The Contract With America, you may recall, was the brainchild of Newt Gingrich for the 1994 elections. Gingrich decided to nationalize the House of Representative election, allowing GOP candidates to run on an array of poll tested propositions — all Contract provisions had at least 60% approval — rather than local issues:

  1. require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply to Congress;
  2. select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
  3. cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
  4. limit the terms of all committee chairs;
  5. ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
  6. require committee meetings to be open to the public;
  7. require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
  8. guarantee an honest accounting of the Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.

It was a resounding success as a campaign tool, giving the GOP control of the House for the first time since 1953. How it worked out in practice is a different discussion.

Now the House Freedom Caucus is in the throes of drafting a Son-of -Contract-With-America for the 2016 campaign.

U.S. House Republican hard-liners who helped force out former Speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] are readying their next act: a multi-point manifesto demanding quick action on long-time conservative priorities.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus are preparing a “Contract With America II” that would call for House votes in the first 100 days of 2016 on replacing Obamacare, overhauling entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and repealing the estate tax.

An early draft of the plan obtained by Bloomberg News also calls for legislation to slash government regulations by 20 percent, cut corporate tax rates and expand offshore oil drilling. Efforts are still under way to finalize contents of the “contract,” which lawmakers say they hope will become the basis of House Republicans’ 2016 agenda.

 The plan is tentatively named after the “Contract With America” that Newt Gingrich and other Republicans used to describe their pledges in the 1994 elec­tion campaign that swept the party into the House majority.
According to Bloomberg, these are some of the provisions:

That’s partly why a focus is already shifting to 2016. The draft of the Freedom Caucus contract calls for House floor votes on proposals to require a balanced federal budget, repeal the estate tax, replace Obamacare, and cut dependence on foreign oil 20 percent by 2025. The military should receive enough funding to be able to fight two separate wars in different parts of the world, it says, and government regulations should be cut 20 percent across the board.

The proposal calls for closing corporate tax “loopholes” and cutting the top corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent; banning federal funds for Planned Parenthood and other groups that perform abortions; overhauling entitlement programs and enacting measures “to promote workfare, not welfare.”

I hope this reflect early drafting efforts, otherwise it is going to be a caricature. What is the good on forcing a House vote on a profoundly bad idea, that would be the “balanced federal budget,” when it will never get a vote in the Senate? Obama is trying to cut dependence on foreign oil, too, via “green energy.” Why two wars and with who?

The difference between Gingrich’s Contract and what is reported on this iteration is immense. Most of the original Contract was focused on things the House could achieve by itself or on things that were very difficult to argue against. This seems to be a conservative, of a type, policy wish list. I think it is hard, in the current climate, to run for office based on the nation fighting two wars. Most of us would settle for “fight one war and win it.” The balanced budget is going to drag out candidates down the path of starving grandma.

This is not to say there aren’t laudable things included but they aren’t things the House can implement and some of them cut both ways. Whoever is leading this effort needs to take a deep breath and reconsider what they are doing.