A few hours ago, I received word from George Allen’s campaign that today he signed The Contract from America. By doing so, he joins the growing ranks of limited government conservatives like Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota. As Allen states, “To me, signing this pledge is an affirmation of my commitment to protecting individual liberty, limited government and economic freedom.”
But what is The Contract from America, you might ask? I’m sure most of you remember the GOP’s 1994 Contract with America, but now we are talking about a contract from America? What an odd name. Doesn’t it sound like some secessionist ploy? Well, here’s the contract. Read it yourself:
The Contract from America
We, the undersigned, call upon those seeking to represent us in public office to sign the Contract from America and by doing so commit to support each of its agenda items, work to bring each agenda item to a vote during the first year, and pledge to advocate on behalf of individual liberty, limited government, and economic freedom.
Our moral, political, and economic liberties are inherent, not granted by our government. It is essential to the practice of these liberties that we be free from restriction over our peaceful political expression and free from excessive control over our economic choices.
The purpose of our government is to exercise only those limited powers that have been relinquished to it by the people, chief among these being the protection of our liberties by administering justice and ensuring our safety from threats arising inside or outside our country’s sovereign borders. When our government ventures beyond these functions and attempts to increase its power over the marketplace and the economic decisions of individuals, our liberties are diminished and the probability of corruption, internal strife, economic depression, and poverty increases.
The most powerful, proven instrument of material and social progress is the free market. The market economy, driven by the accumulated expressions of individual economic choices, is the only economic system that preserves and enhances individual liberty. Any other economic system, regardless of its intended pragmatic benefits, undermines our fundamental rights as free people.
1. 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. (82.03%)
2. Reject Cap & Trade
Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures. (72.20%)
3. Demand a Balanced Budget
Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike. (69.69%)
4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform
Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words—the length of the original Constitution. (64.90%)
5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government in Washington
Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in a complete audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities, or ripe for wholesale reform or elimination due to our efforts to restore limited government consistent with the US Constitution’s meaning. (63.37%)
6. End Runaway Government Spending
Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. (56.57%)
7. Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care
Defund, repeal and replace the recently passed government-run health care with a system that actually makes health care and insurance more affordable by enabling a competitive, open, and transparent free-market health care and health insurance system that isn’t restricted by state boundaries. (56.39%)
8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above” Energy Policy
Authorize the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation, lowering prices and creating competition and jobs. (55.51%)
9. Stop the Pork
Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark. (55.47%)
10. Stop the Tax Hikes
Permanently repeal all tax hikes, including those to the income, capital gains, and death taxes, currently scheduled to begin in 2011. (53.38%)
It certainly sounds promising doesn’t it? Any effort that seeks to restrain the growing power of the federal government is certainly an idea I can get behind. It seems, I’m not alone; the concept has the backing of a number of limited government organizations like The Leadership Institute, The Republican Liberty Caucus, and Freedom Works.
However, I do have two questions regarding the contract. First, what’s with all the percentages after each segment? Is it a ranking of priority? Do the number represent folks who sign choosing to accept certain portions of the contract while rejecting others? Well, after making a few phone calls, I discovered this answer. In order to gauge public opinion on what are the most important priorities, the organizers held a poll. The top ten are what are listed here. The percentages after each are the percent of the vote each won. “Protecting the Constitution” was labeled the highest priority, while “Stopping the Tax Hikes”, although important, was the lowest concern of the top ten.
Second, I’m not too wild about point number seven. Sure, I’d like to see federally run health care defunded and repealed, but replaced? Replaced with what? Something merely more cost efficient? I do not believe that the federal government has any constitutional authority when it comes to the health care of its citizens. Therefore, without additional details, I cannot support this particular plank.
If you will recall, back in 1994, Republicans captured control of Congress by uniting around a list of conservative principles and priorities. Should they do so again, I would expect them to win a far greater percentage of seats.
Therefore, despite my one particular objection, I believe that this Contract From America is an important step in the right direction. It may be a funny sounding name, but we need to get Washington under control and we must do so now. As our former Governor and Senator states, “Only by listening to ‘We the People’ and returning to the foundational principles of freedom, personal responsibility and opportunity for all will America once again be the land of opportunity.”
Although I still need to learn more about this effort, I certainly do appreciate their motivation and applaud George Allen for signing on to this project.