1. Right to Life Amendment:
I would amend the U.S. Constitution and provide blanket protection to all unborn children from the moment of conception by prohibiting any state or federal law that denies the personhood of the unborn. Likewise, I have also introduced the Right to Life Act, which would legally define "personhood" as the moment of conception and, therefore, guarantee all constitutional rights and protections, including life, to the unborn without utilizing a constitutional amendment.
2. Federal laws relating to abortion and human life protections (e.g, embryonic research and end of life, etc.):
There are several areas of federal law that require human life protections. I have cosponsored the following pieces of legislation:
The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which would amend the federal criminal code to prohibit transporting a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion, if this action circumvents the minor's native state's parental involvement law. I voted in favor of this bill when it passed the House 270-157 on April 27, 2005.
The Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2005, which would prohibit and criminalize efforts at reproductive cloning.
The Parent's Right to Know Act of 2005, which would prohibit federal funding to carry out federal family planning programs in which service providers in the project knowingly provides contraceptive drugs or devices to a minor, except in specific circumstances.
The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act of 2006, which would require abortion providers to notify women who want to have an abortion 20 weeks after fertilization that the evidence suggests their unborn child feels pain and they may request anesthesia for their unborn child in order to reduce or eliminate the pain.
I have also supported human life protection efforts with the following votes:
I supported the Fetus Farming Prohibition Act, banning the practice of fetal farming, the creation of embryos specifically for the purposes of scientific research.
I voted in favor of the Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act, which would direct federal funding to stem-cell research that does not rely on embryos.
I voted against the Stem-Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, which would have directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct and support research that utilizes human embryonic stem-cells, regardless of the date on which the stem-cells were derived from a human embryo.
I voted against amendments offered to the National Defense Authorization Act permitting taxpayer funded military facilities overseas to be used to support abortions on demand for military women and military dependents.
I voted against amendments providing UN funding to groups that support coercive abortion programs.
3. Balanced Budget
I support a balanced federal budget, with additional revenue provided by economic growth, not increased taxes. Further, I support limiting growth in non-defense areas.
4. Areas of federal spending that will be priority for reductions and increases:
A balanced federal budget is a priority for our national economic health and long-term prosperity. Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have fought for federal spending to provide for our national and homeland security, as directed by the U.S. Constitution, and funding increases in both of these arenas will be necessary in the future to keep our families safe and secure
Budgetary savings must be identified through efficiency reforms throughout the federal government. Furthermore, we must aggressively attack the creation and funding of duplicative federal programs, many of which simply do not perform but cost taxpayers millions of their hard-earned dollars. According to Office of Management and Budget, 28% of federal programs are either ineffective or have results that are not demonstrated. Reforming, combining or eliminating those programs remains among my highest legislative priorities.
5. Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment:
I believe the current decisional law on the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment is inconsistent and flawed. For example, the recent decisions on the Ten Commandment display, where the Supreme Court ruled that in Texas it is appropriate to have a Ten Commandments monument on the courthouse grounds, but in Kentucky the same display violates the Establishment Clause. The Founding Fathers developed these clauses to guarantee the right of all citizens to worship and to protect the church from the state, not to strip religion from the everyday lives of Americans.
Another example of where the Establishment Clause has been abused by activist judges is the case surrounding the Mt. Soledad Veterans' Memorial in San Diego California. Knowing that the Memorial, which incorporates a cross, did not violate the federal Establishment Clause, the courts applied the more restrictive state Establishment Clause and ordered the cross removed. I led the successful fight to protect the long-standing veterans' memorial from being destroyed through a series of legislative step involving the transfer of the memorial grounds from state to federal control.
6. Kelo property rights/eminent domain decision by the Supreme Court:
I am deeply concerned with the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision greatly broadening local government's use of eminent domain in Kelo vs. New London and believe it is important that Congress protect the property rights of private landowners and curb the government from excessive regulatory takings. It is for this reason that I voted in favor of expressing the grave disapproval of the House of Representatives regarding the majority opinion in the Kelo case.
Additionally, I cosponsored H.R. 3268 (Gingrey-GA), the Eminent Domain Tax Relief Act of 2005, which abolished the capital gains tax on private property taken by the government through eminent domain. I also voted in favor of a legislative amendment Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ) offered to H.R. 3058, the FY2006 Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, prohibiting federal funding from being used to improve or construct infrastructure support on lands acquired through the use of eminent domain of private property for private development.
7. A federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman:
I firmly believe that marriage is one of the most important social institutions we have and that it is central to promoting family values and raising children in a healthy environment. It is for this reason that I cosponsored and voted in favor of H.J. Res. 88 (Musgrave-CO), which proposes an amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring that marriage in the United States shall consist solely of the union of a man and a woman. I firmly believe that children need the unique influence offered by both a father and a mother.
8. Parental rights:
I strongly believe Congress needs to remain actively involved in ensuring parents' rights are protected and I have significant concerns with recent judicial rulings recognizing "de-facto" or "psychological" parents, individuals who assist in raising a child. These types of decisions undermine parental authority, allowing any adult with an association with the child to make parental claims.
9. 2nd Ammendment
It seems every election year, some liberal politician dons an NRA cap and grabs a shotgun for a hunting photo-op, as if that means they support our right as Americans to keep and bear arms. I, myself, thoroughly enjoy hunting, having just recently spent a great weekend hunting elk in Arizona. But, the second amendment is not about hunting. It is about the right of you and me to be secure in our homes. We must vigorously defend against all attempts to chip away at the Second Amendment. You know as well as I do that there is one thing criminals prefer over any other: unarmed victims.
10. Philosophy of judicial appointments:
I support people with good judgment, proven values, a belief in God, and a heart for the least of us, including the unborn. I believe it is important that those sitting on the bench understand that they have a responsibility to strictly interpret our nation's laws and not legislate from the bench with their own political or social agenda.
11. Sexual orientation as a protected class under federal civil rights laws and hate crimes:
In the past, Congress has considered legislation that would allow the federal government to assist local authorities in the investigation and prosecution of crimes motivated by a person's race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, or religion. Current law allows the federal government to intervene in cases deemed hate crimes only if they occur on federal property, or if the victim was participating in one of six very specific activities, such as voting.
I have always voted against this type of legislation because I firmly believe that the use of violence against any innocent person is wrong, regardless of that individual's race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation. Despite the intentions of these bills, I sincerely doubt that increased federal involvement in these state issues would have any significant effect on these crimes. If crimes are prioritized based on the victims' status, we threaten the very tenet of equal protection under the law that is the foundation of our legal system. Instead, all violations of the law should be dealt with in a manner that delivers justice on behalf of the victims and their families. I support strict punishment for heinous crimes, like murder, regardless of the social circumstances. The idea espoused in so called "hate crime" legislation that some murders are less serious than others rebukes common sense.
12. Enforcement of federal obscenity laws and broadcast decency:
I voted in favor of the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005, which increases the penalties for violations by television and radio broadcasters who transmit obscene, indecent, and profane material on public airwaves.
I also have concerns with the questionable material our children continue to have through the Internet and other entertainment products. I believe those distributing harmful material to young people should be held responsible. As a result, I drafted legislation, the Parent's Empowerment Act, which will allow parents to sue any person who knowingly sells or distributes a product that contains material that is harmful to minors, empowering parents to protect their children from the predatory practices of pornographic distributors.
I believe gambling is a serious problem in today's society, every much as addictive and destructive as alcohol and illegal drugs. As a result, this problem is equally deserving of as much attention in terms of federal policy. Unfortunately, those individuals who spend most of their money gambling are the ones who have the least amount to lose, often choosing to gamble instead of taking care of their families.
I also believe Internet gambling has become a problem as serious as traditional casino gambling. Law enforcement agencies have indicated that this activity serves as a vehicle for money laundering activities that can be exploited by terrorists and organized crime. It is for this reason that I cosponsored H.R. 4777 (Goodlatte-VA) which will amend federal law and bring the current prohibition against wireline interstate gambling up to date with the Internet and other new technologies. At the same time, the bill will provide additional tools to law enforcement to combat illegal gambling.
14. National Endowment of the Arts:
I have significant concerns with federal funding provided to the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). As many Americans know, the NEA provides direct grants to art institutions, programs of national significance and a few limited individual grants for literature and music fellowships. I believe the creative arts can play an important role in the expressive and cultural development of our society. At the same time, however, I strongly oppose using these federal funds for any group that produces material that has questionable artistic, scientific or political value. For that reason, I have consistently voted against funding increases for the NEA and I have supported, and will continue to support, efforts to transfer NEA funds to school art programs.
15. Goals for the Department of Education:
I believe we can educate students more effectively by returning school curriculum prerogatives to the states, local communities and, most importantly, to the family. State agencies charged with conducting education policies do not need expensive and inefficient mandates from a federal agency and I support streamlining the responsibilities of the U.S. Department of Education toward a goal of working in cooperation with local and state governments to meet local and state learning levels.
16. Educational choice (vouchers, tax credits); home schooling; and the freedom of private and home education from federal regulation:
I support taking the actions necessary to strengthen our public educational system and school vouchers are a great opportunity to provide students and their families with additional educational choices. According to national studies, a significant percentage of high school students have difficulty reading at a proficient level, test well below the international average in math and science, and lack basic knowledge in history. Clearly, parents have a reason to be concerned. Many Americans support innovative plans that address our current education shortcomings and I believe school vouchers are an effective way of achieving this goal.
Taking into consideration that approximately 2 million children are taught at home, it is important that we make every effort to ensure these students have the same access and opportunities to federal benefits, such as financial aid, as those who attend public school.
Families and Taxes
17. Current tax code and its penalty on married couples:
The current tax code unfairly imposes a penalty on married couples and I believe legislative action is needed immediately. In 2001, Congress passed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (EGTRRA) to, among other things, provide marriage tax penalty relief to America's working married couples. These changes are phased in over several years while, at the same time, all of the changes in EGTRRA will expire after 2010. Taking into consideration that the current tax code has a sunset on the marriage penalty solution, it is imperative that Congress pass legislation to make this provision permanent. It is not only equitable, but prevents sending a message that married couples should be treated differently than singles.
18. Alternative Minimum Tax:
I firmly support reform of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and believe it is the most pressing individual income tax issue facing Americans today. This tax regulation was created in 1969 in an effort to close certain loopholes and ensure that a small number of extremely high-income taxpayers paid a fair share of the federal income tax. However, the lack of indexation of the AMT, coupled with the recent reductions in regular income taxes, has greatly expanded the potential impact of this tax. Absent congressional action, the AMT will "take back" most of the tax relief granted through income tax reform.
As it is currently applied, the AMT represses economic growth and punishes those who are working hard to provide for their families. Temporary increases in the AMT exemption amounts enacted as part of the President Bush's 2002 tax-reduction package are scheduled to expire at the end of 2006. If this occurs, the number of taxpayers subject to the AMT will jump dramatically from 3 million in 2004 to 21 million in 2006 and over 41 million in 2013. Families with large numbers of children will be especially hard hit. I support Congress passing legislation making increases in the AMT exemption amounts permanent.
19. Changes in the tax code I would implement to help families:
I believe our current tax code is full of antiquated policies that were installed for a specific reason and for a specific time, but never removed. For example, the Federal Telephone Excise Tax was first enacted in 1898 to help pay for the Spanish-American War when telephones were considered a "luxury." While this tax was initially applied to long-distance service, it was later extended to general phone service in 1941 and currently applies to all telecommunication services, which include standard and wireless telephone services, as well as computer Internet connections. This tax unfairly targets Americans that rely on telephone service as a primary means of communication. For those on fixed incomes, including our nation's elderly and disabled, it is often difficult to avoid excessive telecommunication charges, especially in today's information age.
These types of taxes are indicative of a much larger problem; the current tax code is unnecessarily confusing and complicated, causing taxpayers to spend more than six billion hours every year on paperwork and other bureaucratic requirements. On average, $200 billion a year goes uncollected in federal taxes and taxpayers pay in excess of $5 billion a year to identify and prosecute tax evaders. Clearly, major tax reform is necessary. I have consistently supported efforts to reform the tax code, making it simpler, fairer, and more growth oriented. By replacing our current convoluted and fraud-ridden system with more simplified tax requirements, I believe we will be able to meet the dual goals of providing core government services and returning much needed income back to our families.
20. Major foreign policy objectives and philosophy:
I believe in peace through strength. I believe in a policy that supports U.S. interests by spreading freedom within the limits of U.S. capability. I also believe in ending the one-way street on trade.
21. Advancement of human rights and religious freedom:
The greatest protection of human rights in this decade has been the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Religious freedom is part and parcel of any free society the U.S. stands up.
22. The nation of Israel and the needed steps in the Middle East:
As House Armed Services Chairman, I recognize Israel as America's most important ally in the Middle East region. As a result, I strongly support Israel's right to exist and efforts to defend itself and I have consistently voted in favor of providing federal funding for Israel's defense systems, including missile defense.
I also strongly support U.S. efforts to establish free societies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
International Law & Institutions
23. Changing our relationship with the United Nations:
I would increase the burden-sharing by member nations other than the U.S. In addition, I voted in favor of H.R. 2745 (Hyde-IL), the Henry J. Hyde United Nations Reform Act of 2005, implementing significant reforms that will create a more accountable and focused United Nations.
24. The use of UN Conventions or other treaties to control domestic matters such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:
Treaties that infringe on basic U.S. sovereignty should be rejected while international treaties that reign in tyrants may be of value.
For many years, I have been concerned with the United Nations' programs that promote abortion as an acceptable alternative in family planning efforts. Since 1973, U.S. law has prohibited the direct use of federal funds to pay for abortions overseas and I have supported restrictions, known as Mexico City Policy, which prohibit federal funding to international family planning groups that provide abortion or counseling services.
In 2001, President Bush directed the United States Agency for International Development Administrator to reinstate, in full, all of the requirements of the Mexico City Policy. I support President Bush's decision and firmly believe that foreign non-governmental agencies should not receive population aid from the U.S. for the purpose of advocating abortion as an option for family planning. The policy prohibits such funding unless foreign government agencies certify in writing that they will not perform or actively promote this practice.
I have also supported the Bush Administration's decision to withhold funding from the United Nations Population Fund Agency (UNFPA) as a result of their Chinese family planning program. After consistently calling on China to end its program of coercive abortions, officials from the State Department were sent to review the situation in China and determine if the UNFPA is complicit in the coercive population control program. In 2004, then Secretary of State Colin Powell sent his report to Congress, confirming China's violation of the Kemp-Kasten law, which prohibits the United States from providing taxpayer funds to any program that engages in coercive population control policies.
Empowering the Poor
25. Empowerment of the poor and the alleviation of poverty:
An over-taxing government is the biggest contributor to creating poverty. By continuing to inhibit the economic growth and potential of our citizens, we prevent the investment capability to create jobs, increase income and provide a stable financial environment. I believe all citizens are deserving of tax relief and tax-cutting policies benefit the American economy as a whole. I do not support efforts to identify segments of our society that are more deserving of a tax cut over another and I believe political stereotyping in this area hinders the goal of providing efficient tax relief. It is important to create a federal tax policy that is both fair to American taxpayers while, at the same time, ensuring that our nation meets its financial obligations. Tax reform efforts should achieve the dual goals of improving the tax code system and allow taxpayers to keep more of their money to support their families, save for their futures, and protect their businesses and assets. It is for this reason that I have supported several tax relief packages passed in Congress that have reduced taxes and helped spur the economy by allowing hard working American taxpayers to keep more of the money they earn to invest in their futures.
Further, America's one-way-street trade relationship with China and other nations has reduced manufacturing jobs severely in the U.S. I would change the one-way-street into a two-way-street by putting the same charges on foreign goods that they put on ours.
Finally, my basic philosophy is to teach and train and inspire rather than simply give government "hand outs."