Voters should think before singing Pledge

The Republican’s recently–published “Pledge to America” is little more than vapid rhetoric.  It doesn’t provide viable solutions to America’s problems. It is great marketing; great marketing, though, doesn’t necessarily mean a great product.

Voters shouldn’t let the pledge influence their balloting this November.

The Pledge is the Republican plan for steering this country’s ship, assuming that the midterm elections give them the majority in the House of Representatives, the Senate or both.

It’s published in a 48–page pamphlet that contains sections regarding ending “economic uncertainty,” cutting spending and reducing the size of government as a whole.  It also addresses repealing the health care reform passed this past spring, “reform[ing]” Congress and “restor[ing] trust,” checks and balances and “keep[ing] our nation secure at home and abroad,” which is a euphemism both for continuing to fight endless wars and for enacting discriminatory immigration laws, such as the one passed in Arizona earlier this year.

It’s similar to the “Contract with America,” a plan proposed by Newt Gingrich in 1994, the year the Republicans took control of Congress from the Democrats for the first time since 1954.

However, in contrast to the Contract, the Pledge comes with no legislative proposals. The Contract came with 10 bills to be debated and voted on. The Pledge, on the other hand, comes with two distinct problems.

First, they’re throwing amendment ideas about improvements to make to government policies and programs, but no real explanation of how these improvements will work.

For instance, the Pledge advocates the Republican tax plan of making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Making the cuts permanent, the GOP claims, “means protecting middle–class families, seniors worried about their retirements and the entrepreneurs and family–owned small businesses on which we depend to create jobs in America.”

This is actually not true.

The Democratic plan –– presumably what the Pledge is responding to –– includes ending only the tax cuts for “individuals making more than $200,000 a year, or couples jointly making more than $250,000,” according to

Republicans, through the Pledge, really just want to extend tax cuts for that upper income bracket.

That bracket does not include the “middle class,” ambiguous a term as that is.  It includes merely the richest three percent of Americans, as noted by Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post, who added that the tax cuts have added “up to $2.3 trillion over 10 years” to the federal deficit.

So how, exactly, will continuing tax cuts for the extremely wealthy help “middle–class families, seniors worried about retirement, and the entrepreneurs and family–owned small businesses”?

The second problem is the vast majority of the Pledge is insults directed at the Democratic majority in Congress rather than alternatives to the policies enacted by that same majority.

They do this by using pejorative terms to describe the Democrats while aligning themselves with cozy, though politically vapid, terms.

I’ll use their health care tirade as an example.  They describe the Democratic health care reform law, passed in April, as a “government takeover of health care.”

Sure fits nicely with their image of Democrats as government bureaucrats, eh?

Unfortunately for them, the health care law is not a “government takeover of health care.” Democrats tried to create a government–funded alternative to corporate health care, but that didn’t make it into the final law.

Rather, the health care law actually gives business to corporate health care providers while ensuring that every American can afford health care.

The government’s role has more to do with regulating the health care system and ensuring its accountability.

This is a similar role to the one the government takes with food and drugs (through the Food & Drug Administration) as well as countless other regulatory bodies.

Republicans, on the other hand, align themselves not with regulation but with “common–sense reforms focused on strengthening the doctor–patient relationship,” and “common–sense solutions focused on lowering costs and protecting American jobs.”

That’s some great marketing.  It’s all very appealing in theory, probably to any American.

But what does it mean, and how does it work?

If Republicans knew, they would have pledged it to us.  But they don’t. So don’t take the bait this November.