As the GOP faces losing the House (and conceivably also the Senate) two months from now in November, Newt Gingrich, the architect of the Contract With America, which won Republican control of Congress in 1994 for the first time in 40 years, thinks Republicans can win, if they will just run on the issues the American people want addressed.
(1) Make English the Official Language of Government. The House should pass a bill making English the official language of government, abolishing multilingual ballots and reaffirming that new citizens should be required to pass a test on American history in English. The Rasmussen poll reported that support for English as the official language was 85%. The Zogby poll had it at 84%. Why do Republican leaders find it so hard to side with more than four out of every five Americans? How many liberal Democrats who currently assume they are unbeatable would suddenly have a hard time explaining a series of votes against English to their constituents? Remember, at 85%, there are no anti-English congressional districts no matter what the elite media says.
(2) Control the Borders. The House should pass a narrowly focused bill to ensure that the United States can control the border. The current Senate bill is a disaster. It is impossible to pass a “comprehensive” immigration bill in the next two months. The American people overwhelmingly want the borders controlled and every act of terrorism reminds us that having the borders uncontrolled makes us more vulnerable to attack. The House should immediately pass a border-control bill and conservative Republican senators should move every day to bring it up in the Senate. Let Democrats and elitist Republicans block controlling the border and make that a referendum test for Election Day.
(3) Keep God in the Pledge. Congress should take two steps to preserve the right to say “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, a right which is supported by 91% of all Americans. The American people feel deeply that our Declaration of Independence is correct in saying that each of us is endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. Beginning with the Supreme Court’s 1963 decision outlawing school prayer, the courts have waged a 43-year assault on the core values of American liberty. It is time to return to a balanced Constitutional system. There is no Constitutional case for five lawyers’ on the court being a floating majority for a permanent Constitutional Convention.
The American people would rally to the elected branches’ taking steps to rebalance the Constitution. First, the House should pass a bill suspending the recent federal district court decision in California outlawing the words “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Second, the House should pass a law blocking the Supreme Court from reviewing the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance (a power of the Congress expressly granted in the Constitution).
(4) Require a Voter ID Card. The American people overwhelmingly support (85% in one poll) having a voter id card so we can be sure only legal citizens are voting. Passing a bill to require this in all federal elections would be a big step toward more honest elections.
(5) Repeal the Death Tax, for Good. The American people have consistently supported the total repeal of the death tax and the House should simply pass it once a week and attach it to various Senate bills to force the Senate to deal with it again and again. Let liberals explain why they oppose something that more than 70% of the country favors.
(6) Restore Property Rights. The American people are deeply opposed to local politicians’ being able to seize a citizen’s home or business. The Supreme Court’s Kelo decision on eminent domain is one of the most unpopular in recent years and is also one of the most dangerous. Anyone who knows the history of local government corruption in America knows it will not be long before some corrupt developers engage some corrupt politicians and this power is exploited at the cost of most Americans. Members of the Black Caucus have been among the most vocal in pointing out that it is poor people who will be the most victimized so rich developers and greedy politicians can make the money off their homes and businesses. The House should pass a powerful bill returning the constitutional law to the pre-Kelo rules and blocking the Supreme Court from reviewing it.
(7) Achieve Sustainable Energy Independence. The country is eager for a straightforward new energy strategy for national security, environmental and economic reasons. The combination of $3 gasoline, watching Iran, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Russia get more of our money, and concerns about the environment come together to require real change. The House should meet that need. Starting with Rep. Jim Nussle’s (R-Iowa) bill on renewable fuels, adding to it clean nuclear power using new technologies that are safe and produce little waste, developing more clean coal solutions, investing in a conversion to a hydrogen economy, incentivizing conservation, providing tax credits so the auto industry can invest in the new technology and new manufacturing equipment needed to produce revolutionary new vehicles, creating the tax incentives to build the distribution system for biofuels, hybrids, and hydrogen, providing deeper tax incentives for radically better cars (imagine a substantial tax credit for cars exceeding 200 miles to the gallon of petroleum through a combination of E-85 or biodiesel, hybrid use of electricity and hydrogen), and a bill to create state flexibility in exploring off shore with a 50% split in revenue so state legislatures and governors would have an incentive to develop environmentally sound methods of exploration and production.
(8) Control Spending and Balance the Budget. The House should pass new budget legislation to control spending, leading to a balanced budget in seven years (the length of time we gave ourselves in the Contract with America and which led to the first four balanced budgets since the 1920s), with special focus on programs liberals will fight to increase spending. Let the country see who is really committed to smaller government with lower taxes and who is committed to bigger government with higher taxes.
(9) Tie Education Funding to Teacher Accountability. A major result of the No Child Left Behind legislation has been the clear revelation that a number of schools systems are crippling and destroying children. When the Detroit school system only graduates 21% of entering freshman on time, it is clear the children are being cheated. The American people strongly support reforms designed to save the children. The first step would be to insist that federal funds only go to school systems which require teacher competency and accountability. A clear choice between those who want to save the children and those who want to save the bureaucrats would mobilize the country in favor of dramatic education reform.
(10) Defend America From the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam. Terrorism is a real threat. Congress should hold hearings on the recent terrorist activities in Canada, the U.K. and Morocco. The House should move bills that strengthen our security from terrorists with increased powers for surveillance, an overruling of the disastrous Hamdan decision and a series of other steps.
(11) Focus on Iran and North Korea. The American people are very prepared to believe we face extraordinary threats from a nuclear North Korea and an Iranian regime actively seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Any actions in Iraq need to be recast in terms of their impact on Iran. A weak America in Iraq will be unable to stop Iran. Stopping Iran is potentially literally a matter of life and death. Congress should hold hearings on the scale of the Iranian and North Korean threat, the statements of their key leaders and the requirements for action to replace these dictatorships before they succeed in killing millions of Americans. The Santorum Iranian democracy bill should be forced out of the Senate in the context of these threats. Everything about Iraq should be debated within this larger and much more dangerous context.
The first three are gestures in the direction of the part of the Right that I don’t belong to, but none of them represent a price I, and my kind of Republicans, would be unwilling to pay to keep the coalition together.
Newt’s list may not be genius, but it is kind of close. He has managed to identify a package of issues which have serious voter appeal, and which would put the democrats right back on the defensive. If Congressional Republicans had any brains (a highly dubious proposition, judging by their performance recently), they would announce that they are embracing this 11 Point Plan from the Capitol steps tomorrow morning.