GOP rolls out Pledge to America, mixed reaction among conservatives

House Republicans officially rolled out the Pledge to America (PDF embedded at the bottom of the page or you can download here) yesterday morning at a lumber company in Sterling, Virginia:

The agenda is reminiscent of “The Contract with America” that House Republicans announced on the steps of the Capitol in 1994. That manifesto helped them win control of the House during the second year of Democrat Bill Clinton’s presidency.

While short on specifics, the new Republican plan calls for $100 billion in annual savings by scaling back federal spending to 2008 levels — with exceptions for the elderly and U.S. troops — and ending government control of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Republican House leaders also vowed to stop “job killing tax hikes” and allow small business owners to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their business income.
Under pressure from the conservative Tea Party movement to slash the size and cost of government, the Republicans promised to repeal Obama’s landmark overhaul of the healthcare system and eliminate unspent funds from his $814 billion economic stimulus program.

The reaction among Democrats has been predictable as they again try to bring up George W. Bush, a strategy that hasn’t worked thus far:

[O]n Wednesday evening, as copies of the Republican agenda leaked to the media, the Democratic National Committee released an ad entitled “GOP: Same Old Agenda.” “Instead of charting a new course to move this country forward, House Republicans proved once and for all that there’s not an inch of daylight between them and the reckless Bush administration policies that cost 8 million American jobs and sent our economy into a tailspin,” wrote DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse. From the White House, Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer wrote that, “Instead of charting a new course, Congressional Republicans doubled down on the same ideas that hurt America’s middle class.” Other Democrats — all the party leadership — are saying essentially the same thing.

I gave my thoughts on the “Pledge” after reading a draft that was released on Wednesday. I’ve spent some time gathering reactions from around the conservative blogosphere and from different GOP and tea party friendly organizations.

Andy Roth (Club for Growth): “I want to like the new GOP Pledge to America.  I want to endorse it, but it’s so milquetoast that it proves to me that these guys just aren’t ready to lead.”

FreedomWorks and Contract from America:The ‘Pledge to America’ is a great first step in the campaign for limited government and fiscally sound economic policy,” added Ryan Hecker, organizer of the Contract from America. “However, Republican Congressmen, Senators, and candidates should continue to sign the Contract from America, which boldly tackles the challenges of fundamental tax reform, passage of a balanced budget amendment with a supermajority requirement for any tax hike, and real earmark reform.“

Newt Gingrich: “It is a very positive step in the right direction. The focus on jobs, the economy, spending…is exactly right.”

Dan Mitchell (Cato Institute): “I was a bit disappointed that the GOP couldn’t even muster the courage to shut down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two corrupt government-created entities that bear so much responsibility for the housing mess and subsequent financial crisis. The best the GOP could do was to say ‘Since taking over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies that triggered the financial meltdown by giving too many high risk loans to people who couldn’t afford them, taxpayers were billed more than $145 billion to save the two companies. We will reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by ending their government takeover, shrinking their portfolios, and establishing minimum capital standards.’ Is it really asking too much for Republicans to simply say ‘The federal government has no role in housing and Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development should be eliminated.’”

Hogan @ Red State:“Yesterday’s much anticipated ‘Pledge to America’ represents a glimpse into how Republicans plan to govern, and simply put, it’s a pledge to nowhere.”

Philip Klein (American Spectator): “While it proposes ideas such as rolling back discretionary spending to 2008 levels, it completely avoids any concrete proposals on the biggest threat facing America: our looming entitlement crisis. Instead, the document reads: ‘We will make the decisions that are necessary to protect our entitlement programs for today’s seniors and future generations. That means requiring a full accounting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, setting benchmarks for these programs and reviewing them regularly, and preventing the expansion of unfunded liabilities.’ So in other words: ‘trust us.’ This coming from the party that added trillions to our long-term deficits by enacting the Medicare prescription drug plan. And it’s worth noting that at another place in the document, the GOP attacks Medicare cuts within the new health care law.”

National Review:The pledge is bolder. The Contract with America merely promised to hold votes on popular bills that had been bottled up during decades of Democratic control of the House. The pledge commits Republicans to working toward a broad conservative agenda that, if implemented, would make the federal government significantly smaller, Congress more accountable, and America more prosperous.”

Erick Erickson: “This document proves the GOP is more focused on the acquisition of power than the advocacy of long term sound public policy. All the good stuff in it is stuff we expect them to do. What is not in it is more than a little telling that the House GOP has not learned much of anything from 2006.”

Peter Suderman (Reason): “[I]f the GOP was hoping to distance itself from President Obama’s health care overhaul, it’s gone about it in an awfully odd fashion: The Pledge includes a number of promises to follow-through on some of the most problematic ideas in ObamaCare.”

Melissa Clouthier: “This is an excellent start. This is a powerful document, if you ask me. Simple. Straight-forward. Concrete. Lays out tangible ways to tackle the problems.”

Nick Gillespie (Reason): “The document’s most deafening silence is on entitlement spending. Indeed, it’s main attack on ObamaCare is precisely that this awful new program steals money from Medicare. Which last time anybody looked, was the time bomb that’s ticking under the federal budget like a Guy Fawkes’ powder keg.”

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