By Molly K. Hooper - 09/22/10 09:39 PM EDT
The Republicans’ new Contract With America, which will be unveiled officially on Thursday, calls for a crackdown on government spending, repeal of the healthcare reform law and extension of all the expiring Bush tax cuts.
There is an anti-Washington theme throughout the House GOP’s “Pledge to America.” In many ways, Republicans are running on a change message, a mantra that helped elect President Obama and bolster Democratic majorities in Congress two years ago.
The document tackles job creation, “out-of-control” spending, “the government takeover of healthcare,” transparency and homeland security, among other issues.
Economic and fiscal matters are highlighted, while social issues — a staple of President George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign — are not.
While the pledge on page 1 promises to “honor families, traditional marriage, life and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values,” there are few specific proposals.
In the healthcare section, House Republicans address the use of tax dollars for abortion, calling Obama’s executive order on the matter “inadequate.”
But for the most part, the pledge homes in on the No. 1 issue for voters: the economy.
The document quotes former Democratic President John F. Kennedy, who said, “An economy constrained by high tax rates will never produce enough revenue to balance the budget, just as it will never create enough jobs.”
The word “spending” is stated 47 times in the document, but “earmarks” — an issue that divides Republicans — is not mentioned.
Republicans lambaste the economic stimulus package, climate change bill, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), government waste and what they claim are 3,833 pages of federal regulations to implement healthcare reform.
Bush, who signed TARP into law, is referenced in passing only twice.
Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) management of the lower chamber is strongly criticized.Republican leaders state that they, unlike Democratic leaders, will “ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing text online at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives. No more hiding legislative language from the minority party, opponents and the public. Legislation should be understood by all interested parties before it is voted on.”
Democrats ripped the Republican pledge, mocking it as a package of old ideas that they say put the economy in a deep recession.
Thursday’s unveiling will come 16 years after then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) released the House GOP’s Contract With America. Weeks later, Republicans won control of Congress.
In order to win the House, the GOP would need to pick up a net of 39 seats in November. Democrats won 30 seats in 2006 and picked up another 24 in 2008.
House Republican leaders are scheduled to discuss their pledge on Thursday at the Tart Lumber Co., a family-owned small business in Sterling, Va.
The effort is the culmination of four months of a GOP “listening” tour that started with a Web-based program called America Speaking Out (ASO).
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) tasked Chief Deputy Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as chairman of the project, which involved dozens of member-held town hall meetings, outreach to advocacy and interest groups and monitoring of ideas and solutions on the ASO website.
ASO Vice Chairman Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) called the pledge “robust action-items for today.”
Members of the GOP conference were allowed to view the document in Boehner’s office on Wednesday afternoon before they discussed the final product at a closed-door meeting that evening.
GOP leaders opted to hold a more subdued rollout of their pledge than Gingrich’s 1994 event on Capitol Hill, which included hundreds of Republican lawmakers and candidates.
Unlike 1994, the new contract will not be signed by GOP officials and does not call for term limits or a balanced budget amendment.
House Democrats agreed not to hold votes Thursday morning in order to give Republicans time to present what they call their “governing agenda.”
House GOP Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.), Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), Boehner, McCarthy, Roskam and Reps. Frank Wolf (Va.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Mac Thornberry (Texas) and Jeb Hensarling (Texas) are scheduled to attend.
Members are slated to hold a press conference at 10 a.m. after a “roundtable” discussion with small-business owners.
This story was originally posted at 5:39 p.m. and updated at 8:48 p.m.