New GOP Website Seeks the Right Ideas

Posted May 25, 2010 at 6:15pm

The new House Republican website americaspeakingout.com invites visitors to submit any solutions they believe will help solve the nation’s problems, but not all suggestions are created equal in the eyes of the GOP.

“House Republicans know what they believe, and in americaspeakingout.com, we state those openly on the first page,” Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence said. “We are committed to our principles of economic freedom, limited, more accountable government, fiscal responsibility, protecting life, American values and the Constitution and providing a strong national defense.”

But the Indiana Republican added that “while our principles are fixed, the best ideas in America are from Americans.”

Chief Deputy Minority Whip Kevin
McCarthy (Calif.), the project chairman, acknowledged that some contributors might offer policy ideas that Republicans will not entertain.

“The strongest idea is going to be able to leap forward,” McCarthy said. “People will have a lot of ideas that we won’t agree with … but the difference being here is this is open, this is sunshine.”

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.”

McCarthy encouraged Americans of all political stripes to contribute to the discussion and stressed that those who register for the site are not asked their political affiliation.

But Republican leaders noted that the most desirable ideas would be those that fell into their conservative framework.

[IMGCAP(1)]Rep. Peter Roskam, deputy chairman of the agenda project, said ideas that deviate from those principles would not be considered as viable suggestions for the Republican governing agenda.

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

Roskam told reporters after the briefing that while visitors to the site are free to discuss whatever they want on the site, ideas that are inconsistent with Republican principles would be rejected.

“We won’t do them,” Roskam said. “This is our worldview, and our sense is that it is a winning worldview.”

Visitors to the site can select from five categories derived from those principles, including American prosperity, fiscal accountability, American values, national security and “open mic” — where users can start a debate on the topic of their choosing.

Once users choose a category, they can submit their own policy ideas and vote or comment on ideas submitted by other visitors.

Asked how the ideas will be vetted and eventually chosen for inclusion in the agenda or for other legislation, Roskam said the process will be a “collaborative effort.”

“You are going to be finding a whole host of people that are going to be watching this,” Roskam said, adding that Republicans may choose to use some of the ideas for Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) YouCut program. YouCut is the website that allows visitors to vote on federal government programs for elimination, with a promise that the Republican leadership will introduce legislation to defund the “winning” program.

“We are really only limited by our imagination, and that I think is what is going to be exciting about it,” he said.