By Newt Gingrich
In 1994, the Republicans gained a majority in Congress for the first time in 40 years by offering a set of reforms contained in the Contract with America. Those common sense reforms cleaned up the way the House did its business including making Congress subject to the very laws it passes where they had routinely exempted themselves before. It also contained the first tax cuts in 16 years and provided for the child tax credit we have today. It increased intelligence and defense spending. The Contract led to the first balanced budget in a generation by actually cutting spending in real terms that created surpluses used to pay down the national debt. Of all the reforms, however, the most positive and powerful change for America was welfare reform which moved people off of welfare and into work or school.
In the 1996 election, when the Republican Party was reelected to the majority for the first time since 1928, we knew we had the approval of the American people. It would be hard to argue that the Contract with America was anything but a great success.
However, today we face even greater challenges than the ones we dealt with in 1994, and many of those challenges are indeed a threat to our survival.
In a rapidly changing world with new threats and new competitors, we must implement policies that will ensure America's leadership, safety, and prosperity. And we must reinvigorate the core values that have made America an exceptional civilization.
The traditional instruments of government will not reform themselves fast enough and thoroughly enough for the information age.
The entrenched lobbyists and bureaucracies will do all they can to minimize the changes no matter how vital those changes are to America's future. Self interest has and will continue to dominate the national interest if the normal political system operates in its business as usual style. The pressure of daily events will keep both the news media and most politicians focused on the immediate and the trivial rather than the long-term and the profoundly important.
Only a grassroots citizens' movement can insist on the level of change that is needed for our children and grandchildren to have a successful future. Real change requires real change.
What is needed today more than in 1994 is a comprehensive set of solutions for the 21st Century. We must fight to win the future for the next generation of Americans with the same intensity previous generations fought for ours. We need a generation of solutions big enough to ensure the future for our children and grandchildren. I wrote Winning the Future to begin to chart a path toward meeting the challenges we face and to offer an outline of a 21st Century Contract with America.
Outline of a 21st Century Contract with America
I. To keep Americans safe both home and abroad, we will defend America and her allies from those who would destroy us. To achieve this, we will develop the intelligence, diplomatic, information, defense, and homeland security systems and resources necessary to defeat our enemies and defend our shores.
II. Consistent with our founding document -- the Declaration of Independence, we will seek to re-center America on the Creator from Whom all our liberties come. We will insist on a judiciary that understands the centrality of God in American history and reasserts the legitimacy of recognizing the Creator in public life.
III. To strengthen our American culture, we will establish patriotic education for our children and patriotic immigration for new Americans. To achieve this, we will renew our commitment to education about American citizenship based on American history and an understanding of the Founding Fathers and the core values of American civilization. We will insist that both our children and immigrants learn the key values and key facts of American history as the foundation of their growth as citizens. And we will make English the official language of government to ensure a unified American culture.
IV. To meet the triple economic challenges of an explosion in scientific and technological knowledge, an increasingly competitive world market, and the rise of China and India we will implement:
1. A dramatically simplified tax code that favors savings, entrepreneurship, investment, and constant modernization of equipment and technology.
2. Investment in the scientific revolutions that are going to transform our world--particularly in energy, space, and the environment.
3. Math and science learning equal to any in the world and educating enough young Americans to both discover the science of the future and to compete successfully in national security and the economy with other well-educated societies.
4. Transform health care into a 21st Century Intelligent Health System that improves our health while lowering costs dramatically. In the process, American health care will become our highest value export and foreign exchange earning sector.
5. A new system of civil justice to reduce the burden of lawsuits.
V. To ensure that no American retires into poverty, we will transform the Social Security system starting with younger workers who should have the right to choose a personal Social Security Savings Retirement Accounts that will enable them to accumulate the wealth needed for a prosperous retirement while preserving Social Security for today's retirees and near-retirees.
VI. In order to permit every American the opportunity to pursue happiness their entire life, we will:
1. Develop a system in which those who wish to stay economically active are encouraged and incentivized to do so because active people live longer and healthier and have a greater opportunity to pursue happiness;
2. Develop a system of independent living and assisted living that increases the years in which people can be on their own and in most cases enables people to live their entire lives with freedom and dignity;
3. Develop a new model of quality long-term care in which both the care and the quality of life are compatible with a twenty-first century American expectation of progress and innovation.
4. Use the new technologies and new scientific knowledge to turn disabilities into capabilities and change government regulations and programs to help every American achieve the fullest possible ability to pursue happiness.
VII. To change the mindset of big government in Washington, we will insist upon replacing bureaucratic public administration with entrepreneurial public management so government can operate with the speed, effectiveness, and efficiency of the information age.
VIII. To balance the federal budget, we will insist on the economic policies that foster a lean government, low taxes, and a low interest rate economy to maximize growth in a competitive world.
IX. To create a citizen-centered government, we will insist on congressional reform including the repeal of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance censorship law to make the legislative branch responsive to its voters and not Washington's entrenched special interests.
X. To protect and ensure the integrity of the election process, we will insist that it is honest, accountable, accurate, and free from the threat of illegal votes or gratuitous litigation.
There is a lot to be done and every American can play an active role in winning the future for the next generation. I invite you to become involved and share your ideas for solutions to our great challenges by visiting and joining American Solutions for Winning the Future. (www.americansolutions.com)
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is author of Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America and chairman of American Solutions for Winning the Future.
Editor's Note: GCN requested an article by Gingrich for our readers on the subject of a new Contract for America. Gingrich was largely the architect of the first Contract for America in the 1990's when he was in Congress. He was kind enough to respond with the article above.