The Monday morning column from Clark Judge:
Pledge to Fight
By Clark S. Judge, managing director, White House Writers Group, Inc.; chairman, Pacific Research Institute
The House GOP Pledge to America was unveiled last week. The Pledge was intended as a reprise to the 1994 Contract with America. The response to it has been surreal.
First have been the retorts from the Democrats. “Warmed over.” “Nothing new here.” You’ve heard it all. And you’ve seen the mainstream media following behind like trained dogs, which, to a large extent they are.
You might have expected the MSM to ask, didn’t the President and the Democratic leadership in Congress bolster their case for the widely reviled Obamacare legislation saying that it had first been proposed by Theodore Roosevelt, next by Harry Truman, last by Bill Clinton? If that’s not warmed over, what is? And if you, the MSM, get all tingly about warmed over Obamacare, why do you dismiss tax cuts, reduced and predictable regulation, and control of spending as warmed over?
We know the answer, of course. In Democrat and MSM world, more spending, more taxing of entrepreneurs and investors, more capricious regulation: these all qualify as bold and new — no matter how many times they are trotted out. And no matter how disastrous the results, they qualify as visionary and making things better than they would have been otherwise.
And we know the flip side that the MSM directs at Republicans. How can you afford the current lower taxes? How can you cut taxes and balance the budget?
Aren’t the right questions, how can you afford all that spending? And regarding taxation, how can we afford a stagnate economy? And in a world driven by entrepreneurship, how can we afford to tax entrepreneurs into financial impotence? How can we throw paralyzing regulations at all areas of business?
And wouldn’t it be worth a moment of the MSM noting that the totality of the administration’s program of the last two years may well have the long-term effect of suffocating the private economy even as it puts on steroids the public sector. Is such a policy sustainable?
I am dreaming, of course. The MSM would never think to ask such questions. So on Sunday’s Meet the Press, for example, David Gregory badgered, belittled, and spoke over again and again Congressman Mike Pence, but let Democrat Chris Van Hollen run on uninterrupted.
Meanwhile, reaction to the Pledge on the conservative side has been mixed, to put it mildly. On a Friday podcast on the Ricochet website (http://ricochet.com ), Andrew Breitbart declined to take sides, as the crossfire had been so ferocious between the Power Line and the Red State blogs. You know things are contentious when Andrew Breitbart declines to wade in.
To me the Pledge says several things:
First, most of the House GOP leadership and many of the members have heard clearly the discontent with the spending run-ups of 2000-2006. There appear to be holdouts. A good indicator of a holdout would be service on the appropriations committee.
I have heard from Capitol Hill insiders that this group poses a particular problem to reformers. Dedication to the ways of the appropriators was a major factor in Utah Senator Robert Bennett’s failure to win renomination. Congressman Jerry Lewis’ reported resistance to some parts of the Pledge and particularly to including a blanket rejection of earmarks is indicative of this problem. Lewis is slated to assume chairmanship of the committee, should the GOP take over the House.
Second, the Pledge includes repealing Obamacare, freezing all unspent stimulus dollars, and taking spending back to 2008 levels. All are excellent. Any action on these lines will draw a presidential veto. Unless the House and Senate become overwhelmingly GOP, enough to scare Democrats to going along, an override will, at least initially, be out of the question. Look for a government shutdown, which, for the Republicans, would not be a bad thing, actually.
The GOP’s sin in the government shutdown of 1995 was that it caved so quickly. Uncertain of public support, the GOP congressional leaders of the time took the Clinton administration’s first offer and were judged the losers in the standoff.
Given current polls, the Republicans would enjoy broad public support in a repeat match, even as the MSM pummeled them. But the media is no longer a monolith and it is a fair bet that, to the degree that the old mainstream media followed their traditional “yes, master” tag along after the Democrats, the MSM would see their already cratering audiences fall faster.
So the Pledge comes down to this: It is a Pledge that the Republicans will fight and fight hard in the next Congress. They won’t give in as they did in the mid-90s. They won’t go to the dark side of spending as they did in the 2000-2006.
In the political world the next Congress will face, such a pledge is serious and real.