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Originally published August 28, 2012 at 5:01 PM | Page modified August 29, 2012 at 10:59 AM

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GOP approves platform that would change Medicare

The platform also proposes a constitutional amendment to ban abortion and affirms marriage as "the union of one man and one woman."

A glance at key items in GOP platform

TAXES: Extends the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, pending reform of the tax code. Eliminates taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains altogether for lower- and middle-income taxpayers. Repeals the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax. Supports constitutional amendments to balance the federal budget and require a super majority for any tax increases.

MARRIAGE: Affirms the rights of states and the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriage. Backs a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

VOTER INTEGRITY: Supports legislation to require photo identification for voting and to prevent election fraud.

GUN CONTROL: Opposes legislation intended to restrict Second Amendment rights by limiting the capacity of clips or magazines or otherwise restoring the assault-weapon ban passed during the Clinton presidency.

ABORTION: Opposes using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or to fund organizations that perform or advocate abortions. No funding or subsidizing health care that includes abortion coverage.

ENERGY: Commits to domestic energy independence and an "all-of-the-above" energy policy, backs the exploration and development of the Outer Continental Shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Calls on Congress to prohibit the EPA from moving forward with new greenhouse-gas regulations.

MEDICARE and MEDICAID: Supports a Medicare transition to a premium-support model with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee's choice. Raises age eligibility for Medicare in light of longer life spans. Transforms Medicaid services for low-income people into a block-grant program for states.

IMMIGRATION: Opposes amnesty for those who have intentionally violated the law. Demands that the Justice Department halt lawsuits against states that have enacted tough measures against illegal immigrants. Denies federal funding for universities that provide in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants. Makes English the official national language.

HEALTH CARE: A Republican president on his first day in office would use his waiver authority to halt progress in carrying out the health-care act pushed through by President Obama, and Republican victories in November would guarantee that the act is never implemented. Proposes improving health-care quality and lowering costs and a system that promotes the free market and gives consumers more choice.

EDUCATION: Support consumer choice, including home schooling, local innovations such as single-sex classes, full-day school hours and year-round schools. Replaces family-planning programs for teens with abstinence education.

DEFENSE: Supports the concept of American exceptionalism. Criticizes the current administration for its weak positions toward North Korea, China and Iran and its reductions in military spending. Strategy "restores as a principal objective the deterrence using the full spectrum of our military capabilities."

The Associated Press

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Well there you have it. The Republican platform - out on the table. If you support it... MORE
The private health insurance market is less efficient than Medicare and much less... MORE
Horrifying. The GOP is absolutely embarrassing. MORE

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Republican National Convention adopted a 2012 party platform that advocates changing how U.S. senior citizens receive health care by shifting Medicare from a defined-benefit entitlement to a defined-contribution plan.

The platform also proposes a constitutional amendment to ban abortion without stipulating any exceptions for ending pregnancies caused by rape or to save a woman's life. It also affirms marriage as "the union of one man and one woman."

The platform would turn administration of the Medicaid program for 54 million low-income Americans over to the states. The outlines of the Medicare overhaul, which wouldn't affect the 47 million current beneficiaries or anyone older than 55, are in line with the proposal to revamp the program by the party's likely vice-presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan.

"This ambitious blueprint projects a sea change in the way government works," said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the platform panel's chairman. States would "take center stage in the long-overdue renewal of our American society" through "reforming Medicaid and welfare programs and managing environmental programs locally."

The 2012 platform was adopted on a voice vote Tuesday as the convention opened in Tampa.

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 Ryan. The survey found that 52 percent said they were interested in learning about the Republican platform, compared with 44 percent interested in Romney's speech and 46 percent interested in Ryan's.

Calling Medicare "the largest driver of future debt," the platform proposes giving senior citizens financial support, adjusted by income, to purchase private insurance. Such private plans would compete with the traditional Medicare program. To achieve further savings, the current Medicare eligibility age of 65 should be "made more realistic" because of longer life expectancy, the platform says.

The platform also calls for turning many of the functions of the Transportation Security Administration over to private businesses to provide security at U.S. airports.

In a boost for big coal-production states like Wyoming, Illinois and West Virginia, the platform advocates development of "state-of-the-art" coal-fired power plants and the new coal gasification and "coal-to-liquid" fuels.

The party affirmed its commitment to building the Keystone XL pipeline, which TransCanada proposes carry tar-sands crude from Alberta to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. The Obama administration is reviewing a revised proposal after the president rejected the original route, which raised concerns it would damage environmentally fragile regions of Nebraska.

Republicans "respect the states' proven ability" to regulate hydraulic fracturing to tap oil and natural-gas resources, the platform said.

On abortion, the platform advocates legislation to bar women from terminating a pregnancy for the purpose of selecting a child's gender.

The constitutional amendment to ban abortion is a reiteration of the Republican Party's longstanding position. The issue was thrust to the forefront of the political debate after Todd Akin, a Missouri congressman running for the Senate, said he opposed making an exception for rape because "legitimate rape" rarely leads to pregnancy.

The platform calls for a permanent ban on all federal financing of abortions; such a prohibition is enacted as a policy restriction to spending measures. The platform also advocates the end of any government subsidies for private health plans that provide abortions, although the party wouldn't do away with tax benefits for companies that sponsor such coverage.

In a bow to supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul's presidential candidacy, the platform calls for a commission to study the feasibility of returning the dollar to the gold standard. A similar commission created by President Reagan "advised against such a move," the platform noted.

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."

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