Republican spells out policy agenda in “Pledge to America”
WASHINGTON — House Republicans will issue a legislative blueprint Thursday called “A Pledge to America” that they hope will catapult them to a majority in the November elections. Its goals include a permanent extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts, repeal of the newly enacted health care law, a cap on discretionary federal spending and an end to government control of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
With control of the House, the Republicans said they would seek to immediately cancel any unspent money from last year’s $787 billion economic stimulus program, to freeze the size of the “nonsecurity” federal work force and to quickly slash $100 billion in discretionary spending. But the blueprint, with echoes of the 1994 Contract With America, does not specify how the spending reductions would be carried out.
While the agenda is drafted broadly, offering bullet points of overarching objectives rather than detailed proposals — and any legislation championed by Republicans in the next Congress, of course, could be subject to a veto by President Barack Obama — the document represents the most concrete presentation of Republican goals so far this year. Aides said it was intended to show that the party was prepared to govern and that in many cases legislation had already been drafted for many of the proposals in the plan, although specific bill numbers were not cited.
The blueprint was also clearly intended to provide fresh ideas to answer assertions by Obama and Democrats that Republicans simply wanted to return to the policies of the Bush administration. Still, many of the proposals represent classic Republican ideals of small government and low taxes pursued for generations by George W. Bush and other party leaders.
Among the specific policy points is a proposal to allow small businesses to take a new tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income. Aides said the proposal was first put forward as part of the Republican alternative to the Democrats’ economic stimulus plan, at a projected cost of $50 billion over 10 years.
While the document emphasizes a goal of long-term fiscal stability, including reductions in the deficit and a “path to a balanced budget,” it offers no specifics about changes to big entitlement programs, including Social Security and Medicare, that would be required to achieve such stability.
In the document, to be officially unveiled at a news conference at a hardware store and lumberyard in Sterling, Va., House Republican leaders also seek to seize on the anger and frustration that many voters seem to feel about Washington these days.
“In a self-governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent,” the Republicans wrote in the introduction. “An unchecked executive, a compliant legislature and an overreaching judiciary have combined to thwart the will of the people.”