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ATR: “Contract from America” Underscores Need for Transparency

Yesterday during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Tea Party Patriots and several other sponsoring organziations, including Americans for Tax Reform, unveiled a new project – the “Contract from America.” They have launched a website with a number of suggested planks (suggested by taxpayers from around the country) for the final Contract to be unveiled on Thursday, April 15, 2010.

In the meantime, you can visit the website and vote on the planks you think are most important.

  • We like the fact that three of the planks focus on transparency in areas that CFA has been very active, too:
  • Broadcast all non-security meetings and votes on C-SPAN and the Internet
  • Begin an audit of the Federal Reserve System.

Every bill, in its final form, will be made public seven days before any vote can be taken and all government expenditures authorized by any bill will be easily accessible on the Internet before the money is spent.

Note, however, that for the third one, we would like to see the plank broadened to not just focus on “authorized expenditures” but on actual expenditures, too. We all know that the budget/appropriations bills are the documents in which politicians explain how much and how they’re going to spend our oney – but the actual check registers and expenditure records will tell us the full story. Consequently, they should be made available online in an easily accessible and searchable format in as close to real time as possible.

Continue reading at the Americans for Tax Reform website…

  • John T. Harrington

    Transparency in Government is what the Democrats promised us, instead they have been one of the more secretive administrations in recent history. I would like to see the congress enact legislation to open up the transparency.

  • Pingback: Contract FROM America | Chicago Daily Observer

  • John Macauley

    I’m surprised that the list you propose doesn’t really touch on one of the major themes of the Tea Party movement – the intrusion of a one-size-fits-all nanny state into every aspect of our personal lives and a federal takeover of state/local police powers. Indeed, most of the items listed implicitly acknowledge federal/statist authority resides in DC, and just asks them to dial it down. Is that enough? Will the Genie really go back in the bottle if we just lower tax rates and open up health care hearings? Or will it just hit the snooze button and try again in a couple of years?

    In the 70’s/80’s, Mr. Reagan talked about a new Federalism. Mr. Gingrich wrote about Devolution in the 80’s and 90’s. Today, a lot of TP folks are talking about Constitutional Restoration. They’re all talking about the same thing – local control. We don’t want to be forced into the same tube of toothpaste on local/life issues – water and land use, morals and education, police and fire protection, transportation and taxation, environment. The very exercise of federal power takes that control away and, in effect, forces us to join an American ‘Borg’ collective.

    Americans now feel like every election is a life-threatening event – because DC is trying to flatten the nation and impose one set of monolithic standards on everyone. And that means when the other guy wins the election, we fear that our values will be forced to change according to somebody else’s priorities. We can argue with the Mayor – but they can’t hear us in the DC echo chamber. So Federal expansion is putting us at each others’ throats. We need to back the Feds off, and restore local decisions to local decision makers who know what the neighborhood wants.

    So if we’re going to push a list like this as a movement, we need to be more specific about wanting (as the Constitution demands) our governors/mayors/local legislators to wield power on local issues (police powers) – and tell the Feds to go back to worrying about war and peace, and regularizing trade, and coinage, and etc (those enumerated powers things that seem to matter so little when the President is trying to be a national mayor, and fix every pothole from the Oval Office)…..

    By limiting ourselves to demanding lower taxes, a Fed Audit and more transparency (all good things, mind you), we are missing a big point. And we are indirectly ratifying federal authority by just asking for less federal action rather than none at all. We need to rebalance a system that is in crisis with itself. I think the list needs a little deeper thought – and a lot more focus on local control and individual liberty.

    Just my 2 cents on a Sunday morning.

  • Jim Sheffield

    The list of choices put up for a vote for the top ten is probably the closest I’ve seen that represents the overreaching problems for our Republic. I think that if some of these choices become policy on a national scale, we’ll see lots of the smaller (but no less important) issues start to get solved.

    Electing people at all levels that will stand up for the Constitution is of primary importance. Then they will be able to begin chipping away at the monstrous government we have now and allow them to start tackling the problems left unaddressed originally.

    By staying focused on a few doable tasks/policies that most Americans can relate to is going to be what propels this whole fledgling movement forward. If it becomes distracted with nonsense, however, its over.

  • Beth Straley

    The Sanctity of all human existence should be #1. ” We hold these truths to be self evident…..” While the list contains very important issues, there is no more important issue than that of the right to Life.

    Once very tragically, many in America considered Africans and Americans of African decent, less human and less deserving of the rights afforded other citizens. We now consider such thoughts ridiculous and egregious.

    All Biological Science proves, without a doubt, the full humanity of the unborn person. Someday very soon, there will be an awakening to the truth and we will rue the day we brought the same ignorance and curses upon ourselves. There is no “liberty and justice for all” as long as placing the value of a human life can be decided by others on the basis of size, location, levels of cognition or levels of dependence, as well as color, or religion.

  • TG Wright

    The comment from Jim Sheffield makes a good point for the “Keep it simple stupid” theory. If we push for the FairTax, it will take care of the tax loopholes in the IRS because it eliminates the IRS. No loopholes will eliminate the majority of, if not all, Lobbyists. Term limits will eliminate the temptation to be there for themselves instead of the people they represent. Several of the choices overlap.

  • Axle Conroy

    All 21 items in the Contract are great, but unless we get back, to not spending money that we don’t have, ( running a deficit) this Great Country will go down the tube! Greece is in trouble deficit spending of 12% GDP (EU says a deficit of +3% GDP is MAX … that they will allow) … Uncle Sam, with Spending out of control, is approaching a deficit and outstanding debt of 100% GDP.
    IF THE USA goes broke (is already if China and others stop buying US IOUs, and the FED stopped printing paper), how would US … Pay for these spending programs already on the books, with more on the drawing board? Obama and the DEMS are just in His first year, (their third) & you think that deficit spending is going to stop?

  • Axle Conroy

    God Help Us…..

  • John Macauley

    All good comments and agree with the needs.

    But folks, we’re already broke – we are just topping off our credit limits before the next phase begins. So I think small-ball will miss the opportunity to capture the public’s imagination ( the contract with america solutions of the 90’s aren’t enough now – we were in a different financial position ) – we need to be bold in anticipation of what is likely to be very bad on debt and the dollar, and pose principled solutions to the big problems that brought us here.

    For example, is anyone on any side of this really ready to say the entitlements that are bankrupting us need to be cut off? Why don’t we ask ourselves and the candidates what they WON’T do – we need to stop asking the Federal government to be the arbiter of everything in a Continental Nation – instead of what they will do?

    One thing I’m very much pleased with is that this isn’t playing the social issues cards – I agree with the sentiment and many of the views – but when we go down that road, we are playing a statist card ourselves. And this is not the time or place.

    Our principles should focus on liberty and personal responsibility, and on moving to a lot less (not just limited) national/nanny-state government. Reagan couldn’t shut down a single department or program in his 8 years – and they’re all many times bigger (and breeding) now. It’s now time to begin turning them off. It will take years and lots of fights, but….

    Never waste a good crisis, right?

    For what it’s worth. Good discussion.

  • Paul D. Young

    Conspicuous by its absence from the list of principles in your “Contract From America” is any mention of illegal immigration and its obvious effect on the joblessness now plaguing middle america. Only one speaker at CPAC, a junior congressman, had the guts to broach the subject of immigration. I for one will not support an organization that allows itself to be co-opted by the old guard elites of the republican party (John McCain, Newt Gingrich, et al) thence to begin erecting a “big all inclusive tent” so as not to offend anyone. That’s precisely why the republican party is in the minority now and in danger of making the same mistakes it has in the past, i.e. trying to be politically correct instead of doing what’s right for the nation. You need to eliminate the “pablum” and take bold stands. Truth matters! “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue” – all of which could be summarized in two words: “Political Incorrectness”

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  • Donald Latta

    Constitutional amendment to allow for national public referendum on any issue. This allows the American people an actual vote on important issues such as healthcare, taxes, congressional pay and benefits, congressional retirement, etc.

  • Donald Latta

    Please give this inclusion consideration. Our founding fathers could not possibly have envisioned the technological revolution that has allowed us to have instant access to all the information necessary to make an informed vote on any issue without a Senator or Representative doing it for us. We are currently at the mercy of legislators who have shown a complete disregard for the will of the majority and reduced the congressional vote to whatever is politically expedient at the time they cast a vote. It is past time that the American people have the ability to directly effect the will of the people thru the referendum