Contract With America - Part 1: Democrats in drag

By Steve Farrell
web posted July 26, 1999

On the steps of the US Capitol on September 27, 1994, more than 300 candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives stood, under an "unusually warm, sun filled sky" and made history. All of them were there, joining hands and rubbing shoulders, with one goal in mind: To help launch a new revolution; the Republican revolution.

This catapult into a new order of things for the US Congress began with the reading and then the signing of a Contract With America, a contract which committed its 357 signatories to a bold 10 point program which promised a "return to the wisdom and brilliance of the Founding Fathers." Including in that context, a promise to return to limited government, free markets, individual responsibility, and the protection of American sovereignty.

What a refreshing vow! And it seemed just in time. For two years American citizens had suffered under the shock wave of a radical new approach to politics under the Clinton Administration.

President Clinton had, in short order, authorized the installment of gays in the military; stood behind a Surgeon General who sought to legalize illicit drugs and teach sex education to five year olds; ordered and then publicly justified the police-state-like tactic of warrantless gun sweeps and immigration sweeps of public housing units; filled traditionally non gun- toting federal agencies, like the FDA, with armed agents who then began conducting raids on such enemies of the state as garlic researchers; condoned the tank led assault on a church filled with men, women, and children in Waco, Texas; zealously promoted socialist medicine even while the celebration over the "fall" of communism was still echoing in our ears, and aggressively launched America's soldiers into several New World Order commitments, transforming the US military into a busybody welfare agency, that was, for the first time in history, subservient to UN command. And then there were the scandals . . .

Who shouldn't have been alarmed? Conservative action groups flourished, Democratic faithful ran for cover, and the Republican Party leadership seized the moment.

The Contract With America was the result. The overall goals, already alluded to, sounded good. They were: "To limit and hold government accountable, to promote economic opportunity and individual responsibility to families and businesses, and to maintain security both at home and abroad."

Who could argue with that? They sounded vaguely conservative and vagueness sells.

Just as vague were the Contract's ten planks or bills which the signers promised to introduce and vote on within the first 100 days, each bill having a catchy conservative title. They were: The Fiscal Responsibility Act, The Taking Back Our Streets Act, The Personal Responsibility Act, The Family Reinforcement Act, The American Dream Restoration Act, The National Security Restoration Act, The Senior Citizens Fairness Act, The Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act, The Common Sense Legal Reforms Act, and The Citizen Legislature Act.

With all those commitments to Restoration, American Dreams, and Security, one would think the millennium had arrived, and finally every thing would be as it used to be, and as it should be.

But when vagueness gave way to specifics and the fine print legislation follows, it becomes clear enough, that this was not to be so. At almost every turn, the proposed and or passed legislation centralized power from the individual to the state, from the states to the federal government, from Congress to the President, or from the United States to the United Nations. The antithesis of what the founders stood for. Here are four illustrations.

1. Moving Power From the Individual to the State

The Personal Responsibility Act called for "denying increased AFDC (Welfare) [to parents who have] additional children." This does resonates of conservatism, does it not? And it's true that the founders were opposed to government welfare, is it not? Yet the self evident task of this legislation is not to repudiate welfare, for welfare continues, but to repudiate children, large families, the free agency of parents, and religious liberty (many religions oppose birth control and or family size limitations based on financial need). This being so, it is not far fetch to believe that this act argues in favor of abortion, as pregnant mothers on welfare discover that they cannot afford to care for their baby. Unsurprisingly, the act does not forbid funding for additional abortions. They're cheaper.

China move over.

2. Moving Power from the States to the Federal Government

The Taking Back Our Streets Act's stated intent was to "stop violent criminals." However, none of the Republican Party's elite bothered to consider the Constitution's limitations upon the federal government in this regard. The Constitution, we remember, grants the federal government power to prosecute foreign nationals, to settle interstate extradition disputes, to impeach lawbreaking federal officials, to establish independent laws and tribunals for members of the US military, to establish law and order within the District of Columbia, to handle appeals to the federal court system from state courts, to prosecute treason, and to guarantee certain rights for the accused in federal courts. Nothing else. Everything else, according to the10th Amendment is "reserved to the states, or to the people." Cut and dry.

The "Taking Back Our Streets Act," had little regard for such technicalities. Instead, Clinton-like it called for multibillion dollar federal block grants to the states (which have always undermined state authority) for the "prosecution of habeas corpus cases;" to "hire, train, or employ [state or local] police officers; to pay overtime to police officers; to purchase [police] equipment and technology; [to] enhance school security measures [including closed circuit cameras]; establish citizen neighborhood watch programs; [to] fund programs that advance moral standards (whose, the Clinton's?); to build, operate, and expand [state] prisons;" and to convert "old military bases" into "correctional facilities" for "nonviolent offenders."

The Act also imposed upon the states truth in sentencing laws, a ‘three strikes your out' law, habeas corpus laws, death penalty laws, sexual predator laws, minimum sentencing laws, mandatory victim restitution laws, appeals laws, and parole laws.

Finally, the act federalized an expansive list of crimes (which belong under state jurisdiction also), to include much stiffer sentencing for mere possession of a gun during the commission of crime (10 yrs. first offense), and triple the minimum sentencing if the gun "possessed" was an automatic weapon (minimum 30 years). Strangely, if the criminal intended to do violence with a knife, with a baseball bat (the weapon of choice in NYC), with fire, with chemicals, with one's bare hands or with a car, the criminal would get off easy: Those are considered lesser crimes. That sounds just like the founders' belief in equality before the law, doesn't it? Or is it oddly the voice of the Democratic Party testifying that guns are inherently evil?

3. Moving Power From Congress To the President

The Fiscal Responsibility Act sought "to restore fiscal responsibility to an out-of-control Congress" via a Balanced Budget Amendment and a Line Item Veto. Again, these appear conservative, and at least in the former case, something the founders would have strongly approved of.

However, the proposed balanced budget amendment contained an outrageous provision, which gave the President of the United, States the kingly and new power of overriding the balanced budget any time he deemed it necessary under the vague umbrella of "a serious threat to national security." The potential for abuse is enormous, as this President alone, as classified the economic plight of Mexico, the violence in Somalia, the economic woes in Japan, and the conflicts in Africa, Bosnia, and Kosovo, all as serious threats to our National Security. Had this passed, this would have been one of the greatest assumptions of power in the history of the Presidency, passed in the name of conservatism.

The Line Item Veto, which did pass, but was later declared unconstitutional, again rejected the founders wisdom and brilliance by placing within the hands of the President of the United States the power to legislate law and easily manipulate Congress.

4. Moving Power from the United States to the United Nations

The National Security Restoration Act demanded that the President "stop putting US troops under UN command [and] stop raiding the defense budget to finance social programs and UN peacekeeping. (91)." Remarkably, the fine print for the act subtly did the precise opposite.

Under the title "Prohibition of Foreign Command of US Armed Forces," the Act reads: "The President may waive this provision if he certifies to Congress that operational control of our troops under foreign command is vital to our national security interests." To the letter, what President Clinton asked for.

While ostensibly calling for a check to the UN, the Act called for the "acceleration of the expansion of NATO," a key subsidiary organization of the UN.

While denouncing the raiding of defense funds for welfare, the bill gives the President the authority to raid those funds, just so long as the defense department has not supplied written notice, "30 days" prior to the transfer, with "proof" that these funds are "vital to national security interests."

While denouncing endless expensive UN peacekeeping operations, the bill calls for the creation of a slush fund for the President to "hold advanced funding for . . . peacekeeping operations."
And so here is the Contract With America, an agreement that should be more fittingly catalogued in history not as a Contract With America, but as a Contract On America. It's claim to a restoration of the founders views were, and are, blatantly false. A return to limited government cannot be achieved by seizing power from the people, the states, and Congress, and placing it into the hands of one man and his friends at the United Nations. The Republican Party elites who pulled off this gimmick to gain power, only reinforced what some for so long have felt so strongly, and that is that establishment Republicans are nothing less than Democrats in Drag.

Steve will continue his examination of the 'Contract With America' in his next installment, "School Vouchers: GOP Trojan Horse."

Steve Farrell is the former Managing Editor of Right Magazine and's newest staff writer. Please e-mail your comments to Steve at

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