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The GOP’s Bizarre and Cynical “Pledge to America”

September 24, 2010

This entry by AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee is cross-posted from The Huffington Post and Firedoglake.

One can only marvel at the extreme cynicism evident in the Republican Party's bizarre 21-page "Pledge to America." The document is only the tip of the iceberg and masks the real agenda of Republican leaders. That agenda remains what it has been for the past generation: transferring more of the nation's wealth from working families to the wealthiest people in the country. It's not at all surprising to learn, from Sam Stein at The Huffington Post, that the "pledge" was pulled together by a staffer who has served "as a lobbyist for some of the nation's most powerful oil, pharmaceutical and insurance companies."

Wall Street and the Republican politicians who work for them have been waging a war against the middle class for decades. They fought against raising the minimum wage, against family leave and against equal pay for equal work. They've fought for policies that rewarded companies for moving American jobs overseas, provided massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and allowed the banks and investment houses to turn our economy into a massive casino. They made sure that the jackpot could only be won by the millionaires and billionaires who play the working people of this country for chumps.

Whenever anyone calls them on their greed, they and their defenders in Congress and in the media start launching accusations of class warfare. In truth, this is more like genocide than warfare. Republicans and Wall Street have been holding down working Americans so effectively and for so long that most families are almost past the breaking point, but you see nothing of that record in the "Pledge to America."

Across the country, politicians who stand for policies that would transfer wealth and power back to the Wall Street barons are on the November 2nd ballot. Republicans who call for a return to the unregulated capitalism that created our economic crisis are running for the Senate in states such as Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin. Their election will tip the balance far onto the side of the bankers and hedge fund managers who did so much to rob Americans of the dreams for a better future.

With a victory in November, they plan to make things much worse. Their real agenda isn't included in their hypocritical "pledge." That's because they know the American people would reject their radical plans if they came out and told the truth instead of their incessant and pathetic lies. The real Republican agenda includes overturning recently passed reforms that rein in credit card companies and the health insurance industry, privatizing Social Security and raising the retirement age to 70; massive cuts in health and education funding; and ongoing deficit-blowing tax cuts for the rich. They don't care if millions more lose their jobs, make lower salaries, pay higher taxes and fees and find no safety net when the floor falls out below them. That's all part of their plan. And if they don't get their way, they'll shut the government down.

Don't believe me? Don't take my word for it. Listen to FOX News favorite Dick Morris: "There's going to be a government shutdown, just like in '95 and '96 but we're going to win it this time," Morris told his Wall Street and right wing allies at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation Conference last month in Washington. He repeated the pledge on FOX News. Another right wing commentator was thrilled to hear about it: "I'm almost giddy thinking about a government shutdown next year," Erik Erickson wrote, "I cannot wait!"

Last week, at a conservative conference in DC, the chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee said the same thing. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland wanted to be sure that "the folks" knew how much pain we could expect if his colleagues in the GOP win in November:

"We gotta have you because later on you all will call us and say, 'Look I didn't get my check,' 'Daddy can't go to the VA,' you know, 'National Parks are closed.' We need to be sure that you are with us because let me tell you, this is what all Americans need to understand."

I looked all through the 21 pages of the GOP's "Pledge to America," and I couldn't find any reference to the plan to shut down the government if they don't get their way. They also chose to hide key items that were laid out previously in Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future." Ryan's proposal at least was honest about the GOP's plans to privatize Social Security and dismantle Medicare. I wonder what other destructive plans they decided to hide as well.

These people are serious, but they are selling moonshine. They could care less about the working people of America, and no corporate produced PR gimmick should let them off the hook for their disastrous past performance. Their reckless incompetence and greed cost many millions of Americans their jobs, their homes and their hopes for the future. We need to understand that the very people who drove the economy into the ditch are now planning to take back the keys, restart the engine and take the whole country along on their reckless joyride along the road to the bottom. That's their real pledge.

Every American who relies on Social Security, Medicare or veterans benefits needs to know what the Republicans have in store for them if they take power next year. The millionaires who host right wing talk shows are not likely to realize how important a Social Security check is to the family that needs it to get by in difficult times. They aren't getting their care at VA hospitals. They don't need a student loan. So, they haven't reported on the GOP plan to raise the retirement age, massively cut vital public services and shut down the government if they don't get their way. Instead they'll be talking about how wonderful this new "pledge" is, and how much better off we would all be if they could implement it tomorrow.

It is not too late to stop them, but the effort must begin in earnest now. It's time to call your friends and relatives. It's time to make sure your coworkers and neighbors know the facts. Tell them to ignore the GOP's pledge and remind them of their record. Tell them the truth about the disaster waiting around the corner unless they get out and vote.

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