On Tuesday, September 27, more than 300 Republicans hoping to serve in the House of Representatives next year will gather on the steps of the United States Capitol to unveil a proposed "Contract With America," the ten bills Americans would see in the first 100 days of the first republican controlled House in 40 years.
After nearly two years of the most promise-breaking, waffling and spin-addicted White House in history, the public has grown cynical of promises to provide middle-class tax relief, reform welfare, restore accountability to congress and cut spending. And after 40 years of one party control of the House, they no longer feel they have the power to hold their elected representatives accountable. The Contract will allow people to hold us accountable, measure our performance and, if we break the contract. throw us out.
Some have questioned the wisdom of trying to"nationalize" congressional elections. In this election year, Bill Clinton's historically inept performance and doubts about his character have raised the national context dramatically, but negatively. Our Contract is designed to invest the already largely nationalized election with positive meaning. Winning only on a negative message might bring gains in the short-run, but would deepen the already dangerously cynical public mood, which would not be in the public's best interest in the long- run.
With the prospect of working control, if not numerical control, of the House in the next Congress, it is our responsibility to present a clear vision of how republicans would govern. After swearing in the first republican Speaker since Joe Ma tin (R-MA) in the 83rd Congress, we will on the first day of session cut the number of committees and subcommittees, cut committee staff by one-third, ban proxy voting, require a three-fifths vote to pass any tax increase, eliminate"baseline" budgeting and use honest numbers, and announce an audit of the House's books.
After changing the way the House conducts business, we
will change the kind of business the House has been conducting. Instead of passing bills that pile taxes, spending regulations ever higher, we'll scale back the size of government to make it more efficient and ease the burden on taxpayers and small business people.
In the first 100 days, we're pledging in writing to bring to a vote:
This is what's known in politics as "the big lie." The White House approach is, "if you're going to make up numbers, make up big ones." The truth is that using CBO numbers where available and its methodology when prior estimates do not apply, the net "cost" of the ten bills in the Contract is about $148 billion over five years--or about one third the level of specific spending cuts offered in each of the Republican budget initiatives offered in 1993 and 1994. All costs will be offset with specific spending cuts, which House Republicans now have a solid record of supporting.
It is exactly this willingness to cut the size and scope of the Federal government that most scares the Democrats. Knowing that most Americans agree that this government is too big and spends and regulates too much, they resort to phony numbers they hope will scare voters. Ceding power back to American families and individuals is very threatening to the party of big government. None of the ten bills increases government spending by one thin dime, and the Administration's bogus numbers are based on their assumptions about our family tax cuts, job creation incentives, senior citizen equity, stronger defense and the balanced budget amendment. While inflating the costs of these items, they ignore cost
savings from items like welfare reform (in their world,"reform" means more spending), regulatory budgets, and cuts in congressional committee staff.
Throwing out big numbers for the tax provisions diverts attention from issues like congressional accountability, term limits, "loser pays" legal reform, tougher child pornography laws, the line-item veto, anti-violent crime measures, regulatory relief and other aspects of the contract that also arouse strong public support but are suppressed by the Democrat majority in Congress.
Not all economists share these fears and arguments about the budget. You might look at for a different interpretation.
REVENUE LOSERS: Accepting prior Joint Tax or CBO estimates and methodology, the following provisions in the Contract will cost money or reduce revenue (all estimates are preliminary, and in billions of dollars over five years): $500 per child tax credit (-$107 billion), Capital gains rate cut and indexation (-$56),raise the Social Security earnings limit to $30,000(-$6.8), phased-in repeal of Clinton's Social Security tax increase (-$17), reform of the anti-marriage bias in the tax code (-$10). raise the estate tax exemption from$600,000 to $750,000 (-$6.5) increasing small business annual expensing level from $17,500 to $25.000 ($3.5).$500 dependent care tax credit (-$8) and tax incentives for long-term care (-$3.8). Tax incentives for adoption and the home office deduction correction amount to -$1.4 billion.
REVENUE GAINERS: The following provisions gain revenue or save money (all estimates are preliminary and in billions over five years): American Dream Savings Accounts (+$5 billion), neutral cost recovery (+19.5), welfare reform(+$40), anti-violent crime (+5), cut committee staff by one-third (+$1.0) and regulatory budgets (+$0.5).Interaction between certain provisions in the contract also reduce its cost.
The cumulative, approximate $148 billion dollar cost assumes our policies will not create one job or raise the income level of one American. It is based on standard, inside-the-beltway "static" scoring methods. A recent analysis by two former Treasury Department officials projects the policies in the Contract with America would"boost the near term annual growth rate by 2 percentage points" and "by the year 2000, annual GDP would be $1.1 trillion higher than otherwise". This increased growth would result in 3.1 million additional jobs, and would actually result in a net gain in federal revenue of $623 billion from 1995 to 2000.
In the past, Republicans were criticized for arguing that
they could pay for new or bigger programs with the money from pro-growth tax cuts. (Indeed, revenue doubled between 1980 and 1990, but the rate of federal spending out paced it.) We propose in the Contract with America to reign in the size of government, and we propose it in specific, legislative language.
Specific spending reductions like managed care for Medicaid recipients ($10 billion over five years), means testing Medicare Part B ($7.35 billion), job training block grants ($7.6 billion can offset the approximate$140 billion five year cost of the Contract, and take money out of the pockets of Washington bureaucrats and back into the pockets of America's families.
With the prospect Republican House control for the first time in forty years, it is important that Americans know what we are for. The Contract with America is an honest effort to provide a positive agenda It is unfortunate that the Clinton Administration has, in standard form, has opted for misinformation rather than rising to the challenge of intellectually debating the issues raised by our ten bills. The bottom line is that since coming to Washington, the Clinton Administration has been governing against the grain of public sentiment, and we are proposing a 100 days agenda that enjoys the overwhelming support of the American public.
Contact: Ed Gillespie
Contract with America Speech
Rep. Dick Armey
Today we enter a new era in American government. Today, one political party is listening to the concerns of the American people and responding with specific legislation. We are united here today -- over 150 current Members of the House and over 200 candidates -- united in the belief that "the people's House" must be wrested from the grip of special interest groups and handed back to "the people."
Americans today are cynical. They are tired of broken promises, tired of being misled, tired of "spin" from a
White House that seems to govern on the principle that you can fool all of the people some of the time.
Through the lenses of C-SPAN's cameras, Americans are dismayed by the sight of a revered institution corrupted by absolute power, a House of Representatives that now routinely stifles free and open debate, cobbles together thousand-page bills behind closed doors, refuses to live by the laws it imposes on everyone else, and -- most damaging -- has adopted as its central philosophy the belief that ordinary people can not be trusted to spend their own money and make their own decisions.
If the American people are willing to let us, we're willing to change all that.
Today, we Republicans are signing a "Contract with America." We pledge ourselves, in writing, to a new agenda of reform, respect, and renewal: Reform of congress and other government institutions. Respect for the people we serve and represent. And renewal of the american Dream that each day seems to slip further from the grasp of too many families.
We make this explicit offer: Give us majority control of the House of Representatives for the first time in four decades and we will bring to the House floor on the first day real Congressional Reforms. In the first 100 days, we will bring to a vote ten bills that would have an immediate and real impact in the lives of ordinary Americans.
We will bring all these bills to the floor for an up or down vote, with open and fair debate, where everyone's views are heard as we embark on a new direction for congress and a new partnership with the American people.
We put these bills in a contract so people can hold us accountable -- and there's an enforcement clause. We explicitly state, "If you give us control and we don't do what we say, throw us out." We mean it, and we take it as an article of faith that the American people will mean it, too.
Our Contract with America agenda was put together by everyone you see here today, working together to draft common sense legislation to address the many real problems where government can play a proper role. The ten bills that make up our Contract with America are available now, in full legislative language. Unlike the current Ruling Party in Congress that routinely forces us to vote on thousand-page bills without a chance to read them, we are not afraid to subject our work to the purifying light of day. We are making a Contract today to run Congress in the open, with the full participation of the American people -- if they give us the opportunity.
Our Contract with America is just the opening one hundred days of accountable government. The Contract is not the answer to every problem facing America today. It is an honest beginning, and an effort to invest this election with some positive meaning, because running solely against an unpopular president would only deepen the public's cynicism.
Winston Churchill once said, "Americans always do the right thing... after they have exhausted every other possibility." After 40 years of uninterrupted control, the Democrats have exhausted every other possibility, and it is time for the Republican party to accept the role of leadership the American people are demanding. Today we pledge to begin by bringing relief to the average family, which now pays more in taxes than food, shelter and clothing combined; cutting the size and influence of the federal government; and restoring accountability to the political process.
In short, we propose to cede back power from the hallowed halls of Congress to the more hallowed kitchen tables of America, where night after night families bow their heads in thanks and make decisions about education, charity, jobs, spending, debt, and values with a wisdom and compassion that no number of agency heads, cabinet secretaries or members of congress could ever match. Our contract recognizes the limits of government and the unlimited contribution of husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, children and grandparents in a safe and prosperous America.
It is now my pleasure to introduce Congressman Bill Paxon of New York, who chairs the National Republican congressional Committee. Bill made sure that candidates had as much input in this document as sitting members, and he is largely responsible for the prospect of electing the first Republican House majority in 40 years.
As Republican Members of the House of Representatives and as citizens seeking to join that body we propose not just to change its policies, but even more important, to restore the bonds of trust between the people and their elected representatives.
That is why, in this era of official evasion and posturing, we offer instead a detailed agenda for national renewal, a written commitment with no fine print. This year's election offers the chance, after four decades of one-party control/, to bring to the House a new majority that will transform the way Congress works. That historic change would be the end of government that is too big, too intrusive, and too easy with the public's money. It can be the beginning of a Congress that respects the values and shares the faith of the American family.
Like Lincoln, our first Republican president, we intend to act "with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right. To restore accountability to Congress. To end its cycle of scandal and disgrace. To make us all proud again of the way free people govern themselves.
On the first day of the 104th Congress, the new Republican majority will immediately pass the following major reforms, aimed at restoring the faith and trust of the American people in their government:
FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
THIRD, cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
FOURTH, limit the terms of all committee chairs;
FIFTH, ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
SIXTH, require committee meetings to be open to the public;
SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.
Thereafter, within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress, we shall bring to the House Floor the following bills, each to be given full and open debate, each to be given a clear and fair vote and each to be immediately available this day for public inspection and scrutiny.
A balanced budget tax limitation amendment and a legislative line-item veto to restore fiscal responsibility to an out-of-control Congress, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses
An anti crime package including stronger truth-in-sentencing, "good faith' exclusionary rule exemptions, effective death penalty provisions, and cuts in social spending from this summer's "crime" bill to fund prison construction and additional law enforcement to keep people secure in their neighborhoods and kids safe in their schools.
Child support enforcement, tax incentives for adoption, strengthening rights of parents in their children's education, stronger child pornography laws, and an elderly dependent care tax credit to reinforce the central role of families in American society.
A $500 per child tax credit, begin repeal of the marriage tax penalty, and creation of American Dream Savings Accounts to provide middle class tax relief.
No U.S. troops under U.N. command and restoration of the essential parts of our national security funding to strengthen our national defense and maintain our credibility around the world.
Raise the Social Security earnings limit which currently forces seniors out of the work force, repeal the 1993 tax hikes on Social Security benefits and provide tax incentives for private long-term care insurance to let Older Americans keep more of what they have earned over the years.
Small business incentives, capital gains cut and indexation, neutral cost recovery, risk assessment/cost-benefit analysis, strengthening the Regulatory Flexibility Act and unfunded mandate reform to create jobs and raise worker wages.
"Loser pays" laws, reasonable limits on punitive damages and reform of product liability laws to stem the endless tide of litigation.
A first-ever vote on term limits to replace career politicians with citizen legislators.
Further, we will instruct the House Budget Committee to report to the floor and we will work to enact additional budget savings, beyond the budget cuts specifically included in the legislation described above, to ensure that the Federal budget deficit will be less than it would have been without the enactment of these bills
Respecting the judgment of our fellow citizens as we seek their mandate for reform, we hereby pledge our names to this Contract with America.
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