Vol. 48, No. 3

In this edition

by Lou ZICKAR Twenty years ago this fall, 367 Republican candidates from all around the country gathered on the West Front steps of the U.S. Capitol and signed the Contract with America. At the time, it was an historic moment because it helped give Republicans control of Congress for the first time in four decades.

The Contract with America: Where It All Began

The Contract With America is a story of political perseverance. Its real antecedents were in the formation of the Conservative Opportunity Society in 1983. That group, brought together by Newt Gingrich, had as its mission the transformation of the House Republican Conference and ultimately taking control of the House.

The Contract with America: The Power of a Positive Message

In the months leading up to the 1994 Contract with America, then Republican House Whip Newt Gingrich used the pollster he trusted most to develop the content – himself. Yes, the Gingrich team conducted a handful of focus groups but the bulk of the public opinion input that drove the Contract’s 10 major points […]

The Contract with America: A Model for Campaigning… and Governance

Shortly after more than 350 men and women from around the country joined together to sign the Contract with America, a panicked House challenger phoned me. He had just received a call from the political director of the RNC telling him that embracing the Contract was a sure path to defeat and if he wanted […]

“It gave people something to vote for.” – Q&A with Haley Barbour

When Haley Barbour became Chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1993, the prospects for the GOP’s future looked rather grim. The party was coming off an election that saw it lose the White House for the first time in 12 years, and Democrats were led by a charismatic young President who came to town […]

“A Contract for Today”

When 367 Republicans signed the Contract with America on September 27, 1994, they were not only signing onto a document that would help guide them in their campaigns, they were also signing onto a governing agenda that would help guide the party after the election. At the time, providing such an agenda was important. After […]

Republicans, Energy & the Environment

At a time when Republicans are being criticized for showing indifference toward the environment, it is worth noting that the party has a rich legacy on the issue on which party leaders can build. The GOP’s great conservation legacy began with the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, who set aside the Yosemite Valley for the […]

The President’s Shortsighted Policy on Coal

As the Environmental Protection Agency wages its war on coal, it seems that the U.S. is exporting hypocrisy. With U.S. greenhouse gas emissions plunging due to our abundance of cheap natural gas, the dirty little secret is that coal exports are beginning to boom.

The Red Tape Factory

Since President Obama moved into the White House in 2009, his administration has been churning out spools of red tape. The Environmental Protection Agency is the administration’s biggest red tape factory, issuing more economically significant rules than any other agency and contributing to making energy prices more expensive.

Leading from the Front on Energy

Recent events such as the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the crisis in Ukraine demonstrate that it is in our national interest to assume global leadership. The idea that “energy independence” would somehow free us from global responsibilities and promote the benefits of isolationism now ring hollow as the […]

States, Not Localities, Should Control Fracking

This past June, the New York State Court of Appeals issued a ruling that could have repercussions in all 50 states. In a 5-2 decision, the Appeals Court ruled the towns of Dryden (in Tompkins County) and Middlefield (in Otsego County) are allowed to ban fracking completely. The way they can do this is through […]

Ripon Profile of Mike Pence

From the September 2014 edition of The Ripon Forum, the Governor of Indiana and presumptive 2016 VP nominee discusses his record in the Hoosier State and the need for Republicans to offer a “positive alternative” to the failed policies of the Democrats.

Ripon Profile of Mike Pence

Name: Mike Pence

Occupation: Governor of Indiana

As Governor, you’ve been successful at providing private, market-based Medicaid reforms for Indiana’s low-income adults. Can this become a national model?  As national leaders in healthcare innovation, Hoosiers understand that empowering people to take greater ownership of their healthcare choices is better than government-driven healthcare. I have long advocated for the repeal of Obamacare, but any sensible repeal must be accompanied by market-based reforms and a flexible block grant program for states to administer Medicaid as they see fit. The Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0, also called HIP 2.0, is the closest thing America has seen to a Medicaid block grant program that works and will serve as a model for the nation in future debates about heathcare reform.

With Indiana being the first state to withdraw from Common Core, what kind of role should the Department of Education have in formulating curriculum?  I’ve long held that education is a state and local function. Accordingly, decisions regarding standards and curriculum are best made at the state and local levels. State governments should be responsible for the creation of high standards with individual schools and teachers responsible for designing curriculum best suited to meet those standards. We achieved this in Indiana. More than 150 educators worked for more than 6,000 hours in an open and transparent way to create standards that we believe are better than Common Core. And, because we have opted out of Common Core, if we want to modify those standards in the future, we can – because we are free to do so and not bound to a national organization.

Earlier this year, Indiana was recognized as a top 10 state for its business tax climate. What can Washington learn from your pro-growth agenda?  In order to keep Indiana’s economy growing, we work to keep the state’s fiscal house in order. Fiscal discipline is an essential foundation to a growing economy. In Indiana, we have an honestly balanced budget that kept our spending increases at 2.5 percent annually, which matches the average inflation rate of the past ten years. Over the next two years, our state’s surplus is in excess of $100 million each and has reserves that will average more than 12 percent of the spending.

Looking ahead to this November, what do you think the Republican Party’s message should be heading into the general election? We Republicans need to offer a positive alternative to the failed policies of President Obama and the Democrats. We need to be “solutions conservatives.” We need to showcase constructive solutions that will lead to more economic opportunity and upward mobility for everyone. This includes fixing our broken tax code, reforming health care in a way that lowers costs and gives families greater ownership of their healthcare choices, reducing job-killing regulations and changing our safety net programs in ways that truly help people move up out of poverty.

Ronald Reagan once said his experience as a radio broadcaster helped prepare him for public life. As a former broadcaster yourself, do you agree? I think Reagan’s fresh perspective, optimism, and commitment to principle made him a great public leader, both as Governor of California and as President. I have tried to emulate those qualities since before I entered public life – even while I ran my radio show. As a broadcaster, I learned to listen to people as they called in from across the Hoosier state and expressed their concerns, shared their ideas, and asked questions. Listening to the common wisdom of good, hardworking people teaches you a lot – and helps you be a better elected leader.

Do you think America will see another broadcaster in the White House any time soon?  What’s most important is to have another Republican in the White House sometime soon.