Club for Growth: Pledge Shows House Republicans 'Aren't Ready to Lead'

The House GOP's new "Pledge to America" has been met, predictably, with ridicule on the left...but also, it seems, on the right.

The Club for Growth, the influential fiscal-conservative, free-market, pro-business group that backs conservative candidates in GOP primaries, has panned the Pledge severely. The Club's VP of governmental affairs chief lobbyist, Andrew Roth, writes on the group's blog:

I want to like the new GOP Pledge to America.  I want to endorse it, but it's so milquetoast that it proves to me that these guys just aren't ready to lead.
In order to prevent a return of the big-spending Republican ways during the Bush years, the House GOP needs to institute two things that will FORCE them to behave -- getting rid of earmarks and enacting a balanced budget amendment or a spending limit amendment.
This new Pledge was silent on both.  Therefore, the Pledge has no teeth.  Voters have no reliable assurances that House Republicans will behave appropriately. the section on healthcare, the House GOP wants to slap three new mandates on health insurance companies.  They want to FORCE health insurers to insure anyone who wants coverage, regardless of the cost, FORCE insurers to eliminate annual and lifetime spending caps, and FORCE insurers to not drop your coverage if you get sick.  How is that constitutional?  And how does this make health insurance cheaper?  It will only raise costs.

This Pledge is weak.  I wasn't expecting bold leadership with this Pledge, but I was hoping for it.  It didn't deliver.

The Club for Growth and the Republican Party often work at cross purposes, depending on how you look at it, given that the club opposes candidates that the GOP likes.

But it's a bit surprising that the Club would go after the Pledge, for one main reason: this document was the House GOP's pitch to fiscal-conservative, Tea Party voters...voters who generally follow the Club for Growth's policy line.

The Club and the Tea Party are natural allies, and they've gotten involved in some of the same races this year. At the same time, I'm not sure how many Tea Partiers actually pay attention to what the Club says and does. They don't seem to care too much about DC-based interest groups (unless one counts FreedomWorks as an interest group).

While Roth points out that there is no mention of a balanced budget amendment, or earmarks, House Republicans did propose a hard cap on discretionary spending and a return to pre-financial-crash, pre-Obama, pre-2008 spending levels (which were already too high for the Club's liking, under Bush).

So the take-away is probably this: it's not surprising that the Club would criticize the House GOP, but it is surprising that the House GOP, in its pitch to the Club's own interests, has failed to satisfy that corner of the coalition--or, looked at another way, that that corner of the GOP coalition has refused to be satisfied.
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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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