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Disappearing The Pledge and Jamming Down The Deal

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The worst part of “the deal” is the damage it does to the Pledge to America. Speaker-designate Boehner’s website prominently features the Pledge, and this Facebook page provides all the handy links to GOP rhetoric about it from September forward.

“The deal” violates five provisions of the Pledge, though hopefully one of those provisions –“Read the bill”– will be honored before the House votes on “the deal” this week. Representative Steve King of Iowa bluntly declared what everyone knows on last night’s Sean Hannity program –he hasn’t read the bill yet because there is no bill to read. Thus all the GOP members declaring for the bill have been abandoning the pledge for the sake of creating a sense of momentum around “the deal.”

On yesterday’s program Congressmen Dan Lungren and Tom McClintock, both fiscal conservatives, declared for “the deal.” Both argue that it was the best this Congress could do. Many conservatives reject that argument, but it is obviously a legitimate position to hold.

But the GOP leadership needs to get out and talk about the Pledge and why it needs to be abandoned for the moment but will guide the new Congress. That is a hard thing to do, the legislative equivalent of “I picked a bad day to quit drinking,” but pretending that there isn’t a problem here is a much worse course of action.

Speaker designate Boehner did a very good job on 60 Minutes Sunday, but now it would be helpful to go on conservative media with critics of “the deal” explain the deal and why its inconsistency with the Pledge is a necessary evil. and others are angry with the terms of the compromise, and the worst thing to do with critics is ignore them, as Democrats discovered when they bolted their townhalls in the summer of 2009. GOP leadership has to get out of the bunker and defend the compromise even if they don’t persuade a single set of ears.

Over at Tapped, the blog of The American Prospect, lefty Tim Fernholz is happy that the deal has become a wedge issue splitting conservatives apart. With Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn and many others blasting the deal, the split seems to be between the Beltway GOP and the grassroots. Before any House vote is taken, the leadership needs to hear out the objections and respond publicly–even if they still go the other way.

The deal was mistake one. Jamming it through and pretending the Pledge isn’t breached as a result would be a much greater mistake.



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