Tomorrow, for the 37th time, conservatives will gather in Washington to discuss, debate, and forge new solutions at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC.
For those who may be tempted to despair about the state of the limited government, pro-market and pro-family movement, a little history is in order.
In 1975, then-Governor Ronald Reagan inspired a dispirited conservative movement to revolution at CPAC. In a message that resonates to this day, President Reagan proclaimed, “Our people look for a cause to believe in,” and then asked: “Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors, which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?"
President Reagan’s first speech to CPAC was in its inaugural year in 1973. According to CPAC organizer David Keene, that year, 125 Americans came to CPAC to hear Reagan speak. This year, attendance is expected to top 10,000.
Excitement about the Return to the Bold Colors of Conservative Leadership
There is a palpable sense of excitement about the prospects for a return to the bold colors of conservative leadership in America today.
This excitement isn’t just due to the vulnerability of the left, although it is vulnerable.
And it’s not just because of the American people’s disavowal of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi liberal agenda, although Americans have repudiated it.
It’s because of the strength of the solutions being generated by a concerned American public, solutions that are being taken up and championed by conservatives.
The Contract From America
This Thursday at CPAC, the Tea Party Patriots will unveil a grassroots-generated, crowd-sourced, bottom-up call for real economic, conservative and government reform.
It’s called the Contract From America. It’s not the handiwork of me or any public official. It is the genuine voice of the American people. Unlike the current political dynamic, in which the will of Washington is forced on America, this is the voice of America coming to Washington.
The idea of a grassroots-generated call for reform came from Ryan Hecker of the Tea Party Patriots.
Here’s how Ryan explains why he started the process of giving citizens the power to change Washington:
“We started this to give every American the opportunity to make a difference and to tell elected officials that it’s now time for them to listen to the people. We also see this as a way to help unite the Tea Party movement and transform it from a purely protest movement to one calling for proactive and positive reform.”
Hundreds of Thousands of Americans Submitted Ideas for the Contract
From the idea of the Contract came a website, launched in September 2009. At www.ContractFromAmerica.org hundreds of thousands of Americans have submitted and debated thousands of solutions for creating jobs, securing liberty and reclaiming our government.
After much debate and a series of surveys, the list of solutions has been narrowed to 22.
Tomorrow at CPAC, nationwide voting will begin to refine this list of 22 down to ten solutions for real change. Voting will be open for a month. Then, the ten winning solutions, which will comprise the Contract From America, will be unveiled at the next round of nationwide Tea Parties on April 15.
At that point, candidates and elected officials from both parties will be asked to sign the Contract and commit themselves to the American people’s solutions.
Cast Your Vote to Determine the Contract From America
Here, for the first time, are the 22 solutions to be voted on beginning tomorrow:
DEMAND A BALANCED BUDGET: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike.
STOP THE TAX HIKES: Permanently repeal all tax hikes, including those to income, capital gains, and death taxes, currently scheduled to begin in 2011.
COMMIT TO REAL GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY: Every bill, in its final form, will be made public seven days before any vote can be taken and all government expenditures authorized by any bill will be easily accessible on the Internet before the money is spent. (Proposed by: Steve Kulik, Gonzales, Texas; and Steve Hollis, San Francisco, Calif.)
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.
PASS REAL HEALTHCARE REFORM: Greatly improve affordability of health insurance by permitting all Americans access to all health insurance plans sold anywhere in the United States through the purchase of insurance across state lines and allow small businesses and associations to pool together across state lines to buy insurance.
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.
END RUNAWAY GOVERNMENT SPENDING: Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth.
LET US SAVE: Allow all 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.
PROTECT INTERNET FREEDOM: No regulation or tax on the Internet.
GIVE PARENTS MORE CHOICES IN THE EDUCATION OF THEIR CHILDREN: Improve American education by reforming the broken federal role through eliminating ineffective and wasteful programs, giving parents more choices from pre-school to high school, and improving the affordability of higher education.
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.
PROTECT FREEDOM OF THE PRESS: Prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from using funds to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine in any form, including requiring “localism” or “diversity” quotas.
RESTORE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY & CONSTITUTIONALLY LIMITED GOVERNMENT: 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.
PROTECT PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS: Block 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.
REJECT CAP & TRADE: Prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures.
STOP THE PORK: Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the process is fully transparent, including requiring a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark.
NO CZAR REGULATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION: All “lawmaking” regulations must be affirmatively approved by Congress and signed into law by the president, as the Constitution requires for all laws.
AUDIT THE FED: Begin an audit of the Federal Reserve System.
NO MORE BAILOUTS: The federal government should not bail out private companies and should immediately begin divesting itself of its stake in the private companies it owns from recent bailouts.
STOP CAREER POLITICIANS & CURB LOBBYIST POWER: Begin the Constitutional amendment process 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.
SUNSET REGULATIONS: All regulations will be “sunset” after ten years unless renewed by Congressional vote.
LET US WATCH: Broadcast all non-security meetings and votes on C-SPAN and the Internet.
Thirty-five years ago at CPAC, a call for “bold colors and no pale pastels” came from one of America’s greatest leaders.
Today, that same call comes from the American people themselves.
To cast your vote for the 10 solutions that will comprise the Contract From America, go to www.ContractFromAmerica.org
And if you’re in the Washington area, come to CPAC and add your voice to the debate. Just like this 37-year-old gathering, it’s needed now more than ever.
P.S. How should health reform be accomplished?
On February 25, President Obama is calling on lawmakers to put their best ideas forward during televised, bipartisan negotiations on health reform. Join the Center for Health Transformation and its panel of experts beginning Wednesday, February 17 for an ongoing, online dialogue discussing the best solutions to transform our country’s healthcare system. To learn more click here.
Newt’s Quick Links
• Renewing American Leadership has just launched their new website. Check it out.
• To learn more about the faith of our founding fathers, check out Callista’s and my movie: Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage.
• Tonight I will be in Akron, Ohio, to discuss healthcare. Tickets are still available. Click here.