GOP oatmeal is mighty thin

Hoping to repeat the success of their 1994 “Contract With America,” House Republicans last week rolled out their “Pledge to America,” an extremely modest legislative agenda that calls for limiting federal spending, permanently extending all of the Bush tax cuts, and repealing President Obama’s signature health care law.

And then “replacing” it … whatever that means.

“Across America, the people see a government in Washington that isn’t listening, doesn’t get it, and doesn’t care,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner as he and other Republican leaders — in their shirtsleeves — released the 21-page document at a news conference at a hardware story and lumber yard in Sterling, Va.

“‘A Pledge to America’ offers a new way forward that hasn’t been tried in Washington: an approach focused on cutting spending instead of accelerating spending, and eliminating uncertainty for the private-sector innovators and entrepreneurs who create jobs,” Congresscritter Boehner said.

The phrasing is odd, apparently in an attempt to rebut Potlatch President Barack Obama’s claim that today’s Republicans seek to take the country back to the “failed policies of the past.”

In fact, the GOP does need to renounce the go-along-with-tax-and-spend agenda that it increasingly fell into from 1988 right up through the lost-my-veto-pen administration of George W. Bush. In dumping “Republicans in Name Only” like Delaware’s Mike Castle, instead nominating true fiscal conservatives like Nevada’s Sharron Angle, it has already made important early strides in that direction.

But low taxes and minimal government red tape made America great from its founding at least through 1912 — why claim that’s anything new or untried?

Why buy the rhetorical bull that pretends “going back” to the smaller-government principles that made America a beacon of freedom for centuries somehow means we’ll have to give up cell phones, color TV, and indoor bathtubs?

The GOP “pledge” calls for a reduction in federal spending to fiscal 2008 levels except for the Pentagon and Homeland Security; for citing specific constitutional authority when introducing legislation, and for requiring all bills to be posted online three days before votes — a pointed barb at Democratic measures including the 2000-page Obamacare legislation, of which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said “We have to pass it so we can find out what’s in it.”
Democrat response was not impressively thoughtful.

“If it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same litany that got us into this mess — tax cuts for the rich that costs millions of dollars,” White House chief spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

But tax cuts don’t “cost” Americans anything. Only taxes “cost” Americans. Leaving more Americans with more of the money they’ve earned — their own money — can only help the private-sector economy, while the notion that all money starts out belonging to the government, which thus sustains a “cost” when it “allows” some Americans to keep more than they need to barely subsist on, is pernicious socialism, if not a sign of an outright mental disorder.

A spokesman for House Speaker Pelosi, who has run up the biggest deficit in the nation’s history, said in an e-mail, “Congressional Republicans are pledging to ship jobs overseas, blow a $700 billion hole in the deficit to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires; turn Social Security from a guaranteed benefit into a guaranteed gamble … and take away patients’ rights.”

The Democrat plan, on the other hand, is to allow the unreformed Social Security Ponzi scheme to go bankrupt within decades — Medicare and Medicaid sooner — while Obama Health Gauleiter Katherine Sebelius is already threatening to punish health insurers who publicly admit Obamacare is driving up their costs and their customers’ rates.

While the Democratic rhetoric aims to make it seem radical — and thus gives it fat more credit than it’s due — the GOP plan is in fact mighty short on specifics.

It will “put government on a path to a balanced budget,” we’re told. But why a “path”? Why not slash federal programs so spending drops below revenues within 60 days? Why exempt the bloated Pentagon and all the blue-gloved airport goons? All we need in Afghanistan are some well-fortified Predator bases. Keep the Navy; bring home the Army and shrink it to what we can afford. Close TSA completely. Our airplanes would be perfectly safe if all law-abiding Americans were encouraged to carry their loaded sidearms aboard.

And “citing a constitutional authorization” for a bill is a meaningless sound bite, unless it specifies, “Anyone using the justification that ‘It advances the general welfare’ or ‘it indirectly impacts interstate commerce’ will be promptly stripped naked, tarred, feathered, set afire, and floated out to sea on the evening tide.”

We weren’t on a toboggan ride to insolvency and fiscal and currency collapse in 2006? Surely slashing spending back to pre-1988 levels (at least) to balance the budget immediately would be preferable. (I believe pre-1964 is the minimum required, while pre-1912 would be better.) Surely closing whole droves of counterproductive federal agencies that cripple the private sector with perverse red tape would be preferable. Surely it would be better to pledge to get rid of the death tax and the “capital gains” tax — both forms of double taxation on proceeds realized by investing post-tax dollars — completely.

(Environmentalism is a religion. The EPA is barred by the First Amendment. Close it on Feb. 1, 2011.)

The argument is that the current “pledge” shows House Republicans soberly analyzed what modest steps in the right direction they’re likely to be able to move forward during two more years when a misguided socialist America-hater, bent on destroying the free market economy, will still occupy the White House — that they would rather under-promise than stand accused of failure.

But I believe this shows the ‘Republican establishment” is nearly as out of touch as the Democrats. (Still proposing “cap and tax”, “card check,” national energy taxes, Value Added Taxes, and “tax hikes on the rich” in the middle of a Great Recession? No, let’s not settle for “out of touch”: the Democrats and most Republicans who have been in office more than a few years are clinically insane.)

We need gold and silver currency real soon. The Federal Reserve should be closed, and “fractional reserve banking” outlawed as fraud. Every restriction on creating new jobs — starting with the IRS and their “withholding tax,” but not neglecting the EPA, the ADA, and the MInimum Wage Act, should be repealed immediately, along with the death tax and the capital gains tax.

The fact that today’s supposedly “radical, extreme, right-wing” Republicans don’t even MENTION these things, let alone vow to do them, means that the most “extreme” vision of smaller government now offered by the Republican party will look like tea time at the peacock pavilion within a decade.

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