Dick Armey

NYT: Tea Partiers Bring Cause to Washington

By KATE ZERNIKE

WASHINGTON — Thousands of Tea Party supporters marched to the foot of Capitol Hill on Sunday, declaring their determination to topple the Democratic majority in Congress on Election Day.

“If we do not succeed in November, all that once was good and great about this country could someday be gone,” warned Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, the chairman of the House Republican Conference. He added, “Let’s give them a November that they never forget.”

The event, organized by FreedomWorks, a libertarian advocacy group that has helped the Tea Party grow, was a repeat of a march on Washington that was a defining moment for the nascent movement a year ago. And it was intended as a political bookend to the religious revival that Glenn Beck called for at the Lincoln Memorial two weeks ago, drawing many of the same people.

This crowd was not nearly as large as the one that marched last year, or the one at Mr. Beck’s rally. Ending up on the western slope of the Capitol, it stretched back, stopping just short of the National Mall. But in many ways the crowd was louder than the one that had amassed for Mr. Beck. He had asked people to leave signs at home; FreedomWorks encouraged people to bring their signs, and to get loud.

The crowd cheered wildly as speakers celebrated the victories of Tea Party candidates who have upset establishment candidates in Republican primaries, and proclaimed that the Tea Party would now turn its ire against the Democrats.

“I believe we’ve got the Republican Party’s attention — we’ve been beating the establishment all over the country,” said Dick Armey, the former Republican House majority leader and the chairman of FreedomWorks, to a burst of cheering. “It’s time we give the same lesson to the other party.”

Mr. Pence taunted the Democratic leadership: “A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose your job. A recovery is when Nancy Pelosi loses her job.”

As the crowd cheered, he gave a taste of what a Republican-led Congress might look like, calling for a repeal of the health care overhaul legislation “lock, stock and barrel,” and an end to “bailouts, once and for all.”

Speakers talked about the 10 points in the so-called Contract From America, a Tea Party manifesto that was created online as people proposed and then voted on what they wanted Congress to do. The provisions include a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget and requiring all legislation to state the exact provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to enact such a law.

“We run things,” Ryan Hecker, a young Tea Party activist from Houston who conceived of the contract, told the crowd. “Not only should we be listened to, we should be shown deference.”

Continue reading at the New York Times

WSJ: A Tea Party Manifesto

The movement is not seeking a junior partnership with the Republican Party. It is aiming for a hostile takeover.

By DICK ARMEY AND MATT KIBBE

On Feb. 9, 2009, Mary Rakovich, a recently laid-off automotive engineer, set out for a convention center in Fort Myers, Fla. with protest signs, a cooler of water and the courage of her convictions. She felt compelled to act, having grown increasingly alarmed at the explosion of earmarks, bailouts and government spending in the waning years of the Bush administration. President Barack Obama, joined by then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, was in town promoting his plan to spend a trillion dollars in borrowed money to “stimulate” the economy.

Mary didn’t know it, but she was on the front lines of a grass-roots revolution that was brewing across the nation. More than 3,000 miles away, Keli Carender, a young Seattle school teacher and a member of a local comedy improv troupe, was feeling equally frustrated. She started to organize like-minded citizens. “Our nation’s fiscal path is just not sustainable,” she said. “You can’t continue to spend money you don’t have indefinitely.”

Today the ranks of this citizen rebellion can be counted in the millions. The rebellion’s name derives from the glorious rant of CNBC commentator Rick Santelli, who in February 2009 called for a new “tea party” from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. By doing so he reminded all of us that America was founded on the revolutionary principle of citizen participation, citizen activism and the primacy of the individual over the government. That’s the tea party ethos.

The tea party movement has blossomed into a powerful social phenomenon because it is leaderless—not directed by any one mind, political party or parochial agenda.

The criteria for membership are straightforward: Stay true to principle even when it proves inconvenient, be assertive but respectful, add value and don’t taking credit for other people’s work. Our community is built on the Trader Principle: We associate by mutual consent, to further shared goals of restoring fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government. These were the principles that enabled the Sept. 12, 2009 taxpayer march on Washington to be one of the largest political protests in the history of our nation’s capital.

The many branches of the tea party movement have created a virtual marketplace for new ideas, effective innovations and creative tactics. Best practices come from the ground up, around kitchen tables, from Facebook friends, at weekly book clubs, or on Twitter feeds. This is beautiful chaos—or, as the Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek put it, “spontaneous order.”

Decentralization, not top-down hierarchy, is the best way to maximize the contributions of people and their personal knowledge. Let the leaders be the activists who have the best knowledge of local personalities and issues. In the real world, this is common sense. In Washington, D.C., this is considered radical.

The big-government crowd is drawn to the compulsory nature of centralized authority. They can’t imagine an undirected social order. Someone needs to be in charge—someone who knows better. Big government is audacious and conceited.

By definition, government is the means by which citizens are forced to do that which they would not do voluntarily. Like pay high taxes. Or redistribute tax dollars to bail out the broken, bloated pension systems of state government employees. Or purchase, by federal mandate, a government-defined health-insurance plan that is unaffordable, unnecessary or unwanted.

For the left, and for today’s Democratic Party, every solution to every perceived problem involves more government—top-down dictates from bureaucrats presumed to know better what you need. Tea partiers reject this nanny state philosophy of redistribution and control because it is bankrupting our country.

While the tea party is not a formal political party, local networks across the nation have moved beyond protests and turned to more practical matters of political accountability. Already, particularly in Republican primaries, fed-up Americans are turning out at the polls to vote out the big spenders. They are supporting candidates who have signed the Contract From America, a statement of policy principles generated online by hundreds of thousands of grass-roots activists.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal

NEWSWEEK: Rep. Kevin McCarthy Concocting his Own Plan to Take Back the House

By Michael Hirsh

Rep. Kevin McCarthy laughs at the idea that he’s trying to resurrect the “Contract With America.” “No sequel, outside of The Godfather II, ever did better than the original,” he jokes. But the second-term congressman from Bakers-field, Calif., a sunny salt-of-the-earth type who used to run a sandwich shop, has been tasked with orchestrating the next Republican revolution. So he’s doing his best to learn from the last one. McCarthy’s project has a slightly different name—the “Commitment to -America”—but his mission is essentially the same as the one pursued by GOP revolutionaries in 1994: to come up with a simple program for action that will redefine the Republican Party and bring it back to power.

“One of the things I first did, I went back and talked to everybody” involved with the 1994 campaign, says McCarthy, one of the party’s self-described “young guns.” Newt Gingrich, the mastermind of the ’94 GOP takeover of the House, was at the top of his list. McCarthy wanted to hear how he might repeat Gingrich’s success, but without seeming like a tiresome impersonator. “This is a different world,” says Gingrich. “Every dance has its own rules. The anger is much greater now than it was before. People are tired of the whole process in Washington.”

There are, it is true, unmistakable similarities between the two eras. The Republican leaders who designed the “Contract With America”—a 10-point program that included a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget—sought to -capitalize on a broad disgust with Washington, reflected at the time in the 19 percent vote that third-party presidential candidate Ross Perot won in 1992. Then, as now, the Republicans were trying to exploit a backlash against big government. It was Hillarycare in ’94; now it’s Obamacare.

But even as McCarthy seeks to recapture the mojo of ’94, he and other Republicans recognize that the differences between now and then are probably much greater than the similarities. For starters, says former House majority leader Dick Armey, a key member of the Gingrich contract team, “in ’94 we didn’t have a single person in America that could remember having been disappointed [by] a Republican majority” in the House. (At the time, Republicans hadn’t controlled the House in 39 years.) “Then we just had to say, ‘We’re not them.’ Now we have to say, ‘We’re not them—and by the way, we’re not the same Republicans who just broke your heart a few years ago.’?” It’s a sign of the tougher new environment that Republicans have failed so far to exploit fully the -antigovernment rage behind the tea-party movement: even Ron Paul, the libertarian congressman who has made his name fighting big government, is seen as too inside the Beltway by some tea partiers.

It was no surprise to anyone when, late last year, House Minority Leader John Boehner assigned McCarthy, the Republican deputy whip, to de-sign a new program to help the GOP overcome its reputation as “the party of no.” While McCarthy is not as intellectual as Gingrich, a former college professor, the 45-year-old former fireman can display an almost Gingrichian wonkishness and creativity. (He just flew out to Seattle to talk with Microsoft executives about adapting software that NASA uses to map the moon in order to map the new political landscape.) Gingrich’s spokesman, Rick Tyler, says, “If you were going to franchise Newt like McDonald’s, McCarthy would be the flagship restaurant. He completely spills over with ideas…He knows districts around the country from memory.”

Still, no one in the GOP today can really fill the outsize role of Gingrich (as McCarthy is the first to admit). In ’94 Gingrich “became the golden arches,” says Rich Galen, Gingrich’s former spokesman. “All you had to say was ‘Newt Gingrich’ and everything followed from that. Neither Boehner nor [Republican Senate leader Mitch] McConnell nor anybody else has been a Gingrich. They don’t have the intelligence or the capacity. That is probably the biggest difference between 2010 and 1994.”

Not even Newt is Newt anymore. An older and grayer Gingrich is still around, and still angling to define the GOP agenda on his own. But he’s out of office and sapped of the influence he once had. Armey, head of an activist group called FreedomWorks, is -himself endorsing an alternative grassroots approach he’s calling the Contract From America. “Bless their hearts,” he says of McCarthy and Boehner. “They’re making a good effort. But I don’t think the political space is there for them to offer a contract.”

Continue reading at Newsweek

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…

WEEKLY STANDARD: Grand Old Tea Party – The insurgents meet the insiders.

Grand Old Tea Party – The insurgents meet the insiders.

By Mary Katharine Ham

It was a good week for proclamations, with Washington conservative leaders, tea party activists, and the GOP all touting statements of principle as thousands of conservatives came to town for the annual CPAC conference. The GOP’s statement has yet to be released, but each group’s intentions have nonetheless been scrutinized and parsed by the media in what feels like a political version of the eHarmony compatibility test.

Will the tea partiers drag the GOP toward the unelectable fringe? Will the conservative movement tap into the antiestablishment energy of the tea partiers? Will the Republican party adopt the ideas of either? Can they all come together without sullying the grassroots authenticity of the tea party movement? Will they or won’t they form a third party? Is this the beginning of a beautiful relationship, or is someone going to get used?

Sixteen miles from the Capitol, at the Mount Vernon home of President George Washington, a group of conservatism’s gray eminences gathered to sign the Mount Vernon Statement—a noncontroversial (to conservatives) manifesto to unite and recommit their movement to the “ideas of the American Founding” in the “critical political and policy battles ahead.”

As a George Washington impersonator presided over the signing of the oversized Declaration-style document, a couple of newcomers mingled with such Beltway fixtures as former attorney general Ed Meese and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler of tea party Patriots, a loosely organized national umbrella group, had come to town for the unveilings of both this document and a tea party document.

It wasn’t the only odd juxtaposition of outsiders with insiders this week. A handful of tea party leaders had an hours-long meeting with RNC chair Michael Steele at the Capitol Hill Club—a locale the media gleefully chortled was too elitist for the group. “The club is a place for Oysters Rockefeller and pictures of Eisenhower, not tricorn hats and Don’t-Tread-on-Me flags,” Dana Milbank wrote in the Washington Post (proving either he had never set foot in the decidedly non-swank building or assumed his readers wouldn’t know better).

But what the press often portrays as a prickly fight over the soul of the Republican party looked more like a first date, with both sides attempting to make a good impression. The tea partiers wanted to introduce themselves, and Republicans and conservative leaders were happy to meet them in light of their new electoral credibility after Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts.

“The atmosphere was very positive,” said RNC communications director Doug Heye of the meeting, which he said was initiated by tea party activists and ran more than an hour beyond its hour-long slot on Steele’s schedule. Steele “made it very clear that he was going to answer every question. I think that really created a lot of good will with the people who were there in the room.”

When tea party activists held an unveiling for their own document— the Contract From America—at CPAC on Thursday, heavy hitters like former House majority leader Dick Armey and Senator Jim DeMint were there, but noticeably took a back seat to tea party activists, who referred to themselves as “leaderless” no fewer than five times.

Ryan Hecker, a Houston lawyer who devised the plan to create a tea party platform using thousands of ideas and online votes from activists, exemplified the unpolished, grassroots nature of the press conference when he fumbled the microphone while stalling for DeMint’s arrival. As the mike’s crash quieted, he smiled and said, “As you can tell I’m kind of a newbie at this stuff.”

Like Hecker, many of the tea party activists at CPAC for the first time this year acknowledged they are new at the game, but are also confident that’s their strength. Polling suggests they are right, with voters sour on Washington and both parties. As for the politicians, they made sure to show proper respect to the new activists. Every major speaker gave kudos to the tea party movement from the CPAC dais on Thursday.

House minority leader John Boehner was no exception. “The Republican party should not attempt to co-opt the tea parties,” he said. “I think that’s the dumbest thing in the world. What we will do as long as I’m the leader is respect them, listen to them, and walk amongst them. The other party will never, ever do that.”
Continue reading Mary Katharine Ham’s article at the Weekly Standard…

VIDEO: Larry Kudlow Discusses Contract from America with Dick Armey and Ryan Hecker

NEWSMAX: Tea Party Launches Contract from America

By: Ronald Kessler

The Tea Party Patriots launched their Contract from America in a nationwide effort to make Washington more accountable to conservative principles.

At a Conservative Political Action Conference press briefing, FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey; Sen. Jim DeMint, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform; and members of the Tea Party Patriots, the National Taxpayers Union, Liberty Central, and Regular Folks United joined grass-roots activists to announce plans for a final document to be unveiled on April 15.

It will list 10 grass-roots-generated policy pillars that candidates of either party will be asked to subscribe to in order to bring about economic and government reform and win the votes of tea party activists.

“We started this to give every American the opportunity to make a difference and to tell elected officials that it’s now time for them to listen to the people,” said Ryan Hecker of the Tea Party Patriots, who came up with the idea of a contract that originates with the people.

Norquist emphasized that the contract can be employed when evaluating local as well as national candidates.

“We also see this as a way to help unite the tea party movement and transform it from a purely protest movement to one calling for proactive and positive reform,” Hecker said.

Dick Armey described the tea party movement as riding on a “tidal wave of patriotism.” He noted that the movement is “leaderless, which is baffling to liberals.” With some pride, he observed that the president of the United States makes jokes about the tea party movement.

“The Democrats’ attitude is sit down and shut up,” Armey said. While the Contract from America is intended to enlist both Democrats and Republicans, he said, “I have no illusions that Democrats will treat it with anything but scorn.”

Continue reading on NewsMax…

FREEDOMWORKS: The Contract FROM America Ready to Launch at CPAC

While 2009 was known as the year of the first Taxpayer March on Washington, 2010 is shaping up to be the year of the Contract FROM America.

On Thursday, limited government activists will take the next step in their quest to take America back as the Contract’s top twenty agenda items are unveiled. The Contract was launched in September, 2009 by Ryan Hecker of the Houston Tea Party with the goal of creating a bottom-up document for limited government activists to carry in 2010.

For the last several months, tens of thousands of activists have submitted and debated ideas online. At tea parties across the nation on April 15, the final ten pillars will be announced as the Contract FROM America.

The list has now been narrowed down to the top twenty policy ideas, and the voting process will begin to select the final ten. This next step will be unveiled at a press conference at noon on Thursday February, 18th, 2010, in the Tyler Room of the Washington Marriott Wardman Park at the annual CPAC convention.

FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey will join grassroots activists, Tea Party Patriots, Senator Jim DeMint, Americans for Tax Reform, National Taxpayers’ Union, Liberty Central, American Solutions, and Regular Folks United as the contract is formally announced.

Ryan Hecker, the creator of the Contract FROM America, commented, “This is a document made by the people for the people; a true bottom up effort. Last year the tea party movement used social networking tools to build communities to support limited government principles and oppose the encroachment of big government. Now these same communities have come together to build a document to carry into November 2010.”

FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey is an enthusiastic supporter of the Contract. “The grassroots-driven Contract represents the good polices that will be critical in bringing fiscal order to Washington. The strength of the movement is how it is united behind common-sense fiscal conservatism. After all, no one spends someone else’s money as wisely as he spends his own. Now when a politician seeks the support of a local tea party group, activists can point to the Contract to see how serious they are.”

Please visit www.contractfromamerica.com : cts.businesswire.com/ct/CT?id=smartlink&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww .. to view the list and vote on the top ten.

FreedomWorksAdam Brandon, 202-379-6584 abrandon@freedomworks.org : mailto:abrandon@freedomworks.org

POLITICO: Dick Armey – GOP Must Court Grassroots

By Jake Sherman, Politico.com

BALTIMORE — And on the final day, they heard from the tea party.

House Republicans spent the last three days at their annual issues conference here pleased with their very public tit-for-tat with President Barack Obama and expressing confidence in their political position.

But on Saturday, when the television cameras were largely packed away and with most reporters heading south on a snowy I-95, House Republicans heard from Dick Armey, a de facto leader of the tea party movement that could prove key to the GOP’s high hopes for November’s midterm elections.

In a closed-door session at a harbor-side hotel here, Armey, a Republican House member for 18 years and now leader of the conservative group FreedomWorks, all but guaranteed huge Republican gains in 2010. He told lawmakers that the party has more “entrepreneurial assets” than it had in 1994 — a legendary midterm election when the GOP gained 54 seats in the House and recaptured the majority, aided by the Contract With America that Armey helped author.

To win in November Republicans will have to overcome negative perceptions about their leadership style during the later part of the Bush era, Armey said, but he expressed confidence in House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), saying he “led it back in 1994, and he can do it again today.”

Continue reading at the Politico.com…

POLITICO: Politics Once Again a ‘Contract’ Sport

By Andy Barr & Kenneth P. Vogel

Newt Gingrich wants a new Contract for America.

Dick Armey and his tea party allies want a Contract from America.

House Minority Leader John Boehner has his own ideas along these lines, and he just hired the guy who was in charge of the original Contract for America to help out.

Sixteen years after House Republicans launched one of the most iconic marketing campaigns in recent political history from the steps of the U.S. Capitol, the idea of packaging some core principles and policy positions and presenting them as a kind of congressional platform is back. And so is the idea of calling them a “contract.”

The substance of the contracts are secondary to the idea of calling it a contract, according to Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute.”This is branding,” he said.

Though Ornstein believes that the original contract had little to do with the GOP victories in the 1994 election (“most voters had never heard of it”), he said it has become “synonymous with success” for conservatives because that was the year Republicans recaptured the House after four decades of Democratic control.

“The moment of great triumph for Republicans was marching into Washington after 40 years of wandering in the desert,” he said.

The original contract merged modern messaging with some fundamental conservative principles and rigid party discipline in a document listing specific legislative proposals Republicans pledged to bring up for votes if they retook the House. It was signed by nearly every GOP House member and candidate in the weeks before the 1994 midterm election.

Continue reading at Yahoo News / Politico…