GOP's 'Contract with America' Shakes Up Business as Usual

Article excerpt

On Sept. 27, more than 300 Republican candidates -- incumbents and challengers alike -- came together on the steps of the Capitol to sign a "Contract with America" to change the way Washington works. The contract binds these Republicans, if they are given a majority in the House of Representatives, first to change the rules under which the House operates and then to bring to the floor for passage 10 commonsense bills -- many of which have long languished in the bowels of the Democratic Congress. In other words, the contract would change the way Congress does business and what business it does.

Americans are justly angry with Congress. They believe it has lost touch with them and with their needs, and they are right. The Democrats are pulling the strings of Congress, having held power in the House for 40 years, more than twice as long as in the history of the two parties. At the end of those four decades, voters see the rules being twisted and the system manipulated to allow the crime bill, for example, to be perverted by a corrupt process -- which is exactly what America hates about Congress. Congress must change, but it will never change until the party in power changes.

That is why Republicans are proposing an alternative to business as usual in Washington. The contract's 10 bills are serious reforms that many in Congress and the country have long supported -- solid public-policy proposals that have been stalled because the status quo Democrats have hijacked the House. By signing the contract, Republicans pledge to break this log-jam in the first 100 days of the next Congress, voting on bold reforms that would move the country forward again.

On the very first day, a GOP-led House dramatically would change the way Congress works. Republicans would adopt major reforms long needed and long ignored, requiring, for example, that laws applying to the rest of the country apply to Congress as well; selecting a major accounting firm to perform an extensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud and abuse; and cutting the number of committees, and then cutting the staffs of the remaining committees by one-third.

Then, during the first 100 days, a Republican House would change Congress's agenda. For instance, the contract contains a pledge to bring a profamily proposal to the floor for passage. The centerpiece of the package would be a $500-per-child tax credit to lift some of the tremendous burden of government from the backs of America's middle class -- something Clinton promised but

failed to do. In order to strengthen families, the proposal also would include the elimination of the "marriage penalty" built into the tax code and worsened by Clinton's tax bill to the point that this year, 52 percent of married couples will pay more taxes than if they were divorced. The GOP knows that every dollar the Democratic Congress spends comes from the pocket of a hardworking American and also knows that a tax system that punishes marriage and parenthood already has harmed us as a country and as a people.

Republicans also have pledged to bring to a vote a real crime bill. If social-welfare spending stopped crime, this country would be the safest place on Earth. Yet the Clinton "crime" bill, which passed earlier this year, contained $6.9 billion in new social spending that has nothing to do with fighting crime. In fact, the Democrats completely rewrote the final crime bill in a conference that was supposed to resolve the differences in the bills passed by the two chambers. The new Frankenstein bill contained provisions that totally reversed some passed by both houses, proving how corrupt the legislative process has become under four decades of Democratic rule. …