent to marriage. We believe, and the social science confirms, that the well-being of children is best accomplished in the environment of the home, nurtured by their mother and father anchored by the bonds of marriage. We further believe that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman which has historically been called marriage.
After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence, and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization, the union of a man and a woman in marriage. Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country, and anything less than a Constitutional amendment, passed by the Congress and ratified by the states, is vulnerable to being overturned by activist judges. On a matter of such importance, the voice of the people must be heard. The Constitutional amendment process guarantees that the final decision will rest with the American people and their elected representatives. President Bush will also vigorously defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which was supported by both parties and passed by 85 votes in the Senate. This common sense law reaffirms the right of states not to recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states.
President Bush said, "We will not stand for judges who undermine democracy by legislating from the bench and try to remake America by court order." The Republican House of Representatives has responded to this challenge by passing H.R. 3313, a bill to withdraw jurisdiction from the federal courts over the Defense of Marriage Act. We urge Congress to use its Article III power to enact this into law, so that activist federal judges cannot force 49 other states to approve and recognize Massachusetts' attempt to redefine marriage.
Promoting a Culture of Life
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 it 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. We join the President in supporting crisis pregnancy programs and parental notification laws. And we applaud President Bush for allowing states to extend health care coverage to unborn children.
We praise the President for his bold leadership in defense of life. We praise him for signing the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. This important legislation ensures that every infant born alive – including an infant who survives an abortion procedure – is considered a person under federal law.
We praise Republicans in Congress for passing, with strong bipartisan support, a ban on the inhumane procedure known as partial birth abortion. And we applaud President Bush for signing legislation outlawing partial birth abortion and for vigorously defending it in the courts.
In signing the partial birth abortion ban, President Bush reminded us that "the most basic duty of government is to defend the life of the innocent. Every person, however frail or vulnerable, has a place and a purpose in this world." We affirm the inherent dignity and worth of all people. 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 especially endanger the poor and those on the margins of society. We support President Bush's decision to restore the Drug Enforcement Administration's policy that controlled substances shall not be used for assisted suicide. 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.
SUMMARY AND CALL TO ACTION
For 150 years, our Party has found its purpose in its principles. We confront big challenges instead of passing them on to future generations. We move forward with needed reforms to make the government work better for citizens. We fight important battles and champion freedom because by expanding liberty, we make our nation more secure.
This is the choice the American people face – moving forward or looking back, reforming government or settling for the status quo, producing results or playing politics. As Republicans, we know who we are and what we believe. As the Party of the open door, while steadfast in our commitment to our ideals, we respect and accept 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, and to affirm the common goals and beliefs that unite us.
As the Party of Lincoln, we stand for freedom.
We stand for the freedom of families and individuals to have good schools, good health care, and affordable housing and services.
We stand for the freedom that comes with a good paying job in a growing economy.
We stand for the freedom and dignity of every human life, in every stage of life.
We know that freedom is not America's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man, woman, and child in the world. And we stand for a hopeful tomorrow that will come from total and complete victory in the War on Terror.
These are values worthy of a great nation. And they are values worth fighting for. That is exactly what President George W. Bush continues to do. He is protecting us from danger by being prepared, strong, and steadfast. Vigilance is never easy. But it is always essential, now more than ever.
George W. Bush has done the hard work and made the hard choices required of an American President in challenging times. Because of his leadership, we are strong. Because of his vision, we will be even stronger. That is the pledge of this platform … and the promise of this convention.
REPORTED BY FULL COMMITTEE August 26, 2004 Jacob K. Javits Convention Center New York, New York
THE PLATFORM COMMITTEE
Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie
Chairman Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D.
Co-Chairs Governor Bill Owens & Representative Melissa Hart
Winning the War on Terror
Bill Owens Joe Acinapura
Ushering in an Ownership Era
Janet Creighton Paul Harris
Building an Innovative, Globally Competitive Economy
Strengthening our Communities
Melissa Hart Eric Tanenblatt
Protecting our Families
Haley Barbour Ann Wagner
J.T. Jabo Waggoner
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
J. Allison DeFoor
G. Hunter Bates
Mark "Thor" Hearne
Mary Jean Jensen
Anne Phelps, Executive Director Ginny Wolfe, Communications Director Jim Neill, Administrative Director Bob Dove, Parliamentarian Alex Vogel, General Counsel Eric Ueland, Special Counselor Rebekah Krimmel, Platform Assistant Anne Marie Falk, Platform Assistant Kate Kobiashvili
Eric Ueland, Senator Bill Frist, M.D. Sean Duffy, Governor Bill Owens Bill Ries, Representative Melissa Hart
Winning the War on Terror Steve Biegun, Clerk
Ushering in an Ownership Era Rohit Kumar, Clerk
Building an Innovative, Globally Competitive Economy Libby Jarvis, Clerk
Strengthening Our Communities Dean Rosen, Clerk
Protecting Our Families
Bill Wichterman, Clerk
Graphic Designer Karen Portik
A special thanks to all our volunteers
Paid for by the Committee on Arrangements for the 2004 Republican National Convention Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee. www.gopconvention.com