- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 22, 2004

House Democrats yesterday gathered outside the Capitol and proclaimed their “New Partnership for America’s Future,” a series of broad goals that include creating 10 million new jobs, providing strong national security and expanding homeownership.

“House Democrats are united,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. “Today, we go forward in a new partnership to lead the land we love.”

The Democrats — hoping to take back the majority — said they will be guided by six principles: prosperity, national security, fairness, opportunity, community and accountability.

House Republicans promptly attacked the goals as vague, and mocked their counterparts for an ineffective attempt to copy their 1994 “Contract with America,” which they were celebrating yesterday.

“The greatest form of flattery is imitation,” said House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce, Ohio Republican, at an event yesterday marking the 10-year anniversary of the Republicans’ contract, a series of legislative proposals.

“Democrats are making bumper stickers and the Republicans are making history.”

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, said the Democrats’ goals were “so broad and so vague” that even the most conservative member could agree with them, and House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, called it, “a handful of slogans, versus substantial accomplishments” under 10 years of Republican leadership.

The Democrats’ goals also include stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, integrating intelligence systems and securing the nation’s ports. They want to cut taxes only for the middle class, ensure affordable health care for all Americans, preserve the government-run Medicare and Social Security programs, allow access to cheaper prescription drugs from other countries, invest more in education, and force Congress to be fiscally responsible by paying for new or expanded programs as they are created.

Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, said while their principles may be a little broad, the purpose was to put forward “a general agreement that the way you make America strong is to build up things internally.” He noted that there was absolutely no “Bush bashing” at the Democrats’ event.

Rep. Artur Davis, Alabama Democrat, said Democrats have spent a long time criticizing the last four years of the Bush administration, so their agenda is a way to move forward and show Americans what the next four years will be like under Democrats.

“This election is still winnable … only if we can seize the agenda,” he said, adding that the Democratic goals announced yesterday are “a good start.”

Meanwhile, House Republican leaders said they have accomplished most of the goals set forth in their 1994 contract, citing numerous tax cuts, welfare reform, building up national defense and the military.

In the future, Republicans said they’ll simplify the tax code, cut down on frivolous lawsuits, and seek to make health care more affordable through initiatives like consumer-controlled health savings accounts.

“We have what it takes to deliver results for the American people for the next 10 years,” said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican.

But Mr. Conyers said one needs to look no further than the budget to see that Republicans have failed.

“We’ve gone from trillions of surplus to trillions of deficit,” he said.

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