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ROLL CALL: GOP to Roll Out Agenda-Building Project

House Republican leaders will roll out a new initiative on Tuesday that will become a central part of designing their policy agenda, according to GOP aides familiar with the plan.

The effort, called “America Speaking Out,” will include town hall meetings and other public forums that will allow Republicans to gather ideas for the new GOP agenda from citizens around the country.

The initiative will also include a website, complete with a mobile phone application, that will allow citizens to submit ideas for the Republican agenda online.

“America Speaking Out will be our effort to engage the American people about their priorities for a new policy agenda,” said one GOP aide.

Continue reading at Roll Call

THE HILL: GOP Plans ‘America Speaking Out’ Event

By Molly K. Hooper

House GOP leaders have planned a high-profile event at Washington D.C.’s Newseum Tuesday morning to launch the start of their “America Speaking Out” project.

Chief Deputy Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is in charge of the initiative to result in the release of a set of policy items that Republicans would pursue if they won back control of the House in November.

According to officials involved in the effort, “America Speaking Out” will focus on gathering feedback from Americans on what items that lawmakers should be focusing on in the future.

GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) said on Monday “it’s part of a process of engaging Americans.”

Pence added that the project was not a product of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“’America Speaking Out’ is not a project of the political” campaign arm, Pence said. He refrained from going into further detail.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) tasked McCarthy with heading the effort to produce a list of policy changes similar to the successful “Contract with America” that Republicans used in 1994 to win control of the House and the Senate.

Continue reading at The Hill

HUFFINGTON POST: “GOP Crowd-Sourcing Its Policy Agenda”

This time around, the GOP is crowd-sourcing its contract. House Republicans want your help “develop[ing] a new governing agenda,” according to a statement announcing a new effort to elicit public input on the GOP policy agenda.

“To return power to the American people and begin to restore the broken bonds of trust between Americans and their elected leaders, House Republicans are asking all Americans to be part of an unprecedented new initiative that will, in time, lead to a new policy agenda,” reads the release, announcing the new initiative, “America Speaking Out,” which launches Tuesday.

The Republican initiative comes after the Tea Party movement put forward its own version of the GOP’s 1994 Contract with America, which they call the “Contract from America.”

Some elected Republicans have been slow to sign on to the Tea Party contract and the “America Speaking Out” initiative gives them something to rally behind, while retaining a grassroots feel.

“We’ve been talking to them throughout the process, but that wasn’t the impetus of this,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is heading up the initiative. “We hope they’ll make those ideas a part of this process.”

The outreach also raises questions about where the GOP stands. A major critique of the Republican Party that comes from its conservative base is that it lost its way over the last decade and that it no longer stands on principle. Asking for help in crafting a governing agenda does little to discourage that criticism. Democrats have been happy to repeat the charge, accusing the GOP of lacking new ideas and relying on a simple strategy of opposition to whatever the Democrats propose.

“This sounds like the sequel to a really bad movie. The same old characters whose failed leadership, mismanagement, and ethical shortcomings created a huge mess are now attempting a drastic makeover with a slick marketing effort in hopes the public will somehow forget that the GOP was responsible,” Doug Thornell, an aide to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told HuffPost in a statement. “Republicans ran everything for years and we know how that turned out — huge deficits, debt, millions of jobs lost, putting the special interests first. The American people just can’t afford another Republican dud.”
Continue reading at the Huffington Post

WASH POST: “The Tea Party’s Allegiance to No One”

By Kathleen Parker

No one doubts the sincerity or power of the Tea Party movement anymore. We get it: free-market principles, limited government and individual liberty.

Those are the three fundamentals of the Tea Party’s “Contract From America,” to which any serious Republican must subscribe, nay, sign in blood. Make it real red.

Nowhere is this new power-to-the-people imperative in starker relief than in Utah — one of the nation’s reddest states — where three-term conservative Sen. Bob Bennett seems likely to lose the Republican Party nomination this weekend.

This, despite the fact that Bennett’s voting record earns an 84 rating from the American Conservative Union, an A ranking from the National Rifle Association — and is nothing like a liberal’s.

But Bennett committed the ultimate sin in Tea Party circles. He voted for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), a.k.a. “bank bailout,” during the George W. Bush administration. And, he advanced a market-driven health-reform bill as an alternative to the Democratic plan that, alas, also included an insurance mandate.

Continue reading at the Washington Post

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: GOP Leaders Want their Money Back from Charlie Crist

With Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist expected to announce an independent run for Senate, Republican leaders say they will do their best to starve him of campaign funds.

By Dave Cook, Staff writer at Christian Science Monitor

With Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist expected to formally announce late Thursday that he will run for the Senate as an independent, GOP leaders made clear they would do their best to starve him of campaign funds.

At a Monitor sponsored breakfast for reporters, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) said, “I certainly will request the money that I donated to his campaign from my leadership PAC back.”

Senator Cornyn added that, “people have already asked for their money back and I expect that to continue. I think in addition to seeing his coffers depleted by having to return money, I think his ability to raise money as an independent will be dramatically down.” Governor Crist has $7 million in the bank and is not legally obligated to return the funds.

Crist is dropping out of a Republican primary with former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio. Recent polls show Crist losing the primary badly while having a fighting chance in a three-way general election fight with US Rep Kendrick Meek, the Democratic candidate.

Cornyn said NRSC officials and others have suggested that he drop out of the Senate race this year and run in 2012 against Democratic Senator Bill Nelson. “Staying in the primary and dropping out and running in 2012 are much more preferable than running as an Independent because I think his future electoral prospects are irreparably damaged by his deciding now to run as an Independent,” Cornyn said.

There is a lesson for him [in] Crist’s sagging political fortunes, Cornyn admitted. He had asked Crist to run for the Florida Senate seat after former Governor Jeb Bush declined to run. “In this political environment, it is not necessarily helpful for candidates running in the states to have the national party chairman endorse them. I think more than any time I have seen in the recent past, instead of a Contract for America, voters want a Contract from America. They want to be listened to, not lectured to and not to have their choices made for them,” Cornyn said.

Continue reading at the Christian Science Monitor

WSJ: “Tea-Party Activists Stage Tax-Day Rallies”

Filing Deadline Brings Out Protesters Against Big Government, Administration Policies; ‘Tsunami of Conservatism’

By Neil King Jr., Douglas Belkin, and Louise Radnofsky

Tea-party activists held rallies across the country Thursday, the deadline for filing federal tax returns, to highlight what they said were onerous taxes and a bloated federal government.

The activists protested Democratic policies and displayed varying attitudes toward prominent Republicans. Some groups invited marquee conservatives, such as former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who addressed around 500 people in Austin, Texas.

Other organizers refused to invite politicians of any stripe, reflecting the deep distrust many in the movement feel toward elected officials.

In Wisconsin, several tea-party groups protested a decision to let former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson address a rally in Madison. Saying it was “time for new voices and new faces,” Mr. Thompson used his speech to announce that he would not challenge Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in his bid for re-election.

The rallies in town squares and hotel ballrooms from Philadelphia to San Diego came a year after a similar spate of April 15 protests put the small-government, anti-tax movement on the national map.

Organizers said Thursday’s rallies were more numerous and generally larger than last year’s. But the gatherings also illustrated the conflicting aims and strategies that have sprung up within the movement, which is now made up of hundreds of local groups working under a dizzying array of names.

The Tea Party Express, a group organized by a California political-consulting company, concluded a nationwide bus tour with a rally in Washington, D.C., that prominently featured—and endorsed—an array of Republican candidates in the midterm elections. Most other groups have spurned such endorsements.

One candidate endorsed by the group was Sharron Angle, a former member of the Nevada State Assembly, who is among a dozen Republicans vying to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat. The Tea Party Express made her one of its 14 “heroes” in the November election.

“Good morning, American patriots,” Ms. Angle said in her speech to about 200 activists. “You have brought a tsunami of conservatism across this country.”

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal

CONGRESS.ORG: Tea Partier to GOP… “Copy Away”

Republicans seem to be borrowing from the tea party playbook.

By Ambreen Ali

If imitation is a form of flattery, then the GOP just paid tea partyer Ryan Hecker the ultimate compliment.

As Hecker and the Tea Party Patriots unveiled the final version of their Contract From America , House Republicans announced a very similar initiative called the Commitment to America.

Like the tea party’s 10-point manifesto , the Republicans’ mission statement will be generated by collecting online surveys from conservative Americans.

Hecker collected more than 500,000 surveys over the past six months and recently unveiled his web-savvy strategy for incorporating the grassroots.

“I’m honored that they’re looking at the process we used,” Hecker said Thursday as he set up for a Tax Day rally on the National Mall.

“At the end of the day, if the Republicans come up with their own document and it’s a strong document, that’s good,” he added. “But I hope that our agenda is still a central part of what they’re doing.”

Hecker said the growing popularity of the tea parties is a big reason why the Republican Party is opening up their document to grassroots input.

“I think they recognize that they’ve lost some legitimacy,” he said.

The Republican initiative appears to be coming from the offices of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who has tried to court the tea parties without undermining their independence. He asked Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to lead the effort.

“In ’94 there wasn’t the Internet, there wasn’t phone apps,” McCarthy told Roll Call . “We are going to make it easy so anybody from across this country from all different walks [can contribute].”

Continue reading at Congress.org

NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: The Limited-Government Big Tent

By Michael G. Franc

In February an impressive cross-section of national conservative leaders, including one Kathryn Lopez of NRO fame, released the Mount Vernon Statement. This succinct document eloquently sets forth the tenets of constitutional conservatism. To me, its most significant passage is the one that summarizes how the “natural fusion” provided by America’s founding principles unites the various traditions of modern American conservatism:

[Constitutional conservatism] reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.

The Contract From America sets forth a similar case for limited government, arguing: “When our government ventures beyond [those limited powers that have been relinquished to it by the people] and attempts to increase its power over the marketplace and the economic decisions of individuals, our liberties are diminished and the probability of corruption, internal strife, economic depression, and poverty increases.”

Its policy platform calls on lawmakers to first, do no harm: repeal Obamacare, jettison the regulatory nightmare of cap-and-trade, and reject tax increases of any kind. On the proactive side, the Contract calls on Congress to approve a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, a “simple and fair single-rate tax system,” an “all of the above” energy policy that would revive domestic energy production, an end to earmarks, and a hard cap on overall federal spending.

Continue reading at National Review Online

LARRY KUDLOW: “America’s Constitutionalist Revolt”

By Larry Kudlow

So much is being written in the mainstream media about who the tea partiers are, but very little is being recorded about what these folks are actually saying.

We know that this is a decentralized grassroots movement, with many different voices hailing from many different towns across the country. But the tea-party message comes together in the “Contract from America,” the product of an online vote orchestrated by Ryan Hecker, a Houston tea-party activist and national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots.

With nearly 500,000 votes recorded in less than two months, this Contract forms a blueprint of tea-party policy goals and beliefs.

Of the top-ten planks in the Contract, the number-one issue is protect the Constitution. That’s followed by reject cap-and-trade, demand a balanced budget, and enact fundamental tax reform. And then comes number five: Restore fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government in Washington.

Note that two of the top-five priorities of the tea partiers mention the Constitution.

Filling out the Contract, the bottom-five planks are end runaway government spending; defund, repeal, and replace government-run health care; pass an all-of-the-above energy policy; stop the pork; and stop the tax hikes.

What’s so significant to me about this tea-party Contract from America is the strong emphasis on constitutional limits and restraints on legislation, spending, taxing, and government control of the economy. Undoubtedly, the emphasis is there because no one trusts Washington.

As I read this Contract, tea partiers are reminding all of us of the need for the Constitution to protect our freedoms. They’re calling for a renewal of constitutional values, including — first and foremost — a return to constitutional limits on government. The tea partiers who responded to this poll are demanding a rebirth of the consent of the governed. The government works for us, we don’t work for it.

Continue reading at National Review Online

FOX NEWS: Tea Party Protesters Descend on D.C. with New ‘Contract From America’

Thousands of protesters descended on the nation’s Capitol for April 15 tax deadline protests as activists offered up a new “Contract From America” aimed at using the winning formula of the 1994 Republican revolution while also developing a direction for the burgeoning movement.

WASHINGTON — Thousands of protesters descended on the nation’s Capitol for April 15 tax deadline protests as activists offered up a new “Contract From America” aimed at using the winning formula of the 1994 Republican revolution while also developing a direction for the burgeoning movement.

Those behind the document say that by asking visitors to the Web site contractfromamerica.org to propose and vote on the agenda, the results are a list not “handed down from on high by old-bull politicians, but one handed up from the true grassroots in this country.”

“After garnering nearly half a million votes in less than two months, the Contract from America has now been finalized into a blueprint that will serve notice to public officials about what the people want for their future,” reads a press release from the contract’s organizers.

Continue reading at Fox News