The Republicans' 'Pledge to America' UPDATED

Today, the House Republicans released their Pledge to America. David Frum, the Republican whose claim to fame these days is bashing other Republicans, is already panning it, which tells me that it's probably praiseworthy.

In fact, the very idea that Frum is trying to position himself as the Tea Party's advocate, as he does in his post on the Pledge, is risible. He has no demonstrated connection to the Tea Party's priorities, and is in fact their enemy in a way: his "compassionate conservatism" is big government, of the very kind that is bankrupting the nation and that the Tea Party despises. In many ways, the Tea Party is a revolt against the Beltway-captive Frums of the world. But enough about him.

The "Pledge to America" name is obviously intended to invoke the 1994 "Contract with America" that the Republicans used to centralize and nationalize their message that year en route to taking both houses of Congress for the first time in decades. As a historical allusion, it's good. Republicans unified and rode to victory in 1994, and are on the verge of doing the same thing in 2010. I would have preferred something bolder, and in fact proposed a "Freedom Agenda" to the RNC several months back when I was still inside the party structure. But the "Pledge to America" is solid.

It tells the voters that the Republicans in the House, who can be expected to walk point in opposing President Obama's threatened "fundamental transformation of America" after November, understand the task that's before them, are mindful of the history that's behind them, and mean business. They will stop the Obama agenda and replace it with a better set of priorities that will help restore fiscal sanity and a healthier relationship between the people and our government.

The document begins with a paraphrase of the Declaration of Independence, but changes course over the question of ending tyrannical government: the Pledge calls for changing the agenda of government rather than changing the government itself. As for its goals, they can be summed up this way:


- Stop job-killing tax hikes

- Allow small businesses to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income

- Require congressional approval for any new federal regulation that would add to the deficit

- Repeal small business mandates in the new health care law.

Cutting Spending:

- Repeal and replace health care

- Roll back non-discretionary spending to 2008 levels before TARP and stimulus (will save $100 billion in first year alone)

- Establish strict budget caps to limit federal spending going forward

- Cancel all future TARP payments and reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Reforming Congress:

- Will require that every bill have a citation of constitutional authority

- Give members at least 3 days to read bills before a vote


- Provide resources to troops

- Fund missile defense

- Enforce sanctions in Iran