Build Your Own 2010 GOP Contract With America!

Inspired by a couple of comments in the "Will the Repubs take the House? Senate? thread, specifically Boozahol Squid, P.I.'s interpretation of a comment by lel, essentially saying that a new Gingrich needs to step up and create a 2010 version of the Contract With America.

My comment there was that it’s a pretty steep challenge “to create a GOP agenda that (a) GOP Congresscritters and Congressional candidates are willing to run on in a general election, (b) won’t get the GOP base hopping mad, and © will draw a modicum of support from centrists/independents.”

But it seemed to deserve a thread of its own, so here we are.

The ground rules are simple: what matters isn’t whether you think it’s a good or bad agenda, but whether you can argue that it does or doesn’t meet the three criteria above.

So, sports fans, come up with your 2010 GOP Contracts With America, and be prepared to defend them on that basis. Fun for the whole family!

Dunno. The main problem with coming up with such a thing is that clearly the answer would be to pound on Obama’s failure to turn around the economy and/or the issue of the growing national debt. But, to do that they’d have to offer actual proposals for how to correct things, and then they’d be stuck with that. The proposals that the Tea Partiers want – specifically, a balanced budget amendment – are fairly stupid. The proposals that the Libertarians want – a gold standard, or simply letting falling things fall – are also pretty stupid. Obama is more-or-less doing what economic experts suggest and the politicos know that if they get into power, they’ll be obligated to go with what the experts suggest. But if they write out as their Contact with America that they’ll do the same thing as Obama, they can’t decry everything Obama is doing.

A detailed Contract With America 2 would have to be a major group effort built upon a coalition, but I would wholeheartedly agree with Sage Rat that to have any chance of success that the proposal would have to based primarily upon economic recovery and would have to pound on Obama’s current failure to turn the economy around. Right now would be their best bet to make such a contract that would either be silent on social issues or would simply call them an issue of states’ rights, thus achieving the same effect as having no opinion on such issues.

The issue is that they would have to have a proposal to fix the economy that a) works and b) differs significantly from Obama’s current policy. I’m not sure I am daring enough to boldly assert that cutting taxes, reducing spending, decreasing national debt, and returning to a gold standard is a certain answer to our economic woes, and as a voter I’m not sure I’d buy that any more than the current solutions.

I need to reread what was part of the original CWA.

Here you go.

Here, the GOP runs into the potential conflict between a portion of its old base (which won’t tolerate retreat on the social-right issues) and the Tea Party crowd (much of which is actually hostile to the party on those issues, having correctly realized that the GOP uses them the way a magician uses a hot scantily-clad assistant).

I would suggest making an immigration crackdown the centerpiece, with emphasis on enforcement against any employer who hires undocumented labor.

Except that, while that would highly motivate the GOP’s populist-nativist-paleoconservative-white-working-class base, it would also run up against the interests of its corporate base, which provides a lot of the money for the conservative movement, and which wants cheap immigrant labor.

A chicken in every pot, but absolutely no pot in the chicken.


There is only a very small percentage of companies which have any interest in illegal immigration, and frankly if the immigration was stopped, they’d just move their farms and factories over the border where everything would be even cheaper. So really there isn’t a strong motive to keep things as they are for anyone.

Well, it’d be interesting to start looking at the original plan from 1994.

Some of the aspects of that contract are, quite obviously, fairly outdated in the modern political world. Crime isn’t a very big focus of national politics, like it was back in the 90’s. Same thing with fears of the UN taking over our military. Wait, I’m doing this wrong. Let me go through each provision (as outlined by wiki, anyways).

The Fiscal Responsibility Act - Obviously something that the Republican Party, in theory, would love to make the issue of an election. It’s the sort of promise that galvanizes Libertarian-leaning voters, Tea Partiers, and a large part of the Republican base. It’s the failure of Bush to continue the practical application of this that lead to a lot of conservative voters (myself included) to withdraw from voting for them (I voted for Chuck Jay in 2008, many of my like-minded friends didn’t vote at all.)

The Taking Back Our Streets Act - As I said above, not really as big an issue as it was 15 years ago

The Personal Responsibility Act - Probably not as popular an item these days with so many voters or family members of voters on unemployment benefits, and the lack of the idealized spectre of welfare mothers leaching off the federal government. The fact that most of it already passed also makes it moot. Replacing it with some sort of act limiting benefits to non-citizens (illegals in particular) would do a lot to galvanize the Republican base, and probably be looked upon favorably by a lot larger a segment of the population than what I imagine most members of this board might imagine.

The American Dream Restoration Act - Already done

National Security Restoration Act - Already done. Al though there’s a certain segement of the base that would love to see a total pull-out of the US from the UN, I don’t think that it’d be helpful with society at large or swing voters to put that as a major issue

Common Sense Legal Reform Act - Tort reform is something that ought to be continued, and is probably necessary in the face of an already passed healthcare bill. I don’t know how sexy this is: it’s certainly something that could pull in a lot of voters from a wide spectrum of the population, if they understood and cared about it. It’d require a lot of investment to make that happen.

The Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act - Perhaps the key element to be revived in a Contract With America 2.0 The GOP needs to put together a realistic and appealing set of guidelines for retoring the economy that’s different from the Bush/Obama ‘toss sackfuls of cash at corporations’ method.

Citizen Legistlature Act - A radical reshaping of our political landscape, which would get my vote for a pol, no matter what else the guy supported. I’d love to see it attempted again.

There are a few other things which possibly or probably would at least be considered by an attempt to restructure the alliance of old school Republicans, fiscally conservative democrats and libertarians that swept into office in '94. They, in large part, revolve around the social policies connected with the Religious Right: the Defense of Marriage Act, anti-abortion measures, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and a continued criminalization of marijuana. I tend to think that the various anti-gay portions aren’t really worth it in terms of votes. An anti-abortion plank seems to still be both popular and gaining in popularity, rather than the reverse. I’d love a switch to a marijuana-legalization plank, not because I use the stuff (I don’t), but because it’d be a peace offering to the libertarians who got jilted by Bush 2 in exchange for the religious wingnuts. I think the GOP would have a better shot at winning in the long term by actively courting them and relying on a muted level of support from the evangelicals rather than the reverse.

This would be a smart tactic to bring out their voters and galvanize their supporters. I don’t know how practical this would be to implement, and frankly, I have to wonder about the unintended consequences of such an act, but I agree that in the short term, this would be a vote getter.

There is a Contract From America. Here’s its proposals:

  1. All laws have to identify a clause in the Constitution which authorizes Congress to legislate in that area.
  2. No “cap & trade” environmental regulation.
  3. Balanced budget and supermajority needed for tax increases.
  4. Single-rate income tax.
  5. Taskforce to identify government programs that should be eliminated.
  6. Statutory upper limit on government spending.
  7. No public health care.
  8. Loosen regulations on drilling and nuclear power.
  9. Supermajority needed for earmark budget items (pork).
  10. Repeal recent tax increases.

With the exception of #8, I just sprang wood.

Several of them are essentially just repeats of each other, so to summarize I’d say there’s only the following real provisions:

  1. Everything must be Constitutional.

This is already the case.

  1. Laws must state which section of the Constitution will allow them to do what they do.

The Constitution gives the government free reign to do anything it wants so long as it doesn’t go against one of our Constitutional rights.

  1. Keep the budget balanced.

Probably not a good idea:

  1. No raised taxes.

How do you expect to do that and keep a balanced budget?

  1. No earmarks.

Trading things is how politics is done. There’s more to politics than voting on stuff, there’s also the business of interacting with other countries and businesses and whatnot where some amount of tact and tradeoffs is necessary. Keeping your politicians unable to get experience in this, or having them entirely divorced from the practical aspects of the ramifications of choices isn’t necessarily a good thing. If a local business fails, that puts thousands of people out of work. For a politician with no ties to his region, that doesn’t matter, because he’s only asked to analyze stuff coldly. For one who has some ties to local business, it does matter. For a politician whose never had to trade hogs, once he gets onto the international front and has to deal with doing so with France or Iraq or wherever, he’s coming into it with no prior experience and is liable to screw the US out of lots of deals that would be good for us.

It might be a rather bizarre and ad-hoc solution to these problems, but ultimately earmarks aren’t about to destroy the country anytime soon, do serve some purpose, and no better alternative to achieve the same purpose has been suggested. It’s also likely that no matter how you try to stop them, they’ll persist anyways.

The Bush Administration’s immigration-reform proposal included a guest-worker program – and that definitely was one of the factors that killed it politically. I can’t imagine why it would have included such a thing, if some powerful business interests had not wanted it very urgently.

In your view of the world, if powerful business interests wanted such a thing, then why was the bill dead on the water politically?

I’ll see your N&P clause and raise you the 10th Amendment.

Reducing income and requiring a balanced budget would mean the same thing for the government as it would for any other entity: reduced spending. See below.

My issue with earmarks is how they are passed. Any spending bill designed for some certain worthwhile project that’s constitutionally mandated doesn’t get passed unless it includes a provision for X million dollars dedicated to building a Plow and Lantern museum in St. Crapsville, MN, matching funds dedicated to a youth basketball program in Harlem, and funding a pelican observatory on Lake Pontechartain. It’s those tradeoffs which end up massively bloating governmental spending because politicians can’t stomach the idea of spending any federal dollars without an immediate return on their vote’s investment.

Which says that the powers of the Federal government are limited to those in the Constitution. The Constitution grants all power (so long as it is necessary and proper and doesn’t impinge on any rights) to the government, and hence it gives those powers to the Federal government. The 10th Amendment doesn’t appreciatively change anything.

Why should the people tell their politicians to turn laws down if they know the politicians can’t raise taxes? They can tell their representatives to keep passing legislation after legislation racking up the bill, and keep treating it like it’s someone else’s problem down the run.

Then that’s an issue of how they are passed, not in getting rid of them.

Because they are powerful enough to strongly influence the Administration (or, at least, the Bush Administration), but not powerful enough to overwhelm all other forces in the political arena, including the GOP’s anti-immigration base.

It seems pretty silly that the founders would have wanted to include it then. Or perhaps they didn’t subscribe to your “The federal government can do anything it wants” belief?

Yes, it does. Sometimes they were pretty silly.