When president Obama was elected, he made the promise of a new era of bipartisanship and openness in government. His administration has been anything but.
In light of where the health care debate stands, I found the following response to the Obama promises about his health care reform bill:
Essentially, Obama continues to obfuscate, no let's call it what it is, the president continues to lie about the provisions of the health care bill before the House, despite the fact that those who have read it continue to refute his claims. As in the election, he hopes that "If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed."
In 1994, the Republicans running for Congress drew up a manifesto of promises they would keep if elected and Republicans took control of the House for the first time in 50 years. The Contract showed that Americans want elected officials who say what they mean and mean what they say. More recent events show these same voters have little tolerance for politicians who say one thing in front of the camera and something different in the smoke-filled rooms where they negotiate deals with contributors and lobbyists.
The present Congress is not about to make any such promises, but a new Contract with America in 2010 from Republicans and Democrats willing to speak and act FOR Americans and not for their party would go a long way toward restoring American confidence in our elected officials. For the entire content of the Contract with America see http://www.house.gov/house/Contract/CONTRACT.html
Here are a few of its provisions, since rescinded or never enacted, that I think most Americans would agree on:
* require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
* require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
THE NATIONAL SECURITY RESTORATION ACT: No U.S. troops under U.N. command and restoration of the essential parts of our national security funding to strengthen our national defense and maintain our credibility around the world. (Bill Text) (Description)
*THE SENIOR CITIZENS FAIRNESS ACT: Raise the Social Security earnings limit which currently forces seniors out of the work force, repeal the 1993 tax hikes on Social Security benefits and provide tax incentives for private long-term care insurance to let Older Americans keep more of what they have earned over the years. (Bill Text) (Description)
* THE JOB CREATION AND WAGE ENHANCEMENT ACT: Small business incentives, capital gains cut and indexation, neutral cost recovery, risk assessment/cost-benefit analysis, strengthening the Regulatory Flexibility Act and unfunded mandate reform to create jobs and raise worker wages.
* THE COMMON SENSE LEGAL REFORM ACT: "Loser pays" laws, reasonable limits on punitive damages and reform of product liability laws to stem the endless tide of litigation.
* THE CITIZEN LEGISLATURE ACT: A first-ever vote on term limits to replace career politicians with citizen legislators.
Newt Gingrich, author of the original Contract with America, has started a website called American Solutions. the website promotes ideas and comments from bipartisan positions on a range of topics. Editors respond directly to comments and, in the interest of bipartisanship, they do not address hotly debated topics presently before Congress, like health care.
The website is a step in the right direction, getting past the rhetoric to finding common ground between people on both sides of the issues. Ideally, having a manifesto of bipartisan changes for candidates on both sides of the aisle would go a long way to helping restore some respect for elected officials and curbing runaway spending by Congress.
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