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Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Pledge To America, Promise or Politics

Christmas is the time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it. Deficits are when adults tell government what they want and their kids pay for it. — Richard Lamm

Today the Republican Party released its much awaited Pledge to America amidst a flurry of commentary from the left and the right.

Click here to download a PDF file of the 21 page document.

Some of the comments appearing regarding the “The Pledge” that I have seen are:

A Fox News opinion column states; “Conservatives, libertarians and other skeptics of big government across America have every reason to be suspicious that Beltway Republicans have yet to come to Jesus. Unfortunately, the 8,000-word "Pledge to America" released yesterday does little to allay those concerns.  Notwithstanding many appealing passages and a sharp homage to the Constitution, the document’s origin and effect leave much to be desired.”

Kevin Glass writes in Townhall.Com; “Many complain that this will give the GOP something concrete for the Democrats to run against. And conservative blogger Erick Erickson has derided the Pledge as "milquetoast rhetorical flourishes." To an extent this is true. The GOP leadership's number one task between now and November 2nd is "don't blow it." As such, they can't afford to take the kinds of risks that many in the grassroots want them to.”

Ezra Klien writes in the Washington Post; "America is more than a country," begins the GOP's 'Pledge to America.' America, it turns out, is an "idea," an "inspiration," and a "belief." And the GOP wants to govern it."

"Their policy agenda is detailed and specific -- a decision they will almost certainly come to regret. Because when you get past the adjectives and soaring language, the talk of inalienable rights and constitutional guarantees, you're left with a set of hard promises that will increase the deficit by trillions of dollars, take health-care insurance away from tens of millions of people, create a level of policy uncertainty businesses have never previously known, and suck demand out of an economy that's already got too little of it."

The editors of National Review Online write; "All year long, conservatives have been pressuring Republicans to release a Contract with America for 2010 — an updated version of the campaign platform that the party unveiled before its 1994 sweep of Congress. Thursday morning, Republican congressmen are responding to that pressure by making a “Pledge to America.” The inevitable question will be: Is the pledge as bold as the Contract?"

"The answer is: The pledge is bolder. The Contract with America merely promised to hold votes on popular bills that had been bottled up during decades of Democratic control of the House. The pledge commits Republicans to working toward a broad conservative agenda that, if implemented, would make the federal government significantly smaller, Congress more accountable, and America more prosperous.”

These are just a few of the comments you will hear in the next few weeks regarding “The Pledge.” There will be those on the Right who will claim it’s not enough, it doesn’t represent the Tea Party, it’s vague with no real action steps and it’s just a political smoke screen. Libertarians and some conservatives will claim there is no mention of shutting down the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Energy and HUD. The Left will claim it’s a document written by lobbyists that will set the nation back 100 years and it’s just a political ruse by the Republicans.

While I agree with some of the critics on the Right I also know that you cannot turn a ocean liner on a dime. Being in business for over 35 years and having participated in many business planning and goal setting session I have some experience in developing business plans and setting strategic goals. In my view The Pledge is the first steps in creating a business plan for the federal government.

For those who have never run business or worked in a business environment here are the steps needed to write and adopt a business plan.
  • SWOT analysis: This is where a business takes an honest look at its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  • Client feedback: You have to know how your clients view you. In the case of government the clients are the citizens.
  • Develop a mission statement: This is where the owners grind out a statement of the businesses mission. What do we want to be and what do we want to do.
  • Set strategic goals: These goals are loosely worded statements of what the business wants to do and the services or product they want to offer. They are based on the current strengths of the business and strengths that can be developed over time through strategic hires or mergers.
  • Develop action plans based on the strategic goals with timelines and metrics.
This is a very simplified guide to business planning and does not detail each step in the process. Having been through several business planning session I can say, with no equivocation, that it is not done in a week or a month. It usually takes many months and can be a grueling process, especially when you have numerous partners with diverse views of the world they do business in.

As I said earlier I look upon The Pledge as the first steps in a business plan for governing the Republic and managing the federal government. These headline items in “The Pledge” are no more than strategic goals.
  • Give small businesses a tax deduction
  • Repeal job-killing small business mandates like Obamacare's 1099 reporting mandate
  • Cut government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels
  • Establish a hard cap on new discretionary spending
  • End government control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
  • Allow health insurance to be purchased across state lines
  • Ensure access for patients with pre-existing conditions
  • Expand health savings accounts
  • Fully fund missile defense
  • Demand an overarching detention policy
  • Work with state and local officials to enforce our immigration laws
The action plans will come if the Republicans attain control of the Congress and get the support of the CEO. It will take more time and pressure from their clients. However, this mission statement is clear:

America is an idea – an idea that free people can govern themselves, that government’s powers are derived from the consent of the governed, that each of us is endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America is the belief that any man or woman can – given economic, political, and religious liberty – advance themselves, their families, and the common good.

America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny.

Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course.

These first principles were proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, enshrined in the Constitution, and have endured through hard sacrifice and commitment by generations of Americans. 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.

An unchecked executive, a compliant legislature, and an overreaching judiciary have combined to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values, striking down long-standing laws and institutions and scorning the deepest beliefs of the American people.

An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates, and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many.

Rising joblessness, crushing debt, and a polarizing political environment are fraying the bonds among our people and blurring our sense of national purpose. Like free peoples of the past, our citizens refuse to accommodate a government that believes it can replace the will of the people with its own. The American people are speaking out, demanding that we realign our country’s compass with its founding principles and apply those principles to solve our common problems for the common good. The need for urgent action to repair our economy and reclaim our government for the people cannot be overstated. With this document, we pledge to dedicate ourselves to the task of reconnecting our highest aspirations to the permanent truths of our founding by keeping faith with the values our nation was founded on, the principles we stand for, and the priorities of our people. This is our Pledge to America.

We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have been consistently ignored – particularly the Tenth Amendment, which grants that all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

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.

We pledge to make government more transparent in its actions, careful in its stewardship, and honest in its dealings.

We pledge to uphold the purpose and promise of a better America, knowing that to whom much is given, much is expected and that the blessings of our liberty buoy the hopes of mankind.

We make this pledge bearing true faith and allegiance to the people we represent, and we invite fellow citizens and patriots to join us in forming a new governing agenda for America

Most academics, politicians, journalists and opinion writers have never run a business or participated in the development of a business plan. They have been on the outside looking in and criticizing the display in the store window without having the slightest idea of what is going one in the backroom or boardroom. It’s easy to criticize, but it’s much harder and more valuable to take responsibility and do something.

Let’s take some time and read the 21 page document before joining the chorus of critics. Remember, the action plans will not be developed unless the conservatives gain control of Congress and then “We the People” can hold them to the metrics they set. We did not get to this point in our history in a day and we will surely not turn things around in one election. The Pledge, however, is a good first step to restore fiscal responsibility, reduce our national debt, bring smaller government, secure our borders, bolster our nation’s security and restore constitutional government.

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