Conservatives mixed on House GOP's 'Pledge'

Prominent conservative bloggers were mixed Wednesday night in their reactions to the House GOP's new "Pledge to America" policy agenda, which will be officially unveiled Thursday.

The loudest voice against came from RedState's Erick Erickson, who characterized the program as a "series of compromises and milquetoast rhetorical flourishes."

"It is an illusion that fixates on stuff the GOP already should be doing while not daring to touch on stuff that will have any meaningful longterm effects on the size and scope of the federal government," he wrote, noting that measures like a Balanced Budget Amendment were disregarded in lieu of promises to put "government on the path to a balanced budget."

David Frum at Frum Forum described the document as a means for "cruising to a handsome election victory" in November and noted it represents a rejection of the ideals of the Tea Party.

"Tea Party activists have been claiming all year that there exists in the United States a potential voting majority for radically more limited government," he wrote. "The Republican 'Pledge to America' declares: Sorry, we don’t believe that. We shall cut spending where we can – reform the legislative process in important ways – and sever the federal guarantee for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ... But if you want promises of radical change? No. Too risky."

National Review, meanwhile, was strongly in favor of the pledge and its policy prescriptions, calling it a "shrewd political document" and "bolder" than former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" in 1994. 

NR's editors wrote that the program would commit the GOP to "working toward a broad conservative agenda that, if implemented, would make the federal government significantly smaller, Congress more accountable, and America more prosperous."

Small criticisms came from others on the right.

Jay Cost at the Weekly Standard noted the difference between the "Pledge" and the "Contract with America," writing that the contract — which carried the signatures of Republican officeholders — "bound the Republican majority in the 104th Congress with a real sense of purpose" that might be difficult to achieve with the new "Pledge."

Hot Air was underwhelmed by what it called the initiative's small attention to "cultural issues."

"Here’s the sum total of language in the document about that," it wrote. “'We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.'” One line, buried at the end of the preamble on page one, and according to sources, even that was only added at the very last minute."

Doug Powers at Michelle Malkin was skeptical the document could bind the GOP together long enough to pass its reforms. 

On the left, key bloggers — much like establishment Democrats — described the program as a return to failed Republican policies from the past.

Jed Lewison at Daily Kos called its conservative stance on social issues a mark of the "same old GOP." The Daily Kos also noted a connection between the pledge and the small-business bill now pending before the House.

Ezra Klein at The Washington Post noted that many of the program's policy prescriptions are rhetorical rather than substantive, arguing its goals of extending the Bush tax cuts and repealing March's healthcare overhaul would ultimately increase the deficit.

"Nothing in the document comes close to paying for these two proposals, and the authors know it," Klein wrote. "The document never says that the policy proposals it offers will ultimately reduces the deficit."

The agenda will be officially unveiled Thursday at an event at a family owned small business in Sterling, Va.