Tea Partiers’ Winning “Contract from America”

Tea Partiers won big last Tuesday, sending a clear message to politicians that Americans want government’s hands off!

What makes the Tea Party interesting is that it’s not a party at all, really. Political parties operate by establishing a reputation steeped in culture and rhetoric and then shifting values according to whimsy (a political trick prominent in America since at least the Federalists became the Antifederalists). The Tea Party rejects all of that.

Instead, the Tea Party proposes an 10-point contract for governance. These 10 points serve as a metric to determine whether politicians are delivering on their promises. An objective 10 points, so it’s immediately obvious whether a politicians has succeeded or failed.

ABC covered this contract in April, but it’s worth taking a look again (the numbers in parentheses denote percent of votes each item earned on the contract-generating plank):

  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 percent)
  2. Reject Cap & Trade: Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumers prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures. (72.20 percent)
  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 percent)
  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 percent)
  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 U.S. Constitution’s meaning. (63.37 percent)
  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 percent)
  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 percent)
  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 percent)
  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 percent)
  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 percent)

Many of these items directly contradict legislature that has passed in President Obama’s first two years in office. Sure, this is a reflexive response to the government having gone very far in one direction. But remember: It was this objective metric that spelled out big midterm victories.

Let’s see how objective this criteria stays over the next two years.