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2008 Platform (filtered to leftist)

This is a plank-by-plank review of the 2008 platform. Use the links at right to narrow it down, or explore alternate views:

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Showing only planks with leftist fault: These planks advanced contemporary liberal causes or expand government. (show all planks)
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Lobbying Limitation

Preserving American Freedom > Restoring Integrity to Our Elections > Lobbying Limitation
We support legislation to prohibit former officials and government employees from lobbying for a foreign government and/or any business for five years after leaving public service. We support legislation to prevent lobbying by any organization receiving federal grants except that relating to its tax status.
(plank deleted)

The right to free speech and the right of free association are Constitutionally-protected rights. Conservatives do not reduce Constitutionally-protected rights.

The limitation on lobbying by those receiving federal grants is ridiculous. It would muzzle free speech rights for a huge array of private institutions like museums, universities, hospitals, public works contractors, etc.

Rosebush-Blocker Rule

Preserving American Freedom > Restoring Integrity to Our Elections > Rosebush-Blocker Rule
We oppose the Rosebush-Blocker rule in the Texas Senate.
(plank deleted)

This is shortsighted.

In requiring a 2/3 vote to send legislation to the floor, the Rosebush "Blocker" Rule is a check against a thin majority causing extreme changes. The problem is not the rule, it is that the Republicans only have a thin majority.

The right solution is not changing major rules for temporary gain. That should distinguish us from Democrats (case in point: Democrats change Massachusetts special election law to ensure Democrat senator). Also, this rule could come in handy if--God forbid--Republicans lose their majority.

The right solution is a better Republican majority. And that cannot happen without a better platform.

Family and Defense of Marriage

Strengthening Families, Protecting Life and Promoting Health > Celebrating Traditional Marriage > Family and Defense of Marriage
We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman, which is the foundational unit of a healthy society, and we oppose the assault on marriage by judicial activists. We call on the President and Congress to take immediate action to defend the sanctity of marriage. We are resolute that Congress exercise authority under the United States Constitution, and pass legislation withholding jurisdiction from the Federal Courts in cases involving family law, especially any changes in the definition of marriage. We further call on Congress to pass and the state legislatures to ratify a marriage amendment declaring that marriage in the United States shall consist of and be recognized only as the union of a natural man and a natural woman. Neither the United States nor any state shall recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse. We oppose the recognition of and granting of benefits to people who represent themselves as domestic partners without being legally married. We advocate the repeal of laws that place an unfair tax burden on families. We call upon Congress to completely remove the marriage penalty in the tax code, whereby a married couple receives a smaller standard deduction than their unmarried counterparts living together. The primary family unit consists of those related by blood, heterosexual marriage, or adoption. The family is responsible for its own welfare, education, moral training, conduct, and property.

Language needs simplification.

There is no meaningful "assault" on marriage in the Texas or federal judiciary outside a limited, long-shot ruling by a Democrat activist judge in Dallas County.

The discrepancy in the "married filing jointly" standard deduction was addressed in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 caused it to be implemented in 2003.

It is a slippery slope to cherrypick subjects eligible for judicial review.

Marriage is a state issue and should continue to be a state issue. We do not need yet another federal mandate on states.

Recognition or granting of benefits is of the purview of the private sector. We should not be like liberals and increase regulation of the private sector.

The last two sentences are redundant with other parts of the platform or simply commonsense.

Right To Life

Strengthening Families, Protecting Life and Promoting Health > Protecting Innocent Human Life > Right To Life
We believe all human life is sacred. Therefore, we oppose all abortions except to save the life of the mother, after rape, or for nonviable fetuses. We oppose genocide, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. We support parental consent for minors to obtain abortions.All innocent human life must be respected and safeguarded from fertilization to natural death; therefore, the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We affirm our support for a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution and to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protection applies to unborn children. We support the Life at Conception Act. We oppose the use of public revenues and/or facilities for abortion or abortion-related services. We support the elimination of public funding for organizations that advocate or support abortion. We are resolute regarding the reversal of Roe v. Wade. We affirm our support for the appointment and election of judges at all levels of the judiciary who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We insist that the U.S. Department of Justice needs to prosecute hospitals or abortion clinics for committing induced labor (live birth) abortion. We are opposed to genocide, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. We oppose legislation allowing the withholding of nutrition and hydration to the terminally ill or handicapped. Until our final goal of total Constitutional rights for the unborn child is achieved, we beseech the Texas Legislature in consideration of our state's rights, to enact laws that restrict and regulate abortion including: 1. parental and informed consent; 2. prohibition of abortion for gender selection; 3. prohibition of abortion due to the results of genetic diagnosis 4. licensing, liability, and malpractice insurance for abortionists and abortion facilities; 5. prohibition of financial kickbacks for abortion referrals; 6. prohibition of partial birth and late term abortions; and 7. enactment of any other laws which will advance the right to life for unborn children.

All abortions are a tragedy. All casual abortions, mainly those used as a substitute for effective use of birth control, are a grievous violation of the right to life.

Abortions should be permitted for other reasons, including when the mother's life is endangered or when the fetus is not viable.

Pregnancies resulting from rape, while rare, involve complex moral dilemmas. In those cases, we should respect the privacy of the mother and allow her to decide the best outcome. We can take solace that some studies suggest most rape-induced pregnancies are carried to term.

The judiciary is to interpret and apply laws. Earlier planks also call for judicial restraint. Expecting the judiciary to pursue a social policy agenda is judicial activism, not judicial restraint. Liberalism is still liberal even when it benefits a conservative cause.

Mandating artificial sustenance is a violation of basic human rights. Withholding artificial sustenance may be merited when an unresponsive patient has no no chance of survival. Ultimately, this is a decision for the patient (as previously arranged in a living will) or that patient's spouse or family, not the government.

The mention of handicapped persons is unjustifiable. There is no credible movement to murder handicapped people by withholding nutrition.

On the 7 enumerated points:

  • Point 1 is incorporated into the proposed revision.
  • Points 2, 6, and 7 are redundant with the clearly stated point of the plank.
  • Point 3 is problematic. The genetic diagnosis may confirm a condition that is incompatible with life.
  • Points 4 and 5 are a bad precedent. Abortion facilities should only be regulated commensurate with the risk to mothers, and these laws only creates legal fictions and chicaneries. Focus on these laws creates new bureaucracies and regulations, just like liberals, and also distracts from the main goal of banning most abortions.

Parental Consent

Strengthening Families, Protecting Life and Promoting Health > Protecting Innocent Human Life > Parental Consent
We call on the Legislature to require parental consent for any form of medical care to minors. We urge electoral defeat of judges who through judicial activism seek to nullify the Parental Consent Law by granting bypasses to minor girls seeking abortions. We support the addition of a legislative requirement for the reporting of judicial bypasses to parental consent on an annual basis to the Department of State Health Services and such reports shall be made available to the public. Further, we encourage the Congress to remove confidentiality mandates for minors from family planning service programs operating under Title X of the Public Health Services Act and Medicaid.
(plank deleted)

This plank grossly overshoots any reasonable proposal.

"any form of medical care" is ridiculous: it would require explicit parental endorsement of any act of emergency care, first aid, and simple nurse care at schools.

The rest of this plank is terribly misguided: Our quest to limit abortion must be based on conservative principles. It must not use Democrat tactics like increasing government interference, changing the operation of our justice system, or interfere with parental or patient confidentiality.

The main point of this plank is to address the abortion issue, so it is redundant with the main abortion plank.

Protection of Women's Health

Strengthening Families, Protecting Life and Promoting Health > Protecting Innocent Human Life > Protection of Women's Health
Because of the personal and social pain caused by abortions, we call for the protection of both women and their unborn children from pressure for unwanted abortions. We commend the Texas Legislature for the passage of the Woman's Right to Know Act, a law requiring abortion providers, prior to an abortion, to provide women full knowledge of the physical and psychological risks of abortion, the characteristics of the unborn child, and abortion alternatives. We urge the state government and the Department of State Health Services to ensure that all abortion providers are in compliance with this informed consent law and to ensure that all pregnancy centers and other entities assisting women in crisis pregnancies have equal access to the informational brochures created by the Department of State Health Services.
(plank deleted)

It is a Constitutionally-protected free speech right to convince mothers either way on abortions. We should not take the Democrat option of reducing fundamental rights.

The Legislature in 2003 already required certain information be made available to mothers. See the actual material. We are dangerously close to contradicting Republican opposition to socialized medicine, where bureaucrats will get in the way of doctor-patient relationships.

It is simply a basic expectation that agencies enforce the laws they are required to uphold. Commonsense statements do not need to be written in the platform.

Abortion Clinics

Strengthening Families, Protecting Life and Promoting Health > Protecting Innocent Human Life > Abortion Clinics
We propose legislation that holds abortion clinics to the same health regulations as other medical facilities and that subjects clinics to the same malpractice liabilities. We oppose any public funding for Planned Parenthood or other organizations/facilities that provide, advocate or promote elective abortions.

There is little evidence that abortion is unsafe for women. Therefore, there is no need for increased regulation of the facilities. Wait, aren't we conservatives? Suddenly we believe regulation is the solution to all problems? That is the Democrat approach.

The funding clause is overly broad. It would prevent funding for facilities or organizations that provide legitimate abortions.

Patient Protection

Strengthening Families, Protecting Life and Promoting Health > Protecting Innocent Human Life > Patient Protection
We support patients' rights by calling on the state legislature to amend the Advance Directive Act to establish due process of law and ensure that a physician's decision to deny life saving treatment against the patient's will or advance directive is not due to economic or racial discrimination or discrimination based on disability. We also support the passage of legislation to amend the Advance Directive Act by requiring hospitals intending or threatening to withdraw life-sustaining treatment against the patient's wishes or their advance directive to continue all treatment and care for such patients pending transfer to another facility.
(plank deleted)

This proposal will mandate useless treatment. This pointless waste saves no lives and drives up everyone's health care costs.

Current law provides due process: after the hospital renders a decision, it mandates a 10 day period of continued care to find a new facility. It also allows a state judge to extend this period if it is likely that a willing care provider can be found. This process is generally only started after extensive treatment.

There is no evidence of any death caused by this act other than that which would have already happened due to a terminal state.

Tirhas Habtegiris is the poster child of the counterargument and may be the basis of this law. A poor, black immigrant, her case has been twisted beyond recognition by Democrat-leaning publications like Daily Kos. She was simply a terminally ill, unconscious patient. The facts became unhinged from reality.

Adoption

Strengthening Families, Protecting Life and Promoting Health > Protecting Our Children > Adoption
We support reducing the time, bureaucratic interference, and cost of adoption. We oppose mandatory open adoption.We support reducing the time, bureaucratic interference and cost of adoption. The law should assure mothers of a choice in selecting a traditional home for their children at the time of terminating their rights for adoption. We oppose mandatory open adoption and adoption by homosexuals.

This plank freely creates more mandates to regulate private matters, just like Democrats.

The amount of involvement a parent has in the adoption process should be up to the adoption facility.

The kinds of parents allowed to adopt is a matter for the adoption agency and the biological parent, not for the state.

Social Security

Strengthening Families, Protecting Life and Promoting Health > Assisting Families to Self Sufficiency > Social Security
We demand open acknowledgment of Social Security's true nature: it's a wealth transfer program. In no rational accounting system can money already spent be called an asset or a debt. Therefore, the Social Security Trust Fund is a sham. It that assigns value to prior spending, creating worthless bond assets and inflating national debt calculations far beyond the true debt. We demand an end to the regressive nature of the Social Security payroll tax. This tax must be applied to all income and its percentage reduced to ensure a revenue neutral policy change.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. We insist that Social Security benefits be non-taxable. To protect the Social Security System, its funds should not be co-mingled or spent with general revenues or invested in private or public corporate stock. We support Americans being allowed to purchase directly, and hold directly as part of their tax-deferred retirement and educational savings plans, United States Treasury obligations, personally managed investment accounts, and tax-free equities. Individuals, who qualify for Social Security benefits, including school teachers, should receive all of the benefits for which they are entitled without penalty, for any reason including earned, passive or portfolio income. To protect freedom and privacy, government and private institutions should not require Social Security numbers as ID. Application for Social Security numbers should not be required before the age of consent.

The entire debate needs to be reset to acknolwedge that Social Security is an expensive social program and that the Social Security Trust Fund is an accounting sham that is neither a debt nor an asset.

Fault:

AIDS / HIV

Strengthening Families, Protecting Life and Promoting Health > Empowering Families to Direct Their Health Care > AIDS / HIV
We recognize that the preventable diseases of AIDS and HIV infection represent a threat to human health. We view with compassion all people infected with HIV. We call for appropriate levels of research to find a cure for the disease and ask that the government give full disclosure of the causes. However, because AIDS represents such a severe threat to both the health and economic well-being of our citizens, we insist that the epidemic be de-politicized and that as a society, we take all appropriate steps to protect our citizens from this epidemic. All people, no matter what disease they may contract, are worthy of deep respect as humans; however, behavior has personal and social consequences. We call upon the United States Public Health Service and all states to declare HIV a "dangerous, yet preventable, infectious, communicable disease." It should be legally reported in the same manner as any communicable disease. We oppose the needle exchange and bleach kit programs. We urge the return to the requirement of blood testing in order to obtain a marriage license with the previous reporting responsibilities to prevent the spread of dangerous, infectious, and communicable diseases.
(plank deleted)

This is mostly fluff words, and we do not need to be like Democrats and increase red tape, especially for those wishing to get married.

While HIV is a serious disease, it does not deserve its own plank. It is now well-understood, and HIV research is accepted.

Just like many other diseases transmitted by intimate contact, knowledge on how to prevent infection is commonplace. The platform does not need to preach on this. Research and treatment should be funded just as any other disease, in proportion to its prevalence and potential harm.

Fault:

Textbooks and Curricula

Educating Our Children > Textbooks and Curricula
The SBOE must have sole authority over textbook content and state adoption, and this process must include public hearings. We urge the Legislature to give the State Board of Education authority to establish textbook adoption standards. We oppose the replacement of textbooks by laptops. We support competitive pricing as part of the textbook selection process by independent school districts and oppose standard maximum pricing schemes.
(plank deleted)

Textbook content adoption must have checks and balances. Otherwise textbook standards will entirely be created by an unelected committee.

The anti-technology provision is silly and contradicts other parts of the platform that affirm technology.

Furthermore, by limiting textbook authority to the SBOE, this plank contradicts other planks that call for local control.

Let's be frank about what this is about: some see the SBOE as the best hope for replacing science with religious doctrine or presenting a politically-biased, revisionist view of history. They keep trying but always fail.

Textbook pricing problems can be greatly alleviated by eliminating Texas's unusual, centralized control of textbook adoption and purchasing. Let the free market work, let local control work, let local districts purchase their textbooks like the rest of the nation. Fortunately that has already started.

No Child Left Behind

Educating Our Children > No Child Left Behind
The No Child Left Behind Act has been a massive failure and should be abolished.
(plank deleted)

That is hardly a consensus conservative viewpoint.

Fault:

Sex Education

Educating Our Children > Sex Education
We recognize parental responsibility and authority regarding sex education. We support policies that mandate parental notification and consent before any sex education program is presented to their child. Parents must be given an opportunity to review the material prior to giving their consent. We oppose any sex education other than abstinence until heterosexual marriage.
(plank deleted)

Acceptance of comprehensive sexual education is almost universal. Therefore, prior written consent is usually meaningless red tape. We should not take the Democrat route and keep adding more bureaucratic hassles for parents.

Existing open records laws already allow interested parents access to sexual education curriculum and materials if a district is not forthcoming.

This contradicts other planks that call for maximizing local control.

Safeguarding Our Religious Liberties

Promoting Individual Freedom and Personal Safety > Individual Freedom > Safeguarding Our Religious Liberties
We affirm that the public acknowledgment of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength. We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state.
(plank deleted)

Suggesting a governmental acknowledgement of God is necessary is pointless or dangerous. It either diminishes God to a petty character or it suggests an official government's role in promoting religion.

The idea of the separation of church and state being a myth is a dangerous and radically liberal concept.

Earmarks

Strengthening the Economy > Government Spending > Earmarks
We call upon all Senators and Representatives to take appropriate action to block any bill containing earmarks, to produce bills with wording that will not allow any earmarks to be added after a final vote is taken, and, to shepherd through the two houses of Congress changes in their procedures that will delete the practice of earmarking and any similar technique that allows spending without a consensus approval.
(plank deleted)

The problem is abuse of earmarks, not the earmarks themselves.

"Carve out" earmarks do not increase spending; those earmarks are a critical Congressional check against intransigent bureaucracies. Certainly our motto is not "in bureaucrats we trust"! Trusting bureaucrats is Democrat policy.

This proposal distracts from the underlying problem: unending government expansion. Arresting runaway spending is the only effective way to end the abuse of earmarks.

Earmarks are like money. Neither are evil; how they are used is the issue.

Maintain Home Mortgage Deduction

Strengthening the Economy > Tax Burden > Maintain Home Mortgage Deduction
We support unlimited deduction of home mortgage interest for income taxes.
(plank deleted)

The current state of tax deductability means few middle class Americans get a meaningful homeowner tax deduction.

Unlimited home tax deductions are an indirect wealth transfer benefitting the rich. That is not a conservative value.

Homeowner tax deductions should taper off after some point. There is no pressing economic rationale to federally subsidize mansions.

Fault:

Property Taxes

Strengthening the Economy > Tax Burden > Property Taxes
We favor abolishing property taxes. Until ad valorem taxes are abolished, we recommend that property valuations be fixed for not less than three years following each revaluation. Appraisal Boards should be elected. We urge four board members be elected by commissioners court precinct, and one member elected county-wide.
(plank deleted)

Property taxes are a sound and relevant taxing tool. They are even supported in The Federalist Papers. There is little (any?) mainstream conservative support for abolishing them.

It is unclear how a 3-year-at-a-time freeze would benefit Texans. They don't effectively temper growth, and they risk trapping Texans with high valuations if property values declined substantially in the 3 years after valuation.

Usury Laws

Strengthening the Economy > Business and the Economy > Usury Laws
The Party calls upon Congress to immediately enact usury laws that apply to all creditors on all consumer credit products.
(plank deleted)

Protecting people from themselves is not a conservative value.

Better advice comes from Saturday Night Live: Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford

Fault:

Small Business

Strengthening the Economy > Business and the Economy > Small Business
We urge the federal and state legislatures to mitigate the impact of regulations on small businesses and to ensure that such businesses are adequately represented in the regulatory process.
(plank deleted)

There is nothing in the regulartory process that excludes small business per se.

Mitigating regulatory costs suggest business welfare.

Also, the government should not pick winners and losers in the marketplace. Small and large business should all compete on a fair playing field, and neither should have costs "mitigated."

NASA

Restoring American Sovereignty and Leadership > Domestic > NASA
We support appropriate funding for NASA and the Texas Aerospace Commission. We also support private sector research and development of space technology.
(plank deleted)

This contradicts other planks that call for elimination of all federal programs not in the Constitution's enumerated powers. NASA is not such a power.

It is difficult to place NASA in a platform document for a fiscally conservative Texas party. The greater Houston area clearly benefits from NASA's presence. However, far too much of NASA's work either has no direct or even near-term application that will possibly benefit humanity, and even the parts that do benefit humanity are so collosally expensive to be a grossly inefficient way to develop useful technology. Therefore, much of NASA is a make-work program for nerds. If NASA must be in the platform, the plank must oppose much of NASA's current allocation.

The Texas Aerospace Commission should have been decommissioned per the Texas Sunset Commission because it "is not an efficient use of the State’s limited resources." It is ironic for a platform plank to directly support wasteful spending.

Support of Our Armed Forces

Restoring American Sovereignty and Leadership > Domestic > Support of Our Armed Forces
We support the armed forces. We recommend modernizing and maintaining the equipment and weapons for the safety and effectiveness of our armed forces. While we support a continued policy of an overwhelmingly strong military, we also support fiscal sanity: we demand termination of wasteful or ineffective equipment and weapons programs. We demand that displaced military personnel have their votes counted. We support construction of a Texas veterans museum.We encourage all Americans to support the brave and patriotic men and women of our armed forces. They should be paid a wage sufficient to prevent them from ever needing food stamps and that encourages retention. We strongly recommend that all our armed forces remain commanded only by the Commander-in-Chief and his subordinate commanders; upgrading, modernizing and maintaining the equipment, weapons, and vehicles for the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of our armed forces; the continuation of the all volunteer armed forces, the recruitment and advancement of military personnel based on the needs of the military and the qualifications of the person; disqualification of homosexuals from military service; immediate discharge of HIV positive individuals; separation of men and women in basic training; exclusion of women from ground and submarine combat roles; provision of full military honors for burial of veterans; restoration of all veteran benefits without an offset for disability pay; health and disability benefits equal to active military for national guard and reserves; passage of a "new" G.I Bill that fully funds expanded educational scholarship opportunities for honorably separated Veterans; restoration of full lifetime health benefits to retired military and their families; and assurance that military and civilian voters displaced by their service be afforded full opportunity for their votes to be counted; and the expeditious construction of a Veterans Museum in Texas.

This is a terrible, unfocused plank that is a grab bag of random wishes and left-wing government expansionism.

Wages are an economic issue in every industry, including the military. If wages are too low, they will show up in poor recruitment and retention numbers. Given good recruiting numbers, there is little evidence of insufficient wages.

There is no credible movement to:

  • Reassign commandment of the armed forces away from the President.
  • Move away from a volunteer force.
  • Recruit to fill ranks with unqualified people.

The issue of women in combat roles is an internal issue for the military and does not deserve mention here. If it comes down to it, women may decline to serve in the military if they do not want a combat role.

These are in fact left-wing and remarkably expensive policies:

  • Removing disability pay offset: A lack of an offset for other disability pay is unfair: you collect twice for one disability!
  • Full health benefits for National Guard and reservists: U.S. health benefits are typically a function of employment. National Guard and reservists do not work when they are not on duty, so it makes little sense to extend health coverage to off-duty times.
  • Lifetime health benefits: Just like with any other employer-sponsored health plan, military health plan should terminate upon end of employment.

It is counterproductive and pointless to have a witch hunt for homosexuals.

There is zero evidence that the military is mishandling HIV.

Separation of men and women in basic training is counterproductive. They will have to work together in the field. Why create artificial barriers?

The G.I. Bill provision is accomplished. The current bill pays up to $47,556 in educational benefits over a maximum of 36 months.

This plank is wordy. For example:

  • "Upgrading" and "modernizing" are the same thing.
  • Vehicles are a type of equipment.
  • Something that is safe and efficient is also effective.