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GOP's Pledge to America laced with 'tea party' slogans

Economically, the GOP's Pledge to America, released Thursday, is aimed at small businesses, repealing health-care reform, for example. But the document is also a clear pledge to 'tea party' supporters: You can trust us.

By Staff writer / September 23, 2010

House Republican Leader John Boehner holds up a copy of 'A Pledge to America' while outlining 'A New Governing Agenda' for the 111th Congress at the Tart Lumber Company in Sterling, Va., on Thursday.

Larry Downing/Reuters

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Sterling, Va.

Flanked by drywall and cedar planks at a family-owned lumber company, House Republicans on Thursday released a long-promised governing agenda, laced with 'tea party' slogans, that aims to create jobs by shrinking the size and scope of government.

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Call it the un-stimulus. The heart of the Republican plan is that you create jobs by cutting government spending and reducing the uncertainty so that small businessmen, like the Tart Lumber Company in Sterling, Va., can invest and hire.

The plan would permanently extend the Bush tax cuts, repeal and replace health-care reform, zero-out unspent stimulus funds, and roll back government spending to 2008 levels – before President George W. Bush bailed out banks or President Barack Obama signed a $789 billion stimulus package.

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The plan also aims to restore trust in Congress, now near historic lows, and boost national and border security, including fully funding missile defense, enforcing sanctions against Iran, and reaffirming the authority of state and local law enforcement to assist in the enforcement of all federal immigration laws – a slap at the Justice Department’s lawsuit against Arizona.

What the plan does not include is a call for a balanced budget amendment, privatization of Social Security, or an outright ban on earmarks or projects targeted to member districts – all GOP conservative talking points in recent years. It also did not detail specific programs to be cut or signal how the increases in defense and homeland security spending squared with getting the nation back onto a path toward a balanced budget.

Missing also, either in the text or response to questions about it, is any hint that Republicans are open to compromise on a partial or incomplete extension of expiring tax cuts, ideas floated as recently as this month by House Republican leader John Boehner.

“I’ve made clear over the last 20 months, when Republicans were in control of Congress we made our share of mistakes,” Representative Boehner said, responding to questions at a press briefing in Sterling.

But Republicans have demonstrated by their votes that they are serious about cutting back government, he added.

“All of us opposed their stimulus bill twice, all of our members voted against their budget twice, nearly all of our members voted against their energy tax, and all of our members voted against health care. We are very serious about implementing our pledge.”

After decades in the minority, Republicans took back the House in 1994 on a promised Contract with America. Now in reach of taking back the House again, Republicans are defending their record of spending during their last 12 years in power, especially to the tea party activists that have roiled primary contests for incumbents. House Republicans are calling this plan a “pledge.”

"We had a contract. This is new,” said Rep. Mike Pence (R) of Indiana. “I hope people understand it means a commitment.”

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