From CQ POLITICS:
STERLING, Va. — House Republicans on Thursday officially unveiled what they hope will be a majority-making agenda at a Virginia hardware store warehouse.
The agenda, “A Pledge to America,” calls for a series of reforms, including cutting the size of the federal government, to try to put the country back on a path to prosperity. The agenda, months in the making, only lightly touches on divisive social issues.
Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.), Chief Deputy Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rogers [sic] (Wash.), and Reps. Peter Roskam (Ill.), Frank Wolf (Va.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Mac Thornberry (Texas), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) and Jeb Hensarling (Texas) were on hand for the formal release of the document inside Tart Lumber Co. Inc.
Republican aides said the store was an example of a small business that would be hurt if the George W. Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire at the end of the year.
From Dana Milbank at The Washington Post:
It took the Republicans just three minutes to violate their “Pledge to America.”
In a lumberyard near Dulles Airport on Thursday morning, House Republicans handed out copies of the Pledge, which, among other things, promises to rein in an “arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites.”
Yet moments after taking the stage to face the cameras, GOP leaders appointed themselves arrogant elites. They compared themselves to the Founding Fathers and likened their actions at Tart Lumber to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) told the reporters that he would speak slowly and with clarity, “just as John Hancock boldly signed his name to the Declaration of Independence so even Britain’s King George could read it.”
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) then read passages from the Pledge that paraphrase the Declaration: “Every American citizen is endowed with certain rights from their creator. When our government charts a course that endangers those rights, the people – indeed, the people! – have the right to demand a new agenda from their government.”
The 45-page booklet explaining the Pledge contains archaic fonts reminiscent of the founding texts, and it is filled with random snippets of historical phrases such as “consent of the governed” and “bearing true faith and allegiance.” The Republicans illustrated their own importance with a full-page photo of Mount Rushmore facing a full-page photo of Rep. Rob Wittman (Va.) working at a meat counter.
“We pledge to uphold the model for our country our founders envisioned, a grander America, the exception among the nations of the Earth, where promise of liberty refreshes the hopes of mankind,” exulted McCarthy, who designed the Pledge.
Yet for all the grandiosity, the document they released is small in its ambition. The policy goals they cited were banal (“Support the troops! Fight the terrorists!), and their prescriptions were often narrow and procedural (regular votes on proposed regulations).
Getting rid of earmarks? Not in the Pledge. Dealing with the millions of illegal immigrants in this country? Not in the Pledge. Reforming Social Security and Medicare? Not in the Pledge. And when it comes to social issues such as marriage and abortion, “we are not going to be any different than what we’ve been,” Boehner asserted.
When it comes to the really tough problems, all the minority leader would say is that “it’s time for us as Americans to have an adult conversation with each other.” But an adult conversation was not to be had at Tart Lumber. Instead came a collection of campaign slogans aimed at President Obama: “tyranny . . . future hangs in the balance . . . road to bankruptcy . . . disastrous policies of the current administration.”
The lawmakers lost more altitude with their awkward regular-guy routine. They eschewed neckties, and most rolled up their shirt sleeves. Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.), chairman of the House Republican Conference, arrived wearing suit pants but changed to khakis before facing the cameras. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah) wore blue jeans. Boehner, a heavy smoker, appeared to be chewing gum on stage, then rushed outside for a smoke.