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GOP's 'Pledge to America' lays out a governing agenda

By Deirdre Walsh and Dana Bash, CNN
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GOP introduces 'Pledge to America'
  • NEW: Unlike 1994 "Contract with America," "Pledge" has no specific legislation
  • NEW: No pledge to ban earmarks
  • Ban on federal funding for abortion, support for "traditional marriage" included
  • Democrats call the GOP positions a pledge to special interests

Washington (CNN) -- House Republican leaders will unveil a 21-page "Pledge to America" on Thursday that presents a "governing agenda" for what Republicans would do if they win control of Congress in November.

CNN obtained a copy of the document (PDF) Wednesday.

The plan focuses primarily on jobs and the economy, with a short reference in the "preamble" to the party's position on social issues.

According to the document, House Republicans want to permanently extend all the tax cuts due to expire at the end of this year, give small businesses a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income and require Congress to review any new federal regulations that add to the deficit.

The document lacks, however, a pledge against unrelated pet projects that members of Congress insert in spending bills to bring funding to their home districts -- known as earmarks. Banning earmarks is typically a staple of Republican policy.

Some provisions matched positions of the conservative Tea Party movement that has helped defeat mainstream Republican candidates in several primary elections this year. For example, the document calls for a federal hiring freeze on nonsecurity employees and requiring all legislation to include a clause showing that it is authorized under the Constitution.

Other items would cancel unspent funding authorized by the economic stimulus bill, roll back spending to levels before the stimulus bill and earlier federal bailout legislation and repeal the health care reform bill passed in March.

The document also calls for permanently prohibiting taxpayer funding for abortion.

Several Republican sources said there was no intention to directly address social issues because the electorate is so heavily focused on jobs and spending.

Republican leaders settled on a line that states: "We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values."

This language was a late addition, according to a GOP source, after conservative Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana argued that social issues should be included in the document representing the agenda of House Republicans.

House Democratic leaders said the document showed that Republicans want to return to what they called failed policies of the past. A statement from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's office mocked the GOP positions, saying they showed that Republicans pledged allegiance to hedge fund managers on Wall Street, insurance companies, the "wealthiest of the wealthy," oil companies and big corporations that outsource jobs, "with a recession and huge deficits for all."

Video: GOP outlines post-election plans
Video: GOP's new 'Pledge to America'

The GOP document represents an updated version of the 1994 "Contract with America." That much shorter, 10-item document, with specific bills attached to each item that would be passed with a Republican victory, was rolled out on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and signed by GOP members of Congress and candidates.

The 2010 version has more than 20 items, including changes to how Congress works and broad policy goals such as tougher sanctions against Iran. While it does contain legislative proposals, it does not include specific bills that would be introduced and passed if Republicans gain control of the House.

Introduced at roughly the same time as the previous contract, several weeks before midterm congressional elections, the "Pledge to America" will be unveiled at a hardware store in Sterling, Virginia, outside Washington.

A GOP lawmaker involved in putting together the document said House Republicans realize that voters are angry with both Democrats and Republicans. The agenda contained in the "Pledge to America" is intended to convince such voters that their concerns are taken seriously by Republicans, who will act differently if returned to power than they did when controlling Congress during parts of the Bush administration, the legislator said.

CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this story.