Just off the AP wire:

To House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the Republican Party’s “Contract With America” ranks right up there with the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights among the “great documents of freedom.”

So says DeLay’s Internet Web site. It describes that 1994 campaign treatise, credited with helping the GOP end four decades of House rule by Democrats, “a written commitment that presented to the people an agenda for the House of Representatives.” More below:

In a direct-hit news conference today, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi went after the Congressional Republicans:

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held a news conference this morning with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer to discuss the Republican’s abuse of power and its effect on the American people. Below are Pelosi’s remarks:

“Ten years ago, the Republicans, in their Contract with America, claimed that they had to restore the trust between the American people and their representatives in government. Here we are today with the radical right-wing Republican majority that is destroying that trust, and doesn’t want to play by the rules. In fact, this Republican majority wants to be above the law.

“They want to be above the law when it comes to respecting minority rights, which are part of the law of our land, and witness what they are doing now in the Senate to try to stifle debate by eliminating the right of the filibuster. …

I can’t find a copy of Harry Reid’s superb comments at today’s news conference which I watched on CSPAN. Reid quipped that Republicans want new rules such as “six strikes and you’re out,” and another that lets the pitcher throw 8 balls before a batter can walk to first base. As soon as I can find a copy, I’ll share it with you.

The early evening AP story, “DeLay Likens GOP Contract to Magna Carta,” continues:

“In exercising their freedom to govern themselves, the people could read The Contract with America and embrace the agenda in the document,” according to DeLay’s site which includes a tutorial on the Constitution. “The resulting vote re-established the people’s control of Congress …., ” it says.

The document was the foundation for the newly elected Republican House’s agenda in 1995, which included legislation to limit welfare, require a balanced budget and limit to six years how long people could hold office in the House. Some, such as welfare restrictions and a child tax credit, made it into law.

Others — like the term limits — were later abandoned by the same politicians who had adopted them as a platform or were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. One contract item turned aside by the high court was the proposal to give presidents line-item veto authority.

In this past Saturday’s radio address, Sen. Harry Reid said, “[I]n the past weeks, we’ve seen Republicans in Congress abuse their power in too many ways.”

We have a Republican leader threatening judges who protect our rights and corrupting our government by running roughshod over the ethics committee to protect himself.

Republicans are trying to increase their power even if it means ignoring rules that go back to America’s beginnings. They seem to think that they know better than our Founding Fathers. Somehow, I doubt that’s true.

By the way, DeLay apologized for his remarks about judges today:

DeLay, riding out a political storm over allegations he took trips that were paid for by lobbyists, tried to put to rest another swirling controversy Wednesday: his threats of retribution against judges involved in the Terri Schiavo case.

“I said something in an inartful way and I apologize for it,” DeLay told reporters who jammed a conference room in his Capitol office suite. “I’m sorry I said it that way and I shouldn’t have said it.”

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