We are the party of independent individuals and the institutions they create – families, schools, congregations, neighborhoods – to advance their ideals and make real their dreams. Foremost among those institutions is the American family. It is the foundation of our society and the first level of self-government. Its daily lessons-cooperation, patience, mutual respect, responsibility, self-reliance – are fundamental to the order and progress of our Republic. Government can never replace the family. That is why we insist that public policy, from taxation to education, from healthcare to welfare, be formulated with attention to the needs and strengths of the family.
Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage (Top)
The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation. It has been proven by both experience and endless social science studies that traditional marriage is best for children. Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, engage in crime, or get pregnant outside of marriage. The success of marriage directly impacts the economic well-being of individuals. Furthermore, the future of marriage affects freedom. The lack of family formation not only leads to more government costs, but also to more government control over the lives of its citizens in all aspects. We recognize and honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many burdens of parenting alone, even as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage. We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.
Creating a Culture of Hope: Raising Families Beyond Poverty (Top)
The Republican-led welfare reforms enacted in 1996 marked a revolution in government’s approach to poverty. They changed the standard for policy success from the amount of income transferred to the poor to the number of poor who moved from welfare to economic independence. We took the belief of most Americans – that welfare should be a hand up, not a hand out – and made it law. Work requirements, though modest, were at the heart of this success. That is why so many are now outraged by the current Administration’s recent decision to permit waivers for work requirements for welfare benefits, in other words, to administratively repeal the most successful anti-poverty policy in memory. Instead of undermining the expectation that low-income parents and individuals should strive to support themselves, benefit programs like food stamps must ensure that those benefits are better targeted to those who need help the most.
For the sake of low-income families as well as the taxpayers, the federal government’s entire system of public assistance should be reformed to ensure that it promotes work. Each year, this system dispenses nearly $1 trillion in taxpayer funds across a maze of approximately 80 programs that are neither coordinated nor effective in solving poverty and lifting up families. For many individuals collecting benefits from multiple categorical programs, efforts to work or earn more actually result in less money in their pocket through the resulting loss of benefits. This poverty trap would ensnare even more Americans if Obamacare were implemented. Taking a part time job, working an extra shift, or even just marrying someone who works, would result in a loss of benefits, thereby discouraging the very acts necessary to achieve the American Dream.
Adoption and Foster Care (Top)
Families formed or enlarged by adoption strengthen our communities and ennoble our nation. We applaud the Republican legislative initiatives that led to a significant increase in adoptions in recent years, and we call upon the private sector to consider the needs of adoptive families on a par with others. Any restructuring of the federal tax code should recognize the financial impact of the adoption process and the commitment made by adoptive families. The nation’s foster care system remains a necessary fallback for youngsters from troubled families. Because of reforms initiated by many States, the number of foster children has declined to just over 400,000. A major problem of the system is its lack of support, financial and otherwise, for teens who age out of foster care and into a world in which many are not prepared to go it alone. We urge States to work with the faith-based and other community groups which reach out to these young people in need.
Making the Internet Family-Friendly (Top)
Millions of Americans suffer from problem or pathological gambling that can destroy families. We support the prohibition of gambling over the Internet and call for reversal of the Justice Department’s decision distorting the formerly accepted meaning of the Wire Act that could open the door to Internet betting. The Internet must be made safe for children. We call on service providers to exercise due care to ensure that the Internet cannot become a safe haven for predators while respecting First Amendment rights. We congratulate the social networking sites that bar known sex offenders from participation. We urge active prosecution against child pornography, which is closely linked to the horrors of human trafficking. Current laws on all forms of pornography and obscenity need to be vigorously enforced.
Advancing Americans with Disabilities (Top)
We renew our commitment to the inclusion of Americans with disabilities in all aspects of our national life. In keeping with that commitment, we oppose the non-consensual withholding of care or treatment from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which endanger especially those on the margins of society. Because government should set a positive standard in hiring and contracting for the services of persons with disabilities, we need to update the statutory authority for the Ability One program, a major avenue by which those productive members of our society can offer high quality services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has opened up unprecedented opportunities for many students, and we reaffirm our support for its goal of minimizing the separation of children with disabilities from their peers. We urge preventive efforts in early childhood, especially assistance in gaining pre-reading skills, to help many students move beyond the need for IDEA’s protections. We endorse the program of Employment First, developed by major disability rights groups, to replace dependency with jobs in the mainstream of the American workforce.
Repealing Obamacare (Top)
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – was never really about healthcare, though its impact upon the nation’s health is disastrous. From its start, it was about power, the expansion of government control over one sixth of our economy, and resulted in an attack on our Constitution, by requiring that U.S. citizens purchase health insurance. We agree with the four dissenting justices of the Supreme Court: “In our view the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.” It was the high-water mark of an outdated liberalism, the latest attempt to impose upon Americans a euro-style bureaucracy to manage all aspects of their lives. Obamacare has been struck down in the court of public opinion and is falling by the weight of its own confusing, unworkable, budget-busting, and conflicting provisions. It would tremendously expand Medicaid without significant reform, leaving the States to assume unsustainable financial burdens. If fully implemented, it could not function; and Republican victories in the November elections will guarantee that it is never implemented. Congressional Republicans are committed to its repeal; and a Republican President, on the first day in office, will use his legitimate waiver authority under that law to halt its progress and then will sign its repeal. Then the American people, through the free market, can advance affordable and responsible healthcare reform that meets the needs and concerns of patients and providers. Through Obamacare, the current Administration has promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare. We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it.
Our Prescription for American Healthcare: Improve Quality and Lower Costs (Top)
We believe that taking care of one’s health is an individual responsibility. Chronic diseases, many of them related to lifestyle, drive healthcare costs, accounting for more than 75 percent of the nation’s medical spending. To reduce demand, and thereby lower costs, we must foster personal responsibility while increasing preventive services to promote healthy lifestyles. We believe that all Americans should have improved access to affordable, coordinated, quality healthcare, including individuals struggling with mental illness.
Our goal is to encourage the development of a healthcare system that provides higher quality care at a lower cost to all Americans while protecting the patient-physician relationship based on mutual trust, informed consent, and privileged patient confidentiality. We seek to increase healthcare choice and options, contain costs and reduce mandates, simplify the system for patients and providers, restore cuts made to Medicare, and equalize the tax treatment of group and individual health insurance plans. For most Americans, those who are insured now or who seek insurance in the future, our practical, non-intrusive reforms will promote flexibility in State leadership in healthcare reform, promote a free-market based system, and empower consumer choice. All of which will return direction of the nation’s healthcare to the people and away from the federal government.
To return the States to their proper role of regulating local insurance markets and caring for the needy, we propose to block grant Medicaid and other payments to the States; limit federal requirements on both private insurance and Medicaid; assist all patients, including those with pre-existing conditions, through reinsurance and risk adjustment; and promote non-litigation alternatives for dispute resolution. We call on State officials to carefully consider the increased costs of medical mandates, imposed under their laws, which may price many low-income families out of the insurance market. We call on the government to permanently ban all federal funding and subsidies for abortion and healthcare plans that include abortion coverage.
To achieve a free market in healthcare and ensure competition, we will promote price transparency so that consumers will know the actual cost of treatments before they undergo them. When patients are aware of costs, they are less likely to over-utilize services. We support legislation to cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, thereby relieving conscientious providers of burdens that are not rightly theirs and addressing a serious cause of escalating medical bills. We will empower individuals and small businesses to form purchasing pools in order to expand coverage to the uninsured. Individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous insurance coverage should be protected from discrimination. We support technology enhancements for medical health records and data systems while affirming patient privacy and ownership of health information.
Ensuring Consumer Choice in Healthcare (Top)
Consumer choice is the most powerful factor in healthcare reform. Today’s highly mobile work force requires portability of insurance coverage that can go with them from job to job. The need to maintain coverage should not dictate where families have to live and work. Putting the patient at the center of policy decisions will increase choice and reduce costs while ensuring that services provide what Americans actually want. We must end tax discrimination against the individual purchase of insurance and allow consumers to purchase insurance across State lines. While promoting “co-insurance” products and alternatives to “fee for service,” government must promote Health Savings Accounts and Health Reimbursement Accounts to be used for insurance premiums and should encourage the private sector to rate competing insurance plans. We will ensure that America’s aging population has access to safe and affordable care. Because seniors overwhelmingly desire to age at home, we will make home care a priority in public policy. We will champion the right of individual choice in senior care. We will aggressively implement programs to protect against elder abuse, and we will work to ensure that quality care is provided across the care continuum from home to nursing home to hospice.
Supporting Federal Healthcare Research and Development (Top)
We support federal investment in healthcare delivery systems and solutions creating innovative means to provide greater, more cost-effective access to high quality healthcare. We also support federal investment in basic and applied biomedical research, especially the neuroscience research that may hold great potential for dealing with diseases and disorders such as Autism, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. If we are to make significant headway against breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, and other killers, research must consider the special needs of formerly neglected groups. We call for expanded support for the stem-cell research that now offers the greatest hope for many afflictions – with adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and cells reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells-without the destruction of embryonic human life. We urge a ban on human cloning and on the creation of or experimentation on human embryos. We support restoring the Drug Enforcement Administration ban on the use of controlled substances for physician-assisted suicide. We oppose the FDA approval of Mifeprex, formerly known as RU-486, and similar drugs that terminate innocent human life after conception.
Protecting Individual Conscience in Healthcare (Top)
No healthcare professional or organization should ever be required to perform, provide for, withhold, or refer for a medical service against their conscience. This is especially true of the religious organizations which deliver a major portion of America’s healthcare, a service rooted in the charity of faith communities. We do not believe, however, that healthcare providers should be allowed to withhold services because the healthcare provider believes the patient’s life is not worth living. We support the ability of all organizations to provide, purchase, or enroll in healthcare coverage consistent with their religious, moral or ethical convictions without discrimination or penalty. We likewise support the right of parents to consent to medical treatment for their children, including mental health treatment, drug treatment, and treatment involving pregnancy, contraceptives and abortion. We urge enactment of pending legislation that would require parental consent to transport girls across state lines for abortions.
Reforming the FDA (Top)
America’s leadership in life sciences R&D and medical innovation is being threatened. As a country, we must work together now or lose our leadership position in medical innovation, U.S. job creation, and access to life-saving treatments for U.S. patients. The United States has led the global medical device and pharmaceutical industries for decades. This leadership has made the U.S. the medical innovation capital of the world, bringing millions of high-paying jobs to our country and life-saving devices and drugs to our nation’s patients. But that leadership position is at risk; patients, innovators, and job creators point to the lack of predictability, consistency, transparency and efficiency at the Food and Drug Administration that is driving innovation overseas, benefiting foreign, not U.S., patients. We pledge to reform the FDA so we can ensure that the U.S. remains the world leader in medical innovation, that device and drug jobs stay in the U.S., that U.S. patients benefit first from new devices and drugs, and that the FDA no longer wastes U.S. taxpayer and innovators’ resources because of bureaucratic red tape and legal uncertainty.
Reducing Costs through Tort Reform (Top)
Frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits have ballooned the cost of healthcare for the average American. Physicians are increasingly practicing defensive medicine because of the looming threat of malpractice liability. Moreover, some medical practitioners are avoiding patients with complex and high-risk medical problems because of the high costs of medical malpractice lawsuits. Rural America is hurt especially hard as obstetricians, surgeons, and other healthcare providers are moving to urban settings or retiring, causing a significant healthcare workforce shortage and subsequently decreasing access to care for all patients. We are committed to aggressively pursuing tort reform legislation to help avoid the practice of defensive medicine, to keep healthcare costs low, and improve healthcare quality.
Education: A Chance for Every Child (Top)
Parents are responsible for the education of their children. We do not believe in a one size fits all approach to education and support providing broad education choices to parents and children at the State and local level. Maintaining American preeminence requires a world-class system of education, with high standards, in which all students can reach their potential. Today’s education reform movement calls for accountability at every stage of schooling. It affirms higher expectations for all students and rejects the crippling bigotry of low expectations. It recognizes the wisdom of State and local control of our schools, and it wisely sees consumer rights in education – choice – as the most important driving force for renewing our schools.
Education is much more than schooling. It is the whole range of activities by which families and communities transmit to a younger generation, not just knowledge and skills, but ethical and behavioral norms and traditions. It is the handing over of a personal and cultural identity. That is why education choice has expanded so vigorously. It is also why American education has, for the last several decades, been the focus of constant controversy, as centralizing forces outside the family and community have sought to remake education in order to remake America. They have not succeeded, but they have done immense damage.
Attaining Academic Excellence for All (Top)
Since 1965 the federal government has spent $2 trillion on elementary and secondary education with no substantial improvement in academic achievement or high school graduation rates (which currently are 59 percent for African-American students and 63 percent for Hispanics). The U.S. spends an average of more than $10,000 per pupil per year in public schools, for a total of more than $550 billion. That represents more than 4 percent of GDP devoted to K-12 education in 2010. Of that amount, federal spending was more than $47 billion. Clearly, if money were the solution, our schools would be problem-free.
More money alone does not necessarily equal better performance. After years of trial and error, we know what does work, what has actually made a difference in student advancement, and what is powering education reform at the local level all across America: accountability on the part of administrators, parents and teachers; higher academic standards; programs that support the development of character and financial literacy; periodic rigorous assessments on the fundamentals, especially math, science, reading, history, and geography; renewed focus on the Constitution and the writings of the Founding Fathers, and an accurate account of American history that celebrates the birth of this great nation; transparency, so parents and the public can discover which schools best serve their pupils; flexibility and freedom to innovate, so schools can adapt to the special needs of their students and hold teachers and administrators responsible for student performance. We support the innovations in education reform occurring at the State level based upon proven results. Republican Governors have led in the effort to reform our country’s underperforming education system, and we applaud these advancements. We advocate the policies and methods that have proven effective: building on the basics, especially STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) and phonics; ending social promotions; merit pay for good teachers; classroom discipline; parental involvement; and strong leadership by principals, superintendents, and locally elected school boards. Because technology has become an essential tool of learning, proper implementation of technology is a key factor in providing every child equal access and opportunity.
Consumer Choice in Education (Top)
The Republican Party is the party of fresh and innovative ideas in education. We support options for learning, including home schooling and local innovations like single-sex classes, full-day school hours, and year-round schools. School choice – whether through charter schools, open enrollment requests, college lab schools, virtual schools, career and technical education programs, vouchers, or tax credits – is important for all children, especially for families with children trapped in failing schools. Getting those youngsters into decent learning environments and helping them to realize their full potential is the greatest civil rights challenge of our time. We support the promotion of local career and technical educational programs and entrepreneurial programs that have been supported by leaders in industry and will retrain and retool the American workforce, which is the best in the world. A young person’s ability to achieve in school must be based on his or her God-given talent and motivation, not an address, zip code, or economic status.
In sum, on the one hand enormous amounts of money are being spent for K-12 public education with overall results that do not justify that spending. On the other hand, the common experience of families, teachers, and administrators forms the basis of what does work in education. We believe the gap between those two realities can be successfully bridged, and Congressional Republicans are pointing a new way forward with major reform legislation. We support its concept of block grants and the repeal of numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools.
The bulk of the federal money through Title I for low-income children and through IDEA for disabled youngsters should follow the students to whatever school they choose so that eligible pupils, through open enrollment, can bring their share of the funding with them. The Republican-founded D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program should be expanded as a model for the rest of the country. We deplore the efforts by Congressional Democrats and the current President to kill this successful program for disadvantaged students in order to placate the leaders of the teachers’ unions. We support putting the needs of students before the special interests of unions when approaching elementary and secondary education reform.
Because parents are a child’s first teachers, we support family literacy programs, which improve the reading, language, and life skills of both parents and children from low-income families. To ensure that all students have access to the mainstream of American life, we support the English First approach and oppose divisive programs that limit students’ ability to advance in American society. We renew our call for replacing “family planning” programs for teens with abstinence education which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior. Abstinence from sexual activity is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS when transmitted sexually. It is effective, science-based, and empowers teens to achieve optimal health outcomes and avoid risks of sexual activity. We oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion and contraception. We support keeping federal funds from being used in mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric, or socio- emotional screening programs.
We applaud America’s great teachers, who should be protected against frivolous litigation and should be able to take reasonable actions to maintain discipline and order in the classroom. We support legislation that will correct the current law provision which defines a “Highly Qualified Teacher” merely by his or her credentials, not results in the classroom. We urge school districts to make use of teaching talent in business, STEM fields, and in the military, especially among our returning veterans. Rigid tenure systems based on the “last in, first out” policy should be replaced with a merit-based approach that can attract fresh talent and dedication to the classroom. All personnel who interact with school children should pass background checks and be held to the highest standards of personal conduct.
Improving Our Nation’s Classrooms (Top)
Higher education faces its own challenges, many of which stem from the poor preparation of students before they reach college. One consequence has been the multiplying number of remedial courses for freshmen. Even so, our universities, large and small, public or private, form the world’s greatest assemblage of learning. They drive much of the research that keeps America competitive and, by admitting large numbers of foreign students, convey our values and culture to the world.
Ideological bias is deeply entrenched within the current university system. Whatever the solution in private institutions may be, in State institutions the trustees have a responsibility to the public to ensure that their enormous investment is not abused for political indoctrination. We call on State officials to ensure that our public colleges and universities be places of learning and the exchange of ideas, not zones of intellectual intolerance favoring the Left.
Addressing Rising College Costs (Top)
College costs, however, are on an unsustainable trajectory, rising year by year far ahead of overall inflation. Nationwide, student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt, roughly $23,300 for each of the 35,000,000 debtors, taking years to pay off. Over 50 percent of recent college grads are unemployed or underemployed, working at jobs for which their expensive educations gave them no training. It is time to get back to basics and to higher education programs directly related to job opportunities.
The first step is to acknowledge the need for change when the status quo is not working. New systems of learning are needed to compete with traditional four-year colleges: expanded community colleges and technical institutions, private training schools, online universities, life-long learning, and work-based learning in the private sector. New models for acquiring advanced skills will be ever more important in the rapidly changing economy of the twenty-first century, especially in science, technology, engineering, and math. Public policy should advance the affordability, innovation, and transparency needed to address all these challenges and to make accessible to everyone the emerging alternatives, with their lower cost degrees, to traditional college attendance.
Federal student aid is on an unsustainable path, and efforts should be taken to provide families with greater transparency and the information they need to make prudent choices about a student’s future: completion rates, repayment rates, future earnings, and other factors that may affect their decisions. The federal government should not be in the business of originating student loans; however, it should serve as an insurance guarantor for the private sector as they offer loans to students. Private sector participation in student financing should be welcomed. Any regulation that drives tuition costs higher must be reevaluated to balance its worth against its negative impact on students and their parents.
Justice for All: Safe Neighborhoods and Prison Reform (Top)
The most effective forces in reducing crime and other social ills are strong families and caring communities supported by excellent law enforcement. Both reinforce constructive conduct and ethical standards by setting examples and providing safe havens from dangerous and destructive behaviors. But even under the best social circumstances, strong, well-trained law enforcement is necessary to protect us all, and especially the weak and vulnerable, from predators. Our national experience over the last several decades has shown that citizen vigilance, tough but fair prosecutors, meaningful sentences, protection of victims’ rights, and limits on judicial discretion can preserve public safety by keeping criminals off the streets.
Liberals do not understand this simple axiom: criminals behind bars cannot harm the general public. To that end, we support mandatory prison sentencing for gang crimes, violent or sexual offenses against children, repeat drug dealers, rape, robbery and murder. We support a national registry for convicted child murderers. We oppose parole for dangerous or repeat felons. Courts should have the option of imposing the death penalty in capital murder cases.
In solidarity with those who protect us, we call for mandatory prison time for all assaults involving serious injury to law enforcement officers. Criminals injured in the course of their crimes should not be able to seek monetary damages from their intended victims or from the public.
While getting criminals off the street is essential, more attention must be paid to the process of restoring those individuals to the community. Prisons should do more than punish; they should attempt to rehabilitate and institute proven prisoner reentry systems to reduce recidivism and future victimization. We endorse State and local initiatives that are trying new approaches, often called accountability courts.
Government at all levels should work with faith-based institutions that have proven track records in diverting young and first time, non-violent offenders from criminal careers, for which we salute them. Their emphasis on restorative justice, to make the victim whole and put the offender on the right path, can give law enforcement the flexibility it needs in dealing with different levels of criminal behavior. We endorse State and local initiatives that are trying new approaches to curbing drug abuse and diverting first-time offenders to rehabilitation.
Public authorities must regain control of their correctional institutions, for we cannot allow prisons to become ethnic or racial battlegrounds. Persons jailed for whatever cause should be protected against cruel or degrading treatment by other inmates. In some cases, the institution of family-friendly policies may curtail prison violence and reduce the rate of recidivism, thus reducing the enormous fiscal and social costs of incarceration. Breaking the cycle of crime begins with the children of those who are prisoners. Deprived of a parent through no fault of their own, these youngsters should be a special concern of our schools, social services, and religious institutions. Thirty years ago, President Reagan’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, calling the neglect of crime victims a “national disgrace,” proposed a Constitutional amendment to secure their formal rights. While some progress has been made to rectify that situation, the need for national action still persists in the unacceptable treatment of innocent victims. We call on the States to make it a bipartisan priority to protect the rights of crime victims, who should also be assured of access to social and legal services; and we call on the Congress to make the federal courts a model in this regard for the rest of the country.
The resources of the federal government’s law enforcement and judicial systems have been strained by two unfortunate expansions: the over-criminalization of behavior and the over-federalization of offenses. The number of criminal offenses in the U.S. Code increased from 3,000 in the early 1980s to over 4,450 by 2008. Federal criminal law should focus on acts by federal employees or acts committed on federal property – and leave the rest to the States. Then Congress should withdraw from federal departments and agencies the power to criminalize behavior, a practice which, according to the Congressional Research Service, has created “tens of thousands” of criminal offenses. No one other than an elected representative should have the authority to define a criminal act and set criminal penalties. In the same way, Congress should reconsider the extent to which it has federalized offenses traditionally handled on the State or local level.