House GOP agenda defines broad mission
House Republicans vowed to cut taxes and federal spending, repeal the health-care law and ban federal funding of abortion.
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Seattle Times news services
'Pledge to America'Highlights of House GOP agenda if they take power:
Repeal the health-care law.
Freeze unspent stimulus money and the federal "nonsecurity" work force.
Slash $100 billion in discretionary spending.
Hold all trials of Guantánamo detainees outside the U.S.
Seattle Times news services
WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Thursday will issue a legislative blueprint they hope will catapult them to a majority in the November elections.
Goals of the "Pledge to America" include a permanent extension of all Bush-era tax cuts, repeal of the new health-care law, a cap on discretionary federal spending and an end to government control of mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
After enduring "party of no" insults from President Obama and Democrats for months, Republicans are offering a collection of conservative ideas officially described as a governing agenda and unofficially meant to give candidates forward-looking ideas to promote in their election campaigns.
With control of the House, Republicans said they would seek to immediately cancel unspent money from last year's $787 billion economic-stimulus program, to freeze the size of the "nonsecurity" federal work force and to quickly slash $100 billion in discretionary spending.
But the blueprint, with echoes of the 1994 "Contract with America," does not specify how the spending reductions would be achieved.
• Requiring all bills to be posted online three days before votes and requiring legislation to cite the constitutional authority for the proposed new law.
• Holding all trials of detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, outside the United States.
• Banning federal funding of abortion.
• Mandating stricter border enforcement.
• Providing full funding for missile-defense programs.
Party leaders tapped California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a second-term lawmaker who never served in the previous GOP majority, to craft the agenda in the spring.
Officials have described the effort as the culmination of an Internet- and social network-powered project launched to give voters the chance to say what Congress should do.
The "America Speaking Out" project collected 160,000 ideas and got 1 million votes and comments on the proposals, they said.
While the agenda is drafted broadly, offering objectives rather than detailed proposals — and any legislation championed by Republicans in the next Congress could be subject to a veto by Obama — the 21-page document represents the most concrete presentation of Republican goals this year.
Aides said the document was intended to show the party was prepared to govern, and that legislation had been drafted for many proposals in the plan even though specific bill numbers were not cited.
While the blueprint was designed to provide fresh ideas to answer allegations by Obama and Democrats that Republicans simply want to return to Bush administration policies, many proposals represent classic GOP ideals of small government and low taxes pursued by the party for generations.
Among specific points is a proposal to allow small businesses to take a new tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income. Aides said the proposal was first put forward as part of the Republican alternative to the Democrats' economic-stimulus plan at a projected cost of $50 billion over 10 years.
The document emphasizes a goal of long-term fiscal stability, including reductions in the deficit and a "path to a balanced budget," but includes no specifics about changes to big entitlement programs including Social Security and Medicare that would be required to achieve such stability.
In the document, to be officially unveiled at a hardware store and lumber yard in Sterling, Va., House Republican leaders also seek to incorporate much of the conservative anger of the national tea-party movement in its sharp, cutting rhetoric and in some of its ideas.
"In a self-governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent," the Republicans wrote. "An unchecked executive, a compliant legislature and an overreaching judiciary have combined to thwart the will of the people."
Promising to "honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers," they added, "We pledge to advance policies that promote greater liberty, wider opportunity, a robust defense and national economic prosperity. We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values."
The introduction to the blueprint also stresses the need to improve the economy. "Rising joblessness, crushing debt and a polarizing political environment are fraying the bonds among our people," Republicans wrote.
Anticipating Thursday's announcement, Democrats have assailed the GOP agenda in recent days. A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the rhetoric did not match the votes cast by lawmakers.
"Congressional Republicans are pledging to ship jobs overseas; blow a $700 billion hole in the deficit to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires; turn Social Security from a guaranteed benefit into a guaranteed gamble; once again, subject American families to the recklessness of Wall Street; and take away patients' rights," spokesman Nadeam Elshami said in a statement.
Democrats said they were interested to see how Republicans would vote on a bill to provide tax breaks and government-backed loans to small businesses that will be on the House floor Thursday.
Compiled from The New York Times, The Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers and The Associated Press.
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