Even before House Republican leaders formally rolled out their “Pledge to America” last week, it had come under sharp criticism from conservatives for not being ambitious enough. Red State’s Erick Erickson called the Pledge “a series of compromises and milquetoast rhetorical flourishes.” Likewise, under the headline “Empty Promise,” Andrew McCarthy of the National Review slammed the Pledge as “living proof” of the “GOP’s fear of grappling with” serious problems. Meanwhile, tea party activists and conservative candidates are wary of the hollow document.
Today, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), a staunch fiscal conservative, became perhaps the first GOP House member to publicly criticize his own caucus’ Pledge. When asked why the proposal doesn’t address Social Security and Medicare in an interview with Fox 26 in Houston, Poe explained that in his mind, “the Pledge really didn’t go far enough“:
HOST: Now, congressman, critics are saying that the Pledge does not address serious problems. Social Security. Medicare, which we’ve been talking about for many years. When will the public get some concrete plans on any massive funding for these particular needs?
POE: Understand that the Pledge is a general outline. Myself, and others, we think that the Pledge really didn’t go far enough.
Indeed, the Pledge completely ignores Social Security and Medicare. Asked to explain this glaring omission yesterday, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) astonishingly said his party’s new agenda is not intended to lay out solutions to problems. Rather, it is to explain the problems until Americans are ready to hear the “solutions.”
Poe seems to be distancing himself from House GOP leaders, saying, “voters are frustrated because of the concept that party leaders, in both parties, just have a lot of rhetoric.” Voters “should vote for the candidates — not for the party,” he added.