In 1994, Newt Gingrich and House Republicans offered the voters of the United States the "Contract with America." After the Democratic Congress and President Clinton over-played their political hand in 1993-94, Republicans were swept into power in Washington. This success lasted at least until 2003, when the "Bush Tax-Cuts" were enacted, but when the growth of government began with earnest.
The Contract with America promised that on the first day of their majority in 2005, the Republicans would hold floor votes on eight reforms of government operations:
- require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply to Congress;
- select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
- cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
- limit the terms of all committee chairs;
- ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
- require committee meetings to be open to the public;
- require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
- and implement a zero base-line budgeting process for the annual Federal Budget.
While unfortunately forgotten by free-spending Republican Congresses between 2003 and 2006 (when Democrats won major victories in the House and Senate), the Contract was a major success in bringing about government and economic reforms.
So perhaps it is time for Republicans to propose a new Contract with America. They would need a Newt-like leader to advocate for it. I'd propose my own district's FairTax-supporting John Linder, but unfortunately he is not the charismatic man that Congressman Gingrich was. Perhaps Mike Pence or some other Republican with a strong track record for real conservatism could lead the effort.
So here are some proposed legislative or rule changes that I'd like to see voted on the first day of the 112th Congress in a new Contract with America:
- End the "Air-Drop" practice, where legislators add new amendments in the conference to resolve differences between the Senate and House versions of a bill.
- End all "Congressionally Directed," "Pork-Barrel," or "Earmark" spending, in favor of allowing the Executive Branch to do it job in deciding where best to spend the money.
- Require a "sunset" provision for all tax rate increases.
- Prevent any non-profit organization receiving federal dollars if it is under investigation or indictment for federal crimes. Require the same all new and renewed Federal contractors.
- Hire a major, independent auditing firm to audit all Federal spending for effectiveness, waste and abuse.
- Eliminate all refundable tax credits. A taxpayer may only receive a refund up to the amount of tax they actually paid.
- Vote on H.R. 25, the FairTax bill.
- Allow new petroleum drilling, oil shale exploration, and coal "gasification" projects. Open the section of ANWR previously set-aside for drilling.
These are just ideas, and some may not be palatable to every Republican, or to the moderate voters that Republicans wish to woo while still holding-on to traditional conservatism. At the least, I think they should be considered for a vote.
Many of the ideas would be opposed by President Obama, but that could work to his detriment. If Americans elect Republicans to a majority based upon these promises, the President would be ill-advised to strongly oppose them. It may force him to actually respect Republican ideas, instead of claiming bi-partisanship and ignoring conservatives and libertarians while steam-rolling liberal legislation through Congress.
I'm just brain-storming here. Anyone else have ideas?