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2012-06-27 / Opinion & Columns

Texas Politics

Comparisons of Texas Republican, Democratic platforms
Dave McNeely

Political party platforms are documents primarily written by true believers in the Republican, Democratic, Libertarian and other parties.

They give some idea of the beliefs of party activists who actually like to go to meetings. But at least parts of them often receive only lip service, or are ignored, by the politicians who actually run for office under those parties’ banners.

Still, it’s interesting every couple years to see what at least the Republican and Democratic parties have come up with for this year’s platforms, and particularly how they differ.

Here are some key issues:

EDUCATION

Republicans – “Since data is clear that additional money does not translate into educational achievement, and higher education costs are out of control, we support reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of education institutions.”

Democrats – “Texas Democrats believe the state should establish a 100% equitable school finance system with sufficient state revenue to allow every district to offer an exemplary program.”

PRE-KINDERGARTEN AND EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT



Republicans – “We oppose mandatory pre-school and Kindergarten.”

“We urge Congress to repeal government sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development.”

Democrats – “To make public education our highest priority, we believe the state should provide universal access to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.”

“Proper funding of all our schools to meet the needs of students who are most at risk of dropping out is essential. Specific solutions include... expanded access to early childhood education, targeting at-risk students.”

VOUCHERS

Republicans – “We encourage the Governor and the Texas Legislature to enact child-centered school funding options – which fund the student, not schools or districts – to allow maximum freedom of choice in public, private or parochial education for all children.”

Democrats – “We believe the state should oppose private school vouchers.”

HEALTH CARE

Republicans – “We demand the immediate repeal of the Patient

Protection and

Affordable Care Act, which we believe to be unconstitutional.

“We urge the passage of health care reform, which results in more affordable healthcare through a market-based, competitive, and transparent health care system, including tort reform, interstate competition, genuine accountability and oversight.”

Democrats – “Texas Democrats believe health care is a right, not a privilege reserved for those able to pay for it.”

“(We) support guaranteed access to affordable, comprehensive single-payer health care for all United States citizens and legal residents, in other words, Medicare for all;

“(We) support creation of an insurance marketplace where small business owners can receive the same buying power that big businesses have while receiving tax credits to make employee coverage more affordable and dependable;

“(We) oppose discrimination based on preexisting conditions and believe Texans with chronic illnesses should have access to coverage at an affordable price through the high risk pool with full coverage for all prescription medications during the interim period before the preexisting condition ban passed by Democrats takes effect.”

MINIMUM WAGE

Republicans – “We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed.”

Democrats – “To Improve Wages and Working Conditions, we believe the minimum wage must be raised, enforced, and applied meaningfully across-the- board to restore lost purchasing power for all workers.”

INCOME AND SALES TAX

Republicans – “We recommend repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (which established the income tax), with the goal of abolishing the I.R.S and replacing it with a national sales tax collected by the States. In the interim we urge the income tax be changed to a flatter, broader, lower tax with only minimal exemptions such as home mortgage interest deductions.”

Democrats – “Enact a constitutional amendment to prevent extending the sales tax to food and medicine and oppose efforts to impose a national sales tax.”

SOCIAL SECURITY

Republicans – “We support an immediate and orderly transition to a system of private pensions based on the concept of individual retirement accounts, and gradually phasing out the Social Security tax.”

Democrats – “Texas Democrats believe we must keep the promise of Social Security strong and certain for those who have worked and contributed to the system.

“We oppose privatization of the Social Security program as fiscally irresponsible, and consider the use of our tax dollars as capital to invest in the stock market as a threat to the income security of working Americans.”

Well, you get the idea. These are two rather different word views as to how much government is worthwhile, and how it should be financed. About all they can agree on is that the platforms were approved at their respective conventions in early June.

DAVE MCNEELY is political columnist. You may contact him at davemcneely111@gmail.com or (512)458-2963.

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