HOGAN: Pledge to nowhere

Too many words, too little leadership

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I want Republicans to win. But not just for the sake of it. It is not enough simply to get power. Republicans must demonstrate that they actually understand why they were sent home in 2006 and 2008 and that they are 100 percent committed to changing the direction of Washington now that America seems poised to give them another chance. Fail to do that, and the American people will send them home again.

The much-anticipated “Pledge to America” represents a glimpse into how Republicans plan to govern, and simply put, it’s a pledge to nowhere.

At a time when America needs a bold, simple, fresh plan for putting America on the path to fiscal and constitutional sanity, we get instead an almost 8,000-word term paper of inside-the-Beltway regurgitation that lacks the one thing the American people seem to be dying to have - actual leadership. Harsh? Hardly.

1. The pledge fails to address the single greatest threat to our nation’s long-term fiscal health: the fact that we have precisely zero dollars set aside for the more than $106 trillion in unfunded liabilities staring us in the face for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Instead, we get more of the same political rhetoric about seniors standing to lose Medicare because of Obamacare. Medicare is bankrupt. Social Security is bankrupt. For goodness sake, man up and do something about it.

2. The pledge blatantly fails even to mention earmarks, much less call for a ban on them. The issue here isn’t about how much money we will save. The issue is about congressional arrogance and their naked addiction to using your tax dollars to try to buy your votes back home.

3. The pledge offers no significant, concrete plan to reduce spending, such as a balanced-budget amendment or a spending limit amendment, relying instead on gimmicks such as weekly votes on spending cuts and hiring freezes, as well as nebulous promises to cap spending.

4. Perhaps most troubling of all, the pledge adopts the nonsensical “repeal and replace” mantra for Obamacare - offering as replacement yet more federal government mandates regarding pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps on benefits, which begs the question: Which mandates are unconstitutional, and which ones are not, GOP? Stop with the mandates. Stop it. A mandate that insurers cover pre-existing conditions is just as bad as the individual mandate on its face - but worse, you idiots, it will lead to an individual mandate because you cannot cover the already sick without mandating that the healthy participate. Just stop it.

In one asinine move, the GOP House leadership demonstrated that it is more interested in votes than in changing Washington and that it has learned nothing. In fact, all you need to know is that the ever-inspiring and bold David Frum wrote yesterday for AOL News about the pledge, “GOP to Tea Party: Your votes yes, your ideas no.”

Maybe if the self-dubbed “young guns” were focused on leading by virtue of the power given them in the Constitution rather than self-promotion, they would realize that words are not enough. But let’s take a look anyway.

The pledge is broken into five sections. Let’s go through them.

1. A plan to create jobs, end economic uncertainty and make America more competitive

In this section, you would think there would be something bold. Instead, we get a promise to prevent massive tax increases by making all current tax rates permanent (i.e., the George W. Bush tax cuts), a mediocre small-business tax deduction, an odd plan to require large-impact regulations to get congressional approval and a promise to end burdensome regulations imposed by Obamacare.

All fine, but pretty weak. How about reducing corporate tax rates to even the level of our competition in other countries? How about cutting or eliminating the capital gains tax? How about massively simplifying the tax code by adopting a flat tax or Fair Tax? How about picking 100 burdensome regulations to end within the first 100 days rather than some nebulous, difficult-to-carry-out promise to stop future regulation? Congress has given the executive branch the power to carry out most regulations. Take it away and be specific.

2. A plan to end out-of-control spending and reduce the size of government

Laudable goal. Weak plan.

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