Much has been made of the abortion plank in the Republican Party’s 2012 platform – the part that calls for a human-life amendment to the Constitution that would outlaw all abortions, no exceptions.
Never mind that the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan ticket would allow abortions in cases of rape, incest, and to protect the life and health of the mother. Or that it has become a time-honored tradition among party leaders to say they haven’t read the platform. (This year’s clocks in at 62 pages.) Or that maybe the GOP should consider a one-page platform, so that people will actually read it, as House Speaker John Boehner suggested at a luncheon hosted by The Christian Science Monitor on Monday.
The Republican platform represents an important safety valve for constituencies that may be a tad leery of the party’s nominee, as was the case four years ago with Sen. John McCain and is true now with Mr. Romney. There are points that come straight from the playbook of libertarian Rep. Ron Paul, the only GOP primary challenger who has not fully endorsed Romney.
Last week, the tea-party-supporting group Freedom Works declared victory when it saw the platform content – asserting that 11.5 of its 12 proposals had been included. (The platform calls for a tax system that is “flatter,” but not the “flat tax” FreedomWorks and other conservatives wanted.)
The human-life amendment was in the 2008 platform. But in the 2012 platform, adopted and released Tuesday, there are many new planks. Here’s a sample:
A call to audit the Federal Reserve
“Audit the Fed” is a rallying cry for Paul supporters and the tea party. As the Fed considers a third round of monetary stimulus, known as “quantitative easing,” the calls for more transparency in Fed decision-making have become part of the larger conversation about how to strengthen the economic recovery without sparking inflation.
The Republican Party will “work to advance substantive legislation” that brings transparency and accountability to the Federal Reserve, the platform says. The first step is through “an annual audit of the Federal Reserve’s activities.”
A return to the gold standard?
Alongside “Audit the Fed,” this is another long-standing proposal by Congressman Paul on monetary policy. In fact, the platform does not contain the phrase “gold standard.” It refers to a commission established shortly after the inauguration of President Reagan in 1981 to “consider the feasibility of a metallic basis for US currency.”
The panel advised against such a move. “Now, three decades later, as we face the task of cleaning up the wreckage of the current administration’s policies, we propose a similar commission to investigate possible ways to set a fixed value for the dollar,” the platform says.
Romney has said that he would replace Ben Bernanke as Fed chairman, but hasn’t floated replacements, nor commented on the monetary policy planks of the platform.
Protecting access to ammunition
In the wake of recent shooting rampages, calls have increased for legislation to ban high-capacity gun magazines, which allow dozens of bullets to be loaded at a time. In contrast with the 2008 Republican platform, the 2012 document stakes a position on access to ammunition.
“We oppose legislation that is intended to restrict our Second Amendment rights by limiting the capacity of clips or magazines or otherwise restoring the ill-considered Clinton gun ban,” the platform states.
The Clinton-era ban on assault weapons, enacted in 1994, included a ban on “large capacity ammunition feeding devices.” The law expired in 2004.
Reinventing Medicare and Medicaid
The Romney-Ryan proposal to reform the twin federal health-care entitlements for seniors, the poor, and the disabled is now in black and white in the 2012 platform.
“The first step is to move the two programs away from their current unsustainable defined-benefit entitlement model to a fiscally sound defined-contribution model,” the platform says. “This is the only way to limit costs and restore consumer choice for patients and introduce competition.”
Medicare moves to a “premium-support” model, a voucher-like system in which seniors use their government subsidy to purchase private health insurance or traditional Medicare. Medicaid becomes a block-grant program, in which the federal government gives a defined amount to each state, which then uses the money as it sees fit toward insuring the poor and disabled.
The platform also hints at an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare, currently 65.
“Without disadvantaging retirees or those nearing retirement, the age [of] eligibility for Medicare must be made more realistic in terms of today’s longer life span,” it says.
No more “leaks for political purposes”
In some places, the platform reads like a primal scream against the Obama administration. Exhibit A is the killing of Osama bin Laden, a huge, undisputed victory for the president that Republicans have been trying to diminish. Bin Laden is not mentioned explicitly in the platform, but information leaks surrounding the operation that left him dead have given Republicans the hook they need.
“The current administration’s leaks of classified information have imperiled intelligence assets which are vital to American security,” the platform states.