The Corner

Reading the Pledge

I can’t say the GOP “Pledge to America” left me either shaken or stirred. I guess it’s okay politics at the ya-boo level, but the blather quotient in this document is awfully high. To my eye it has a deckchair-rearranging look about it.

Permanent bailouts, government takeovers, threats of tax increases and “stimulus” spending sprees have combined to create uncertainty for private investment in our economy and keep employers on the sidelines.

True enough; but what’s really driving the decline in long-term investment is doubts arising from those colossal looming entitlement expenditures, combined with skepticism about our future trade prospects. (The word “trade” does not occur in the Pledge document outside the phrase “cap and trade.”)

We will set strict budget caps to limit federal spending on an annual basis. Budget caps were used in the 1990s, when a Republican Congress was able to bring the budget into balance and eventual surplus.

That leaves out an awful lot of the subsequent history of tho  se budget caps. You guys have some new, waterproof way to do this?

We will enact common-sense medical liability reforms to lower costs, rein in junk lawsuits and curb defensive medicine.

While respecting the Tenth Amendment? (Which you promised to do on another page.) And in the teeth of opposition from the Trial Lawyers’ Association? Lotsa luck.

We will launch a prolonged campaign to transfer power back to the people and ensure they have a say in what goes on in the Congress.

Blather. “Transferring power back to the people” always means transferring it to noisy interest groups who have the motivation, passion and funds to game the system. The people already have all the power they can have in a system that permits open lobbying. (Which ours does — it’s in the Constitution.)

We will require each bill moving through Congress to include a clause citing the specific constitutional authority upon which the bill is justified.

Hoo boy, so every legislative act will now come with a lengthy debate on constitutional exegesis? That should gum up the works.

We will require the Department of Homeland Security to review all visa applications at high-risk consular posts and prevent aliens from attempting to avoid deportation after having their visas revoked.

Just two words, guys: Zeituni Onyango. While anti-American leftists dominate our law schools, the ethnic rackets keep their shakedown operations going, and cheap-labor lobbies have the ears of lawmakers, the immigration system will continue to be the appalling, overburdened, dysfunctional dog’s breakfast it is. In this environment, if you can get percent of visas “reviewed” from ten to fifteen, and percent of visas “revoked” from one to two, you’ll have accomplished a miracle.

And so on. Look, I don’t want to rain on the GOP’s parade, and the Pledge is probably a neat tactical move at this point in the game. It’s just that our problems are much bigger, deeper, and more systemic than you’d know from reading the thing. I think this is generally understood, and accounts for the feeble showing of the Republican party in polls. As evidence that congressional Republicans have truly learned the lessons of 1994–2006 and will clean up their act if given majorities in November, it’s not very convincing.

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