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House GOP To America: Our Way Or The Highway

Question: How many people will take the time to read through the House Republicans “Pledge to America”?

My answer: Not enough. If you remove the political claptrap from the document, what you get is deja vu: We heard this before: Lower taxes, less spending, a return to “core values” and an unlimited national missile defense fund.

There is both good and bad in the pledge and a lot of omission.

Nice try, guys. The general theme is that if voters elect Republicans, jobs will be restored and the economy will flourish. We heard a similar message going in a different direction from Democrats in 2006 and 2008 and what did that get us?

My sense of the pledge is a Republican power play coming from a divided political party struggling to determine how far right it can stretch the envelop.

No matter what is promised in the pledge, how can a party govern if a powerful base within it demands: Our way or the highway. For that is the mantra of what I call the Republican Tea Party contingent. Compromise is not in these peoples’ DNA who I believe have an extremely naive if not ignorant view of how legislation is enacted. Think sausage factory.

Don’t take my word what’s in the pledge. Judge for yourself.

We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have been consistently ignored – particularly the Tenth Amendment, which grants that all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Comment: This challenges the rule of law and court precedents involving the Commerce Clause, among many.

We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.

Comment: Trampling individual civil rights of homosexuals, among others, and imposing a particular doctrine of some but not all organized religions in my view is contrary to constitutional protections we all swear to abide and uphold.

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.

Comment: Why repeal a law which, when fully activated by 2018, for the most part promises to achieve these goals.

We will require that every bill contain a citation of Constitutional authority. We will give all Representatives and citizens at least three days to read the bill before a vote. We will make sure that the floor schedule and operations reflect the priority of revitalizing the economy, and ensure there is an open process that makes it easier – not harder – to eliminate unnecessary spending on any legislation that spends the people’s money.

Comment: Most of these rules are in effect but not always adhered.

We will help the economy by permanently stopping all tax increases, currently scheduled to take effect January 1, 2011. We will allow small business owners to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their business income. This will provide entrepreneurs with a much-needed infusion of capital for investment and new hiring.

Excessive federal regulation is a de facto tax on employers and consumers that stifles job creation, hampers innovation and postpones investment in the economy… We will require congressional approval of any new federal regulation that has an annual cost to our economy of $100 million or more.

Comment: A worthy goal. It would be nice to have some regulation on financial institutions that caused the two market crashes which Republicans conveniently forget.

With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone and putting us on a path to begin paying down the debt, balancing the budget, and ending the spending spree in Washington…

We will set strict budget caps to limit federal spending on an annual basis… By cutting discretionary spending from current levels and imposing a hard cap on future growth, we will save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars… Hold weekly votes on spending cuts…

Comment: House Republicans claim their YouCut Initiative proposals could have cut $120 billion this past year. Proposing cuts when they don’t stand a chance of winning majority scrutiny is an exercise in futility and a phony play to the gallery.

Americans are rightly outraged at the bailouts of businesses and entities that force responsible taxpayers to subsidize irresponsible behavior. We will cancel the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a move that would save taxpayers roughly $16 billion.

End government control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac….

We will impose a net hiring freeze on non-security federal employees and ensure that the public sector no longer grows at the expense of the private sector…

Enact medical liability reform…

Comment: Capping medical malpractice awards is a noble effort. Lots of luck. Perhaps a pledge not to receive campaign funds from Wall Street would give this pledge more credence.

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…

When asked to provide our troops with the resources they need, we will do so without delay. That means no more troop funding bills held up by unrelated policy changes, or extraneous domestic spending and pork-barrel projects…

Foreign terrorists do not have the same rights as American citizens, nor do they have more rights than U.S. military personnel. We will work to ensure foreign terrorists, such as the 9/11 conspirators, are tried in military, not civilian, court. We will oppose all efforts to force our military, intelligence, and law enforcement personnel operating overseas to extend “Miranda Rights” to foreign terrorists…

There is real concern that while the threat from Iranian intercontinental ballistic missiles could materialize as early as 2015, the government’s missile defense policy is not projected to cover the U.S. homeland until 2020. We will work to ensure critical funding is restored to protect the U.S. homeland and our allies from missile threats from rogue states such as Iran and North Korea.

For a political party intent on limiting the domestic safety net for its most vulnerable citizens, how can it turn its head in good conscience and write a blank check under the pretext of national defense?

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EPILOGUE

I think the goals of both political parties are of good intentions. What I am seeing is a canard, a conundrum, a Catch-22. The Democrats are saying Republican policies, mostly from the Bush administration, have gotten us into this mess. The Republicans are saying the Obama administration only has managed to get us deeper in debt. Both are true evaluations. Since we are not a government run by dictatorship, we have no choice but to dog paddle our way out of this.

(Photo Larry Downing/Reuters courtesy msnbc.com)

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