Sixteen years after the ‘Contract with America’, the Republican House Minority provided a renewed ‘Pledge to America’, a throwback promise ahead of an expected majority change in the House of Representatives in November. The Pledge, though addressing some real issues, does not do enough to establish the level of trust and comfort that the Minority leadership was hoping to convey. Instead, the Pledge pays homage to the constitution and the Tea Party overtone without affecting enough change to assure the people that a Republican Majority would act any differently from those majorities of years past.
In the opening pledge, the new governing agenda set forth reads like a collaboration of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and a smattering of founding documents. The most promising aspect of this opening statement was the direct focus on the long forgotten tenth amendment – promising that all powers not specifically delegated to the United States by the Constitution will be reserved for the states and the people. This last amendment in the Bill of Rights is the single most important statement in our founding contract – that the power of this government lay with the people. Remembering this is what the 2010 election cycle has become about.
The Pledge goes on to detail a series of plans outlining the new GOP agenda. Their series of plans include the standard Republican talking points of cutting taxes, reining in spending, and shrinking government. The highlights in these plans include a new rule requiring a “citation of constitutional authority” for every bill presented on the floor of the House. It baffles my mind that such a rule is necessary, but in the bloated government environment in which we find ourselves, it is a much needed relief. Further parts of the Pledge echo the promises made in the ’94 Contract, ensuring transparency and openness in government proceedings.
The Pledge fell short of any real agenda changing qualities, often treating the current political symptom while ignoring the underlying ailment. One great example is the heralded spending reduction which promises a savings of a few hundred billion by returning to Bush era spending practices. I say we need to go further back. I say we need to cut more. Why not aim to cut the federal spending by half, proposing true fiscal restraint. In fact, a federal budget of $2 Trillion is more than sufficient when spending, pork, and subsidies are cut back extremely.
The Pledge addressed unfunded liabilities of Social Security, but stopped short of any proposal to restore and fully fund the Social Security account while restricting ANY government access to the account for general or emergency funding.
The Pledge proposed small business tax incentives without any mention of a plan to remove ALL tax loopholes by implementing a fair and uniform Flat Tax system.
The Pledge promises federal enforcement of border and immigration issues, but fails to target US corporations recruiting for workers in Mexico and hiring foreigners without work visas.
There is much good to be read in the 21 pages of the Republican Pledge to America. It sets a tone for discussion and emphasizes that the GOP is in the game, and more than a party of ‘No’. The Pledge is not enough, though, to do what it was intended to do. It is not enough to set a new agenda. It is not enough to distance the GOP from the spending Republicans of the past. It is not enough to make me believe that the GOP is serious about turning the power of the country back over to the people and the states of this union.