GOP’s ‘Pledge to America’: Extend Bush Tax Cuts, Repeal Health Care Bill

BY Terence Burlij and Quinn Bowman  September 23, 2010 at 9:15 AM EDT

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.

Rep. Mike Pence. R-Ind., speaks at Tart Lumber in Sterling, Va., where House Republicans will unveil their “Pledge to America,” their agenda for the upcoming 111th Congress. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

House Republican leaders will unveil their “Pledge to America” Thursday, a 21-page document that provides a glimpse at how they intend to govern should they win back the majority this year.

The official rollout will take place during a 10 a.m. EDT news conference at a hardware store in Sterling, Va., but the Morning Line obtained a draft of the final text Wednesday night.

pledge.gifAccording to the document, the top priorities of a Republican-led House would be to permanently extend all tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush, not just the breaks for the middle class as President Obama and other Democratic leaders have proposed; give small businesses a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income; “repeal and replace” the health care law enacted by Democrats earlier this year; and reduce government spending to “pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels.”

In many respects the document appears to have been influenced by the rise of the conservative Tea Party movement, focusing heavily on fiscal issues, such as implementing a hiring freeze for non-security federal employees and ending the government’s involvement in mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The plan also proposes a requirement to publish all legislation online for at least three days before a vote in the House and to have “every bill contain a citation of Constitutional authority.”

As expected, the document was met with swift and critical reaction from Democrats, including Nadeam Elshami, spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “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; once again, subject American families to the recklessness of Wall Street; and take away patients’ rights. Republicans want to return to the same failed economic policies that hurt millions of American and threatened our economy,” Elshami said.

The release of the “Pledge” comes 16 years after House Republicans rolled out their “Contract with America” on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. That document, also released six weeks before Election Day, included eight major reforms Republicans pledged to pass on the first day of the 104th Congress and 10 pieces of legislation they planned to approve within the first 100 days of the session.

While the backdrop for Thursday’s unveiling has changed, Republicans are hoping their new governing agenda will produce similar results to their 1994 plan, which helped the party gain 54 seats that fall and reclaim the majority in the House for the first time in four decades.

POLL POSITION

CNN and Time Magazine released poll results Wednesday that paint a similarly negative picture for Democrats hoping to win Senate seats, but with an important silver lining.

According to the poll, the Democratic nominee is losing in close races in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Colorado incumbent Michael Bennet is down five points to challenger Ken Buck; Wisconsin incumbent Russ Feingold is down six points to Republican Ron Johnson; and in the race for the open seat in Pennsylvania, Republican Pat Toomey leads Democrat Joe Sestak by five percentage points.

The good news for Democrats is that Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell is losing to Democrat Chris Coons by 16 points. That seat seemed to be a lock for Republicans had establishment candidate Mike Castle won the Republican nomination.

Keep in mind that the margin of error for the Senate polling was +/- 3.5 percent.

A key drilldown on the Delaware race from Time’s Katy Steinmetz:

O’Donnell’s weakness is particularly noticeable among women, who favored Castle over Coons by a 56-37 margin, but who back Coons over O’Donnell nearly two to one. There is one group that O’Donnell has firmly in her back pocket: Tea Party supporters, 85 percent of whom say they favor her over the Democrat. But Coons leads O’Donnell in every age and economic bracket.

The polls reflected the views of likely voters. Republicans need a net gain of 10 seats to become the majority party in the U.S. Senate.

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