It was fourteen years ago today that New Gingrich, then Leader of the Republican Delegation to the United States House of Represented initiated the absurd stunt known as the Contract on America (or something close to that, anyway). The Contract was originally circulated as a joke internet meme that was accidentally picked up by congressional staffers and converted into policy.
Well, that’s not really true, but that is what it looked like. Those of you who are not Americans, were not Americans at the time or who are too young, and thus have no memory of this travesty: Don’t let this into your memory banks because it will just cause occasional headaches and momentary depression. Those of you who remembered The Contract … well, sorry for bringing this up.
The details of The Contract are unimportant. I bring this up today for two reasons. One, according to sources close to the Republican Party, as I write this (on September 10th), there are plans to make the anniversary of the contract a big deal this year (because of the election). Second, I wanted to remind everyone of the only single salient fact regarding the contract:
The contract was a deal that said that as soon as the Republicans took charge in the House, they would bring to a vote (not even vote on, certainly not necessarily pass, and heaven forbid, not fund) each of a list of items, within a certain limited amount of time. Bringing something to a vote, especially if your party is in charge of the house, is trivially easy. (This could not have been done in the Senate.)
The only item from the Contract on America that turned into law as far as I can remember (and I may be a little wrong on this, but not much) was the one item that happened to be on President Bill Clinton’s To Do list as well: A Welfare to Work bill.
The Republicans will also make the claim that the Contract caused the budget to be balanced and the federal debt was reduced, but that is not true. Bill Clinton caused those things to happen. Liars.