US & Canada

House Republicans unveil campaign 'Pledge to America'

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Media captionOhio Congressman John Boehner and California Representative Kevin McCarthy outlined their pledge for ''a more accountable'' government

US Republicans have vowed to cut taxes and government spending and repeal President Obama's healthcare law if they win power in the mid-term polls.

The "Pledge to America" manifesto, which was rolled out by Republicans at a Virginia hardware store, emphasises job creation and limits on spending.

It attacks the Democratic-controlled government as "out-of-touch".

Polls indicate Republicans may win control of the House of Representatives in November's congressional elections.

The 21-page manifesto was formally released by senior House Republicans just outside Washington against a backdrop of sheets of plywood and large wooden planks.

"The land of opportunity has become the land of shrinking prosperity. Our government has failed us," California Representative Kevin McCarthy said at the event.

He added: "We will take back our country. We will restore for a better future. This is our pledge to you."

Republican officials say the document, which details plans to slash taxes and cut down on government regulation, will guide them if they win a majority of seats in the mid-term elections.

'Arrogant government'

In addition to familiar Republican themes - tax and spending cuts and trimming of government regulation - the document incorporates the anti-government rhetoric of the Tea Party movement.

"An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates, and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many," the manifesto states.

It describes Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, a key promise of his presidential campaign and the Democrats' signature policy achievement of the last two years, as "job killing" and a "takeover".

With US unemployment lingering above 9%, the minority Republican party has made Mr Obama and the Democrats' stewardship of the economy the key issue in the election campaign.

The manifesto reflects these concerns with a focus on job growth.

"We will end the attack on free enterprise by repealing job-killing policies and taking steps to assure current businesses and future entrepreneurs that the government will not stifle their ability to compete in the global marketplace," the document says.

Among other proposals, the Republican manifesto would make it more difficult for the government to increase regulation of business and would freeze most government hiring.

But it steers clear of setting out specifics on many important issues, such as putting the government on a "path to a balanced budget" or stopping "out-of-control spending".

Democrats, meanwhile, dismissed the manifesto as a rehashing of discredited ideas from the era of President George W Bush.

"Republicans have been clear: their agenda for the future is to take the country backwards to the same exact Bush policies that nearly drove our economy off a cliff," Ryan Rudominer, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement.

The Republicans have described the document as the result of an internet and social networking project they released earlier this year to give voters a say on what Congress should do.

The party says the American Speaking Out project garnered a million votes and comments on the proposals and prompted 160,000 ideas.

BBC News website readers in the US have been sending us their thoughts on this story. Here is a selection of their comments:

The Republican manifesto should have been the policy of the government from the beginning. Although both parties have pushed for more government spending, the Republicans seem the most likely to reduce it at this point. Therefore, they will have my vote in November.

Jason R, Monroe, Georgia

Something I consistently notice about those demanding "smaller government" and "less spending" is that they always seem to underestimate just how big a country the USA is. How could a "small government" possibly look after that many people? There is no-one else but the government to protect people, after all. Who would, if the government was cut back? No other institution is designed for such a purpose.

Kelly, Bakersfield, California

The Republicans are responsible for gridlock in Washington, and worse. We cannot accept their "Pledge to America". It is the Republican administration of eight years that created intolerable disparities in the American socio-economic system. Their name calling tactics are scandalous. The Bush tax cuts did not stimulate the economy - we need tax based on income. While they attack Obama as a socialist, they cling to military and economic privileges that bear many marks of state socialism.

Urbane Peachey, Lititz, Pennsylvania

I am happy that the Republicans have finally put together a manifesto that emphasises what they intend to do if elected. It seems that over the past year and a half, they have done nothing but criticise the Democrats and the president. Most of the proposals in the "Pledge to America" appeal to me, particularly the elimination of form-1099, reporting regulations on small businesses and the pledge to return our public expenditures to 2008 levels. If the Republicans run the rest of the campaign on these proposals for positive change, I will vote for them. If they revert to negativity and hysteria, however, I don't know what I will do.

Patrick, Charlottesville, Virginia

Repeal the health care law? So the attempt at getting Americans something remotely resembling universal health care coverage is bad and wrong? The 50+ million Americans without access to even basic health care because they don't have insurance would probably tend not to agree that this law is a bad thing. So much for "compassionate conservatism".

JRH, Roanoke, Virginia

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