So far reaction to the Pledge to America among conservatives has been mixed. There are always going to be those, such as the National Review, The Weekly Standard, Newt Gingrich and Dan Reihl, who will choose politics over principle and cheer Team Republican no matter what. But let’s be honest, the Pledge is weak.
There is no acknowledgment whatsoever of the reasons they were tossed out of control of Congress by voters in 2006. As Leslie Carbone, author of Slaying Leviathan: The Moral Case for Tax Reform, wrote via Twitter, “I’m not going to get excited [regarding] any GOP Contract II that doesn’t open [with] credible contrition for outrages of last 20 yrs.”
Some of those outrages are spending on par with Lyndon B. Johnson (including dramatically increasing non-defense discretionary spending), passing a new entitlement in Medicare Part D and expanding government involvement in education with No Child Left Behind. Each example of fiscal profligacy above was supported by Johnny Isakson and Nathan Deal, as well as some of the other Republican members of Georgia’s congressional delegation.
House Republicans had a chance to make a stand on fiscal issues and entitlements and they missed it, choosing to play it safe instead. They actually endorse parts of ObamaCare and do not commit to repealing the individual mandate. And unfortunately, there is absolutely not mention of earmarks, neither reform or continuing the self-imposed moratorium.
Robert Robb at the Arizona Republic calls the GOP out on Medicare (the largest of our entitlement programs that make up $66 trillion in commitments made by Congress) and other platitudes in the Pledge to America:
On spending, House Republicans promised restraint “with common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans and our troops.” A pledge of spending restraint that begins with an exception for seniors isn’t serious.
Republicans are beating up Democrats for cutting Medicare spending. If Republicans are serious, they will also have to cut Medicare, not roll the savings into new health-care entitlements as Obama has done but just to reduce unsustainable spending.
On health care, Republicans say they will impose mandates that will increase costs to health-insurance companies. Fewer than Obama, but meaningful ones nonetheless.
The Pledge to America turns Republicans from the “Party of No” into the “Party of Maybe Not as Bad as the Democrats.”
If that’s how they’re going to campaign, that’s how they’re going to govern. We’ve heard that record before and conservatives, fiscal conservatives and libertarians rejected it. The disapproval of Barack Obama may bring voters out, but a tepid “pledge” isn’t going to keep you there.