(CNN) -- House Republican leaders on Thursday unveiled their "Pledge to America," outlining what their agenda would be if they win control of Congress in November's midterm elections.
CNN posted a draft document of the pledge online on Wednesday and highlighted some of its key points, including:
* Permanently extending all the tax cuts due to expire at the end of this year, giving small businesses a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income, and requiring Congress to review any new federal regulations that add to the deficit.
* A federal hiring freeze on nonsecurity employees and requiring all legislation to include a clause showing that it is authorized under the Constitution. (The provision matches the conservative Tea Party movement's position.)
* Canceling unspent funding authorized by the economic stimulus bill, rolling back spending to levels before the stimulus bill and earlier federal bailout legislation, and repealing the health care reform bill passed in March.
Pundits and bloggers react
Political pundits, columnists and bloggers quickly took to dissecting the plan, and while many responses fall along normal party lines, some saw the pledge as a chance to give their views of what the GOP should be doing.
Erick Erickson, a CNN contributor, made his views clear on RedState.com, with a column whose title didn't pull any punches: "Perhaps the most ridiculous thing to come out of Washington since George McClellan."
"I have one message for John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and the House GOP Leadership: If they do not want to use the GOP to lead, I would like to borrow it for a time," he wrote after giving the plan an A+ for rhetoric but a C- for its ideas. "Yes, yes, it is full of mom tested, kid approved pablum that will make certain hearts on the right sing in solidarity.
"But like a diet full of sugar, it will actually do nothing but keep making Washington fatter before we crash from the sugar high. It is dreck -- dreck with some stuff I like, but like Brussels sprouts in butter. I like the butter, not the Brussels sprouts. Overall, this grand illusion of an agenda that will never happen is best spoken of today and then never again as if it did not happen. It is best forgotten."
Ezra Klein, writing in The Washington Post, headlined his column on the agenda "The GOP's bad idea," in which he dissects what he calls the plan's contradictory ideas and policies that don't actually have a plan behind them.
"At the end of the day, America may be an idea -- but it is also a country. And it needs to be governed. This proposal avoids the hard choices of governance. It says what it thinks will be popular and then proposes what it thinks will be popular -- even when the two conflict," he wrote. "That's an idea that may help you win elections, but not one that'll help you govern a country."
On her website, Michelle Malkin mentioned the GOP pledge -- which she considers "fine as far as it goes" -- in passing, but spent most of her column slamming Republicans who voted for Obama's Troubled Asset Relief Program.
"Making pledges is easy. Keeping them? Not so much. Just ask Mr. Hope and Change. The new GOP pledge is fine as far as it goes -- especially the upfront acknowledgment that government's powers derive from the consent of the governed, not from the penumbras emanating from the fingertips of all President Obama's czars," she wrote. "But actions speak louder than words. And no action bespoke of the gap between conservative rhetoric and reality louder than the hysterical votes of 91 Republicans who voted with Chicken Little Democrats under the Republican Bush administration to pass the TARP all-purpose banking/auto suppliers/life insurance/AIG bailout."
Tunku Varadarajan, writing for The Daily Beast, likened the pledge to a "Purity Test" and an attempt to weed out or quiet dissenters in the Republican Party.
"One has to wonder whether this whole Pledge business is an attempt by the Republican Party establishment to impose hasty order on its rightward, Tea Party flank, which has threatened to pull the GOP into uncharted populist territory -- territory that many independents might find daunting, and off-putting. By setting up a Pledge -- a checklist, in effect, of what is or isn't Republican -- the GOP must hope to quiet the discontent among those who bucked the party line and voted (in the primaries) for the likes of Christine O'Donnell. The party is saying to its purists, in effect, that it has a Purity Test."
A general editorial on RedState.com certainly didn't give the plan a ringing endorsement, calling it "The pledge to nowhere."
"In one asinine move, the GOP House leadership demonstrated that it is more interested in votes than in changing Washington and that it has learned nothing," said the editorial, filled with capital letters, bolding, and its own numbered, bulletted plan.
And it wasn't just the talking heads that had strong views on the GOP pledge. CNN.com readers also responded in force -- with more than 5,000 comments and 1,500 shares on Facebook -- giving their views on the Republican Party's strategy and their feelings on the upcoming elections and what each party needs to do to be successful.
Here's a sampling of some of the most popular and divisive comments:
User pfreese wrote:
"Click like if you're not voting for anyone with an (R) in November." (More than 300 people took the user's cue, making it the most popular comment on the story.)
User Jdoggers echoed the sentiment, responding with why Republicans won't get his vote:
"I support Obama and will continue to support him because I know, unlike most completely unreasonable people, that it takes longer than a year and a half to turn around an economic disaster that took 8 years to create."
User HunterPSU expressed exactly the opposite view, explaining why he feels Washington needs a change in the political landscape:
"2006 dems took control. The control they had 2001 forward was not as big as the control the dems have now. To much power in one parties hand has not brought us anything but accelerated spending on pet projects and more entitlement. 45% of Americans do not pay federal tax. B.O. is going to make it 50% + . That will not drive good decisions. Time to get the dems out. They are going to brankrupt our country"
User unkman800 said he recognized the plan, calling it "more of the same" from Republicans:
"So, the GOP is offering More of the same old, tired failed Reagan style trickle down deregulation polices that have NEVER worked. Funny part is , Americans are not to smart and will vote against there best interest once again . Amazing !! I will not be fooled."
User 1bigboy was frustrated with the Republican plan, saying instead of offering solutions, the GOP offers divisive wedge issues that are the same approach as usual:
"After reading the so called pledge to America on thing is clear, the GOP plan is as empty as their rhetoric. To create jobs they propose tax cuts for business and the top 3%. After almost 10 years of Bush tax cuts one would think the rate of unemployment would be 0%, it isn't. Why would anybody think that if you keep trying the same approach over and over again you would somehow achieve a different result? And so we are left with set of "pledges" that amount to nothing more than the standard GOP wedge issues to divide America that has always been the staple of the GOP, anti abortion, anti immigration, anti gay etc. none of which will create one job or put a meal on your table"
User 336 had a simple interpretation of the pledge:
"Here's and excert of the pledge...No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No..."
And user RussInMaine snarked back with a similar remark -- this one focused on Democrats:
"An excerpt from the last Democrat's piece of legislation
Yep that was it, total empty voidness!"
User Yeluacm said the plan amounted to empty promises:
"Do you really think we're going to fall for that garbage again?! Jeez. You really must think we're stupid and you seem have a great deal of contempt for we citizens. We watched what you did over the past 45 years. We get it now. We were stupid. We hoped we'd be included in the prosperity. We were wrong. But we know better now. Apparently you are a little slow on the uptake. We don't want your Voodoo Economics. You've got no plan; all you have is empty promises that are designed to dupe a people who have matured past your expectations. We're not letting you back in. You'll just screw us further into the ground."
User bons222000 felt the pledge was a bit contradictory and offered her own advice for Republicans:
"We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values." I am an American. My values are treating people equally, ie, allowing more than "traditional" marriage. Also, my values do not include faith at all. Instead of telling us what our values are, how about reaching out to the 50% of us who are not Republican? Just an idea."
User anniedelasol agreed, asking how the points outlined would help everyday people:
"How does that Republican contract, solve or even address ANY PROBLEMS we have.
How does it solve immigration, global warming, poverty, health care crises, the need for jobs. Just today a coworker said she knew of a mother and her children who were living in an alley behind a store, parked in their car. She goes to work every day gets her children to school. She has fallen out of the mainstream and can't get back in. Frankly the rich don't really need my help, neither do corporations. I want my goverment to respond to the needs of all the people not just those with money and screw the rest. The Republicans don't want to talk about social issues, because they know their bases opinions won't win elections"
User AGreenspam, posting under a username that perhaps is a commentary on the state of the economy, explained why he's likely to switch sides this election:
"Democrats blew it; Obama blew it. They should have spent their focus on the economy, but instead, they spent 1 year on healthcare and now have NOTHING to show for the #1 issue faced by all Americans. I was an Obama supporter, but even I now think he's just out of his league at this point.
I was an Obama supporter, but even I now think he's just out of his league at this point. That doesn't mean he cannot recover, but we will see."