The Contract from America
Inspired by the 1994 Contract with America that was part of the Republican takeover of Congress that year, Tea Partiers from around the nation have voted online to provide input for a new “Contract from America” as a platform for reform and a positive program for Congress to adopt. Over 450,000 votes were cast, and now the organizers and supporters of this effort are calling on candidates for office to sign on to their agenda. They have ten agenda items, listed in order of support. Here they are, with some comments from myself:
1. Protect the Constitution
Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does. (82.03%)
While I appreciate the thought, this is a hollow agenda item. As Stephen Spruiell points out, “Committee chairmen would simply stamp any iffy provision with the words “Commerce Clause” and head to lunch.”
2. Reject Cap & Trade
Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures. (72.20%)
Hell yes. Complete agreement out of me.
3. Demand a Balanced Budget
Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike. (69.69%)
Wasn’t feasible after 1994, and isn’t going to happen now. What does need to happen is a plan to restore financial sanity, such as the one put forth by Representative Paul Ryan.
4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform
Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words—the length of the original Constitution. (64.90%)
Tax reform is definitely needed. The Alternative Minimum Tax needs scrapped. The Code needs simplified and made reasonable. I’m not yet sold on the “Fair Tax” that is popular among many on the Right, but that and other options need to be considered. And the government needs to learn to live within the limits of the revenue it brings in.
5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government in Washington
Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in a complete audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities, or ripe for wholesale reform or elimination due to our efforts to restore limited government consistent with the US Constitution’s meaning. (63.37%)
I’m currently reading “National Suicide, How Washington is Killing the American Dream from A to Z” by Martin Gross. Much of that book covers this topic, and I plan on blogging more about it in the near future. Suffice it to say that I absolutely agree with this agenda item. It just needs the addition that the findings of the commission would be implemented.
6. End Runaway Government Spending
Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. (56.57%)
Will this include entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security? Without covering those, such a cap would be meaningless. And those entitlements would need a great deal of reform before they are ready for the shock of such a spending cap. That the proposed Contract does not mention the entitlement issue is a major point of weakness, in my opinion. The American people have to find the courage to face the coming collapse of the entitlement programs.
7. Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care
Defund, repeal and replace the recently passed government-run health care with a system that actually makes health care and insurance more affordable by enabling a competitive, open, and transparent free-market health care and health insurance system that isn’t restricted by state boundaries. (56.39%)
This is an easy one to agree with, though again the distortions in the system from Medicare/Medicaid need to be addressed, and there are other needed reforms besides the ones prescribed here.
8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above” Energy Policy
Authorize the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation, lowering prices and creating competition and jobs. (55.51%)
Another item I support. Drop the barriers to drilling in the West, in Alaska, and on the Continental Shelf. Allow the construction of more refineries. Drop regulatory barriers to nuclear plant construction.
9. Stop the Pork
Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark. (55.47%)
10. Stop the Tax Hikes
Permanently repeal all tax hikes, including those to the income, capital gains, and death taxes, currently scheduled to begin in 2011. (53.38%)
Excellent. The last thing the economy needs is the huge tax hike set to hit when the Bush cuts expire in the coming year. This is a short term fix, which should be followed by general tax reform as mentioned in item #4.
Overall, pretty good, though I see the lack of entitlement reform as a weakness, and though I agree with the aims of some of the items, I disagree with the action prescribed. If I was running for Congress this November, I’m not sure I would sign on to this Contract unequivocally, but I would state that I support its aims and would incorporate some of these concerns into my message.
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