On jobs: Extend all of the Bush tax cuts; let small business owners take a tax deduction equal to 20% of their business income; require congressional approval for any regulation with an annual price tag of $100 million or more; repeal the Obamacare mandate that business purchases of more than $600 require a 1099 form.
On spending: Cut federal spending to pre-bailout levels; cap new congressional spending; cut Congress’ own budget; hold weekly votes on spending cuts; cancel TARP; end federal support of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; freeze federal hiring of non-security employees; sunset federal programs so they have to be renewed by Congress rather than continue indefinitely; have a “full accounting” of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and refuse to expand unfunded liabilities.
On health care: Repeal Obamacare; pass tort reform; expand health savings accounts; pass laws to strengthen the doctor-patient relationship; let people purchase insurance across state lines; ensure access to care for people with pre-existing conditions; prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions.
On congressional reform: Require that every bill be posted for three days before it is voted on; require all bills to contain a provision citing the specific clause in the Constitution that authorizes the action they take; advance legislation one bill at a time and prevent members from adding unpopular legislation to must-pass bills; allow amendments that cut spending to be added to any spending bill.
On national security: forbid troop-funding bills from being slowed by unrelated add-ons; keep captured terrorists out of the United States; have foreign terrorists tried in military courts; oppose mirandizing foreign terrorists caught overseas; fully fund missile defense; require tough enforcement of sanctions against Iran; establish “operational control” of the border; work with state and local governments to enforce immigration laws; strengthen visa security.
Any conservative looking at that list should conclude that it’s pretty good. It’s not radical. It’s not libertarian. It has flaws. It doesn’t go far enough on economic growth or government reform. It doesn’t even mention earmarks. And some of the changes could be easy to get around. For example, some regulations could possibly be broken into parts to avoid the $100 million congressional approval threshold. And some are contradictory. After promoting “freedom” and “liberty” and “free-markets,” the document asserts that Republicans will pass some of the same costly regulations on health insurers that the Democrats passed in Obamacare.
So it’s not a great document. But it’s a pretty good one. And it gives Republicans a middle ground – firmly on the center-right — to run between the Democrats’ extremism on the Left and what might generally be called the Tea Party movement’s more conservative activism on the Right. In other words, it’s a shrewd political maneuver. It signals to the Tea Partiers that the GOP is listening, but it doesn’t go so far as to alienate moderate swing voters.
On the whole, it’s a solid alternative to Obamaism. The question is: will Republicans follow through if the people give them the power to turn the Pledge into reality?
Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. His Twitter ID is Drewhampshire.
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