Americans for Tax Reform

Free-Market Groups Join Together to Announce “Contract from America”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Ryan Hecker, 215-880-2430

(Alexandria, VA) – The Tea Party Patriots, a national umbrella organization for hundreds of local tea party groups around the country, joined today with the National Taxpayers Union, FreedomWorks, and Americans for Tax Reform, three of the nation’s most prominent free-market advocacy groups, to announce the upcoming April 15 launch of the “Contract from America,” a grassroots legislative agenda for 2010 and beyond. Originally proposed by Ryan Hecker, a Houston Tea Party activist and National Coordinator for the project’s chief organizing group Tea Party Patriots, the Contract is a different kind of agenda for our federal lawmakers: unlike the Contract with America from the 1990s, every plank of the Contract from America was proposed and voted on by everyday citizens.

After a fight that seemed to last forever, Congressional leaders were finally successful in ramming through a controversial $2.5 trillion health care plan. They did it despite poll results showing that the bill was deeply unpopular, and despite efforts from of millions of taxpayers who contacted Congress, came to townhall meetings, and attended protests to speak out against the proposal. Now those taxpayers can use their frustration to do more than just protest – they can change the direction of our country.

Right now, concerned citizens can visit the Contract FROM America website (contract.thelibertylab.com) and choose their top ten priorities from a list of 21 planks proposed by committed Americans from all walks of life. By asking website visitors to propose and vote on the agenda, the result will be not a list handed down from on high by old-bull politicians, but one handed up from the true grassroots in this country. Once voting is complete on Monday, April 5, 2010, the Contract will be finalized into a blueprint that will serve notice to public officials about what the people want for their future.

As of April 1, over 360,000 votes had been cast on the Contract website. The three most popular planks were: (1) beginning the process of enacting a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution, (2) requiring legislation to cite the Constitutional provision under which it is authorized, and (3) rejecting “cap-and-trade” national energy tax proposals.

Tea Party Patriots (www.teapartypatriots.org), National Taxpayers Union (www.ntu.org), FreedomWorks (www.freedomworks.org), and Americans for Tax Reform (www.atr.org) are nonpartisan, nonprofit citizen organizations working for lower taxes and smaller government.

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NEWSMAX: Contract From America Rose from Obscurity

By Ronald Kessler

Ryan Hecker got the idea while he was shaving: Why not hold politicians accountable to conservative principles with a “Contract from America”?

Bookish and intense, Hecker, 29, is hardly the sort of person you would expect to galvanize a political movement. But as a Harvard Law School graduate and a lawyer with Vinson and Elkins in Houston, Hecker has impressive credentials.

He has another thing going for him: Outrage.

Outrage was what he was feeling about the Bush administration’s plan to bail out banks when he thought up the Contract from America in December 2008. In contrast to Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, the new contract would bubble up from the grass roots, setting forth principles that politicians would be asked to embrace.

Now, tens of thousands of activists have voted on what they consider the top 10 principles.

At a press conference at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, Hecker and other Tea Party Patriots, FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey, Sen. Jim DeMint, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, Liberty Central, and Regular Folks United announced plans to unveil the final document on April 15.

Despite the growing power of his concept, until now, no one in the media has interviewed Hecker about his background and how he arrived at the idea for the contract.

Hecker tells Newsmax he grew up in a liberal family in Manalapan, N.J. His father taught math at a middle school and at the College of Staten Island, where his mother also taught math. Hecker’s uncle, Democrat Marty Markowitz, is Brooklyn’s borough president.

When Hecker was 16, Hecker’s congressman, Republican Michael J. Pappas, got him a page job, which exposed him to the arguments of Republicans on the Hill.

“A lot of the pages were running around delivering packages all day, but my job was to sit in the cloakroom and wait for phone calls and go on the floor,” Hecker says. “So I witnessed a lot of debates.”

While attending New York University, Hecker joined a debate team and was impressed by the arguments of conservatives who leaned toward being libertarian.

“The strongest arguments, especially on economic and individual rights issues, were for me always the conservative position,” Hecker recalls.

Hecker was not shy about letting his parents know that he had become a Republican.

“My mom still thinks like, Oh, you’re doing what you’re doing, and it’s not what I agree with, but I’m proud of you,” Hecker says.

Hecker had no problem breaking the news to his future wife, Niru. Born in the U.S. of parents from India, she is a conservative who met Hecker when she was attending Bryn Mawr and debated him.

In 2005, Hecker graduated cum laude from Harvard and was hired by Sullivan and Cromwell in New York. After two years, he left the law firm to join the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani as an opposition researcher.

When the campaign was over, Hecker joined the law firm of Vinson and Elkins in Houston, where his wife had begun a residency in neurosurgery.

Last Feb. 27, Hecker was on his way to lunch and ran into a rally of conservatives. He joined them and helped organize a rally on April 15 by the Houston Tea Party Society, where he became an executive board member. Hecker later became a board member of the Tea Party Patriots, one of the leading tea party groups in the country.

In September 2009, Hecker launched the ContractfromAmerica.com Web site. The idea is to enlist candidates from both parties to subscribe to such goals as “Stop the Tax Hikes,” “Stop the Pork,” and “End Runaway Government Spending.”

“The Contract from America is based on the principles of individual liberty, free markets, and constitutionally limited government,” Hecker says. “The goal is to really create a grass-roots feeling that we can make a difference, that individuals can make a difference, and that it’s time for the Republicans and the Democrats and politicians in general to listen to the people.

Continue reading on Newsmax…

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…