After following a long road to completion, the GOP’s “Pledge to America” is finally being announced today in Sterling, Virginia, and almost everybody thinks it’s a bad idea. That’s because the document, while it proposes a seemingly well trodden list of Republican talking points that includes repealing health care, freezing domestic spending increases, and extending the Bush tax cuts, plays into Democrats’ desire to frame the election as a ‘choice’ between two agendas, rather than a referendum on the state of the economy under a Democratic controlled Congress.
The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder notes that it simply gives Democrats a more defined target:
Republicans don’t need a Contract or a Pledge. Their base is energized. The Democrats aren’t. A Pledge that doesn’t increase the information content about the Republican brand.-The folks who are going to vote arguably know Republicans stand for the stuff in the pledge because Republicans have been talking about this stuff since the beginning of the cycle. Arguably, it gives Democrats more of a defined target, something that they can reach out with two fingers, poke eyeballs, and redirect to. Arguably-ably, a more substantive governing document, had the Republicans been able to produce such a creature, would have made it harder for Democrats to demagogue.
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein, meanwhile, has already gotten the ball rolling on that process, poking some pretty worrisome holes in the new GOP road map:
You’re also left with a difficult question: What, exactly, does the Republican Party believe? The document speaks constantly and eloquently of the dangers of debt — but offers a raft of proposals that would sharply increase it. It says, in one paragraph, that the Republican Party will commit itself to “greater liberty” and then, in the next, that it will protect “traditional marriage.” It says that “small business must have certainty that the rules won’t change every few months” and then promises to change all the rules that the Obama administration has passed in recent months. It is a document with a clear theory of what has gone wrong — debt, policy uncertainty, and too much government — and a solid promise to make most of it worse.
Of course, Republicans didn’t just release the Pledge for fun. They’re responding to some pretty serious charges that all they’re good at is saying ‘no’ to Democratic overreach, and now that the prospect of governing is within their grasp, they want to remind voters that they haven’t forgotten how. ”The key for the electorate is which party has the better plan to create jobs and grow the economy,” GOP pollster David Winston tells Chris Cillizza at The Fix. “If you don’t have a jobs and economic plan, why would the electorate give you the responsibility of governing?”