The Republican Party of Texas released its 2012 platform this month, outlining its policies on taxation, education, and a host of other issues related to the economy. Texas Republicans, according to the platform, support eliminating the minimum wage and the prevailing wage, doing away with the Department of Education and Department of Energy, and "reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of education" — but those aren't even the most damaging positions.
Here's a look at the five most outrageous beliefs Texas Republicans hold:
1) The party opposes almost all forms of taxation: The Texas GOP supports "repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment," which instituted a national income tax, and instead favors a wildly regressive national sales tax that would hit low- and middle-income Americans hardest. It also favors making the Bush tax cuts permanent and repealing the capital gains tax and the estate tax, the latter of which it claims is "immoral and should be abolished forever." On the state level, it supports abolishing property and business taxes, and property taxes on inventory, and opposes efforts to institute a state income tax, an Internet sales tax, professional licensing fees, and taxes on real estate transactions. Instead, it supports "shifting the tax burden to a consumption-based tax."
2) It supports returning to the gold standard: "We support the return to the time tested precious metal standard for the U.S. dollar," the platform states, echoing Rep. Ron Paul (R), the state's eccentric congressman and presidential candidate. While returning to "sound money," as the platform calls it, is popular among far right-wing conservatives, it is "not feasible for practical and policy reasons," according to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Most economists agree that the gold standard never worked and that returning to it now would have disastrous consequences for the American economy.
3) It supports privatizing Social Security: Given that Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) called Social Security a "Ponzi scheme" during his ill-fated presidential campaign, it may be no surprise that the Texas GOP opposes one of the nation's most successful federal programs. "We support an immediate and orderly transition to a system of private pensions based on the concept of individual retirement accounts, and gradually phasing out the Social Security tax," the platform says, ignoring that had such a plan been enacted prior to the Great Recession, it would have cost an October 2008 retiree tens of thousands of dollars (and that was before the market bottomed out in 2009). Millions of Americans lost everything in private accounts during the recession, and Social Security was all they had left.
4) It opposes multicultural education and "critical thinking": "We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive," the platform says, adding that it supports teaching "common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups." In Arizona, where Republicans banned multicultural programs, students in those programs actually out-performed their peers. Texas Republicans also believe "controversial theories" such evolution and climate change — which aren't controversial at all — "should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced." There's more: the GOP also opposes the teaching of "critical thinking skills" because they "focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."
5) It supports corporal punishment in schools: "Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas," the platform states, adding that teachers and school boards should be given "more authority to deal with disciplinary problems." Actual research, however, shows that corporal punishment is bad for children and their education. Research shows that corporal punishment is "associated with an increase in delinquency, antisocial behavior, and aggression in children," according to the American Psychoanalytic Association, which "strongly condemns" the use of such punishment. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents and schools use other forms of punishment because "corporal punishment is of limited effectiveness and has potentially deleterious side effects."