GOP’s “New Commitment to America” Seems Like a Weak Echo of the 1994 “Contract With America”

In its original form, the 1994 Contract with America sought fiscal responsibility from Congress and a balanced budget. It also included a tax-limit amendment and a line-item veto that allowed the President to strike specific spending provisions. It also required politicians to take their own promises seriously. Although the House and Senate passed it in slightly different forms, it was essentially the same document.

The Contract with America was introduced in 1994 by the Republican Party in an attempt to gain ideological unity in Congress. It was released six weeks before the Congressional election. It was signed by all Republican House members and candidates. Most Washington commentators saw it as a strategic mistake. However, Republicans were able to gain seats in both the House and Senate.

Unlike its predecessor, the new Commitment to America is unlikely to be a grand policy plan. As long as the GOP continues to ignore the substance of governing, the Commitment to America will likely be nothing more than a bland plan that will serve little purpose.

In 1994, a partisan majority dominated the House of Representatives, which was a far cry from the unified majority we have today. Nonetheless, Republicans promised to bring ten important bills to the floor during the first 100 days of the new Congress, which they did. The House voted for nine of the ten items, which included a balanced budget amendment and term limits for legislators.

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