Bryan Fischer
The "Pledge" -- underwhelming but better than nothing
By Bryan Fischer
September 24, 2010

Count me with the conservatives who are less than invigorated over the House Republicans' new "Pledge to America."

For the most part, it recycles standard conservative positions in typical conservative language. Not a lot wrong with it, mind you, but nothing to inspire and notably short on specifics.

All in all, it was probably necessary for Republicans to come up with something like this, but the truth of the matter is they already have a document like this — it's called the Republican Party platform.

The mere fact that the "Pledge" was probably necessary is more an indication of how far the party has strayed from its own principles than anything else. Had the GOP faithfully followed the principles it claims to believe, this document would have been totally unnecessary. Everybody would have said, well, of course that's what Republicans believe.

The fact that the document is little different in substance than the platform will make the neutral observer wonder whether these Republicans will do any better at taking the "Pledge" seriously than they took the platform. I guess time will tell. Skeptical observers — count me among them — remain to be convinced.

Extending the Bush tax cuts is important, and rolling back the horrendous 1099 provision (that requires businesses to file 1099 forms for every vendor with whom they do $600 of business in a given year) is likewise an important first step.

A federal hiring freeze on non-security personnel is also an excellent idea. And House Republicans can control this — if no money for new hires is appropriated, there won't be any new hires.

One substantive element in it is the pledge to roll back spending to pre-bailout levels. Since Republicans, if they take back the House in November, will be in charge of crafting the budget, we'll get an early indication of their seriousness about implementing conservative reforms.

If they can do this one thing, it would be huge. Projections I have seen indicate that if per-household spending could be downsized to pre-recession levels, we'd have a balanced budget by 2019. (If we returned per-household spending to Reagan era levels, the budget would be balanced by 2012.)

There is one egregious, glaring, fantastically wrong-headed plank in this document, dealing with health care, and I hope somebody will catch this and fix it. I haven't seen anyone else comment on this, but It's a terrible provision, and smacks of the very statism House Republicans claim they are trying to defeat.

It's hard to believe that this paragraph made it into a document written by conservatives who want to limit the reach of government into the health care industry.

Here's the offending language:

"We will make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition (and) eliminate annual and lifetime spending caps..." (p. 27)

House Republicans thus are determined to prohibit insurance companies from taking pre-existing conditions into account, and are equally determined to expose them to unlimited liability. This is catastrophic and is as Stalinistic and heavy-handed as anything the Democrats have proposed. These two provisions alone will force health insurance companies to increase premiums to the point where no one will be able to afford them. One after another, health insurance companies will close down or go bankrupt and then nobody will have insurance. This is a stunningly wrong-headed provision.

The matter of pre-existing conditions and liability caps is none of the government's business, unless an insurance company fails to fulfill contractual obligations it has made to its customers. The whole business of pre-existing conditions and spending caps is a matter for discussions and negotiations between customers and insurance companies and in which government has no proper role. If the House Republicans can't smell the stench from here, they need some remedial olfactory therapy.

This lone paragraph stands out like a pile of dog doo in an otherwise pleasant landscape. It's perfectly terrible, and smacks more of fascism than liberty. Let's hope somebody besides me sees this and presses for an amendment to clear away this debris.

Otherwise, the "Pledge" is not bad and gives conservatives some leverage in holding representatives accountable. The biggie is rolling back spending to pre-bailout levels. They do that, they'll win me over.

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)

© Bryan Fischer


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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