America is headed in the wrong direction, House Republicans said today as they officially unveiled their new "Pledge to America" detailing their legislative agenda. They went on to challenge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to adopt the policies in their Pledge immediately in order to put America back on the right track.
"We are very serious about implementing our pledge," House Republican Leader John Boehner said as he raised up the 21-page document. "If we enact this agenda we will eliminate a lot of uncertainty Americans are facing."
Standing in a lumber warehouse in Sterling, Virginia, decked out in button-down shirts without jackets or ties, the Republicans emphasized that their Pledge was the final product of a conversation with the American people. It was unveiled weeks before the midterm elections, some months after the GOP created a website on which Americans submitted suggestions for the document.
"It's not intened to be a party platform," Boehner said. "As we listened to the American people, these are the things they told us... [what] needs to be done now."
Some conservative commentators havethat the Pledge is short on substance, offering little beyond rhetorical flourishes. Some have also criticized Republicans for calling for limited government without offering specific ways to get there. The Pledge suggests rolling back non-discretionary spending to 2008 levels in order to save $100 billion a year, but it offers few details to save money beyond that.
"We don't underestimate how difficult this is going to be," Boehner said. He added, though, that the document is "our pledge and our commitment to get ourselves on a path to balance the budget."
The document calls for a permanent extension of all the Bush tax cuts set to expire in 2011. Democrats want to extend those cuts for most Americans, but not those in the highest income brackets. Despite the fact most economists say extending the cuts for high-earners would add to the deficit, Boehner said that doing so would allow for economic growth.
"Part of the uncertainty [holding back economic growth] is the fact that no one knows what the tax rates are going to be tomorrow," he said. "Extending the current tax rate, making them permanent, certainly provides more certainty. Permanency creates more certainty for employers."
GOP Rep. Mike Pence Defends Pledge
When asked whether Republicans would be willing to make significant cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare or Social Security, Boehner refused to give a direct answer.
"When it comes to dealing with the entitlement programs, I've made it pretty clear it's time for us as Americans to have an adult conversation with each other," he said. "I don't have all the solutions, but I believe if we work with the American people, the American people will want to work with us... to lay out the plan that will solve this problem once and for all."
But while the Pledge may not have all the solutions, Republicans insisted today it should be enacted as soon as possible to jump start the economy.
"More than 60 percent of Americans believe our country is headed on the wrong path," said Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California. "They're right."
McCarthy, credited with developing the Pledge, said it should be implemented this fall to "put us back on the right track."
"We are not ready to concede the fight for the prsoperity of our country," he said.
Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.