House GOP’s Pledge to America: World’s saddest to-do list

House Republicans promise to slash taxes, buy more missiles, and fix the deficit

Topics: Republican Party, War Room, 2010 Elections, Taxes, U.S. House of Representatives,

House GOP's Pledge to America: World's saddest to-do listFILE - In this April 5, 2010 file photo, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, right, accompanied by House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Va., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Boehner could walk down most U.S. streets anonymously. But the perpetually tanned golf lover, who grew up in a Cincinnati family of 14, could become the next House speaker and the GOP leader of opposition to President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg, File) (Credit: AP)

Today, House Republicans will go to Virginia, which, despite its proximity to D.C. still qualifies as Real America, to deliver their “Pledge to America,” a long list of things they will do in January, once they’re in charge. The GOP has been working on this little report for a while now. They didn’t do what critics initially thought they would, and write a vague list of nice-sounding bullet points. Instead they came up with a fairly detailed plan of action, with a little preamble and everything. Which, of course, opens them up to the criticism that this entire thing is a waste of time, because even if Republicans take back both houses, the Democratic president can still veto everything they do.

In 1994, the Republicans wrote up a “Contract With America,” and they like to pretend that that document is why they won Congress that year. Unlike the Contract, this is a Pledge — which is a promise, or a cleaning product, or someone who wants to join a fraternity. And instead of being with America, which implies that America, too, has to actually do something, this is to America, which means America gets to comfortably continue sitting there, watching “Bones.” All in all, smart changes.

The 21-page pledge is divided into five parts: jobs, size of government, healthcare repeal, congressional reform and national security.

Jobs is about tax cuts. Extend Bush tax cuts, new tax cuts for small business, and an interesting plan to “rein in the red tape factory in Washington, DC” by requiring congressional approval of any new federal regulation that costs $100 million or more. All of this would create like three jobs. (There is not even a fucking payroll tax holiday here.) It would also do wonders for the deficit.

But don’t worry, they’re working on the deficit, too. Cancel the stimulus. “Roll back” government spending (excepting spending on veterans, seniors and our troops — three very expensive groups) to 2008 levels. “Strict budget caps.” Weekly votes on spending cuts. Cancel TARP, which I’m told is currently making the government money back. Destroy Fannie and Freddie. Federal hiring freeze. And, here we go, “a full accounting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid,” “preventing the expansion of unfunded liabilities.”



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Healthcare is simple: Repeal. Malpractice reform. John McCain’s old plan to allow people to purchase healthcare “across state lines,” also known as the plan to allow every insurance company to relocate to whichever state ends up with the least regulation of their horrible practices. Expand HSAs. Keep the bit about preexisting conditions, which has turned out to be pretty popular. And “permanently prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion,” one of the very few sops to the social conservatives in this documents.

Congressional reform is just that thing about forcing everyone to READ THE BILL, the thing about how every bill has to explain how the Constitution says it’s OK, allowing amendments on spending bills, and advancing legislation “one issue at a time.” This is the most Tea Party-influenced section.

National security is Gitmo forever, no immigration reform in defense authorization bills, and a demand for billions to be spent on useless missile systems to protect us from Iran’s cardboard rockets. (The deficits!!!) Also, bomb Iran. And build the danged fence.

At the end there is some nonsense about “card check” and “cap and trade” and also “We will fight efforts to use a national crisis for political gain.”

This is a deeply depressing document; I never thought I’d find the Republican Party stripped of its god-and-gays element even more moronic, but here you go. None of the policy prescriptions even pretend to address the actual problems they’re supposedly about, when those problems actually exist. There’s not a single word about Afghanistan. I guess I should be grateful that there wasn’t a section on dealing with ACORN. Even Erick Erickson is unimpressed.

Have fun with this, Republicans. Good luck working with the Senate, too — that’ll be extra fun when it’s like a one-seat majority and suddenly Susan Collins is the most important woman in the world.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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