'Contract with America' short on content


On Tuesday, Christopher R. Bradford wrote a guest column for the Arizona Daily Wildcat ("'Contract with America' has many pluses") in which he praised Newt Gingrich's (R.-Ga.) "Contract with America." Mr. Bradford appears convinced that this piece of election propaganda will improve this country. I disagree on the grounds that the document leaves too much information out. I also hesitate to think that the contract influenced the vote of a large number of people.

A majority of the 39 percent of Americans who went to the polls voted for Republican candidates, not for "the Contract." Mr. Bradford claims that "The people voted for this dismantling of government overwhelmingly." That's odd, I don't recall the part of the ballot where "the Contract" was up for referendum.

"The Contract" itself, in my opinion, leaves much to be desired. In particular, the balanced budget amendment proposal is glaringly void of details. I agree that our country should have a goal of eliminating the budget deficit, but the conservatives plan to do this while lowering taxes and increasing defense spending. It doesn't take much to see that this doesn't add up unless massive cuts in current spending are made. However, the area most responsible for federal spending, entitlements, is left alone by Gingrich. Instead farm subsidies, Medicaid and student loan programs to name a few will be slashed.

Mr. Bradford also comments on "The Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act of the Contract." He says, "This law is good for everybody, not just the rich, because everybody deals with selling things of value, i.e. houses, cars and stock." Apparently, in using the word "everybody," Mr. Bradford does not include the large number of Americans who do not own "houses, cars and stock." Also, the cut is in the capital gains tax. Other than a vintage automobile, how often is a car sold for more than the original price? This part of the contract is simply a toned down version of Reaganomics of the '80s.

Finally, Mr. Bradford commends this proposal which establishes term-limits. Obviously Mr. Bradford does not plan on remaining in this state for very long. Surely he knows that term-limits in Congress would remove the role of seniority in decisionmaking and that this in turn puts a large amount of power in the hands of large states. California and its huge delegation could hold a small state such as ours, at their mercy on issues such as water rights. In designing the existing legislative system, our nation's founders had the good sense to keep small states free from the tyranny of their larger counterparts. Also, while term-limits get rid of bad politicians, it also limits the effects of good ones.

While I may not agree with all of the proposals within the contract, I respect the document's call for reform. However, if we are going to reform the way Washington D.C. works, let us not forget about areas Newt Gingrich left out: campaign-finance reform and lobby reform, for example. The system is an imperfect one, no doubt, but the "Contract with America" does little to fix it. For true reform to take place, a collaboration from both sides of the political spectrum must occur. Hopefully, Gingrich and the liberals will stop their wasteful bickering and get down to business.

Brook Rosenbaum

French/Political Science Freshman

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