How the Party Platforms Differ

How the Party Platforms Differ

By Published: September 4, 2012

The platform that the Democratic Party plans to approve Tuesday at its convention in Charlotte, N.C., offers a stark contrast to the platform that Republicans approved last week at their convention in Tampa, Fla., especially on social issues like abortion rights and same-sex marriage, the future of entitlements like Medicare and Social Security, and labor policy and taxes. Here is a look at some of the crucial differences.

Robyn Beck/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A worker checked the stage at the Time Warner Cable Arena before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday.


The Democratic platform states: “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”

The Republican platform supports the passage of a Constitutional amendment banning abortion, and states that “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”


For the first time, the Democratic platform supports same-sex marriage. “We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples,” it says. But the platform also tries to avoid collision with religious groups that may oppose the measure. “We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.”

The Republican platform reaffirmed its support for “a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” And it called state court decisions redefining marriage “an assault on the foundations of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values.”


The Democratic platform claims that the Republican budget plan to reshape the program “would end Medicare as we know it.” The platform says that: “Democrats adamantly oppose any efforts to privatize or voucherize Medicare; unlike our opponents we will not ask seniors to pay thousands of dollars more every year while they watch the value of their Medicare benefits evaporate. Democrats believe that Medicare is a sacred compact with our seniors.”

The Republican platform says it will “save Medicare by modernizing it.” It calls for moving Medicare and Medicaid “away from their current unsustainable defined-benefit entitlement model to a fiscally sound defined-contribution model.” Their proposed change would affect those under 55. “While retaining the option of traditional Medicare in competition with private plans,” the platform says, “we call for a transition to a premium-support model for Medicare, with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee’s choice.”


The Democrats pledge in their platform to “find a solution to protect Social Security for future generations” and to “block Republican efforts to subject Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market through privatization.”

The Republican platform envisions the creation of private accounts as “supplements” to the Social Security system: “While no changes should adversely affect any current or near-retiree, comprehensive reform should address our society’s remarkable medical advances in longevity and allow younger workers the option of creating their own personal investment accounts as supplements to the system.”


The Democratic platform states that “Democrats believe that the right to organize and collectively bargain is a fundamental American value; every American should have a voice on the job and a chance to negotiate for a fair day’s pay after a hard day’s work. We will continue to fight for the right of all workers to organize and join a union.” And the platform says that “we oppose the attacks on collective bargaining that Republican governors and state legislatures are mounting in states around the country.”

The Republican platform states: “We support the right of states to enact right-to-work laws and encourage them to do so to promote greater economic liberty. Ultimately, we support the enactment of a national right-to-work law to promote worker freedom and to promote greater economic liberty.” And the platform says: “We salute the Republican governors and state legislators who have saved their states from fiscal disaster by reforming their laws governing public employee unions. We urge elected officials across the country to follow their lead in order to avoid state and local defaults on their obligations and the collapse of services to the public.”


The Democratic platform says that President Obama will “extend key tax relief for working families and those paying for college, while asking the wealthiest and corporations to pay their fair share.” It says “we are committed to reforming our tax code so that it is fairer and simpler, creating a tax code that lives up to the Buffett Rule so no millionaire pays a smaller share of his or her income in taxes than middle-class families do.”

The Republican platform calls for extending the Bush-era tax cuts, reducing marginal tax rates across the board by 20 percent in a revenue-neutral manner and eliminating taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for lower and middle-income taxpayers. “Taxes, by their very nature, reduce a citizen’s freedom,” the Republican platform says.


The Democratic platform states: “We know that global climate change is one of the biggest threats of this generation — an economic, environmental and national security catastrophe in the making. We affirm the science of climate change, commit to significantly reducing the pollution that causes climate change and know we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits.”

The Republican platform dropped its section on “addressing climate change responsibly,” which was part of its 2008 platform. The new platform states that it opposes any cap-and-trade policy and criticizes the president’s national security strategy, stating that it “subordinates our national security interests to environmental, energy and international health issues, and elevates ‘climate change’ to the level of a ‘severe threat’ equivalent to foreign aggression.”


The Democratic platform states that “President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security,” and notes that the president has increased security aid to Israel every year since taking office, providing nearly $10 billion over the past three years. But the platform dropped language from the 2008 platform that stated that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.”

The Republican platform states that “we affirm our unequivocal commitment to Israel’s security and will ensure that it maintains a qualitative edge in military technology over any potential adversaries.” And it continues to explicitly support Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying “we envision two democratic states — Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and Palestine — living in peace and security.”

Author: AFGE Local 704

Representing over 900 bargaining unit employees working at the U.S. EPA Region 5 Offices in Chicago, Ann Arbor, MI and Westlake, OH.

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