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I find it a bit ironic that leading Democratic spokespeople are now downplaying the importance of their party’s platform, particularly since they spent a good portion of last week talking about the “extreme” Republican platform.

The truth is this election, and every election, is all about the platform. A platform is to the candidate what the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are to the United States of America. The platform is what each candidate is all about, what he supports and promises to do if elected to assume (or continue in) the role of the nation’s chief executive.

To be sure, there is a lot of political rhetoric in both platforms and some baseless assertions that serve as red meat for the party faithful.

That said, here are the things you need to know:

Budget and taxes

Republicans support a constitutional amendment requiring a super-majority for any tax increase. They want a cap limiting spending to the historical average percentage of GDP.

Republicans call for extending the Bush tax cuts, reduce marginal rates across-the-board by 20 percent and cutting out deductions that essentially benefit the wealthy. They will eliminate the death tax and the alternative minimum tax. They will eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for middle- and lower-income Americans.

Democrats will raise taxes on individuals and businesses filing as individuals showing incomes over $250,000 per year. They will raise taxes on the “wealthy,” those living off interest and investments.

Federal workforce

Republicans pledge to cut the federal workforce by 10 percent and bring federal employees’ pay and benefits back in line with the private sector. Democrats do not address these issues directly.

Regulations

Republicans call for automatic sunset for each regulation and will require congressional approval for all new costly regulations. Democrats simply call for a review.

Energy

Republicans oppose “any and all cap-and-trade legislation” to curtail greenhouse gases. They demand Congress “take quick action to prohibit the EPA from moving forward with new greenhouse gas regulations.” They pledge to “let the free market and the public’s preferences determine the industry outcomes.” They will approve the Keystone XL Pipeline and streamline permitting for the development of other oil and natural gas pipelines. They support expanding nuclear energy.

Democrats acknowledge the boom in oil and gas drilling. However, the party still pledges allegiance to the theory of human-induced global warming (climate change). They want more taxes and regulations to combat it.

Health care

Republicans will repeal Obamacare and replace it with a plan that uses market-based solutions. They will reform Medicare by giving those under 55 a choice of staying in Medicare or taking a voucher. They will block-grant Medicaid to the states and insure “No health-care professional or organization should ever be required to perform, provide for, withhold, or refer for a medical service against their conscience.” They will pursue tort reform.

Democrats are committed to Obamacare and oppose block-grants to states.

Education

Republicans support state and local control of schools and see “consumer rights” – choice – as the most important driving force for reforming our schools. Democrats oppose any choice that includes private schools.

Illegal immigration

Republicans oppose amnesty. They will enact humane procedures to encourage illegal aliens to return home voluntarily, while enforcing the law against those who overstay their visas. They will drop the lawsuits against states that enforce immigration laws.

Democrats support “comprehensive immigration reform,” code for amnesty. They will not deport most illegal aliens and sue states that enforce immigration laws.

Voting

Republicans support photo ID requirements. Democrats call them “unnecessary restrictions.”

Marriage

Republicans will defend marriage between a man and a woman. Democrats call for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Abortion and euthanasia

Republicans believe “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life.” They are against federal funding of abortion. They oppose the withdrawal of care from people with disabilities, the elderly and infirm.

Democrats “unequivocally support Roe v. Wade.” They also support taxpayer-funded abortion and birth control.

God and Israel

After taking a lot of heat over dropping God from their platform, the Democratic leadership offered an amendment, over strong objections from many delegates on the floor, to reuse the phrase “God-given potential” from the 2008 platform. They also inserted a phrase recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Republicans leave no doubt they stand with Israel on this question and mention God 12 times in the 2012 platform.

Nevertheless, we are still being told by Democrat pundits that the platform on which Barack Obama will run is no big deal. Oh!

Could it be that they are worried that voters might read the party platforms and discover which one really is extreme?

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