Tea Party

Protect the Constitution

Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does. (Proposed by: Brooke Storrs, Midland, MI)

SUMMARY

For too long, Congress has been passing bills with little or no constitutional authority. Legislative counsel have twisted provisions like the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the General Welfare Clause beyond all recognition, not tying congressional authority to any particular power enumerated in Article I. Going forward, Congress should only be allowed to exercise powers that directly and plainly flow from a specific constitutional grant of authority.

~ Ilya Shaprio, Cato Institute

FairTax, Flat Tax, and the Need for Fundamental Tax Reform

Our nation faces many important issues, of which the Contract from America will offer a handful of actionable solutions that can reasonably and immediately be addressed by those who seek to represent Americans in Congress.

For many Americans, the need for fundamental tax reform is front and center. They recognize our tax system has evolved into an unfair punitive government mechanism to redistribute wealth and serve special interests.

Many interesting ideas, including the FairTax and the flat tax, have been offered as potential solutions to our broken tax system. At first glance, some of these ideas reflect competing interests. However, the common goal and first priority of those interests should be to raise the profile of the need for fundamental tax reform, sustain a national dialogue on the issue, and allow various solutions to compete with one another in the marketplace of ideas. Those ideas will rise and fall based on the merits, with the very best ideas naturally rising to the top.

Importantly, FairTax is a founding coalition partner of the Contract from America. Based on survey responses, comments on the orignal Contract from America site, and discussions with Neal Boortz and Ken Hoagland, we agreed to unite behind the notion of fundamental tax reform broadly and deal with the FairTax / flat tax debate once fundamental tax reform is squarely on the national agenda.

What about all of the support for the FairTax during the early stages of the Contract from America initiative? Why isn’t the FairTax or the flat tax specifically mentioned in the current choices on the Contract from America?

When this effort began, the original website made clear that the early stages of the process would be used to generate ideas and engage in debate. Visitors could vote on ideas and advance issues important to them in ways that were virtually unrestricted.

For example, highly engaged activists often returned to the site over and over to promote and support their favorite ideas. While some had the support of well-organized efforts, others (that were often just as compelling) were buried under mountains of political discourse.

In addition, the process offered a four month window of opportunity to introduce and debate ideas. Those that were introduced early in the process had a significant advantage over those that were introduced in the final weeks. With few exceptions, specific ideas introduced early received more votes.

The most important part of the early stage of the process was to identify the issues that truly resonated with Americans and the need for fundamental tax reform was identified as one such issue. With regard to the specific proposals of FairTax and the flat tax (not to mention other compelling proposals), we concluded that to choose one over the other at this early stage will only serve to divide rather than unite us on a critical issue impacting every single American.

In the end, there are hundreds of important issues and only the Constitution is well-suited to address them all in a manner consistent with the values of the Founding Fathers.

Americans will continue to weigh in on the issues important to them and the Contract from America will become a stronger, more refined document as a result.

Reform is a process. The Contract from America is part of that process. It cannot possibly be all things to all people, but it can help refocus the national debate, and offer a tool to hold elected officials more accountable in 2010 and beyond.

HANNITY: Newt Gingrich Discusses the ‘Contract from America’

Newt Gingrich talks with Sean Hannity about a new grassroots initiative called the Contract from America, a collection of policy proposals developed and chosen by the American people.

Watch more videos like this at the American Solutions YouTube channel…

AMERICAN SOLUTIONS: Contract from America and What it Means for 2010

At CPAC, American Solutions took part in the formal launch of a new grassroots initiative called the Contract from America. We believe that it has the potential to define the 2010 elections.

Spearheaded by Ryan Hecker of the Tea Party Patriots and the Houston Tea Party Society, this is an effort – after demanding that Washington listen to us – to tell Washington exactly what we want them to do.

Currently a collection of 22 policy proposals developed and chosen by the American people, voting is now open to you and every other American, so that you can decide upon a final 10-point Contract to be unveiled on April 15, 2010 – the next round of nationwide Tea Parties.

The Contract from America provides a vehicle for every American that believes in free markets, limited government, and individual liberty, and here are 5 reasons why:

1. A focus on America, not President Obama.
President Obama deserves a lot of blame for what’s happening in America right now, particularly the unprecedented intervention of the federal government in the economy and the tripling of the national debt. But Washington’s failures have been bipartisan, and our current challenges are much bigger than President Obama.

By providing a blueprint for building a better future, rather than a recipe for how to beat President Obama, every American concerned about the direction of Washington can be assured that the Contract’s purpose is not partisan success, but American success.

2. Moderate Democrats vs. the Secular-Socialist Left.
Red America vs. Blue America is a myth. As the Tea Party movement and the victories of Scott Brown, Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie are proving, there is huge (70 percent plus) tri-partisan majority of Americans who believe in lower taxes, limited government and individual liberty – and they’ll vote for it when given a real choice.

The secular-socialist Left, represented by President Obama and Speaker Pelosi in Washington, represents a small percentage of Americans, which is proven every day that they try to run over the moderate Blue Dog-wing of their party, and more and more Americans reject their policies.

There are plenty of items in the Contract that moderate Democrats can be for, and the Contract provides them an opportunity to stand up to the Left, which is driving them off an electoral cliff.

3. The Contract is not a platform – it is a contract.
Campaigning is much easier than governing; just ask the current Democratic majority. It’s one thing to gain power, it’s quite another to hold together a coalition, fix real problems, and give voters a reason to keep you around.

With the Contract from America, candidates are not just signing a platform from which they will campaign; they are signing a contract with voters that they will actually do these things.

4. An alternative vs. opposition.
When the President and Congress try to take over, for example, both the healthcare (public option) and energy sectors (cap and trade), it’s not only good, but essential to say no and do everything in our power to stop them. However, we must do more than that. We must alter the terms of the debate, on our grounds. America is rejecting the Left’s policies, but they won’t embrace ours until we define, explain and communicate what they are, clearly and simply. The Contract can be our vehicle.

5. Honesty and Transparency over Ideology.
Ideology is important, and conservatism is on display throughout the Contract from America. However, a good bit of it (like the original 1994 Contract with America) focuses on honesty and transparency, such as the required posting of bills online and more choice for parents in education.

Most Americans are not ideological. They just want government to work, to be responsible, and to know that the people, not politicians, are the ones calling the shots at the end of the day. Just think about the healthcare debate – every American may not know exactly what the public option is or what cap and trade means (most of the politicians don’t either), but they do know that they don’t like their supposed representatives shoving it down their throat.

Something is wrong when our representatives are crafting deals behind closed doors, when they won’t hold townhalls in front of their constituents, and when outright bribes are explained away as just “the way things work in Washington.”

For many Americans, the focus on honesty and transparency will be a breath of fresh air.

And with that, go ahead and pick your Top 10.

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Visit American Solutions for more information about this and other important issues.

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…

THE HAYRIDE: Good Idea…

While the Republican Party is casting about in an effort to recharge its brand and prepare itself for the opportunity this fall to mount a 1994-style comeback, the punditocracy in New York and Washington is decrying the lack of a GOP leader for the people to rally around.

This is less a problem than people think, for two reasons.

First, America is not a country which requires great leaders. We have certainly had them, but our successes as a nation have come mostly through private excellence in peacetime. Most people think Ulysses S. Grant was a lousy president, but it was during Grant’s presidency when the transcontinental railroad was completed by private railroad companies. America’s Gilded Age, when the country was industrialized and progressed from a war-torn proto-nation lacking in infrastructure to the world’s supreme economic power, occurred amid some of the most nameless, faceless presidents in the country’s history.

And so on.

Second, in today’s political climate the Republican Party putting forth a true leader is tantamount to giving the Democrat media/political complex a target. When Sarah Palin was identified as a rising star in the party, every effort was made to destroy her – and she went from an exciting figure to a controversial one virtually overnight (whether some of that was attributable to Palin or not, there is little question she was treated to some of the worst our political culture has to offer). In this climate it might be better for the GOP to hold off until the absolute last minute before galvanizing behind a virtually unknown outsider the other side doesn’t have the goods on – the Scott Brown campaign being a perfect example.

But a leader at the top of the party is an issue more for 2012 than 2010 in any event; a mid-term election

is about some 467 different races, not one. Nationalizing those elections is a good idea, particularly amid the voter dissatisfaction abounding across the fruited plain at present, but it requires an agenda to do so rather than a personality.

And so the question becomes, how does the party galvanize behind an agenda? Should a bunch of Republican Beltway insiders sit in Michael Steele’s or John Boehner’s or Mitch McConnell’s office and hand down Ten Commandments on stone tablets to the subjects?

Or should the party operate in a fashion more in tune with its philosophy of individualist, bottom-up, free-market ideals?

If it is to be the latter, the GOP could do much worse than listen to the Tea Party Patriots, who are working on such such a bottom-up agenda. They’ve called it the Contract From America, which is a name much too derivative from the Contract For America of 1994 fame, but in all other respects appears to be exactly what the Republican Party needs. The organization has engaged in a process of whittling down a plethora of conservative ideas to an agenda of 10-12 items, and they’re currently conducting a survey of the American people to see which ideas rise to the top of our concern and which are the most important to include in a new plan for the country.

Bear in mind, this is not a Republican group. It’s a Tea Party group. As such, it’s a double-edged sword of sorts for the GOP. The party does NOT have any claim to loyalty from the Tea Party movement, which generally reacts to the Republican brand with disgust thanks to the poor performance of the party in governing over the previous decade. And to fully fuse the Tea Party movement into a GOP coalition probably will involve the movement taking over the Republican Party in the same manner that the Soros-funded statist/socialist/neo-fascist Left took over the Democrat Party from the Clintonites some time in 2005.

Continue reading at The Hayride…

CBN: ‘New Guard’ Conservatives Pack CPAC Event

By David Brody

The Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., has a new feel this year, primarily because of the Tea Party movement spreading across the U.S.

The annual event, which kicked off Feb. 18, gives conservatives a chance to come together and discuss ideas on how to win future elections.

It didn’t take long for this year’s CPAC to get humming. Marco Rubio, an up-and-coming conservative prominent in the Tea Party movement, was the event’s first speaker.

Rubio is running for the Florida Senate, taking on the more moderate and popular Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

Rubio was 30 points down in the polls, but has now pulled ahead. And despite Crist’s attempt to question Rubio’s conservative credentials, Tea Partiers see him as the genuine conservative real deal.

Rubio is part of the “new guard” at CPAC — younger, grassroots-type conservatives trying to make their mark on the Republican party. The “old guard” is still around, but the players are changing.

“Rock stars” at the conservative concert are people like South Carolina Sen. Jim Demint, who’s been extremely influential. His Senate Conservatives Fund is contributing money to conservative Republican candidates across the country who are taking on moderate Republican challengers.

Continue reading on the Christian Broadcast Network…

Contract from America: Tea Party Crafts its Election Manifesto

Taking a cue from the GOP’s success in 1994, the ‘tea party’ movement is putting together a Contract from America – a platform for the 2010 elections culled from thousands of suggestions.

By Patrik Jonsson

So far, the “tea party” phenomenon has ridden waves of witty protest signs – “Don’t tax me, bro” – to surprise and buck the Democratic establishment in Washington on issues from healthcare reform to the federal deficit.

But protest only goes so far. All legitimate movements need a manifesto. So now at least one group of tea partyers is turning directly to “we the people” by using technology in an unprecedented way: build a party platform from the bottom up.

Taking cues from the “Contract with America” that led to the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, a group known as Tea Party Patriots used a website to gather ideas for what they’re calling the Contract from America.

Thousands of Ideas

Among the thousands of ideas submitted by more than 100,000 people so far are “Drill Here, Drill Now,” “Abolish the Department of Education,” and “Congress shall not exempt themselves.” The group will ask Americans this month to start winnowing 20 ideas down to a 10- or 12-point platform. The contract will be unveiled on Tax Day, April 15.

“This is a way of taking this protest movement and turning it into a very strong reform movement,” says Ryan Hecker, a Tea Party Patriots spokesman and activist in Houston, Texas. “And I think, at the end of the day, this document will offer the biggest tent possible and … will be very broad, very bold, but yet also viable.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the architect of the first contract, told a conservative conference in New Hampshire this weekend: “The idea is to go out to the whole country and say, ‘What would you have in a contract with America to politicians?’ It’s a very interesting idea.”

After playing a role in Republican victories in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, the tea party movement still presents a challenge for incumbent Republicans as much as it does for Democrats.

Many tea partyers are politically to the right of the average Republican and most have little party loyalty. As Politico points out, “Republicans who paint tea partyers as a fringe group risk primary challenges, while those who embrace the group risk drifting too far rightward to win a general election.”

Continue reading at the Christian Science Monitor…

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…