Here Come the Litmus Tests

I guess twenty years is long enough to dull memories and make a dubious proposition seem like a good idea, or so you might surmise from this report by Billy House at Bloomberg Business:

U.S. House Republican hard-liners who helped force out former Speaker John Boehner are readying their next act: a multi-point manifesto demanding quick action on long-time conservative priorities.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus are preparing a “Contract With America II” that would call for House votes in the first 100 days of 2016 on replacing Obamacare, overhauling entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and repealing the estate tax.
An early draft of the plan obtained by Bloomberg News also calls for legislation to slash government regulations by 20 percent, cut corporate tax rates and expand offshore oil drilling. Efforts are still under way to finalize contents of the “contract,” which lawmakers say they hope will become the basis of House Republicans’ 2016 agenda.

The plan is tentatively named after the “Contract With America” that Newt Gingrich and other Republicans used to describe their pledges in the 1994 elec­tion campaign that swept the party into the House majority.

Here’s where House–and perhaps the pols he is writing about–goes a bit wide right:

Gingrich’s “Contract With America” campaign proposal helped Republicans win a landslide election in 1994, gaining 54 seats and winning control of the House for the first time since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

Actually, there was never much evidence that most 1994 voters ever heard about the Contract With America, much less marched to the polls to endorse it. It did, however, constrain Republicans once they took control of Congress, leading them into some inadvisable conflicts with Bill Clinton. It was more of a Contract With the Conservative Movement than anything else, and today, as conservative suspicions towards the GOP reach new highs, you can figure demands for similar litmus tests will proliferate in Congress and across the presidential nominating landscape.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.