House Republicans are releasing their legislative agenda for the next Congress on Thursday, and, according to a draft of the "Pledge to America" obtained by CBS News, the GOP is vowing "urgent action to repair our economy and reclaim our government." The 21-page document includes promises to stop what Republicans see as job-killing tax hikes, repeal and replace the Democrats' health-care reform law, roll back spending to 2008 levels, require that bills include a citation of constitutional authority, and fund missile defense. The GOP is hoping to "mirror the success of the 1994 Contract with America in a potential wave election year." Will this do the trick? Here is a look at what commentators had to say:
This is "bolder" than the 1994 plan: Conservatives have been pressuring the GOP to set an agenda as forceful as the Contract with America, say the editors at National Review. The "Pledge to America," it turns out, is even "bolder." With its commitment to fiscal discipline, job creation, tax cuts, and repealing Obamacare, Republicans are standing up for "a broad conservative agenda that, if implemented, would make the federal government significantly smaller, Congress more accountable, and America more prosperous." Democrats can't compete with this.
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The GOP's making promises it can't deliver: In their pledge, House Republicans say America is an "idea," an "inspiration," and a "belief," says Ezra Klein at The Washington Post. But "it is also a country" that needs to be governed, and the "Pledge to America" avoids "the hard choices of governance." Republicans talk about the "dangers of debt," but they're promising "a raft of proposals" that would "increase the deficit by trillions of dollars." They are also talking about taking "health-care insurance away from tens of millions of people" — good luck with that.
What pathetic, empty "dreck": This pledge is just "laughable," says Erick Erickson at RedState. Republicans blast Obamacare, then propose mandates on insurers that will "drive up the costs of health care" for everybody. Even the "good stuff," such as reducing spending the GOP itself helped drive skyward, is "stuff the GOP already should be doing." The House GOP clearly doesn't have "the fortitude to lead boldly in opposition to Barack Obama" — it just wants to put American on a "diet full of sugar" that will only make "Washington fatter before we crash."
The GOP is rejecting Tea Party ideas: Tea Party types were bound to hate the "Pledge to America," says The Week.com columnist David Frum at FrumForum. Republicans are promising to "cut spending where possible," but they are repudiating the Tea Party's demand for a "radically more limited government." It's "fine to reject Tea Party illusions," but it would have been nice if House GOP leaders could offer a real "alternative modern Republican" vision, instead of spurning "not only extremist ideas, but all ideas."
Republicans should prove they mean it: What splendid timing, says Joan McCarter at Daily Kos. The GOP is releasing its pledge, with its commitment to helping small business, on the very day that the House is expected to approve a bill with $42 billion in tax breaks and credit access for small businesses. "Oddly enough, the first time the House passed a version of this bill, only three Republicans voted for it." But now that they have made this promise, Republicans will vote en masse with the Democrats — if they "really mean it," that is.
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