GOP working on new ‘Contract’

GOP WORKING ON NEW ‘CONTRACT’…. Sixteen years ago, congressional Republicans hoped to capture majorities on the Hill, and released a poll-tested list of priorities that appeared first in TV Guide. It was called the “Contract With America.”

Opinions vary as to its efficacy — I tend to think the “contract” was largely irrelevant, since most Americans hadn’t heard of it when they voted — but in Republican circles, it’s taken on mythical status. Newt Gingrich and pollsters created the document, and GOP candidates won their new majorities in the ’94 midterms, therefore the “Contract With America” worked.

This year, Republicans hope to recreate the identical circumstances, this time with a new list. It’s slow going.

Republicans are salivating over the prospect of winning back the House in November, and they’re planning to produce a new “Contract With America” in the hopes of sealing the deal.

The catch: They don’t agree yet on what should be in it. […]

If the Republicans include too many specifics, especially on hot-button social issues important to their base, they risk turning off moderates and independents. And that’s assuming that they can get the entire House Republican Conference to agree on specific bills in the first place; not everyone, for example, would support a proposal to “repeal and replace” the Democrats’ health care bill.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) are apparently pushing for a detailed list of specific pieces of legislation that a GOP majority would pass if elected. The rank-and-file caucus members aren’t sure, in part because they may have to withhold endorsements of the new “contract” if they disagree with some of its tenets. There’s also a concern that policy specifics would make it easier for Dems to criticize.

But the leadership apparently wants more than slogans. “Responsible leadership requires the development of serious and deliverable solutions to the real problems facing families, small businesses and workers,” Cantor’s spokesperson said.

That’s a nice sentiment, to be sure, but I have to wonder if Cantor’s office has thought this one through. Republicans don’t have “serious and deliverable solutions” to “real problems.” The GOP generally doesn’t even try to come up with “serious and deliverable solutions” to “real problems.” Republicans tend to mock those who develop “serious and deliverable solutions” to “real problems.”

But if they’re willing to give it a shot, best of luck to them. Given congressional Republicans’ recent track record — their numberless budget plan, their ridiculous health care plan, Paul Ryan’s indefensible “Roadmap” — these guys tend to fall on their face when they try to come up with any kind of policy proposal, but maybe this time will be different.

We may not see a formal document until September. Something to look forward to.