We Pledge to Cite Constitutional Authority… Most of the Time

Have you seen the new Republican governing agenda document from the www.GOP.gov website?  It’s called “A Pledge to America – A New Governing Agenda Built On the Priorities of our Nation, the Principles we Stand for, and America’s Founding Values.”   

I finally got around to reading it over the weekend and was initially very impressed.  They’ve even put together a nice video to promote it:

The Pledge Preamble on Video

The Pledge to Cite Constitutional Basis for All Bills

The preamble and foreword are very strong, very Constitutional, and they very much reiterate the principles set forth in our Declaration of Independence.  Most of the content and pledges are impressive, too.  Here’s my favorite:

“We will require that every bill contain a citation of Constitutional authority.” (page 7)

 “We will require each bill moving through Congress to include a clause citing the specific Constitutional authority upon which the bill is justified.”  (page 33)

Wow.  Impressive.  Finally, we are getting some substance, some strength, something from our party that we can sink our teeth into.  Something in writing.  

But then…

The Pledge to Control Spending

In the chapter titled “A Plan to Stop Out of Control Spending and Reduce the Size of Government,” they say they will “put government on a path to a balanced budget and pay down the debt” with strong agendas like cutting spending to pre-stimulus levels, establish caps on discretionary spending, cut the Congressional budget, vote weekly on spending cuts, end TARP and government control of Fannie and Freddie, and more.  All great, solid plans I can fully support.  Then they assure us this:

“We will make the decisions that are necessary to protect our entitlement programs for today’s seniors and future generations.”  (page 22)

Ummm… does the Constitution state anything about entitlement programs? 

The Health Care Pledge

Then, I turned to the chapter titled “A Plan to Repeal and Replace the Government Takeover of Health Care.”  In this section, they pledge to repeal ObamaCare, enact medical liability reform, free us to purchase health insurance across state lines, expand health savings accounts, and permanently prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion.  These are all steps in the right direction, and they all give me hope that maybe we really can repeal this horrific threat to freedom.  Until they start talking about this:

“We will repeal President Obama’s government takeover of health care and replace it with common-sense reforms focused on strengthening the doctor-patient relationship.”  (page 27)

Health care should be accessible for all, regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses.  We will expand state high-risk pools, reinsurance programs and reduce the cost of coverage.  We will make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, eliminate annual and lifetime spending caps, and prevent insurers from dropping your coverage just because you got sick.”  (page 27) 

Now, that took the wind out of my sails.  Common-sense reforms?  (If health care by itself were allowed to be a free market, it wouldn’t need reforming.)  Accessible for all?  (It never wasn’t accessible for all, in case nobody knew that.)  Can someone please cite Constitiutional authority for any health care or insurance company oversight, regulation, or laws?   

A Great Start but…

The Republican Pledge to America is a great start and a great idea.  It’s a strong foundational message that has been lacking from the Republican party for some time.  The current nationwide election battles between “grassroots” and “establishment” candidates are symptomatic of the confusion, frustration, and lack of clear, consistent direction and ideology from the party. 

Is it still a conservative party?  Is it going to continue becoming more moderate?  Exactly what does it mean to be a Republican anymore?  Those are the questions the pledge needed to address.  

This document helps re-establish the party’s vision and gives us something to hold onto.  Regretfully, the quotes above show where the pledge undermines itself and weakens its own Constitutional foundation and vision by caving to the entitlement ideology. 

That’s not good for the party.  And that’s not good for freedom.

But it’s a start.

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