Commentary: GOP's 'Pledge to America' is all platitudes, little substance

The Sacramento BeeSeptember 24, 2010 

There should be little mystery now about what Republicans would do if they retake control of Congress on Nov. 2.

That's the good part of Thursday's unveiling of the GOP's "Pledge to America."

Here's the problem: There are precious few new ideas in the 21-page campaign manifesto. There's a dismaying dearth of detail on how Republicans would actually balance the federal budget or tackle politically toxic challenges on Social Security and Medicare. And there's certainly no real road map for an economic recovery that would create the millions of jobs the country desperately needs.

Instead, the legislative blueprint is full of platitudes about returning to America's founding principles, of attacks on President Barack Obama and of poll-tested, tired talking points designed to appeal to tea party activists and other disaffected Americans.

What proposals are made are awfully familiar: Reduce taxes, including extending all the Bush-era tax cuts, even though that would add trillions to the national debt; slash non-defense spending, again without many specifics that might be politically unpalatable; cancel Obama's stimulus plan, though it helped keep the country out of depression; and repeal and replace the landmark health care overhaul, even as consumer protections that will guard millions of Americans against profit-hungry insurers took effect Thursday.

Republicans are hoping history repeats itself. Before the 1994 mid-term election, Newt Gingrich put out the "Contract With America," helping Republicans win the House for the first time in 40 years and making Gingrich speaker. Fast-forward 16 years — House GOP leader John Boehner of Ohio hopes that his document is his ticket to oust Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

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