Monday, September 27, 2010

The Pledge to America Is Weak Tea

[W]hen loyalty to an unyielding purpose is dropped by the virtuous, it’s picked up by scoundrels—and you get the indecent spectacle of a cringing, bargaining, traitorous good and a self-righteously uncompromising evil.

Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual, pg 173.

I had planned to write a 'review' of the Republicans' Pledge to America. After slogging through the whole thing — puffed up by ridiculous photos of 'concerned' politicians meeting with 'ordinary' Americans — I found myself stumped.

It's a very mixed bag — a few good ideas here and there, surrounded by a lot of cream puff. Well-meaning goo, to be sure, but the sort of thing that could've been written by any centrist Democrat. (There are actually a few of them left, such as Idaho's Walt Minnick.)

If it was intended to appeal to the middle — and what Republican proposal does not? — it succeeded. If it was supposed to persuade anyone who sees what the real problems in America are today, it's off by a country mile.

It's a long-sight better than anything the Democrats promise, certainly. But, then, given that the Progressive-dominated Jackass party is only an explicit admission or two away from blatant Corporatism, it could hardly be worse.

Anyway, luckily, I've been saved the heinous pain of writing anything at length, which would require reading it again to pull out quotes. Andy McCarthy has saved me the trouble. I don't share quite his degree of outrage - possibly because my expectations for the Republicans in Congress were so low - but he does capture the gist of my views.

It's so seamlessly written I couldn't find many money quotes, but this will give you a flavor:

Worse, though, the pledge proposes its own irrational (but populist) health-care mandates: “We will make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone 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.”

As the Red State blogger Hogan pointedly asks, how is coercing a private insurer to cover people any better than coercing a private person to buy coverage? The constitutionality clause the Republicans write for that one ought to be interesting.

Furthermore, as Hogan adds, sick people can’t pay for health insurance — if insurers are mandated to cover them outside the terms of their policies, it will be necessary to force healthy people to pay the freight. That is, we’d be in cruise-control toward an individual mandate anyway.

HAPPY 2008!

Far from addressing entitlements and getting the government out of the health-care business, the pledge would leave the welfare state largely intact, content — once you flip past the preamble — to “rein in” but not stop the government’s growth. How? By vowing to roll out-of-control federal spending all the way back to...the out-of-control levels of 2008.
The biggest problem with The Pledge, as McCarthy points out at the outset, is whether anyone can believe any of the used dishwater promises its authors make about curbing the Leviathan's appetite. On that question, I am not immensely hopeful.

In the end, though clearly the mere existence of The Pledge is a consequence of pressure put on the GOP by the Tea Party movement, the response is a disappointingly weak brew.

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