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Republicans’ ‘Pledge to America’ Draws Fire From Left and Right

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The big political news on Thursday was the Republicans’ much-touted “Pledge to America,” which Republicans said was a new promise for fiscal prudence. Since the release of the plan, a steady stream of pundits has weighed in, and Sunday was no different.

While it was announced with great fanfare, both left and right roundly criticized it. On Fox News Sunday, moderator Chris Wallace spoke with House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

Wallace pointed out that Eric Ericson of the conservative website RedState said, “it will actually do nothing but keep making Washington fatter before we crash from the sugar high.” (Ericson went further, calling it “dreck.”) While Boehner and McCarthy defended it, Wallace pressed both on a number of questions, including earmarks; the spending cuts mentioned in the document and how Republicans planned to achieve them (Wallace: “Why is [sic] there not any specific cuts here?”); and why no specific cuts are proposed to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Hoyer called the document “more spin than specifics,” and said that the Club for Growth, a conservative group, called it “milquetoast” and said it proved “these guys just aren’t ready to lead.”

On ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour, David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s senior advisor, called it “a complete echo of what was done before,” and said, “This isn’t a prescription for economic growth; this is a prescription for surrender. We can’t do that.” When Amanpour pressed Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about where the budget cuts would come from, he gave no direct answers, but said of the Tea Partiers that, despite their dislike for the document, “we know none of them are going to go out and vote Democrat on November 2.”

The Daily Beast had already reported a “Tea Party Backlash,” citing one blogger as calling it the “Pledge to Nowhere,” and The New York Times pointed out in a Saturday editorial numerous areas in which it said the document failed to offer “any real alternative.”

Juan Williams, a commentator on Fox News, said, “They need to put some meat on the bones,” and compared it to telling children, “Everybody can have lollipops for breakfast.”

The positive reception that the “Pledge” received from the National Review was also under attack, with Think Progress alleging that Republicans told the Daily Caller the editorial was prearranged between GOP leadership and the publication. That was denied.