Seeking to put a positive cast on their push to retake the House of Representatives, Republicans last week unveiled "A Pledge to America" to rein in government spending, repeal the health-reform law and extend the Bush tax cuts permanently.
The "pledge" evokes the "Contract With America" the GOP touted in the 1994 campaign when it took control of the House and uses language reminiscent of the Declaration of Independence to marshal those disaffected by President Obama and the Democratic congressional majorities.
Decrying "out-of-control spending," the Republicans call for canceling unspent money from the $787 billion stimulus plan (most of which has already been spent), freezing the size of the "nonsecurity" federal work force and slashing about $100 billion in "nonsecurity" spending although they declined to list specifics.
More telling are its "common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans and our troops," which puts off limits the military budget and entitlement programs -- Social Security and Medicare -- whose growth poses the most serious long-term threat to the government's fiscal health.
Although the Republicans said their plan would lead to smaller budget deficits, analysts of all political stripes disputed that claim, especially since they want to extend the Bush tax cuts, which would add about $4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade.
The blueprint also slights most foreign policy issues, education and trade. While pledging to repeal health-care reform, it endorses the law's curbs on the insurance industry's more predatory policies, which could be difficult and costly to implement piecemeal.
The Republicans' "pledge" is purely a campaign document, designed to give them a veneer of substance to appeal to the Tea Party insurgency and disgruntled independents. But it's no blueprint for sound governance.