House Minority Whip Eric Cantor wants a document, akin to Newt Gingrich’s 1994 Contract With America, that identifies specific pieces of legislation Republicans could pass if they win back the House. He thinks Republicans should “put up or shut up,” an aide close to the process said.
So does Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, the House Republican Conference chairman. The party doesn’t need “sloganeering,” someone familiar with his thinking said, and he favors an approach that “tells people what [the party] want[s] and how you’re going to do it.”
But Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who is leading the effort to craft the document, says that including specific legislation in the contract would smack of the backroom deals the GOP accuses Democrats of making, so “you won’t see it written out.”
Obviously each plan has its merits, but I would cation the party from spelling out many particular items like the first Contract did. We have to remember that during the Gingrich revolution of the 90s, we were dealing with President Clinton--obviously liberal, but someone who seems quite moderate in comparison to Barack Obama.
The GOP needs to speak more in generalities this time around. This is not to say the party shouldn't be held to high standards when it come to delivering, but I'd hate the GOP to put itself in a position where they either have to compromise on principles to pass a measure with Obama's approval, or accomplish nothing and open the conservative movement up to attacks from the Left that claim we were unable to accomplish any of the things we set out to.
Perhaps the GOP's new 'Contract with America' ought to stick to reaffirming conservative governing principles. Leave the accountability and achievement quantifiers and judgments to the voters.