GOP Launches Website Letting Public Choose Agenda

Posted May 25, 2010 at 11:30am

House Republican leaders launched AmericaSpeakingOut.com on Tuesday during a packed press conference at the Newseum, saying the website will offer Americans an opportunity to truly participate in government.

“This is an open community and a debate of ideas; you submit the idea, you debate the idea, you put it into your network and you’ll continue to have that dialogue,” said project chairman and Chief Deputy Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.).

The website is the central part of the Republican project to craft an agenda scheduled to be released in the fall, but Republicans said ideas submitted on the site could become legislation well before the final document is completed.

“I don’t think you are going to have to wait until September to find ideas directly out of here,” McCarthy said. “You might find an amendment or two that gets up in the next week.”

Visitors to the site can select from five categories on the home page of the interactive website. After users choose a category, they can submit their own policy ideas and vote or comment on ideas submitted by other visitors.

The categories include American Prosperity, Fiscal Accountability, American Values, National Security and Open Mic, where users can start a debate on the topic of their choice.

McCarthy said Republicans scoured the country for the best software and ended up selecting a Microsoft program used by NASA to map the moon.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), who serves as the project’s vice chairman, said the software automatically scans for inappropriate content such as foul language.

Republicans said during the press conference that anyone, regardless of party affiliation, can submit policy solutions on the site but warned that ideas that do not fit within an already established conservative framework will not be incorporated into the agenda project.

“Someone who wants to come on and make the suggestion on how to raise taxes, for example,” Roskam said, “they are welcome to do that, [but] that’s not something that we are going to take up.”

“I think the key is to remember that we are focusing in on principles that are settled principles insofar as smaller government, more accountability, more transparency and so forth. That’s not news,” Roskam said. “What’s news though is the invitation for Americans to submit their answers, their suggestions within that framework and to have the conversation and to have the debate on probably the most dynamic technology that we’ve seen in a generation.”

Republicans continued to insist that the effort would not be used for the midterm elections, which will occur shortly after the final document is released this fall.

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said a “very separate effort” was under way to craft a Republican agenda for the next Congress.

“This is not about candidates, this is not about an election, this about today,” McCarthy said.