WASHINGTON -- Republicans convene in Tampa, Fla., this week not just to formally coronate Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate, but to set the agenda they hope to enact if granted power in the November elections.
While there are differences between them some want to ban all abortions, for example, while others want to allow exceptions in cases of rape Republicans generally will propose an agenda they say will jumpstart a weak economy, preserve traditional culture and assert American power and ideals abroad.
The partys formal platform will be adopted by the Republican National Convention on Monday. Its a good guide to what the Republicans want to do, but its hardly a binding contract on any one candidate, whether its Romney at the top of the ticket or candidates for the Senate or the House of Representatives.
In recent presidential campaigns, the party platform has been meaningful in its meaninglessness to the candidates, who place a larger premium on their own political stances. In 1996, for example, Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole said he hadnt read the party platform and doubted that he would have time to do so.
This year, the Republican platform will include abortion language adopted last week that reaffirms the partys objection to legalized abortion, with no mention of exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Romney opposes abortion but supports exceptions for rape, incest, and if the womans life is in danger.
As far as the details of some of these things, like exception for rape or life of the mother, these are not uncommon differences that candidates have, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said last week. This is the platform of the Republican Party, not the platform of Mitt Romney. . . . That all being said, though, these guys are proud pro-life candidates and were a proud pro-life party.
Still, Romney does embrace most of the party platform. I dont think therell be a lot of space between the platform and him, said Tom Rath, a Romney political adviser.
And between his policy proposals and the party platform, Americans can start to flesh out what Republicans would do. Heres a look at where Romney and the Republican Party stand on key issues:
TAXES: Romney calls for cutting marginal income tax rates 20 percent across the board and eliminating taxes on dividends, interest and capital gains for taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of less than $200,000. Hed lower the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. Hes provided no details on how hed pay for the tax cuts.
DEFICIT: Romney wants to limit spending to 20 percent of the total economy, or the gross domestic product, instead of last years 24 percent. That can be accomplished by increasing the size of the economy or by reducing spending. He advocates across-the-board 5 percent cuts in non-security discretionary spending which includes many domestic programs but excludes entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security. Hed cap spending below 2008 levels.
SOCIAL SECURITY/MEDICARE: Romney proposes slowly increasing the Social Security retirement age and slowing the benefit growth rate for wealthier recipients. He wants no change in Medicare for current beneficiaries or those nearing retirement. For the rest, Romney supports a premium support plan that would give Medicare recipients benefits for them to buy insurance coverage. Some congressional Republican candidates, however, are distancing themselves from Romney and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryans Medicare approach.