(a critical review from a Constitutional perspective)
So does the Republican’s new “Pledge to America” make you want to jump for joy, run up and down and shout? Well that’s what it’s supposed to do – at least that’s the effect the Republicans are hoping it will have on conservatives. However, it doesn’t really affect me that way, but then I’m not a conservative. I’m a Christian and a Constitutionalist and I just can’t quite buy into the Republican’s attempt to repackage and sell themselves to the voting public as fiscally responsible proponents of smaller government and defenders of the Constitution.
I admit that the pledge itself is chock full of conservative rhetoric and at times even sounds downright Constitutional. However, after seriously analyzing it, I find the Pledge to America to be weak. While it offers some modest relief from oppressive taxation and burdensome regulation, it misses the opportunity to call for the revolutionary reforms that would restore real freedom and true Constitutional governance: ending the Federal Reserve, restoring Constitutional money, eliminating direct federal taxation on wages, getting out of the United Nations, dismantling every department and agency not clearly authorized under the Constitution, declaring every restrictive gun law passed by Congress null and void for lack of Constitutional authority, deporting millions of illegal aliens . . . . and the list goes on.
The document itself is only part of the matter at hand. The other half of the equation is the integrity and track record of those offering the pledge. The Pledge to America is being presented to us by a group of people who have already had the chance (most of them have already been in Congress awhile – a long while) to do the things promised in the pledge during the six years that their party controlled both Congress and the White House – but they chose not to. In fact, not only did they choose not to do or even try to do these things when they had the chance, they actually did many of the things that this pledge now condemns Democrats for doing over the last two years.
To give it a fair shake, let’s look at the pledge itself and give it a review. The pledge is actually a 48 page document titled “A Pledge To America” and contains 7,399 words. To put it in perspective, the main body of the U.S. Constitution (excluding amendments) is 4,485 words. The portions of the document making actual pledges, that is, “we will . . . ,” account for approximately 1,494 words, though much of that is the restating of the same pledges in different sections of the document. So what do they do with the other 6,000 or so words? Well, mostly they blather on and on about Democrats being the root of all evil and Republicans being paragons of conservative and Constitutional virtue.
Health Care and The Constitution
I would say the two best, and potentially most impacting pledges in the document, are the pledges to “require each bill moving through Congress to include a clause citing the specific constitutional authority upon which the bill is justified” and the pledge to “repeal President Obama’s government takeover of health care.” Now that’s good stuff! However, even here I’m having a problem. You see, the document goes on to pledge to “replace it (the health care law) with common-sense reforms.” Excuse me, but how about if we repeal the health care law and replace it with exactly what the U.S. Constitution calls for – ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
Given that they pledge to require every bill in Congress to cite ‘specific constitutional authority,’ then I have to ask exactly where in the U.S. Constitution do they find authorization for their pledges to:
- “Ensure access for Patients with Pre-Existing Conditions.”
- “Expand state high-risk pools . . .”
- “Make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition . . .”
- “Eliminate annual and lifetime spending caps, and prevent insurers from dropping your coverage just because you get sick.”
- “Incentivize states to develop innovative programs that lower premiums and reduce the number of uninsured Americans.”
I’m sorry, but none of this stuff is in my copy of the U.S. Constitution.
For those who may have missed it, that last item in the above list begins with the word “incentivize.” In ‘government speak,’ the word incentivize means to first strip revenue out of a state, then offer the money back to the state, but with strings attached, so that in order for a state to get back the funds that the federal government took from their citizens in the first place, the state now has to become the federal government’s ‘puppet on a string’ and dance to their tune. This makes a mockery of federalism as established under our Constitution and especially insults the 10th Amendment. Oh, did I mention that the Pledge to America also states:
“We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have been consistently ignored – particularly the Tenth Amendment, which grants that all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Tax relief is one of the big selling points of the Pledge to America. While the casual observer may get the impression that Republicans want to slash taxes, in reality, their plan calls for one tax cut for small businesses (a deduction equal to 20 percent of their business income) and a pledge to retain the ‘Bush tax cuts’ of 2001 and 2003 which are due to expire next year. Beyond these two items, there are no other pledges to actually reduce taxes – for that matter, there is no specific pledge not to raise other taxes or adopt new ones.
Regarding the sunset of the tax cuts, the pledge states that “Unless action is taken, a $3.8 trillion tax hike will go into effect on January 1, 2011.” What the plan fails to point out is that Democrats also want to retain $3.1 trillion worth of those tax cuts. The actual debate is over the remaining $700 billion in tax cuts for individuals making over $200,000 per year. The plan additionally fails to point out that the tax savings would be realized over a 10 year period.
In other words, the grand and benevolent gesture of tax relief being offered by the Republicans (above what Democrats already plan to do) is to allow taxpayers (who make over $200,000) to realize a savings over the next 10 years that is equal to the amount that many of these same Republicans helped President Bush dump into the coffers of the Wall Street banksters in just one month in October of 2008. When you consider that Americans pay more in taxes than we pay for food, clothing and shelter combined, the Republican’s attempt to buy our vote with a savings of $700 billion over ten years becomes downright insulting.
As for the 20% deduction for small businesses, the founders of our republic never intended for the federal government to be taxing my neighbor’s plumbing business in the first place.
The only specific pledges of reduced spending are:
- “We will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year”
- “We will cancel the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a move that would save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars” (seems only fair seeing as it’s un-Constitutional to begin with)
- “We will reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac . . . This will save taxpayers as much as $30 billion.” (again, I have to ask, where’s the Constitutional basis for being involved with Fannie and Freddie at all?)
That’s a grand total savings of $130 billion, plus possibly “tens of billions?” To put it in perspective, if we were to be generous and assume a $150 billion decrease in annual spending based on these promises (though some of this would likely be a one time savings or be spread over a number of years), it would be a savings equal to 4.2% of the federal government’s $3.55 trillion budget for 2010, or a 13% decrease in deficit spending, meaning that in the future we would only be racking up about $1 trillion a year in new debt compared to the current $1.17 trillion – now that’s fiscal conservatism.
There are various other pledges made that I won’t go into detail about. Suffice it to say they are of less significance than the items covered here and generally more subjective in nature and thus would be harder to track or document the performance of. If all the pledges in the document were performed, I expect we would notice a difference in our government and in our way of life, but the difference would be a small one in comparison to what actual Constitutionally limited government would look like and the affect that would have on our lives.
The lion’s share of the document is actually devoted to listing all that is wrong and blaming the Democrats for it, either directly or by inference, calling them “big spenders” and alluding to “self-appointed elites.” A few of my favorite excerpts include:
- Washington’s out-of-control spending spree needs no introduction.
- Instead of putting the brakes on Washington’s spending habits as they promised, President Obama and Democratic Leaders have stepped on the accelerator.
- Democrats refuse to listen to the American people and eliminate, restrain, or even budget for their out-of-control spending spree.
Wow, were these guys looking in the mirror when they said this stuff? I can’t believe they are saying it with a straight face. This is coming from Republicans who controlled Congress and the White House from 2000 to 2006 and during that time gave us record spending, record deficits and record debt. They presided over the printing of untold trillions in fiat currency, the subsequent devaluing of the dollar and the continued destabilizing of the economy. They were consenting to policies that allowed for the continued exporting of jobs and the importing of illegal aliens who took what jobs were left. I don’t like to call anyone names, but the word ‘hypocrisy’ keeps coming to mind.
Look, I’m not saying that “the Republicans are all evil, so run out and vote for Democrats.” What I am saying is, that as for me, I cannot let myself be moved by every new public relations ploy of the political establishment. I can not, and will not, give the precious virtue of my vote to any candidate for public office who does not demonstrate to me an understanding of, and commitment to, the God given role of civil government and the strict limits placed on it by the clear and simple text of the U.S. Constitution.
The Republicans would do better to actually demonstrate adherence to the U.S. Constitution and discipline to sound fiscal policy before asking the public to vote for their candidates. Then they wouldn’t need a ‘pledge’ promising to start doing now what they haven’t done in the past.
Note To The Reader – No one wants America blessed, prosperous and free more than the Creator who still loves us. Yet God will not share His glory with another (Isa 42:8). Do not expect Him to heal our land while we are trusting in man’s ability or the power of political institutions more than we are trusting in Him (Ps 118:8-9). America! “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Prov 3:5-6)