Republicans on Capitol Hill are developing an election-year alternative to the Obama administration's agenda. But a Tea Party activist in Texas says the politicians in Washington - including the out-of-power Republicans - don't have the "credibility" to offer a contract.
His solution? Use the Internet, develop a "Contract from America," and make the politicians come to him.
"You are going to be held accountable by us," said conservative activist Ryan Hecker, offering a preview of what Tea Party activists are going to tell congressional candidates later this year. "We have a plan - a proactive reform plan - for you to follow and not the other way around."
Technically, Hecker doesn't have a reform plan yet. He does, however, have one in the works.
He says he came up with the contract idea shortly after Barack Obama was elected president in November 2008. Hecker, a 29-year old lawyer from Houston, spent the 2008 GOP primaries working as an opposition researcher for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign.
To get his idea off the ground, he launched a website, "ContractFromAmerica.com," which encourages activists to offer possible planks for the contract.
From the original 1,000 ideas which were submitted, Hecker whittled it down to about 50 based on popularity. He is currently in the process of narrowing it to 20 ideas. He is being aided in this process by former House Republican Leader Dick Armey, whose conservative group, FreedomWorks, has established close ties with many Tea Party activists around the country.
When the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), convenes later this month in Washington, DC, Hecker says he will launch an on-line voting phase which will take his document from 20 ideas to the final 10 to 12 most popular.
The completed "Contract from America" will then be presented to the public on Tax Day, April 15, 2010.
Hecker wants to give all congressional candidates - Republicans, Democrats, and Independents - an opportunity to sign onto his "contract."
There might be some considerable overlap between the Tea Party agenda and the official Republican agenda. Both, for example, are likely to propose major changes to the U.S. tax code. But there could also be notable differences between the establishment and outsider approaches.
When asked what might be in his contract which would not be in the agenda being produced by the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill, Hecker pointed to term limits as a possible example.
"A lot of congressmen want to hold onto their seats forever," said Hecker. "They may not like term limits."
"You need to be viable for 2010, but I believe it will be a document that's bolder than something Eric Cantor would cook up," Hecker added, referring to the House Republican Whip who joined House Republican Leader John Boehner and many Democrats in voting for the Wall Street bailout in 2008.
As for the scope of the contract, Hecker thinks that it should not include any social issues.
"By putting social issues in, we would immediately be dividing our movement," he said.
Hecker thinks national defense should also be left out.
"It might be somewhat divisive for our base," said Hecker. "Especially libertarians versus conservatives."
Hecker wants the document focused squarely on economic and government reform issues.