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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,821
July 21, 2016
GOP Platform: Good & Bad
By Mike McManus

The Republican Platform flatly opposed the Supreme Court's ruling last year that forced all states to offer same-sex marriage.

It noted that 50 million Americans voted for a state constitutional amendment that limited marriage to the union of opposite sexes which was overturned by "five unelected lawyers who robbed 320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman....

"We do not accept the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the States." This was an important new goal. The GOP also asserted that "Every child deserves a married mom and dad" - impossible in same-sex marriage.

The Platform also backed "the right of business to support traditional marriage," by refusing to serve a same-sex wedding, "in accordance with their religious beliefs."

It also asserted that the "Declaration of Independence's proclamation that all "are endowed by their Creator" with the inalienable right to life includes "the unborn child" who has a "fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution." And the GOP called on Congress "to ban sex-selection abortions."

The Platform also opposed "the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations like Planned Parenthood," America's biggest abortion provider. It received $542 million in federal funding and ended the lives of 333,000 babies in the womb. The GOP also urged "Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions."

"If there's a phrase that describes who we are, it's `protectors of life," said former Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a meeting of the Family Research Council. "There's been no government created on the face of the earth that has freed more people, saved more people than the United States."

However, Newt Gingrich warned that if ISIS acquired a weapon of mass destruction, it might kill 300,000 Americans, not just 3,000 as in 9/11. "We have been lucky. Pakistan and North Korea have acquired nuclear weapons."

The Army is shrinking to a size smaller than it was in 1940. With wars ending in Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps that is reasonable, but the GOP Platform calls for increased military spending.

However, the Platform also states: "The federal fiscal burden threatens the security, liberty and independence of our nation. The current Administration's refusal to work with Republicans took our national debt from $10 trillion to nearly $19 trillion today. Left unchecked, it will hit $30 trillion by 2026."

Add to that Trump's proposed tax cuts that would add $12 trillion to America's debt.

The GOP's answer to that? "A constitutional requirement for a federal balanced budget, a "Balanced Budget Amendment."

Frankly, that appears to me to be a PR gesture. Where is the budget to be cut? The Platform correctly notes that "More than 100 million Americans depend on Medicare and Medicaid for their healthcare; with our population aging, that will increase...Medicare's long-term debt is in the trillions, and it is funded by a workforce that is shrinking relative to the size of future beneficiaries."

However, the Platform simply asserts, "These important programs must be brought under control before they consume most of the federal budget."

How? The GOP offers no specifics. Here is what it should have said: "Since Medicare was passed in 1965, Americans are living five years longer. Yet the age when Medicare is given has remained fixed at 65. Therefore the age at which Medicare is given should be slowly raised from 65 to 67. No one is who 55 or older would be affected, but millennials would have to work for two more years before getting Medicare.

That would save $140 billion over a decade, according to the Committee for a Responsible Budget. America has already gradually raised the age for Social Security to 66. It should also rise slowly to 68, saving another $160 billion over 10 years. Another option: federal and military employees should pay half the cost of their retirement, not 1/16th, saving $73 billion.

Similarly, tax reform would close loopholes that benefit only the rich. Mortgage deductions should be eliminated for second houses, or mortgages over $500,000. Payroll deductions for Social Security do not increase for those earning more than $118,500. Why not?

We do not need a Balanced Budget Amendment, but a willingness to balance the budget that is utterly missing in the GOP Platform.
Copyright (c) 2016 Michel J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. For previous columns go to Hit Search for any topic.

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