'Contract With America': The Right Deal?
When we printed the Republican agenda Nov. 22, we asked readers to comment. Here's what some of you said.
'Three cheers for the contract'
THE ''Contract With America'' is one of the most important ideas to appear in politics. It is not what is in the contract that is as important to me as having the contract and promising to bring the proposals in it to a vote in the first 100 days.
I wish to see every layer of government begin to devolve functions to the organization, institution, or person to whom the function properly belongs.
Every morning I sit on a bench looking out over the Pacific Ocean. In front of me are two palm trees with large dead fronds choking the trunk and blocking my view. I want the dead fronds in government removed.
Barbara M. Santos
Laguna Beach, Calif.
Three cheers for the ''Contract With America''! The Republicans who signed this contract showed real courage and leadership to put into writing this common-sense agenda that promises to bring these 10 important issues to the House floor for open debate and vote during the first 100 days of Congress.
The agenda is a lot to have on the table, but it is a good start, and passage of any one or all the bills would be a great improvement over the present situation.
Warren C. Koepke
Lake Oswego, Ore.
The ''Contract With America'' is what America needs now. For the first time in 40 years Republicans will give it their best shot. The question remains though, will the Democrats work toward change or play politics as usual and filibuster until 1996? We must do something now while the tide of change is upon us. Bill Clinton had noble ideas as well in '92. Many of them have yet to be seen. It is only by bipartisan work that we can finally see the reform and changes that this great country desperately need s.
New Vernon, N.J.
I agree with the entire contract with the exception of bills 6 and 7. Bills 3, 4, and 5 are absolutely necessary. The federal government gurus must get out of the way of the people and let the people find innovative ways of lovingly, creatively solving problems. In the largest print in the preamble of the Constitution is the phrase ''We, the people,'' because ''We, the people'' are competent. Let the people go!
I support all 10 points in the ''Contract With America.'' I am unable to rank my support from ''most important'' to ''least important'' because my sentiments on each of the 10 points are essentially equal.
Liberalism in society over the years of the so-called Great Society has caused and then institutionalized vast degradations in moral living, families, communities, the national purpose, individual spirituality, and basic human rights. For example, while claiming rights as individuals in choice of lifestyle, all society has experienced is license for aberrations in living totally detrimental to the spirit and promise guaranteed by the Constitution.
The times were ripe for the contract! This year marks the turning point in our country's culture and development, when a return to basic truths and to the higher nature of man were voted in.
William H. Protzmann
I must say that I like the contract, not only for its content, but also because it is a specific set of written promises to the country. After hearing so much about it, it's good to finally see the actual document in print! I would like to see a provision added to require that an annual receipt be sent to all taxpayers showing exactly how their past year's taxes were spent. The resultant outcry would probably eliminate most of the ''fat'' in the federal budget.
OF the eight reforms to be passed on the first day of Congress, I support them all except the seventh. I think that the majority should rule on all issues including tax increases; otherwise the majority party has too much power.
On the 10 specific bills to be brought before the 104th Congress in the first 100 days, my vote is as follows: I support only No. 1 (The Fiscal Responsibility Act) and No. 4 (The Family Reinforcement Act), and I oppose all the others.
It seems to me that most of the GOP's answers to difficult social problems are simplistic and mean-spirited.
In my view, the most important issue is not on the list, and that is the reform of our health-care industry.
Arlington Heights, Ill.
As Republicans we agree with and admire the goals of the ''Contract With America,'' but is it realistic to expect that all these are attainable, with the narrow margin of votes held by Republicans in Congress?
We'll be watching to see what they achieve by Jan. 4, 1996, and 1997.
Townley A. and Leah H. Ellington
Hilton Head Island, S.C.
What impressed me was the statement in the first paragraph of the contract: '' but even more important, to restore the bonds of trust between the people and their elected representatives.''
It would be difficult to pick out parts I most avidly support because many of them really refer to one situation which is occurring in our society right now.
Deborah G. Hilton
'Failed answers, rewrapped '
THE contract troubles me on many levels, but I am particularly opposed to the proposals in the ''Taking Back Our Streets Act'' and the ''Personal Responsibility Act.''
By its very title the ''Taking Back Our Streets Act'' plays shamelessly on the fears of Americans, simultaneously providing for legislation that has failed dismally over the last decade to make anyone safer. To embrace violent retribution can only be seen as throwing gasoline into the very blazes that threaten us. When the fact that executions have never lowered crime rates is ignored, one must question the proposal's true motives.
The ''Personal Responsibility Act'' contains nothing worth keeping. To assume that all teenage pregnancies are planned and will therefore diminish with the threat of a lost welfare check is absurd. In all, I found the contract filled with little more than failed answers, rewrapped so as to appeal to a fearful society no longer ashamed to brutalize the helpless.
Mary I. McFetridge
North Pole, Alaska
Item No. 3, ''The Personal Responsibility Act'': The emphasis here is on primitive actions toward young women for bearing out-of-wedlock children. Nowhere is it mentioned that young men must also bear responsibility for their behavior. Education of both sexes, which includes the consequences of their actions and the benefits from alternate behavior, must be included in this act. Anything less is clearly sexist and ''business as usual.''
Item No. 4, ''The Family Reinforcement Act'': If families are so central to American society (which, of course, they are), then more flexible work schedules and family leaves must be adopted in the workplace nationwide. Women will continue to work -- this won't change. Therefore, greater flexibility to allow for both parents' involvement and responsibility in child care must be factored into the workplace. Both men and women must be educated and expected to carry their share of responsibilities.
Newt Gingrich et al. promise to ''restore accountability to Congress'' and to ''end its cycle of scandal and disgrace.'' Strong words from the party that brought us the Watergate and Iran-contra debacles, not to mention such public figures as Bob Packwood and Oliver North.
I view the ''contract'' as a blatant partisan attempt to tell the electorate what it wants to hear, regardless of the feasibility or long-term merit of such palliatives. A newly elected Republican congressman recently noted that the truth is not always popular, and what is popular is not always the truth. It would be wise for every member of the new Congress to reflect on this wisdom.
While I can support some of the ideas expressed in the contract, whether I could support the actual legislation would depend on how it was framed. However, it seems to me that many of the points of the contract deal with symptoms rather than causes, particularly the ''Taking Back Our Streets Act'' and the ''Personal Responsibility Act.''
Republicans have often accused Democrats of throwing money at problems. But that's exactly what the contract proposes to do regarding the problem of crime: It will do no good to spend millions on prison construction and law enforcement if nothing is done at the same time to change the social conditions that lead to increased criminality.
I do not believe that we can change society in some utopian way, so that crime and poverty do not exist. Problems have causes: Though we may never be able to eliminate those causes completely, we certainly cannot solve problems by ignoring the causes.
South Berwick, Maine