Quite a start

QUITE A START…. The new House Republican majority isn’t quite one-day old, but commitments they made before the midterm elections are already falling by the wayside.

Even before House Republicans took control of the chamber Wednesday, there were at least three areas where they appear to be backtracking on promises made: Cutting $100 billion in the first year, allowing opportunities for the minority party to offer amendments on bills, and making public attendance records for committee hearings.

Perhaps the “Pledge to America” included fine-print disclaimers?

Some of these broken promises are bigger than others. I suspect, for example, that the party’s Tea Party base will be none too pleased that Republicans’ vow to cut “at least $100 billion in the first year alone” was scrapped before the Speaker’s gavel even reached John Boehner’s hands. Similarly, the GOP insisted for two years that the minority had to be able to offer amendments to legislation, a vow Boehner repeated during his speech yesterday. A couple of hours later, though, that promise was broken, too.

The decision to scrap attendance records for committee hearings is obviously less significant, but when added to the list, helps paint a picture of broken promises that couldn’t even survive the first week of the congressional session.

Indeed, CNN pointed to these three departures from Republicans’ stated principles, but there are other examples. The GOP’s own rules call for all legislation to go through the regular committee process, as part of a commitment to transparency and due diligence, but when it comes to repealing health care — the first major task of the new majority — this rule is being broken, too.

For that matter, Republicans promised constitutional citations for every bill, but their initial legislative efforts have no such language.

Indeed, though it wasn’t put in writing, the GOP also vowed to reject legislation that increases the deficit — and their very first initiative would add over $100 billion to the deficit over the next decade.

At a certain level, it’s easy to sympathize with politicians who made pre-election promises they didn’t think through at the time. For example, if he had it to do over again, I suspect President Obama wouldn’t have vowed to hold health care policy negotiations on C-SPAN, a promise that never really made sense, and caused a fair amount of heartburn a year ago.

But given the number of broken GOP promises, and the speed with which Republicans have ignored elements of their own “Pledge,” the new House majority should be aware of a few realities: (1) making promises without forethought is never wise; (2) governing is a whole lot more difficult than taking cheap shots from the minority bleachers.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.