Republican Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia is calling for a new version of the "Contract With America," Newt Gingrich's manifesto that unified Republicans and brought them one of their greatest triumphs at the polls in the midterm elections of 1994.
"I was here in '94 when we brought out the contract," said Kingston said last week, noting that his party went on that year to capture control of the Senate and House of Representative for the first time in 40 years. "We can do it again with another unifying agenda."
In meetings with national conservative organizations and a press conference on Capitol Hill, Kingston, a 20-year House veteran and 2014 Senate hopeful, unveiled his own six-point contract. Known as the "American Renewal Initiative," the Kingston agenda offers six items that he feels Republicans can rally behind regardless of whether they belong to the "establishment" or the "tea party."
Those points are:
- Restoring national security: peace through strength
- Boosting private-sector job creation
- Reducing the national debt
- Achieving energy independence and development
- Enabling work over welfare
- Tax simplification
Along with being items that Republicans can easily unite behind, the American Renewal Initiative's key planks can help the party score points in the mid-term elections next year, Kingston said. He particularly emphasized the call for energy independence.
"The more we explore and develop, the less oil we have to buy from other countries," Kingston said. "And when you consider that the average price of gas was $1.90 per gallon when Barack Obama became president in '09 and is now around $3 per gallon, this effort sounds very good."
Newsmax pointed out to Kingston that other prominent issues popular with conservatives in 1994 were not part of his initiative, including term limits for members of Congress and abolishing Cabinet departments such as the Department of Education.
"I don't know if there is the appetite for term limits that there was," Kingston said, adding that he is not opposed to them and Republicans in the House did pass term limits after taking power in 1995.
As for abolishing Cabinet departments, Kingston recalled that the specific calls for closing the departments of Energy, Commerce, and Education "were not in the Contract but in the second wave of Republican pledges that followed the 1994 elections. But Bill Clinton cleverly tied our call for abolishing the Department of Education to being 'anti-education.'''
Veteran Atlanta Journal-Constitution pundit Jim Galloway pointed out that Kingston "first introduced a similar plan as a member of leadership in 2006." But, Kingston said he is going to try to take the latest initiative farther and acquire greater backing.
He said he has spoken to House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor. "And I am going to be talking to Newt Gingrich." Kingston's fellow Georgian became Republican speaker of the House after the 1994 elections and is credited with being the midwife of the Contract With America.
It's too early to say how well the American Renewal Initiative will play among Republican candidates in 2014, or whether it will be the unifying and rallying document that the Contract With America was in 1994.
"You can't follow historical examples to the letter because history never precisely repeats itself," Louisiana’s Republican Chairman Roger Villere told Newsmax, "But it's good to learn from history and get some good concepts that apply to today."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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