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Why Conservative Support For The Deal May Unravel: The Pledge To America and Primary Opponent Rhetoric

Wednesday, December 8, 2010  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

At the close of his show yesterday, Rush noted matter-of-factly that the GOP could have gotten so much more than they did. That was a quiet but not-likely-to-be-missed signal to the back benchers that trouble is headed their way with this vote. They had all better be listening to Rush very closely today. He jokes about being “titular head of the Republican Party,” but he has an uncanny grasp of how his audience reacts to politics, which is not surprising since he has been doing this 20 years. Incredibly, no one on the GOP side thought to ask him for thoughts on the wisdom of “the deal” before it became the deal.

As noted below, Jim DeMint came out against the deal on my program last night, and Michele Bachmann all but did while noting, rightly, that as the last election was all about actually reading the bills presented to the members, she wanted to withhold judgment until the proposal was before her and not commit on the basis of press reports. This is a very smart caution to all GOP members, who must insist that they get the bill with plenty of time to read the fine print, and to distribute the fine print to the scores of new representatives and senators about to be sworn in.

The real problems for conservatives are two.

First, any conservative who votes for the deal is voting to resurrect the death tax. The death tax is at zero right now, driven there by a decade of step downs and a moral argument, widely and deeply held, that this vampire tax is wrong on many levels. Any Republican who votes for the deal is voting to undo that demise. Any future primary opponent will be sure to campaign on the fact that the incumbent voted to resurrect the death tax –a powerful club with which to beat a senator facing a Tea Party challenge, and some of the redistricted old bulls of the House as well.

The House GOP has a second huge problem.

On September 23, all of the House GOP leadership agreed to the Pledge to America at the Tart Lumber store in Sterling Virginia (picture below). Among the Pledge’s many explicit guarantees:

Permanently Stop All Job-Killing Tax Hikes (p.16)

Act Immediately to Reduce Spending (p.21)

Cut Government Spending to Pre-Stimulus, Pre-Bailout Levels (p.21)

Read the Bill (p.33)

Advance Legislative Issues One at a Time (p.33)

The “deal” threatens to undo the “pledge” on these four counts before the new Congress is even seated. If that happens, what sort of credibility will the new GOP majority have?

You cannot begin a new commitment to transparency via a secret deal with the president that reneges on key pledges made prior to the campaign.

John Boehner Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) (2nd L) joins House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) (R) and other members of Congress during a meeting to show small business owners the "Pledge To America" plan during an event at the Tart Lumber on September 23, 2010 in Sterling, Virginia. House Republicans held their "Pledge To America" news conference at the family owned lumber store to unveil their proposed governing agenda for the upcoming 111th Congress.

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