Social Conservatives Coolly Welcome GOP's 'Pledge to America'

Social conservatives expressed mild approval of the Republican Party's new "Pledge to America," an economics-heavy document – with some abortion commitments – that lay out what Republicans would do if they take Congress back.

Tucked inside the 48-page document are pledges by the GOP to prevent tax dollars from funding abortion and to enact a conscience protection law for health care providers that would allow them to refuse to perform abortions on moral grounds.

Notably, the pledge, released just six weeks ahead of the November elections, did not defend traditional marriage. Social conservatives were consoled, however, by the abortion commitments and noted that the document is an improvement over the Party's 1994 "Contract with America," which did not address moral issues.

"There could have been stronger language concerning the defense of traditional marriage, but the language affirming no government funding for abortion is welcomed," said Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

He also noted how America is in an economic crisis and how it's understandable that the document focuses on the economy.

"'A Pledge to America' is a pledge to put America's financial house in order as quickly as possible," Land remarked. "It should not be read as an abandonment of the social conservatives' moral agenda."

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, similarly, was not overly excited about the document. He noted that he has "some disappointment" with the pledge's silence on the issue of traditional marriage, but also acknowledged it is an improvement over the 1994 contract.

"The pledge is not exceptional, but it is satisfactory, as it does lay a foundation to build upon," commented Perkins. "[I]t moves Congressional Republicans to a place of public acknowledgment that values issues are to be a part of the conservative way forward."

On Thursday, top leaders of the Republican Party held a news conference at a lumber warehouse outside of Washington to release the "Pledge to America." In the contract, the GOP pledged to create jobs, cut spending and put power back in the hands of the people.

Critics of the document noted its flowery language and the absence of a detailed plan to reduce the deficit.

Some of the specific GOP pledges include: extending Bush-era tax cuts permanently, requiring Congress to cite specific constitutional authority for every proposed legislation, repealing the heath care law, imposing a hiring freeze for most federal employees, ending the Troubled Assets Relief Program, and cutting Congress' budget.

"The proposals House Republicans will put forward today are clear proof that, unlike Democrats in Washington, Republicans have been listening intently to Americans over the past year and a half," contended Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Political commentators say the pledge is part of the GOP's voter-attraction strategy ahead of the mid-term election. The Republican Party is trying to counter the Democrats' accusation that they only obstruct legislation but do not have a clear plan of how to fix the nation's problems.