By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Giddy Republicans might think they can take back the House and threaten the Democratic majority in the Senate this fall with the simple slogan of not being Democrats. But wiser party heads have another idea. Give voters a reason to vote for Republicans, not just against Democrats.
Whispers has learned that the GOP is soliciting ideas from candidates, business people, and voters from around the country for what it is calling a "Commitment to America." Those involved emphasize that it's not a warmed-over version of the 1994 "Contract With America," but the idea is the same: spell out how the GOP would do things differently if put in charge.
California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a chatty ally of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who started a Bakersfield deli with $5,000 in lottery winnings, is running the project. As the head of candidate recruitment for the party, McCarthy has heard hundreds of ideas on fixing Washington, so he says it makes sense to collect the best and draft a fall midterm elections agenda for candidates to follow and voters to judge candidates against.
One big difference from 1994 is that more ideas will come from outside the beltway via YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. "I view it as a commitment to America, exactly from Americans, on how to change Washington," says McCarthy. "Get away from the idea of 'Contract 2,' because I never believe a sequel does as well as the first," he says. "Well, maybe the Godfather Part II did."
While the commitment will include elements of GOP plans already presented on issues like healthcare and jobs, it's also going to get very detailed. Some suggestions McCarthy likes are a 20 percent small-business tax cut for job creation and slashing the highly paid part of the workforce at the Department of Education and giving those salaries directly to schools.