constitution

The Contract from America

We, the citizens of the United States of America, call upon those seeking to represent us in public office to sign the Contract from America and by doing so commit to support each of its agenda items and advocate on behalf of individual liberty, limited government, and economic freedom.

  1. Protect the Constitution
  2. Reject Cap & Trade
  3. Demand a Balanced Budget
  4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform
  5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government
  6. End Runaway Government Spending
  7. Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care
  8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above” Energy Policy
  9. Stop the Pork
  10. Stop the Tax Hikes

——————–

Click here for the full text version.

WASHINGTON TIMES: “Stating the Obvious”

By Doug Mainwaring

The emergence and rapid growth of the Tea Party movement is due in large part to an increasing concern by taxpayers that our government has strayed too far from fiscal responsibility. As many have awakened from our shared national somnambulism, the electorate’s attention is galvanized by issues once considered banal or trivial, now viewed as grave threats to our country’s security, prosperity and even our national identity. A public that until a few years ago quietly trusted the job that its government has been doing in Washington is now focused like a laser beam on both the role of government and the careers of our leaders.

Tea Partiers’ deepest fears for the future of our nation are being realized in Greece. They see the beginnings of anarchy in a social democracy crippled by enormous budget deficits (13.6 percent of gross domestic product) and a heart-stopping national debt (115 percent of GDP). They see a country saddled with massive, unsustainable, unbearable entitlements. This has caused many to reflect on how our own annual budget deficit and national debt may be taking us down the same path as Greece and the other social democracies of Europe. Tea Partiers and their many sympathizers are well informed: They easily see the connection and are making sound, reasoned conclusions.

In addition to fiscal irresponsibility, there is a second major component of concern for Tea Partiers: government exceeding its constitutional limits. Too much power, money and authority are concentrated in our national government. This is detrimental to the functioning of the individual states and increasingly diminishes the freedom and liberty of the American people.

For a very long time, a majority of those who serve us in Washington have worked under the assumption that the national government is better equipped than any other entity to govern and solve all of America’s problems, and, therefore, bigger government is better. The result has been ever-increasing regulation, unfunded mandates, earmark projects and increasingly toxic entitlement programs, including the recently enacted health care reform law.

But what if this paradigm is ill-formed? What if Americans actually could be better served by being governed and regulated locally to a greater degree? Our national government has taken on a life of its own, to the disservice of those it was established to serve. Perhaps a smaller national government, with many functions returned to the states, would be better.

On April 15, the Contract from America was unveiled at tax rallies held across the country. I co-authored one of the provisions in the contract:

“Create a Blue Ribbon task force that engages in a complete audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states.”

Our Founding Fathers did not envision a massive, all-powerful, centralized national government, nor was it their intent to lay the groundwork for one in our Constitution. Rather, our current national government exists as it does despite our Constitution. As a result, the national government is too bloated, too greedy, too unaccountable and always hungry for more. Too often, the national government has proved it is inadequate for the task of competently managing its massive programs and exercising good and faithful stewardship over the funds provided to it from the American people.

Continue reading at the Washington Times

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

Grassroots Activists Help Launch Historic “Contract from America”

Download a hardcopy of the official press release here.

On April 15th, hundreds of local Tea Party and limited government groups around the country will join together to announce the launch of the “Contract from America,” a grassroots legislative blueprint for 2010 and beyond. Originally proposed by Ryan Hecker, a Houston Tea Party activist and National Coordinator for the initiative’s chief organizing group Tea Party Patriots, this project is intended to present a different kind of agenda for our federal lawmakers: unlike the Contract with America introduced in the 1990s, everyday citizens proposed and voted on every plank of the Contract from America.

Grassroots activists from across the country visited the website to choose their top ten priorities from a list of 21 action items that committed Americans from all walks of life proposed. The top ten issues comprise the final Contract. By asking website visitors to propose and vote on the agenda, the result is not a list 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.

And the top ten are…

1. Protect the Constitution
2. Reject Cap & Trade
3. Demand a Balanced Budget
4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform
5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government in Washington
6. End Runaway Government Spending
7. Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care
8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above” Energy Policy
9. Stop the Pork
10. Stop the Tax Hikes

We are proud to join with millions of Tea Party activists across the country to announce the arrival of the Contract from America and the exit of elected officials who continue to ignore calls for fiscal responsibility, constitutionally-limited government, and free markets.

Thank You American Patriots!

WASH EXAMINER: Enough Already with Bashing of Tea Partiers

By Ron Miller, President of Regular Folks United

Previously apolitical Americans who have become involved with the unexpected uprising known as the Tea Party movement have been subjected to a virulent and sustained assault by the political class, the media elite, academia and the entertainment industry.

Those who still trust these corrupted institutions are misled into believing this textbook application of the people’s First Amendment rights to free speech, assembly and petition is motivated by racism, targeting America’s first black President.

As a veteran, family man and law-abiding citizen, I am angry at these institutions for impugning my neighbors and friends.

As a black man who knows real racism when he sees it, I am furious at their trivialization of the word for political gain. The people who gave President Obama approval ratings in the mid-80’s at the beginning of his term didn’t become racists overnight. It’s not his skin color, but his policies that mobilized the silent majority into action.

Regular folks are angry because the institutions we trusted in the past have failed us. Our elected officials are supposed to work for us, not demean and disregard us.

The media is supposed to inform us without an agenda, to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” regardless of ideology.

Our schools are supposed to impart information to our children and develop their critical thinking skills, not spout propaganda and promote groupthink.

Our entertainers, whose careers depend on the millions of ordinary Americans who adore them, are supposed to amuse or inspire us, not deride us for our beliefs and lifestyles, which they deem less enlightened than their own.

Obama, who promised to transcend our divisions, instead exacerbates them. He represents all the people, but openly mocks those of us who object to his vision of America as people who are not just wrong, but stupid and easily misled. This open display of condescension toward ordinary Americans by our own president is unprecedented in my lifetime.

We expect the people in the political arena to take shots at one another. We don’t expect our elected officials, whose salaries we pay and whose respect we are owed due to the power we accorded them, to attack us and mobilize their allies against us.

We are not the enemy.

We believe in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

We believe true compassion is a personal, voluntary act of love taken by individuals acting alone or collectively, not the confiscation and redistribution of our wealth by government.

We believe government serves the people, not the other way around, and should be our protector and enforcer, but not our provider. We know the price of government meeting our needs is the loss of our liberty and prosperity.

If you share our beliefs, regardless of race, you are welcome here – I guarantee it.

Continue reading at the Washington Examiner

Tea Parties Brew Notable Ideas

By Kyle Wingfield

If there is a Party of No, it’s not the tea party.

A week from today, Tax Day, tea partiers will again stage rallies nationwide to protest overgrown government. Last year’s huge April 15 crowds and the momentum they kept up established the loosely organized groups as a political fixture.

But tea partiers next week won’t simply tell Washington what not to do. They’ll present an affirmative plan: a 10-point Contract From America.

This platform has been months, scores of ideas and hundreds of thousands of online votes in the making. Candidates who want tea party support will commit to the ideas chosen from 21 finalists.

There are many good policies among those 21, but a shorter list is wise. In that spirit, here are five of the planks I support.

Note that I intentionally excluded constitutional amendments from my list. A two-thirds vote is required in both the U.S. House and Senate for a potential amendment to be sent to the states for approval. I think such a majority is unlikely in the next two years.

That’s also why I’ve left out the option for market-based health reform. Repealing the newly passed health law and replacing it with a better one is a worthy idea, but it’s not going to happen while Barack Obama is president. I’m going with ideas that are doable, and soon:

1. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform. Other items would keep the Bush tax cuts in place and require a two-thirds vote to raise taxes. I’d rather overhaul the tax code entirely.

This idea calls for adopting “a fair and simple single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words — the length of the original Constitution.”

A single rate — aka the flat tax — would stop the progressive code’s punishment of success. The word limit is key, too: It would slash special-interest carve-outs and loopholes, which reward lobbying power and create inefficiencies.

2. End Runaway Government Spending. This plank would limit spending increases to the rates of inflation and population growth, or roughly 5 percent to 6 percent a year.

History shows that federal revenues are consistently around 18 percent of the economy. Unchecked spending, by both major parties, is what creates budget deficits.

Continue reading at the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Tea Party Agenda: Smaller Government

By B. Daniel Blatt

Scan the editorial pages of some of this country’s major dailies and you’ll come away with the impression that the most energetic political movement in the United States to have emerged since Obama took office is a bunch of angry racist red necks, lead by white men berating Barney Frank not for his big-government policies, but for his attraction to members of his own sex.

As Matt Carden, one of our readers put it, the media coverage of the Tea Parties is like social conservatives’ coverage of Gay Pride marches. They show us the freaks and call it the mainstream.

Well, today, via Glenn Reynolds, comes a piece of even-handed reporting on this movement which has galvanized hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of freedom-loving Americans. Those reporters who look at the Tea Party movement without prejudice find that instead of representing an amalgamation of angry right-wing freaks instead represent the mainstream of Americans.

In his piece for the Christian Science Monitor, Patrik Jonsson reminds us that, “polls show that the anger at big government exhibited by tea party protesters is shared by many, if not most, Americans“:

A Pew poll in early March found 71 percent of Americans “dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country today,” while a CNN poll showed that 56 percent of Americans are more than just discontented with Washington. Instead, that majority of respondents agreed that the government is “so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens.”

Moreover, Paul Krugman’s fulminations notwithstanding, the Tea Party agenda does not include rolling back the Civil or Voting Rights Acts, but focuses on holding the line on the growth of government and its regulatory sweep:

What’s more, the release this week of the top three planks of the “crowd-sourced” Contract From America project, to some activists, shows a maturation from sign-wielding protesters to a political reform movement grounded in ideas.

The top three vote-getters among 360,000 respondents on the Contract From America website: Calling for an enumerated powers act to force lawmakers to check the constitionality of new laws; requiring a two-thirds majority in Congress for any tax hike; and a legislative backstop to prevent the EPA from “backdoor regulating.”

Continue reading at the Gay Patriot

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Amid Harsh Criticisms, ‘Tea Party’ Slips into the Mainstream

The release of the top three ‘tea party’ issues this week gives a glimpse of a small-government movement growing, maturing, and looking increasingly more like middle America.

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff Writer for Christian Science Monitor

Their faces sometimes twisted in anger, ‘tea party’ followers have been called neo-Klansmen and knuckle-dragging hillbillies.

To be sure, angry town halls, the N-word thrown at black congressmen, and signs comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler play into the hands of the movement’s critics. And demonizing tea party activists tends to energize the Democrats’ left-of-center base.

But political experts say that many such criticisms are near-sighted, if not outright inappropriate – and ultimately may miss the point. Indeed, polls suggest that tea party activists are not only more mainstream than many critics suggest, but that a majority of them are women (primarily mothers), not angry white men.

What’s more, the release this week of the top three planks of the “crowd-sourced” Contract From America project, to some activists, shows a maturation from sign-wielding protesters to a political reform movement grounded in ideas.

The top three vote-getters among 360,000 respondents on the Contract From America website: Calling for an enumerated powers act to force lawmakers to check the constitionality of new laws; requiring a two-thirds majority in Congress for any tax hike; and a legislative backstop to prevent the EPA from “backdoor regulating.”

Tea Party: ‘Intellectual Reform Movement?’

“[The ideas in the tea party-coined Contract From America] takes our protest movement and really sets forth a real kind of intellectual reform movement,” says Ryan Hecker, a Tea Party Patriots activist in Houston, and a founder of the Contract From America website. “It’s a response to the idea that the tea party people don’t know what they’re fighting about, and it shows there’s a real intellectual center to this movement and that we really do have ideas.”

Still, many critics look at a tea party crowd and just see a “fantasy-based” movement of “angry white people,” as Monitor Facebook commentator Bill Downey points out.

The fact that most tea party activists are white, however, may reflect less racial animus against a black president than the fact that white workers – by far the majority in the US population – have seen their plight worsen at dramatic rates, some political experts say.

“[O]pposition to health-care reform from the tea party is not based on racism but self-interest,” writes NPR’s Juan Williams, who is black, in the Wall Street Journal. “The older, whiter segment of the American demographic was at the heart of opposition to the president’s health-care proposal because they feared cuts in their Medicare benefits or tax hikes eroding their income.”

Most Americans Down on Big Government

Moreover, polls show that the anger at big government exhibited by tea party protesters is shared by many, if not most, Americans.

Continue reading at the Christian Science Monitor

AMERICAN THINKER: Giving People a Voice in Congress

By Daniel P. Crandall

In 1994, Newt Gingrich presented the “Contract with America.” It was a “contract” from Republican politicians to voters concerning what legislative action the new majority would take in its first hundred days. In 2010, the People are preparing a “Contract from America,” which establishes what the voters expect from their legislative representatives. The “Contract from America” is what the “Contract with America” should have been but wasn’t.

The “Contract from America” (CFA) is a grassroots, bottom-up document created by hundreds of thousands of people who are part of the Tea Party protests and Glenn Beck’s 912 Project. It began in September 2009 with TheContract.org, where individuals provided and debated thousands of ideas for this new “contract.”

I had the opportunity to speak with Ryan Hecker, a Houston area Tea Party activist, full-time attorney, and father behind the Contract from America.

Hecker stated that the CFA “has been an idea I’ve had since the November 2008 elections.” He felt that our elected representatives, especially among Republicans, “lost their legitimacy” as fiscal conservatives and proponents of limited government. Hecker believes that this document will be a strong step forward in obtaining “real economic conservative and good governance reform in Congress.”

Hecker noted that what drives the people involved in putting the CFA together is “a desire to push and demand accountability” from our elected representatives.

CFA, at this point, is a work in progress. Online activists pared thousands of ideas down to twenty-one. I asked Hecker about the process by which the CFA came to be. “After narrowing the document down to twenty-one items, through a series of tedious surveys filled out by thousands of mostly tea party local coordinators and grassroots activists, the Tea Party Patriots enlisted sixteen scholars to write two-hundred-word statements in support of one of the twenty-one ideas.” Hecker’s fellow activists “are in the process of posting these statements on the website.”

Currently, visitors to the CFA’s website can debate and vote on these twenty-one ideas. Those behind the CFA are hard at work building a list of solid positions that activists can present at upcoming Tax Day Tea Party rallies across America.

Those familiar with Gingrich’s “Contract with America” will note a significant difference between that document and the Tea Party Patriots’ “Contract from America.” Gingrich’s document listed specific reforms intended to pass “on the first day of the 104th Congress.” In addition, it listed several acts that Republicans brought to the House Floor “within the first 100 days.”

The CFA does not list specific legislative acts, which follows from its grassroots nature. Instead, it is more akin to a list from voters telling their representatives and senators, as Hecker noted in our conversation, that “this is what we expect from you.” Hecker added, however, that it would not be difficult to translate the “Contract from America” into specific legislation. Some, in fact, already exists.

Hecker noted that the first item in the CFA is a call to “begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike.” Senator Jim DeMint and several others issued a statement on February 4, 2010 calling “on their colleagues to support a one-year earmark moratorium and a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment.”

Hecker also pointed out that Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) has endorsed a Spending Limit Amendment to the Constitution. This corresponds with the CFA’s call for “a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending.”

Some of the items listed in the CFA echo elements in Gingrich’s ’94 contract. The “Contract with America,” for example, lists the “Citizen Legislature Act,” which called for term limits, and the “Fiscal Responsibility Act,” which called for a balanced budget amendment and line-item veto. The House of Representatives rejected the former, and the latter got through the Senate only with substantial changes, which were subsequently declared unconstitutional in Clinton v. City of New York. The CFA includes items calling for term limits and a balanced budget amendment. Should these make it through the CFA vetting process, what is gained by asking federal representatives and senators to sign on to these items today?

“This document,” Hecker stated, “will give representatives and senators a legislative agenda and core set of priorities to follow in 2010. As it’s grassroots-generated and bottom-up, I believe that this time around elected officials will be held to their promises. If they don’t follow through, there will be many unhappy grassroots leaders ready to protest.”

Continue reading at American Thinker