Thursday, September 23, 2010

Republican Pledge Not Enough

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.

The Pros:
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 Cons:
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.


  1. A great piece, Steven. Like you, I believe the new pledge/contract/promise/what-have-you doesn't go nearly far enough. Many have already commented that it lists things they should have been doing all along. Agreed.

    Rolling spending back to, say, 1982 levels ... would be a good start. If they don't like that year's level, they're welcome to pick another - but cutbacks must be a BIG part of the process, or all the 'promises' in the world won't be enough.

  2. Sorry, but we're not in agreement about the flat tax. A progressive tax system can and should be simple, and it's far fairer than a flat tax. Just ask that famous leftist Adam Smith.

    I won't fill up your comment section with a long explanation, but you can find one here:

  3. Ted -

    The Flat tax actually has a potential to give great advantage to the middle and lower class. The way the system would work to their favor is a gross income exemption. For instance, using the example you provided of a family making $40,000. For dependants and marriage status (filing jointly, let's say) with a net income of $40K, there would be a progressive chart indicating income exemptions. That range would be in the $20K exemption range, and therefore the tax would be 25% of $20,000. Meanwhile the $400,000 family would still be on the hook for the $100K. The difference is that the progressive system currently allows the $400K family to write off a LOT in the hundreds of thousands of pages of loopholes that only a high paid legal team could sift through. It is an unfair advantage to the wealthy who can afford to find all the loopholes. Under the current system you may find that the $400K family is actually paying a significant amount less taxes than they would under the flat system.

    Simply stated, either way we go we need to remove ALL loopholes. Remove all exemptions. The flat tax does a better job of fixing the system than the current red-tape system we have now.

    In a perfect world, for me, I would eliminate property taxes and capital gains taxes as well. Property being that it necessitates an income source and discourages property ownership by those unable to afford long-term tax costs. Capital gains for the simple reason that you are punishing a healthy habit of investment on money that has already been taxed once. (Both of the above examples are stated as personal only - businesses should pay both).

  4. Rev - Major cutbacks are necessary. If we cut spending in half with current tax rates, we could effectively pay off the national debt in just over a decade. Imagine that. Unfortunately the GOP wants to simply roll back OBAMA's spending, sending the message that everything Bush did was hunky dorey in their eyes... WRONG MESSAGE GUYS! We need to get back to Early Reagan era budgets, reduce military budget to match those of other governments (do this by closing unnecessary bases and scaling back contracts - I am a government contractor, btw, for a company siphoning money off the tit of lady liberty like a newborn gorilla!), and we need to streamline our regulatory systems that have become larger and less efficient (larger, yet functioning at 25% of 1980 levels - making them 400% more innefficient over 30 years.)