House Republicans’ gimmicky new “Pledge to America” repeatedly refers to itself — including on its cover page — as a “new governing agenda” to “set a different course” for the country. Nonetheless, it has come under withering criticism from right, left, and center for being little more than regurgitated rhetoric and repackaged failed GOP ideas.
While Republican leaders have tried to sell the originality of the proposal, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) — the number three House Republican — couldn’t seem to decide whether his party’s Pledge was new or old yesterday during an appearance on Meet the Press. At first, he insisted that the Pledge does indeed have “new ideas.” But just moments later, after being pushed by host David Gregory, Pence admitted, “What we have in this proposal is not necessarily new“:
GREGORY: And one of the big issues if you go back even to interviews I’ve done with Republican leaders after the election of President Obama was that this wanted to be the party of new ideas. … So what’s new here?
PENCE: Well, ending bailouts and cutting spending in Washington, D.C. is a new idea, david! And the truth is, look, Republicans didn’t lose our majority in 2006, we lost our way. We walked away from the principles of fiscal discipline and reform that minted our governing majority back in 1980 and again in 1994. And the american people walked away from us. What we have in this proposal is not necessarily new — the idea of fiscal responsibility, pro growth policies, openness and transparency in government are solid american ideas. What Republicans are committing to in the pledge for america is taking important first steps in this congress to steer our national government back to the basic practices.
As for new ideas, Pence’s citation of “ending bailouts and cutting spending” is pretty pathetic. Of course, cutting spending is not a new idea — the GOP’s own website proudly states that “reducing the size of government” was “adopted early on” by the party.
And as a Roll Call analysis published today found, the rest of the Pledge is equally recycled. The Pledge was supposed to be the product of a website House Republicans created to listen to the American peoples’ new ideas called America Speaking Out. However, Roll Call found that “only one provision [in the Pledge] appears to have come solely from that effort.” The rest of the proposals “already existed as a part of other House Republican initiatives or as bills offered by individual Members months before the website was launched,” the Capitol Hill newspaper continued.
Less than a week after its big roll-out, the narrative of the Pledge as a bold new policy vision appears to be collapsing — even in the minds of Republican leaders. Yesterday, House Minority Leader John Boehner said the Pledge is not “about potential solutions,” but rather just serves to highlight the problems, while Pence admitted it is “not necessarily new.” Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), who is the deputy chairman of the America Speaking Out project, went even further when confronted with the Roll Call analysis, saying, “Let’s face it, none of these topics are new topics.”