As if to make the comparisons to the Republicans' 1994 sweep of Congress more explicit, GOP lawmakers are preparing to unveil a new "Contract With America" on Thursday. The document is rumored to be a 20-point plan of action Republicans will undertake if they are returned to power, with some input from the GOP's "America Speaking Out" internet project. (Watch Rachel Maddow's analysis.) Here are five predictions on what the new "Contract" will promise:
1. Extension of all "Bush tax cuts" and a spending rollback
Republicans are widely expected to include a plan, already outlined by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), to extend all of the expiring tax cuts — including those for households making over $250,000 a year — for at least two years and to roll back federal spending to 2008 levels. This is familiar stuff, but nobody expects new ideas in the contract, says Jay Cost in The Weekly Standard. The point is to get GOP lawmakers on the same page, to "help the party sustain its momentum coming out of the midterm."
2. Vote over the constitutionality of any bill
The GOP will propose that every bill that comes up for a vote be subject to a challenge over whether Congress has the constitutional authority to pass it. If challenged, the bill's author would then have to defend its constitutionality. This is an apparent reaction to the health care overhaul's individual insurance mandate, say CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Dana Bash, which several Republicans argue is outside the scope of the federal government's authority.
3. Repeal of the health care overhaul
Some version of the GOP's "repeal and replace" mantra for the Democrats' sweeping health care law will be in the contract, but it's unclear how far the GOP leaders will commit to going. As long as Obama has veto power, they say, the most they can do is defund and otherwise "nibble around the edges" of the law. Simply put, says Rick Ungar in Forbes, "defunding Obamacare" is "one campaign promise that won't be kept."
4. Law ordering three-day reading period for all bills
Another Republican rule change would mandate that every House bill be published online 72 hours before it comes to the floor, to "encourage — though not require — members of Congress to read bills before they vote." It would also give the public a chance to read over legislation before it's voted on. "This agenda, we think, is reflective of what the American people want," says Brendan Buck, a House GOP spokesman.
5. Anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage initiatives
"Social conservatives are confident that their issues will be included in the anticipated new House GOP Contract with America," reports The Hill. Unlike the 1994 Contract With America, GOP leaders have promised that "lightning-rod" issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and "religious liberty" will be in this governing agenda. Boy, way to "snatch defeat from of the jaws of victory," says Stephen Gordon in The Next Right. All the energy this election is from libertarians and fiscal conservatives, and "pandering to social conservatives" again is a great way to scare Tea Party types away from the GOP for another few years.
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