GOP wants to roll back Obama policies
Staff and Wire Reports
Created: 09/26/2010 09:42:23 PM PDT

Pushing toward big gains on Nov. 2, House Republicans on Thursday promised to end a slew of Democratic policies and restore Americans’ trust in government as they rolled out a campaign manifesto designed to show they’re listening to an angry public and are focused on creating jobs.

“The land of opportunity has become the land of shrinking prosperity. … Our government has failed us,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield. “We will take back our country. We will restore for a better future. This is our pledge to you.”

At a hardware store in suburban Washington, senior House Republicans in shirt sleeves showed off the 21-page document they say would guide them should they gain a majority of seats in the midterm balloting five weeks away.

The “Pledge to America” was filled with familiar proposals to slash taxes and spending and cut down on government regulation, as well as repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law and end his stimulus program.

While those proposals have been heard throughout the campaign, Rep. David Dreier, R-San Dimas, said the pledge places an increased focus on reducing government spending and presents a concise document of GOP ideas.

“For the past 20 months, we have had this drum beat saying Republicans are the party of no – and I think `no’ is a positive thing when you talk about this monumental spending we have seen. … But now that we have this document, people cannot say that we are simply the party
of no. They know we have got very positive ideas,” Dreier said.

The unveiling capped a private debate among Republicans that had pitted those who favored making an agenda public against others who argued it would merely open the party’s candidates to criticism in a campaign that has been tilting their way.

Republicans have sought to turn the midterm elections into a referendum on the policies of Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress. Democrats, in turn, want it to become a choice between two alternatives – what they describe as their own efforts to fix the economy, as opposed to what they criticize as Bush-era policies that led to a severe recession.

Democrats dismissed the GOP plan as recycled ideas from the Bush era that would further exacerbate the nation’s problems.

“It’s a pledge to take America backwards,” said Rep. Judy Chu, D-El Monte. “They are returning to the same agenda that caused the deepest recession since the Great Depression.”

The plan steers clear of specifics on important issues, such as how it will “put government on a path to a balanced budget.” It omits altogether the question of how to address looming shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare, which account for a huge portion of the nation’s soaring deficit, instead including a vague promise: “We will make the decisions that are necessary to protect our entitlement programs.”

And despite a heavy focus on reduced spending, it does not specify where spending cuts would be made.

“I look at it and think, `What fantasy world are they living in?”‘ said Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood.

But Dreier said the “real thrust” of the pledge is job creation and economic growth, both of which he said would be spurred by specific tax cut provisions, one continuing the Bush tax cuts and the second giving small business owners a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their business income.

And Rep. Gary Miller, R-Brea, said the pledge is meant to establish the principles of the party’s plan, with details to come.

“It sets a preamble to what we plan on doing. We will back it up with legislation,” he said.

With polls showing voters disenchanted with Obama, worried about the economy and mad at elected officials, the agenda also vows to change the way Congress works – requiring every bill to cite its constitutional authority, for example, and to be made public for three days before a vote.

“Putting spending, putting the policy of economic growth in place and cleaning up the way Congress works is not only a stark contrast to this president and this Congress,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. “It’s a contrast to the way we conducted ourselves a decade ago. We spent too much money. We lost our way.”

But Chu dismissed pledges of transparency as “empty promises.”

“I don’t anticipate they will carry through with their promises,” she said. Republicans are favored to add substantially to their ranks on Nov. 2, perhaps enough to seize control of the House.

Their new agenda could appeal both to Tea Party activists and to independent voters the GOP is courting in its quest for control.

“Regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent,” the pledge says. “An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many.”

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