Conservative Political Commentary

[Under the Radar?] Anti-socialist, anti-communist, anti-globalist, pro-Constitution, and usually with an attempt at historical and economic context (This blog was given its name before I decided it was going to be a political blog.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

“Pledge to America” Looks Like a Winner

House GOP Leader John Boehner
According to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the “Pledge to America,” unveiled September 23, 2010 by House Republican Leader John Boehner and other GOP Congressional leaders, is a non-exhaustive list of items that represent the first things that should be done if the GOP gains a majority in Congress. As he points out, the whole conservative agenda could not be accomplished while Barack Obama is president, but many things could be done.

I see the “Pledge to America” as a strong positive statement that GOP members of Congress should be evaluated by, and to which its supporters must be held accountable. For all the possible criticisms of it, it represents something far, far superior to the Obama agenda, and, if adhered to faithfully, it should save our country from a lot of misery and loss, and correct some glaring problems.

The document represents a governing philosophy that is very much different from that of the current Administration. It honors the words of the founding documents, and recognizes such common-sense things as the need to control spending and to stop tax increases.

From a draft of the document, found here, I have quoted from it (in bold) and made some comments (not in bold).

America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny.

Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course.

These first principles were proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, enshrined in the Constitution, and have endured through hard sacrifice and commitment by generations of Americans.

In a self-governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent.

It should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention that the current regime is consciously ruling contrary to the wishes of the American people in many policies, notably proposed tax increases and Obamacare, as well as a foreign policy that disrespects America’s past and panders to dictatorial regimes that wish us no good.

An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates, and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many….

The need for urgent action to repair our economy and reclaim our government for the people cannot be overstated.

The situation is serious and getting worse daily. The so-called recovery has led to very little economic growth or job growth, and a second dip appears probable. Meanwhile, our Federal government is aggressively pursuing European-style socialist policies that will result in permanent double-digit unemployment and a poorer, weaker nation. However, the ruling elites will fit in better with their international counterparts.

A plan to create jobs, end economic uncertainty, and make America more competitive must be the first and most urgent domestic priority of our government. So first, we offer a plan to get people working again. We will end the attack on free enterprise by repealing job-killing policies and taking steps to assure current businesses and future entrepreneurs that the government will not stifle their ability to compete in the global marketplace.

By permanently stopping job-killing tax hikes, families will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money and small businesses will have the stability they need to invest in our economy and help grow our workforce. We will further encourage small businesses to create jobs by allowing them to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income.

Americans view the economic issues as most urgent. The GOP could do a lot to get government out of the way and let the markets solve the problem. At any rate, the government must promote private sector economic activity. The Keynesian approach of recent years has grown government, deficits and debt on a massive scale, but that’s about all. Even that phony growth is bound for collapse unless fundamental changes are made.

We offer a plan to repeal and replace the government takeover of health care with common-sense solutions focused on lowering costs and protecting American jobs. We will enact real medical liability reform; allow Americans to purchase health coverage across state lines; empower small businesses with greater purchasing power; and create new incentives to save for future health needs. We will protect the doctor-patient relationship, and ensure that those with pre-existing conditions gain access to the coverage they need. We will permanently end taxpayer funding of abortion and codify the Hyde Amendment.

The GOP could do a lot, if in the majority, to repeal or at least de-fund the hated Obamacare program. The steps listed for replacing it are meritorious, but even doing nothing would have been better than Obamacare. While the document is not strong on details about social issues, it certainly represents a strong step in the right direction from the anti-life positions of Obama and company.

Why the Pledge Is Important
The “Pledge to America” stakes out positions and principles showing great contrast with the Obama agenda. This includes the idea of self-government as opposed to central planning. It promotes the responsibility of Congress, as the people’s representatives, to act as needed without having legislative powers usurped by the president and executive agencies.

Just these changes of philosophy -- limited government, more freedom, and low taxes, are light years from Obama’s ultimate design.

Some Responses
Michelle Malkin offered her thoughts on the “Pledge” on Fox News:

Politico reports:
In confronting Obama, Republicans make clear that a takeover of the House could lead to a contentious two years, and possibly gridlock, if both sides aren’t willing to compromise. Most of the ideas have little chance of becoming law in a divided government, but the “Pledge to America” is aimed at defining an agenda for a party that has been accused of not having one in the Obama era. [1]
Divided government is very likely, but that would be immensely preferable to an authoritarian president supported by a rubber-stamp Congress that's even more radical than himself, if that's possible. Too bad we didn't have enough gridlock to prevent Obamacare and other unread thousand-plus-page bills from being passed.

 The editors of National Review see the “Pledge” as a favorable development:

…The inevitable question will be: Is the pledge as bold as the Contract?
The answer is: 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…. [2]
Eric Erickson of RedState ridicules the document as something that will very soon be forgotten by the GOP and everyone else.

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. [3]
For me, the issue is not the document so much as the GOP maintaining a commitment to its content. Paul Ryan says there is specific legislation relating to the stated positions. The Pledge recognizes that Republicans have often failed to limit government and spending while they were in power.

It’s true that some enacted or became what they had campaigned against. That would demonstrate a problem with integrity, not with their stated goals. The dizzying cocktail-party circuit of the Beltway is said to pull people in, who then compromise their principles in order to gain popularity and maintain social standing. That represents human weakness, not weakness of the principles that had been claimed, then abandoned.

If the GOP would like to actually stay in power once they have gained it, they need to embrace their inner conservative and get on board with the Tea Party. Act boldly to fundamentally change the government’s attitude and the abuses in the way Congress operates. Place principle above self-promotion. Have more respect for the founding documents than for the New York Times’ latest comments.

Otherwise, after a short while in power, there’ll be another fascist-socialist-Marxist like Obama who will get his own party in power. The thing about liberals is that they never quit. They’re always there, ready to challenge. They must be held in check for the good of the country. With liberals in power, there will be no end of excessive spending until the currency is worthless, and no end to finding more “rights” and “victims” that taxpayers must support against their will.

But for now the “Pledge” appears to me to be a positive, timely, and possibly brilliant idea from the unfairly-maligned Republican Party. I hope it leads to a lot of success. Republicans need to regain power soon because our country is headed in exactly the wrong direction in too many ways. Democrats don’t have and won’t get the answers.

[1] Richard E. Cohen, Jake Sherman, and Jonathan Allen, “‘Pledge to America’ promises fight, gridlock” 09/23/2010, Politico.

[2] The Editors, “We’ll Take the Pledge,” 09/22/2010, National Review Online.

[3] Eric Erickson, “Perhaps the Most Ridiculous Thing to Come Out of Washington Since George McClellan,” 09/22/2010,

Photo: House Republican Leader John Boehner, official portrait, via Wikipedia.

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