The Corner

The Contract of 2010

Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, and Kevin McCarthy, dropped by NR’s offices yesterday for a spirited, very enjoyable discussion. They were here to promote their new book, Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders. We’ll have more from the conversation in a while, but wanted to highlight what McCarthy said about the “America Speaking Out” effort, which he leads and is creating the Contract-like document Republicans will unveil in a couple of weeks. It’s clearly going to be an incrementalist document focusing on opposition to basic Obama administration initiatives, on measures aimed at small business, on rolling back discretionary spending, on process reforms, and on competitiveness. Relatively small beer? Absolutely, but so was the first Contract. Part of the idea is to give Republicans a starter’s kit for governing if they take the majority. Here is McCarthy (with some excisions and minor edits for ease of reading):

Think about it as a governing document: “Right now, what could you do?” So it’s almost like first priorities. Well, first priorities, if you look at the business climate, you’ve got to take away the uncertainty of it. So what’s the uncertainty? Cap-and-trade, health care, what’s happening with taxes going up in January. So you want to deal with that.

Then you want to look at, “How do you get the economy moving again?” The best thing to do is focus on small business, where 70% of all jobs are created, what can we do to enhance it? Then, what are some other issues in the business climate from the 1099 and other forms?

Then the other top priority would probably be spending. What about just taking it back to 2008? Domestic discretionary spending has come up 84%. What about dealing with Fannie and Freddie?

Then you also have to change the culture of Washington. This is the first time since the budget act of ’74 was passed that the majority doesn’t have a budget. You know what happened in the budget act of 1974? It wiped away the sunshine committee. Every committee in Washington today is appropriating, spending money. Nothing is focusing on accountability and looking at things to be sunset. What about bringing that back?

Then, I would think of an overall theme, this country understands competition. It’s one of the founding things that makes us better. States understand competition where they compete with each other to get the jobs. But we don’t, as a nation, think of how we compete with other countries. So what about an overall theme to start looking at, “What makes us uncompetitive?”

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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