The Note: Partying Like It’s 1994

Sep 23, 2010 9:10am


That Was Then, This Is Now. Republicans have unveiled their “Pledge To America,” which they say will be their agenda for governing if they re-take the House of Representatives in November. Democrats are already trying to paint it as a laundry list of George W. Bush-era ideas, not to mention a retread of the party’s 1994 “Contract with America.” Among the key points the GOP is pushing in the 21-page document that they will introduce this morning at a hardware store in Sterling, Va.: Permanently extending all of the Bush tax cuts; canceling all unspent stimulus spending; repealing the Obama health care bill and replacing it with Republican proposals; blocking Obama's plan to move detainees at Guantanamo Bay to the United States. ABC’s Jonathan Karl and Gregory Simmons report: “The pledge is an effort to do what the Republicans did when they won the House in 1994 with the ‘Contract With America’ — offer a specific plan action for a Republican Congress. … In addition to the policy agendas set forward, the pledge is an attempt at some image rehabilitation. A top House Republican told ABC News the pledge is ‘an important milestone showing the American people we have learned our lesson and we are ready to govern.’” Both the 1994 Contract and the 2010 Pledge have at least one main author in common — John Boehner — and they both were released roughly six weeks before midterm Election Day. The 1994 document ran well under 1,000 words, this one fills 21 pages (h/t ABC’s Michelle Dubert). The Daily Caller’s Jon Ward also notes that the “‘Pledge’ is heavier than the ‘94 ‘Contract’ on rhetorical flourishes, and lighter on legislative meat” and Fox News’ Chad Pergram compares the unveiling of both documents.

NOTED: ABC’s Devin Dwyer also reports on a interesting feature of the GOP’s new “Pledge,” namely that the policy recommendations “were formed: based largely on the input from more than 100,000 registered users of the interactive online forum Republicans have branded "America Speaking Out. … The high-tech strategy, which includes iPhone and Android apps, allows users to post ideas which can be ‘liked’ or ‘disliked’ by other users, who can also add comments in a format similar to Facebook.”

The Pushback. President Obama weighed in on the GOP’s “Pledge” at a Democratic fundraiser last night: “Make no mistake:  The Republicans running for Congress, they want the next two years to look like the eight years before I took office. They might be announcing some new details tomorrow — but the chair of one of their campaign committees already told us their intentions.  He said that if the other party takes control of Congress, they plan to pursue — and I’m quoting here — the “exact same agenda” as they did during the last administration.  The exact same agenda.” In a statement Wednesday afternoon a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote: “Republicans want to return to the same failed economic policies that hurt millions of American and threatened our economy,” and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office issued their own re-write of the GOP pledge, which began, “I pledge allegiance to the hedge fund managers of Wall Street, and the consumer protections I want to take away.” Look for similar reaction from Democratic National Committee vice chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other members of Congress who are holding a press conference in front of DNC headquarters at 1:30 p.m. today.

New York, New York. On Wednesday we brought you the news of a Quinnipiac Poll that found a surprisingly close race for governor in New York with GOP candidate Carl Paladino trailing the favorite, Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, by just 6 percentage points, 49 to 43 percent. Well, six appears to be the Democrats unlucky number in the Empire State. That’s the margin by which Democratic Sen. Kristen Gillibrand is leading her lesser-known GOP challenger Joe DioGuardi, according to Quinnipiac, which has Gillibrand polling at 48 percent compared to DioGuardi’s 42 percent. Despite the closer-than-expected race, Quinnipiac’s polling director Maurice Carroll notes: "New York has two Democratic U.S. Senators and the numbers suggest it's likely to stay that way. … Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is closing in on the magic 50 percent point. But DioGuardi makes a race of it against her, even though three-fifths of New Yorkers don't know much about him." 

Meanwhile, At The U.N. As Republicans officially announce their Pledge this morning, President Obama will be addressing the United Nations General Assembly. Excerpts of his remarks provided by the White House focus heavily on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Here’s a sneak peek: “Now, many are pessimistic about this process. The cynics say that Israelis and Palestinians are too distrustful of each other, and too divided internally, to forge lasting peace. Rejectionists on both sides will try to disrupt the process, with bitter words and with bombs. Some say that the gaps between the parties are too big; the potential for talks to break down is too great; and that after decades of failure, peace is simply not possible. …  Peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians, but each of us has a responsibility to do our part as well. Those of us who are friends of Israel must understand that true security for the Jewish state requires an independent Palestine – one that allows the Palestinian people to live with dignity and opportunity. And those of us who are friends of the Palestinians must understand that the rights of the Palestinian people will be won only through peaceful means – including genuine reconciliation with a secure Israel.”

ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein talk to Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Illinois, about the GOP’s “Pledge to America” on today’s edition of “Top Line.” Roskam is the vice chair of the Republicans’ “America Speaking Out” program that helped solicit ideas for the policy manifesto. Also on the broadcast, Republican strategist Kevin Madden. Watch LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.

THE CW: Is Enthusiasm Enough?

ABC News Political Director Amy Walter reports: At two fundraising events this week, President Obama played the part of “Cheerleader-in-Chief,” imploring his party to get off the sidelines and into the action between now and November. “The single biggest threat to our success is not the other party,” Obama told donors at a fundraising event for House and Senate Democratic candidates in New York earlier this week. “It’s us. It’s our complacency. It’s apathy.” To be sure, the enthusiasm gap is real. In the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, released in early September, 79 percent of Republicans said they were “certain” to vote in November compared to just 63 percent of Democrats.

However, the enthusiasm gap is only part of the story. Another big problem for Democrats is the fact that independent voters have soured on them. In the ABC/Post poll, just 41 percent of independents, and 35 percent of independents who say they are likely voters, approve of the job the President is doing. If Democrats ultimately lose independent voters by 20 or 25 points, turning out base voters won’t be enough to stem the tide of significant losses. What ultimately doomed Republicans in 2006 wasn’t the fact that their base was unmotivated (exit polling showed that Democrats were 38 percent of the electorate, while Republicans made up 36 percent), but that they lost independent voters (who made up more than a quarter of the vote), by a 39-57 percent margin.


Palin Gone Wild (Over Rahm And Rouse). Sarah Palin was all a-Twitter on Wednesday about speculation that Pete Rouse, a senior White House adviser with ties to Alaska, will step in, at least temporarily, for Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel if he quits his post to run for mayor of Chicago. “(Rahm's the smart one…bailing before Nov) Now, check out possible COS Pete Rouse. His background, voter reg in AK,etc. It's a small world,” Palin wrote in her second micro-missive of the day mentioning Rouse’s mother grew up in Anchorage and he spent several years there during the late 1970’s and 1980’s working for the state’s Republican lieutenant governor, Terry Miller.

Speaking Of Rahm. ABC’s Jake Tapper follows up on a report, which we noted in Wednesday’s Note, that Emanuel may be leaving the White House sooner than previously thought: “’It would not surprise me’ if White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel left the White House before the mid-term elections to run for Mayor of Chicago, a senior administration official tells ABC News. Why? That official and others say the timing of the mayor’s race makes it problematic for Emanuel to wait until November. If he did wait, ‘he’d have a short runway,’ the official says. ‘He’d have less than three weeks to get all the signatures he needs and to put together a campaign’ Candidates need to collect 12,500 signatures by November 22, 2010 to qualify for a February 22, 2011 Democratic primary.”


THE NUMBER: $1.3 Trillion

The amount of money that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., in an interview on “Good Morning America” this morning, predicted would be saved if the ideas outlined in the GOP “Pledge” are implemented. “There’s lots of things we would do. We would rescind TARP, we would do a federal hiring freeze. That gets you $1.3 trillion in spending cuts. And we would prevent tax increases from hitting our economy January 1.”


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