John Boehner

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

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

POLITICO: GOP Praises Tea Party ‘Contract from America’

By Jake Sherman

House Republicans are showering praise on the tea party’s “Contract from America,” a document that lays out some of the movement’s priorities.

As the tea partiers gathered on the National Mall for a tax day protest, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the document “captures the American people’s frustration with a government that has grown too big, too costly, and too arrogant.”

The tea party contract calls for a balanced budget, repeal of the health care law, tax reform, an end to earmarks and a rejection of a cap and trade energy plan.

House Republican Conference Chair Mike Pence of Indiana said it’s a “good start toward the essential goals of individual liberty, limited government, and economic freedom.”

“I hope that many conservative leaders will join with this bold initiative that’s marked by powerful ideas to get our government’s fiscal house in order,” Pence wrote in an emailed statement. “As Republicans move forward developing our agenda for the 112th Congress, efforts like this will be invaluable.”

Continue reading at the Politico

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.

SCRIPPS NEWS: Republicans Look for New Contract to Help Regain Congress

WASHINGTON – Republicans are so convinced that the fall midterm elections could be a repeat of 1994, the year that ushered them into the majority in Congress, they are reaching into the playbook for the prop that helped propel that victory: a new Contract with America.

House Republicans have tapped one of their own to begin casting for ideas to form a 10-point legislative to-do list, promises candidates would make to voters this fall.

Only problem is, the Tea Party movement beat them to it.

For months, Tea Party activists have been crafting a Contract from America, a soon-to-be released document from the renegade conservative movement.

Not to be outdone, a cadre of old-guard conservatives headed by former Attorney General Edwin Meese and backed by the conservative Heritage Foundation this month launched a broad decree known as the Mount Vernon Statement.

For a political party being criticized as the party of no, the flurry of manifestos offers an aggressive effort to stand for something.

“There is a perception that the 1994 Contract with America contributed to the Republican victory, and a lot of people on the conservative side of the aisle want history to repeat itself,” said John Pitney, a former Republican operative who is now a government professor at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif.

“They’re also aware they need to be for something,” he said. “They want to define themselves rather than let the other side define them.”

The original Contract with America was essentially a small-government 10-step program – a “detailed agenda for national renewal, a written commitment with no fine print,” it said.

The now almost legendary document championed by then-Republican Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia outlined a series of legislative proposals Republican candidates vowed to bring to the House floor for a vote, if elected.

Continue reading at Scripps News

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

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…