The year was 1994. Leading by 5% on Gallup‘s generic ballot poll, the Republican Party was poised to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. In fact, the Democrats had run the House for all but four of the preceding 62 years of U.S. history.
In a truly revolutionary political move, the Republican Party released the Contract with America, which outlined in precise public policy terms exactly what the Republicans would do if they took control of the House. When election day came, the Republicans gained 54 seats and their victory was hailed as “The Republican Revolution.”
But did the electoral revolution result in a public policy revolution? Did the dramatic change in the partisan composition of the House bring about a dramatic change in governance? Did House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the rest of his party make good on their promises to bring more transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility to Washingon?
Six years later, Ed Crane, the president of the libertarian Cato Institute would lament in Forbes magazine that “the combined budgets of the 95 major programs that the Contract with America promised to eliminate have increased by 13%.”Published in