Tea Party leaders ask voters to help draft ‘Contract from America’

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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It reeks of 1994, but in addition to budget balancing and term limits amendments, there’s a plank for preventing the government from regulating the Internet.

The Daily Caller obtained the list of 20 potential items for “Contract from America,” a Newt Gingrich-style document to be developed by Tea Party activists of 10 Tea Party priorities.

The items range from prohibiting the Federal Communications Commission from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine to calling for a complete audit of federal agencies and programs.

Tea Party Patriots, the group organizing the effort, will hold a press conference on Thursday in Washington, D.C., at the CPAC conference to announce the launch of thecontract.org, where activists can help “draft” the finalized contract by voting for their top 10 of those issues. After releasing a final “Contract from America” on April 15, activists will ask members of Congress to sign the final document.

Ryan Hecker, a national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots and a member of the Houston Tea Party Society who developed the contract idea, said it “is a grassroots, bottom-up document.”

“It’s going to be a very democratic process,” Hecker said.

Though the comparisons to Gingrich’s “Contract with America” are unavoidable, Hecker said the new contract stands in stark difference to the 1994 document, especially how it originated with the people and not from elected officials. The message in the new Tea Party contract, Hecker said, is also more focused solely on economic conservatism than the one in 1994.

Hecker said more than a thousand ideas for the contract were submitted and were edited down to 20 through the help of hundreds of Tea Party activists and through a series of online surveys.

A list of issues that the activists will vote on include:

  • Amending the constitution to require a balanced budget and a two-thirds majority for any tax hike.
  • Permanently repealing all tax hikes scheduled to begin in 2011.
  • Requiring every bill in Congress to be made public seven days before any vote can be taken and all government expenditures authorized by any bill to be easily accessible on the Internet before the money is spent.
  • Requiring each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does.
  • Permitting all health insurance plans to be sold anywhere in the United States through the purchase of insurance across state lines. Allow small businesses and associations to pool together across state lines to buy insurance.
  • Adopting 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.”
  • Imposing a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth.
  • Allowing Americans to opt out of Social Security and Medicare and instead put those same payroll taxes in a personal account “they own, control and can leave to whomever they choose.”
  • Preventing any regulation or tax on the Internet.
  • Improving education by eliminating ineffective and wasteful programs, giving parents more choices from pre-school to high school and improving the affordability of higher education.
  • Authorizing 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.
  • Prohibiting the Federal Communications Commission from using funds to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.
  • Creating a Blue Ribbon task force that engages in a complete audit of federal agencies and programs.
  • Blocking state and local governments that receive federal grants from exercising eminent domain over private property for the primary purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenues.
  • Preventing the EPA from implementing costly new regulations.
  • Placing a moratorium on all earmarks until the process is fully transparent. Also requiring a two-thirds majority to pass any earmark.
  • Making all lawmaking regulators, including presidential appointed czars, be affirmatively approved by Congress and signed into law by the president.
  • Audit the Federal Reserve System.
  • Making sure the federal government does not bail out private companies. The government should also immediately divest itself of its stake in the private companies it owns from recent bailouts.
  • Amending the constitution to require congressional term limits. No person shall be elected to the Senate more than twice or to the House of Representatives more than four times.
  • Making all regulations “sunset” after 10 years unless renewed by congressional vote.
  • Broadcasting all non-security meetings and votes on C-SPAN and the Internet.