Times Bashes 'GOP Pledge,' Just Like It Did the GOP's 'Contract With America' in 1994

On Friday, reporter David Herszenhorn, one of Obama-care's biggest fans at the Times, offered an oddly headlined story on the new "G.O.P. Pledge to America," the party's package of tax cuts, spending cuts, and a pledge to repeal Obama-care: "Legislative Plan Direct From G.O.P. Mainstream."

Still, that headline was better than the truly slanted original headline online: "Some Say G.O.P. Pledge to Voters Would Increase Deficit." "Some..." is the ultimate liberal media weasel wording, allowing the Times to safely express its liberal opinion by putting it into the amorphous maw of "some."

Herszenhorn only waited four paragraphs to light into the Republican plan.

In the legislative blueprint that Republicans hope will serve as a roadmap to winning control of the House, they declared their two highest priorities to be creating jobs and stopping "out-of-control spending" by the federal government.

"To create jobs, we need to end the uncertainty for job creators and the spending spree in Washington," the House Republican leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio, said on Thursday at a hardware store in Sterling, Va., where the party unveiled its agenda.

The approach Mr. Boehner set out is based on a belief that smaller government, lower taxes and less regulation will fuel economic growth, create jobs and ultimately lead to a more prosperous nation. It deviated little from the tenets of mainstream conservatism over the last generation.

But even conservative-leaning budget and policy analysts said that the Republican blueprint, as drafted, would lead to bigger, not smaller, deficits and that it did not contain the concrete, politically difficult steps needed to alter the nation's fiscal trajectory.

Herszenhorn featured unusual criticism from the right (the opinion of the libertarian Cato Institute normally doesn't carry much weight at the Times, and neither does the conservative blog Red State.

Some fiscal hawks criticized the Republican plan, saying that it ducked an opportunity to firmly commit to changing the wasteful ways of Washington, by promising legislation that would mandate a balanced budget or limits on spending.

"The deficit is $1.3 trillion and the total budget is $3.6 trillion, so $100 billion, as huge as it sounds, doesn't really change the trajectory that much," said David Boaz, executive vice president of the libertarian Cato Institute, a Washington research group.


Erick Erickson, the editor of the Web site redstate.com, was harsher. "It is full of mom-tested, kid-approved pablum that will make certain hearts on the right sing in solidarity," he wrote. "But like a diet full of sugar, it will actually do nothing but keep making Washington fatter before we crash from the sugar high."


But the agenda offered few new initiatives for actually creating jobs, other than the proposal to give a tax deduction of up to 20 percent of income to small businesses.

The Republicans also promised to "rein in the red tape factory in Washington" by making it harder for federal agencies to impose new regulations. What the Republicans did not say was how such an initiative would lead to job creation. Aides said that the goal was to create an improved climate for businesses, and that they had purposely refrained from making specific projections about job growth.

But it was on the long-term deficit reduction front where critics, both Democrats on the left and conservatives on the right, seemed to find the most fault with the House Republican agenda, in particular the scant mention of entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Herszenhorn gave the Republican move a big thumbs-down review.

But the substantive criticism of the agenda from both ends of the political spectrum suggested that Republicans may still face a challenge in convincing voters that they have fresh ideas and can provide needed counterbalance to the Obama White House.

If it's any consolation to Boehner and Co., the Times didn't exactly greet the similarly themed Republican "Contract With America" of 1994 with high spirits either. Reporter David Rosenbaum marked the occasion sourly.

With flags waving, a band playing and a bank of television cameras rolling, Republican candidates for the House of Representatives mustered on the steps of the Capitol today to sign a list of tax cuts and other measures that they promised to press in their first 100 days if they win control of the House in November. They called it their "contract with America."

In a way, it was a throwback to the Reagan era with pledges of deep reductions in taxes for individuals and companies, a stronger military and a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced Federal budget. In Reagan fashion, there was little mention of exactly where Government spending would be cut so that the lower taxes would not worsen the budget deficit.

But the 10-point list of promises made today differed with the Reagan policies in one important respect. The social issues like abortion, gun control, school prayer and flag-burning that dominated Republican dogma in the 1980's were ignored.

Democrats derided the Republicans as fiscally irresponsible.

Unlike this year, when many political observers believe the G.O.P. will take over the House, the Times in 1994 didn't see the Republican tsunami coming:

A net of 40 seats would have to swing from Democrats to Republicans for them to win control of the House in the November election. The morning line is that Republicans may well pick up 25 to 30 seats but are not likely to reach 40.

Of course, the Republicans ended up winning 54 seats in November 1994 and easily took over the House.

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