Empty Pledges

| Thu Sep. 23, 2010 12:56 PM EDT

Does pundit law require me to comment on the Republicans' "Pledge To America" that was released today? I'm not sure. And it's a pretty tedious bunch of boilerplate. So I'll limit myself to one thing: the section on reducing spending. It has ten provisions. Here's how I score them:

  • Four of them (#5, 7, 9, 10) are just blather.
  • One of them (#3) is quite plainly not a promise the GOP can or will keep.
  • Two of them (#4, 6) are trivial.

So that leaves #1, 2, and 8. Here they are:

  • Act Immediately to Reduce Spending: There is no reason to wait to reduce wasteful and unnecessary spending. Congress should move immediately to cancel unspent “stimulus” funds, and block any attempts to extend the timeline for spending “stimulus” funds. Throwing more money at a stimulus plan that is not working only wastes taxpayer money and puts us further in debt.

  • Cut Government Spending to Pre-Stimulus, Pre-Bailout Levels: With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone and putting us on a path to begin paying down the debt, balancing the budget, and ending the spending spree in Washington that threatens our children’s future.

  • Impose a Net Federal Hiring Freeze of Non-Security Employees: Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the engine of our economy and should not be crowded out by unchecked government growth. We will impose a net hiring freeze on non-security federal employees and ensure that the public sector no longer grows at the expense of the private sector.

Canceling unspent stimulus dollars is just stupid. There's not all that much left and it would mean leaving lots of programs half finished. But whatever.

The real meat is in the other two. And as usual, Republicans refuse to call out actual programs they want to cut. Everyone knows there won't be an across-the-board anything, not spending cuts and not hiring freezes. There will only be cuts in actual, named programs. But what? The FBI? Highway construction? Food stamps? Ag subsidies? Corporate welfare? NASA? NOAA? Education spending? The NIH and CDC?

What's it going to be, guys? If you're afraid to name any actual programs now, why should anyone believe you're suddenly going to develop the guts to stand up to your own supporters and name them once you're in office?

For more on the general vacuousness of this document, see David Corn, Ezra Klein, and Jonathan Bernstein.