TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Republicans emphatically approved a toughly worded party platform at their national convention Tuesday that would ban all abortions and gay marriages, reshape Medicare into a voucher-like program and cut taxes to energize the economy and create jobs.
The document opens by warning that while the American Dream has long been of equal opportunity for everyone, "Today that American Dream is at risk." It pledges that the GOP will "begin anew, with profound changes in the way government operates; the way it budgets, taxes and regulates."
Both parties routinely approve platforms at their conventions every four years, meant to encapsulate their principles and goals. Much of their details are customarily ignored when it comes to actually governing.
Even so, a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found more people interested in the GOP platform than in the upcoming acceptance speeches by presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan. The survey found that 52 percent said they were interested in learning about the Republican platform, compared to 44 percent interested in Romney's speech and 46 percent interested in Ryan's.
"This ambitious blueprint projects a sea change in the way that government works," said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who led the party's platform committee. "It offers a solution for workers without jobs, families without savings and neighborhoods without hope."
Democrats lambasted the platform and immediately sought to tie it to Romney, who has differed from some of its details. For instance, he has said he would allow abortions in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is threatened.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is among several Democrats in Tampa trying to get their party's views heard, called the platform's stances on abortion and immigration "draconian" and "extreme" and blamed Romney. "What you have seen from him is that he does one thing, he says another," Villaraigosa said. "He has taken one position after another, time and again you know, and you can't have it both ways."
Here are key elements of the Republican platform:
"We reject the use of taxation to redistribute income, fund unnecessary or ineffective programs or foster the crony capitalism that corrupts both politicians and corporations."
It says a Republican administration would extend the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, pending reform of the tax code. It says the party would strive to eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains altogether for lower- and middle-income taxpayers. It also would work to repeal the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax.
The party backs constitutional amendments to balance the federal budget and require a super majority for any tax increases.
It states that a Republican president on his first day in office would use his waiver authority to halt progress in carrying out the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) and that Republican victories in November would guarantee that PPACA is never implemented. It proposes a Republican plan based on improving health care quality and lowering costs and a system that promotes the free market and gives consumers more choice.
MEDICARE and MEDICAID:
The platform pledges to move both Medicare and Medicaid away from "the current unsustainable defined-benefit entitlement model to a fiscally sound defined-contribution model." It supports a Medicare transition to a premium-support model with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee's choice. Age eligibility in Medicare must be made more realistic in light of longer life spans.
Medicaid services for low income people would be transformed into a block grant program in which the states would be given the flexibility to determine the best programs for their residents.
The platform affirms the rights of states and the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriage. It backs a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
It states that the best jobs program is economic growth. "We do not offer yet another made-in-Washington package of subsidies and spending to create temporary or artificial jobs."
The GOP pledges to reform the tax code to make it easier for businesses to generate more capital and create more jobs.
"Voter fraud is a political poison," the platform says. It praises legislation to require photo identification for voting and to prevent election fraud.
The party says it opposes legislation intended to restrict Second Amendment rights by limiting the capacity of clips or magazines or otherwise restoring the assault weapons ban passed during the Clinton presidency.
The party states that "the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed." It opposes using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or to fund organizations that perform or advocate abortions. It says the party will not fund or subsidize health care that includes abortion coverage.
The party is committed to domestic energy independence and an "all-of-the-above" energy policy, backing the exploration and development of the Outer Continental Shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. It criticizes the Obama administration for picking winners and losers in the energy sector and expresses support for new coal-fired plants that will be low-cost, environmentally responsible and efficient.
It adds: "We will end the EPA's war on coal and encourage the increased safe development in all regions of the nation's coal resources." It calls on Congress to prohibit the EPA from moving forward with new greenhouse gas regulations "that will harm the nation's economy and threaten millions of jobs over the next quarter century."
The platform makes clear that "we oppose any form of amnesty for those who, by intentionally violating the law, disadvantage those who have obeyed it." It demands that the Justice Department halt lawsuits against Arizona, Alabama and other states that have enacted tough measures against illegal immigrants. It says federal funding should be denied to universities that provide in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants. It advocates making English the official national language.
Republicans support consumer choice, including home schooling, local innovations such as single-sex classes, full-day school hours and year-round schools. It says Republicans renew their call for replacing family planning programs for teens "with abstinence education which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior."
The platform says Republicans are "the party of peace through strength" and support the concept of American exceptionalism — "the conviction that our country holds a unique place and role in human history." It criticizes the current administration for its weak positions toward such countries as North Korea, China and Iran and its reductions in military spending. The Republican national military strategy "restores as a principal objective the deterrence using the full spectrum of our military capabilities."
Alan Fram reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Peter Prengaman contributed to this report.