Reprinted with permission of Catholic Digest.

During any political campaign, Catholics, like every other segment of the American population, want to get past sound bites and media hype. In particular, Catholics want candidates to focus on issues. Catholic voters also care deeply about the character of the politicians who will direct and implement those ideas as policy.

What follows, in plain language, is the Republican road map for electing George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, returning integrity to the White House, and for renewing the foundation of America's purpose.

Republicans are the party of freedom. Republicans believe in limited government. We favor individual responsibility. Our philosophy is built on empowerment, not entitlement.

Republicans defend faith and families. Government cannot replace the values and love of a family, or the good work of faith-based youth programs, homeless shelters, hospices, prison ministries, seniors' centers, or crisis pregnancy centers. Republicans favor tax credits for low-income families to buy private health insurance, housing programs that promote home ownership, tax incentives for charitable donations, after-school programs that build character, and other faith-based programs that support the family.

Republicans know your child's education should be in your hands. We support basic-skills testing, performance measurements, and consequences for failure to achieve as a way of focusing attention on learning. We support tax-free educational savings accounts to provide parents with more options for their child's K-12 education. We favor rewarding good teachers as well as offering flexible requirements for teaching certificates to attract experienced persons from the private sector to the classroom. Additionally, Republicans disagree with unfunded mandates; we should fully fund federal programs for special-needs children. And, at a level greater than that proposed by the Democrats, the GOP's Education Flexibility Partnership Act invested $22 billion to fix public schools with the requirement that all spending decisions are made at the local level.

Republicans support Social Security reform. Republicans want to put a "lock box" on every penny of the $1 trillion Social Security surplus; that money must be safeguarded. We endorse Governor George W. Bush's plan to give workers the option of investing some of their Social Security payments in personal investment accounts. And it was Republicans who eliminated the earnings limitation on Social Security: Seniors no longer lose $1 of benefits for every $3 earned.

Republicans understand commonsense gun control. Republicans believe in prosecuting all crimes committed with guns. Background checks should occur with all gun purchases, regardless of location or seller. We also want to promote gun safety. Further, trigger locks are a must for new guns, and they should be made available on a voluntary basis for any gun owner who requests one.

Republicans support reducing taxes and the national debt. Most families pay about 48% of their income in taxes. We want to reduce the tax stress on families. Republicans have worked to eliminate the average $1,400 per year "marriage penalty" paid by 25 million couples who chose to honor the institution of marriage. We also favor increasing the child-care tax credit, cutting personal income taxes, eliminating death taxes, and providing a larger exemption for family-owned farms and businesses.

Republicans affirm the sanctity of life. We must give as much public discussion to reproductive responsibility as is given to reproductive "choice." Encouraging adoption, mandatory waiting periods, parental/guardian consent for minor girls seeking abortion, and no federal funding of abortions are essential to mitigate Roe v. Wade. Republicans intend, for the third time, to present a bill to ban partial-birth abortion, a bill that George W. Bush has vowed to sign.

Republicans believe in a strong national defense. Troop mobilizations must have identified objectives and measurable goals. American military readiness must be a priority. Personnel, equipment, and defense capability must be reassessed and raised to appropriate standards. Regional terrorism must not be allowed to threaten American freedom and global peace. In addition, our troops must be adequately compensated. It's a national disgrace that any military family would need food stamps. Finally, America must build and maintain a missile defense system to forestall aggressive action from abroad.

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