GOP unveils new agenda, “A Pledge to America”; Update: “Dreck”?
posted at 7:21 pm on September 22, 2010 by Allahpundit
CBS has the full 21-page text along with a bullet-point summary, but if you’re looking for a friendlier rundown, NRO has got you covered. Five key elements: Jobs, spending, ObamaCare, national security, and the crowd-pleaser, reforming Congress. A taste of the last section:
• Read The Bill: We will ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives. No more hiding legislative language from the minority party, opponents, and the public. Legislation should be understood by all interested parties before it is voted on.
• Adhere To The Constitution: For too long, Congress has ignored the proper limits imposed by the Constitution on the federal government. Further, it has too often drafted unclear and muddled laws, leaving to an unelected judiciary the power to interpret what the law means and by what authority the law stands. This lack of respect for the clear Constitutional limits and authorities has allowed Congress to create ineffective and costly programs that add to the massive deficit year after year. We will require each bill moving through Congress to include a clause citing the specific constitutional authority upon which the bill is justified.
• Make It Easier to Cut Spending: By forbidding amendments on spending bills, Democrats have denied lawmakers the opportunity to tighten Washington’s belt and slash wasteful and duplicative programs. Structure dictates behavior, so we will let any lawmaker — Democrat or Republican — offer amendments to reduce spending.
• Advance Legislative Issues One at a Time: We will end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with “must-pass” legislation to circumvent the will of the American people. Instead, we will advance major legislation one issue at a time.
Nothing on ending the filibuster, naturally. Now then, anything notable missing from the list of key agenda items? Right — nothing on cultural issues. In fact, here’s the sum total of language in the document about that: “We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.” One line, buried at the end of the preamble on page one, and according to sources, even that was only added at the very last minute after Mike Pence objected. Think social cons are going to like that, after all the warnings lately about not taking them for granted? In fact, the cursory treatment here reminds me of the Mitch Daniels/Mike Huckabee dust-up a few months ago about whether or not there should be a “truce” on social issues until the country’s financial house is in order. This isn’t a truce, but it’s waaaay further towards the libertarian end in its priorities than the social con end. Sign o’ the times. Hope it plays well with the southern base, or at least that they’re buying DeMint’s argument that fiscal conservatism and social conservatism are inextricably linked.
NRO notes that this is heavier on policy substance than the Contract With America was, which is true — but even so, take five minutes and read Nick Gillespie’s reality check about the CWA and the GOP’s track record after 1994. Despite all the hype, most voters didn’t pay much attention at the time, which may be because the CWA was process-oriented or may be because most people simply don’t have the time for, or interest in, big-think position papers like this. Hopefully it’s the former; at the very least, the news stories about this tomorrow emphasizing the rhetoric about jobs and reducing government should play well. Exit quotation from an unnamed top House Republican: “We have learned our lesson and we are ready to govern.”
Update: Erick Erickson is underwhelmed.
There is a plan to cut Congress’s budget, which is pretty much what was promised in 1994. Seriously? In 4 years did the Democrats really blow up the Congressional budget? No — the GOP did that too.
There is no call for a Spending Limitation Amendment or a Balanced Budget Amendment. It is just meaningless stuff the Democrats can easily undo and that ultimately the Senate GOP will even turn its nose up at.
The entirety of this Promise is laughable. Why? It is an illusion that fixates on stuff the GOP already should be doing while not daring to touch on stuff that will have any meaningful longterm effects on the size and scope of the federal government.