Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Pledge to America: The Right Makes Its Move: Via the Tea Party: Via the Reaction to Obama and Before Him Bush

GOP 'Pledge': Spending caps, tax cuts

By: Jonathan Allen and Jake Sherman and Richard E. Cohen

September 22, 2010 04:33 PM//Politico

House Republicans will release a "Pledge to America," an ambitious and sweeping set of proposed changes to domestic and security policy, including promises to freeze most federal government hiring, cut Congress' budget, place hard caps on domestic spending accounts, prevent the phase-out of tax cuts that are set to expire in 2011, and "repeal and replace" the new health care law.

Many of the reforms envisioned by House Republicans are highly unlikely ever to become law, but others foreshadow tough fights with President Barack Obama's administration over spending, taxation and national security policy if Republicans win control of the House in November's mid-term election. Another set would require simple changes to House rules.

Republicans plan to unveil the Pledge to America — a much more comprehensive agenda than the 1994 Contract with America — at a hardware store in Sterling, Va. on Thursday. POLITICO reporters viewed a draft of the 20-plus page manifesto Wednesday afternoon.

Republicans are holding a conference meeting late Wednesday to discuss and approve a final version of the agenda.

Democrats already are calling Republicans' plan warmed-over stew, and many of the proposed reforms are already embodied in legislation that has been introduced in the House or espoused by House GOP leaders.

The presentation includes graphs on the economy, as well as quotations from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and former presidents Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy.

The plan is divided into five parts: spending, jobs, government reform, national security and health care.

To cut spending, Republicans say they are committed to canceling remaining expenditures from the 2009 stimulus law, return domestic appropriations to 2008 levels, impose "hard" budget caps on discretionary spending accounts, reduce spending for congressional operations, have weekly floor votes on winners of the "YouCut" program that allows citizens to vote online for programs that should be slashed, end the Troubled Asset Relief Program, end government control of the secondary home-mortgage lending giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, freeze federal hiring for non-security jobs, sunset programs after a certain number of years, and use more straightforward budgeting for entitlement programs.

The jobs section includes pledges to stop all planned 2011 tax increases -- including the expiration of the 2001 Bush tax cuts for individuals and the re-establishment of the estate tax. It also calls for a small business tax deduction that allows owners to take a 20 percent deduction, roll back the so-called 1099 requirement that businesses report certain spending to the IRS and establish a requirement that new federal regulations that cost more than $100 million get congressional approval.

Republicans believe that the debate over Obama's health care overhaul has helped position them to take over the House, and they devote a substantial portion of their agenda to repealing that law and replacing it with a scaled-back version.

The line items include well-known Republican priorities like enacting medical liability reform and allowing for the purchase of insurance policies across state lines. But it also calls for keeping the prohibition on denial of insurance because of pre-existing conditions and expanding health savings accounts -- all provisions they pushed during the health care debate earlier in this Congress. In a bow to social conservatives, Republicans vow to prohibit the taxpayer funding of abortions -- although in a way that tracks with the existing Hyde Amendment.

Only one other social issue, protecting "traditional marriage," is mentioned in the document -- and it is relegated to the preamble rather than the portion addressing legislative proposals.

Republicans say they want to alter the way Congress does business by encouraging lawmakers to read bills before they get a vote and ensuring legislation adheres to the Constitution -- a role generally reserved to the courts.

In one standout procedural promise that could prove difficult to keep, Republicans say they will let any lawmaker offer an amendment to a bill that would cut spending.

On national security, Republicans stuck to some of their most popular messages of the past year. They promise to offer "clean" troop funding bills -- a nod to their opposition to Democrats attaching extemporaneous items onto supplemental war appropriations legislation. And they are pledging, somewhat broadly, to keep individuals suspected of committing terrorist acts off American soil. They say they will not offer them Miranda rights or try them in civilian courts.

They also vow to "hold President Obama responsible" for any one-time Guantanamo Bay detainees who engage in terrorism or other acts against the United States after their release.

Finally, Republicans promise that they will enforce tough sanctions against Iran and fully fund missile defense programs.

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