April 7, 1995 in City

First 100 Days All Smoke And Mirrors Con ‘Contract’ Gop Hasn’t Passed Big Items.

By The Spokesman-Review
 

People abandon their institutions slowly. It took nearly 50 years for the Democratic Party to alienate the middle class. But finally in 1980 many Democrats decided their party no longer supported middle class values, and the Reagan Democrats were born.

Ten years later these Democrats were no better off and still searching for a middle class advocate. They elected Bill Clinton on the promise of change and a return to the Democratic Party they once knew.

Waffling leadership and skillful obstructionism by Republicans led to gridlock, and the dissatisfaction of the middle class turned to anger. Two years after electing Clinton, they signed the “Contract With America” and voted the do-nothing Democrats out of office.

The Republican majority now in the House has allowed nearly every item in the Contract to pass. So what?

The balanced-budget amendment failed. The Democrats demanded, and the public supported, a detailed list of proposed spending cuts. The Republicans refused. They offered to cut every entitlement in sight, except Social Security. Because that might turn public anger against them. A thought they can’t stand, in fact they’ve been coached to avoid. Pollster Frank Luntz, who helped design the Contract, advises congressmen never to talk about cutting programs - even if you plan to do so. “Always talk about cutting bureaucrats … programs have friends, bureaucrats don’t,” Luntz noted.

Term limits never cleared the House. Republicans included it in the Contract - even though they knew it wouldn’t pass - because it’s popular. But passing it wasn’t necessary to fulfill the Contract; all they needed was a vote. Their own party turned against it.

Now, a group of House Republicans wants to repeal last year’s ban on assault weapons, even as national polls continue to show that a majority of Americans favor it.

Republicans are chest pounding over the line-item veto and the legislative reforms that have passed. But these enjoyed broad bipartisan support and could have passed last year. If not for obstructionist Republicans.

The first 100 days have been a flashy show. But the Republicans haven’t come through on the big ticket items. That’s trouble. If we’ve learned anything from recent history we’ve learned that the public doesn’t have much faith in either major party.

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The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, COLUMN - From both sides CREDIT = Scott Sines/Managing Editor/Opinion


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