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Democrats call for higher taxes on wealthy, legal same-sex marriage in platform

Democrats at their national convention on Tuesday adopted a platform that calls for higher taxes on wealthy Americans, immigration reform and legal same-sex marriage.

On Medicare, however, Democrats criticized the Republican presidential ticket’s plan to introduce a voucher program without offering their own plan to reform a program that is projected to be insolvent by 2024.

Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker delivered a rousing introduction of a 40-page platform document focused largely on strengthening the middle class, a target Democrats aim to hit by extending Bush-era tax cuts for households making less than $250,000 per year while allowing tax breaks for more affluent families to expire at the end of this year.

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In addition, Democrats said they would enforce a so-called Buffett Rule, “so no millionaire pays a smaller share of his or her income in taxes than middle-class families do.’’

“When your country is in a costly war, with our soldiers sacrificing abroad, and our nation is facing a debt crisis at home, being asked to pay your fair share isn’t class warfare. It’s patriotism,’’ Booker said, prompting chants of “USA! USA!’’

Capital gains on investments, a major source of income for some wealthy Americans, are taxed at a much lower rate than regular earnings. Republican nominee Mitt Romney, for instance, draws almost all of his income from investments, which helped him pay an effective federal tax rate of 13.9 percent on $21.7 million in 2010 — a lower rate than many members of the middle class.

In April, the Senate rejected a version of the Buffett Rule — named for billionaire Warren Buffett, a vocal advocate — that would have taxed all income over $1 million at 30 percent, no matter its source.

In proposing higher taxes for wealthy Americans, Democrats went further than they did in 2008, when their platform called for families making more than $250,000 “to give back a portion of the Bush tax cuts to invest in health care and other key priorities’’ and did not mention anything resembling the Buffett Rule.

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On key social issues, Democrats wrote that they “support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples,’’ adopting a pro-gay marriage plank for the first time while also granting churches the right “to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.’’

The new platform calls for “full repeal’’ of the Defense of Marriage Act, four years after Democrats said only that they “oppose’’ the law that prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in states where they are legal.

The party said it “strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade’’ and would oppose “any and all efforts to weaken or undermine’’ abortion rights.

The Democratic platform praises President Obama for backing the Dream Act — which would offer a pathway to citizenship for some illegal immigrants who enroll in college or enlist in the military — and for signing an executive order that protects some of the same immigrants from deportation.

But it states that Obama’s directive, given in June, is only a temporary measure and calls for Congress to enact a “permanent, comprehensive solution.’’

Democrats praised the 2010 health care reform law for expanding Medicare benefits and closing the “doughnut hole’’ that exposed some seniors to high out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs. But their platform includes no proposal for long-term Medicare reform, saying only that “Democrats adamantly oppose any efforts to privatize or voucherize Medicare.’’

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In one notable change to foreign policy, the platform states that “President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security,’’ but it no longer declares that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel,’’ as it did in 2008.

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