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"Revive the Conservative Revolution," Says Stephen Moore of Club for Growth
Human Events Online ^ | 05-21-04 | Moore, Stephen

Posted on 05/21/2004 7:26:15 AM PDT by Theodore R.

Revive the Conservative Revolution by Stephen Moore Posted May 21, 2004

This summer, the famous Contract With America that swept Republicans into power in Congress in January 1995 turns ten years old.

The contract was a bold and sweeping agenda to change the way government works in Washington. It included 10 major provisions, including welfare reform, rules to force Congress to live under the same laws as the rest of us, term limits, tax cuts, and, most importantly, budget reduction. In the memorable words of Newt Gingrich, the Republican revolutionary who inspired and led the Contract With America Revolution, Republicans were going to make government "smaller and smarter. We are going to prove that we can get rid of programs, not just start them."

That was a promise that was highly appealing to voters as the federal budget under Clinton approached $2 trillion in size.

I will never forget when I first heard of the Contract With America. My boss at that time, Rep. Dick Armey (R.-Tex.), the second in command in the House among Republicans, told me that this was going to be a pledge-filled document that would sweep Republicans into the majority in the House for the first time in 40 years.

Misreading History

I had a hard time not laughing in my boss's face. The idea of a Republican majority in the House seemed as improbable as my beloved Cubs winning the World Series: something that would not happen again in the 20th Century. But I got to work helping construct the taxing and spending pillars of the Contract. I joked later with Armey that if I had known the Republicans were going to really win the House, I would have taken the contract more seriously. He wryly replied that if his colleagues had really believed that the GOP would take the House, they would never have signed the Contract With America.

It is chic these days to criticize the Contract With America and write it off as a failed revolution. That would be a misreading of history. Much was accomplished of great significance during those first 100 days in 1995. Republicans for the first time did require Congress to live by the rules they impose on the rest of us. Term limits were imposed on committee chairmen. The first steps toward meaningful litigation reform were passed. And perhaps most impressive of all: The budget was balanced, not in seven years, but in less than four years.

There were other great triumphs of the new Republican majority back then. Perhaps the biggest of all was strong-arming President Clinton to sign the most historic social legislation of the last 50 years: welfare reform. Since that legislation passed, welfare caseloads have been cut in half and many of those welfare moms are now living productive lives in the workforce.

Even in the fight to cut government down to size, there were some early impressive victories. In the first two years of the Gingrich revolution, the federal budget actually was reduced after inflation by 3.5%. The only other two-year period where that happened was in Reagan's first two years as President. There was clearly a new ethic of fiscal restraint, rather than fiscal expansionism.

I was proud to work with the young and energetic Budget Chairman John Kasich (R.-Ohio), who put together the original Contract With America budget in 1995. That was an astonishingly visionary document--something we haven't seen the likes of ever since. Kasich's budget slated more than 300 programs for termination. Some of these programs were little more than political slush funds for special interest constituencies--such as the Legal Services Corporation, bilingual education funds, and Bill Clinton's army of $7.27 Americorps "volunteers." We were also going to finally defund programs that Reagan had tried, but failed, to kill: the Economic Development Administration, Amtrak operating funds, federal transit grants, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and maritime subsidies. Most impressive of all, the Contract With America budget called for the elimination of three Cabinet agencies: the Departments of Education, Commerce, and Energy.

Perhaps Republicans over-promised. But in the end, politics triumphed over good fiscal common sense. Ten years later, most of the useless programs are still flourishing. Here are some disappointing examples: The Americorps program has grown by 181% and President Bush wants to expand it further;

The Department of Education budget has almost tripled in size since 1995.

The Goals 2000 budget has grown from $231 million to $700 million.

The bilingual education budget has grown by more than 50%.

Amtrak subsidies were supposed to be phased out entirely by the year 2000, but this year the railroad asked for a $2 billion bailout, and Congress is likely to grant that request.

A bill to raise the budget for the Peace Corps by 50% over four years passed the House by a margin of 326-90 last year. This prompted a Washington Times headline: "Republicans Retreat from Battle to Shrink the Size of Government."

Most depressing of all is that a budget that reached balance by 1998 and surpluses of $200 billion by 2000 is now $500 billion back in the red. The budget of $1.5 trillion in 1995 will likely reach $2.5 trillion this year. The war against big government was fought--at times valiantly--but eventually lost.

Wealth and Prosperity

What lessons can be learned from the Contract With America? First, this was an initiative, despite its failures, that launched one of the most radical and successful political reform eras in American history. Welfare reform, the balanced budget, the capital gains tax cut, the new ethics laws imposed on politicians, and the clean-up of the corruption and corrupt practices in Congress were true victories for the conservative movement. In many ways, the Newt Gingrich-Dick Armey led revolution helped bring the Reagan Revolution to its beneficial conclusion.

The economy roared back to life on almost the very day that the Republicans were elected into the majority. In November of 1994, the Dow Jones Industrial average stood at about 3,000. By the year 2000, the Dow stood at 10,000. This was a period of unparalleled wealth creation and prosperity. Whatever the Republicans did; the bulls in the financial markets clamored their approval.

But one lesson of the Contract With America is that revolutions in America are short-lived. Reformers come in and change the course of government, but it isn't long before the forces of inertia overwhelm the change agents. That is what happened to the Gingrich Republicans. It is what happened to Ronald Reagan, who accomplished all his major economic victories in the first two years of his administration. Some critics look back and say that Republicans tried to do too much, too quickly. That's 100% wrong. The window of political opportunity shuts rapidly. Best to do as much as you can while you have the other team in disarray.

I have often argued that the two most important elections in the past 50 years were the election of 1980 that gave us Reagan, and the election of 1994 that put reformist Republicans in charge of Congress. The Gingrich Republicans were a heroic bunch. They did a great service in turning our economy and our government around after two years of the totally dimwitted tax and spend policies of Clintonomics. The Contract With America contained policy changes of great consequence.

The tragedy is that today many of those same Republicans who led the Contract With America siege on Washington have settled into power, have become overly-comfortable with their perches of authority, and have in some ways become mirror images of what they replaced. The Republicans are now spending more money than even the Democrats did when they ran Capitol Hill. Republicans seem to have forgotten who they are, and why voters put them there.

Perhaps it is time for conservatives to start plotting the next revolution. Mr. Moore is HUMAN EVENTS' economics correspondent and is president of the Club for Growth.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS: americor; amtraksubsidies; armey; bilingualism; clinton; clubforgrowth; conservatives; contractwithamerica; educationdept; gingrich; goals2000; govtspending; gwbush; johnkasich; legalservices; liberalism; peacecorps; reagan; stephenmoore; termlimits; tortreform

1 posted on 05/21/2004 7:26:17 AM PDT by Theodore R.
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To: Theodore R.
"Perhaps it is time for conservatives to start plotting the next revolution"

Maybe one way to do that is to have Kerry win, let the American people reap what they have sown, and then bring forward a true conservative agenda in 2006 and 2008 to offer as an alternative to liberalism.

2 posted on 05/21/2004 7:49:09 AM PDT by Russ
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To: Theodore R.

This is a great idea. Let's create a New Contract with America. I have a few suggestions for the list.

1. Let's take the WOT to the Muslim Brotherhood and quickly snuff out this Jihad against America.

2. Let's terminate the current Tax Code and replace it with something that does not allow the IRS to scrutinize our incomes.

3. Health Insurance Reform. End the connection between your employment and your health insurance. Tax-free Health Savings Accounts (coupled with catastrophic health insurance) available to everyone. The end of for-profit HMO's.

3 posted on 05/21/2004 7:51:37 AM PDT by Mother Mary
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To: Theodore R.; NewLand

Herman Cain ping?

Club for Growth backs Herman Cain, Republican US Senate candidate in Georgia, and a true conservative. He would help lead the way with a New Contract with America.

4 posted on 05/21/2004 7:57:12 AM PDT by eyespysomething (The Barbarians are at the Gates. Don't give Kerry the key!)
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To: Russ
"Maybe one way to do that is to have Kerry win, let the American people reap what they have sown, and then bring forward a true conservative agenda in 2006 and 2008 to offer as an alternative to liberalism."

I understand the sentiment, but the stakes are just too high. The War on Terrorism and radical Islam is too important to turn over to the Democrats.

What's needed is to strengthen the Republican majorities in the House and Senate with pro-growth, pro-tax cut Republicans. People who are strong on the War on Terrorism and also fiscal conservatives.

5 posted on 05/21/2004 8:13:01 AM PDT by GPBurdell
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To: Theodore R.

The very greatest thing about the "Contract with America" was that it gave voters a clear statement of principles, a clear understanding of what the GOP was about.

Those principles could be and were debated, and American voters made their choices known.

On the basis of those promises, there was a vast House-cleaning.

Now what do we have? "I'm not George Bush," vs "I'm not as goofy as John Kerry."

6 posted on 05/21/2004 9:18:06 AM PDT by Redbob (still hoping for the "self-illuminating glass-bottomed parking lot" solution to the Iraq problem)
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To: Russ

why not let Bush win, elect a conservative Congress and make Bush get more conservative.

7 posted on 05/21/2004 2:15:43 PM PDT by votelife ("Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordian." Don Rumsfeld)
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To: eyespysomething; AuH2ORepublican; Veritas_est; WoodstockCat; UlsterDavy; SittinYonder; mhking; ...

FReepMail me if you want to be ON or OFF this list

Go Herman Go! Pray for Herman Cain!

Click Here for the Herman Cain for US Senate Web Site

8 posted on 05/21/2004 4:24:51 PM PDT by NewLand (Prevent the Clinton White House from being re-opened under new management!)
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To: Theodore R.
This is a well written article about a bold initiative, undertaken by bold leaders, and men with the backbone to be what they were elected to be.

We can have it again if we elect professional problem solver Herman Cain in Georgia and a few more like him around the country to remind the other Republicans who they are supposed to be.

Go, Cain, Go!!!

9 posted on 05/21/2004 11:27:02 PM PDT by Veritas_est (Truth is)
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To: Veritas_est
A Bold Vision to Bring Conservative Common Sense to the United States Senate

Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate

The United States is being challenged by the war on terror, the war on our moral foundation and the war on our economic infrastructure. But America is still the greatest country in the world because of the bold leadership of the past and the American Dream that is still alive today.

In 1994 we had a vision for a better America and a desire to "restore the bonds of trust between the people and their elected representatives." Ten years later the Republican Revolution that was started right here in Georgia has stalled because too many members of Congress are more concerned with positionship rather than leadership.

July 20th offers the opportunity to bring bold new leadership that will transform the way the United States Senate works. Herman Cain will restart the Republican Revolution that pledged "the end of government that is too big, too intrusive, and too easy with the public's money."

It is time to bring back the ideas born under the Republican Revolution. People need to be shown that government is not the answer, government is the problem. We need to remind America that the Republican Party stands for fiscal conservatism, strong moral values and commitment to pushing our Nation forward. This is a new time, a new day and this is the dawn of a new Republican Party. This is just the beginning. It is morning again here in Georgia.

On the first day of the 109th Congress, Herman Cain will immediately begin working on the following major reforms, aimed at restoring the faith and trust of the American people in their government:

FIRST, Shut down the IRS and replace it with the Fair Tax;

SECOND, Implement mandatory spending caps on all discretionary spending to balance the federal budget;

THIRD, Protect life which begins at conception;

FOURTH, Restructure Social Security so that we continue to provide for our Nation's seniors that are approaching retirement age, but allow for younger taxpayers to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts;

FIFTH, Further delay BRAC so that we can focus on winning the war on terrorism and determine how each military base can better continue the fight to defend America;

SIXTH, Totally restructure how Medicare is being delivered in order to achieve greater heath care affordability and accessibility for all Americans;

SEVENTH, Fight to protect the definition of marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman;

EIGHTH, Fight to end the Cloture Rule in the United States Senate so that President George W. Bush's conservative judges can be confirmed;

NINTH, Fight to protect our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms;

TENTH, Ensure that our Religious Liberties are not compromised.

In Georgia, On July 20th,
Vote HERMAN CAIN for U.S. Senate

Link to A Contract With Georgia"

10 posted on 05/21/2004 11:52:00 PM PDT by Veritas_est (Truth is)
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