This has been a summer of alarming revelations that suggest our government is drifting far from the principles of individual liberty and constitutionally limited government that defined the American Founding and that produced the most free and prosperous Republic in the history of mankind.
These developments include:
The use of the IRS and other government agencies to single out ordinary Americans because of their political beliefs with the apparent intention to discourage and intimidate them out of participating in the public policy debate;
The use of the Department of Justice to target reporters who are asking embarrassing questions of the administration – in one case with the threat of prosecution under the Espionage act;
The seizure of the private records of millions of Americans without warrant by the National Security Agency;
The increasingly menacing militarization of domestic police agencies;
The shakedown of health care providers to fund advocacy and promotion of Obamacare;
Frequent assertions by the President of authority to nullify laws that he deems objectionable or inconvenient despite his clear constitutional mandate to see that the laws are faithfully executed;
The executive’s usurpation of the legislative powers of Congress by using the regulatory bureaucracies to impose laws that the elected Congress has specifically refused to enact;
Continued suggestions that the executive may order military operations against other governments without provocation and without Congressional authorization;
And this week, we are beginning to learn details of the so-called Federal Data Hub, including an excellent article by John Fund of the National Review. According to Fund, “The Department of Health and Human Services is about to hire an army of “patient navigators” to inform Americans about the subsidized insurance promised by Obamacare and assist them in enrolling. These organizers will be guided by the new Federal Data Hub, which will give them access to reams of personal information compiled by federal agencies ranging from the IRS to the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration.”
Mr. Speaker, the American people are slowly beginning to realize the threat to individual freedom, personal privacy, and fundamental constitutional principles that these developments pose. Some very bright Constitutional lines have been crossed, and my constituents keep asking: what is Congress going to do?
The House has taken the first steps to restore our Constitutional checks and balances by focusing its investigatory attention on the unfolding IRS scandal. It is of critical importance that the facts of the case are fully laid out, those responsible identified and removed from positions of trust or authority, and safeguards enacted to assure that this sort of abuse never happens again.
And the House Rules Committee took an important step yesterday by allowing amendments to the Defense Appropriations Act to stop the warrantless seizure of Americans’ phone and internet records by the NSA and to re-assert the essential principle with respect to Syria that Congress alone has the prerogative to declare war.
The House is in a position to resist many of these abuses and usurpations through its power to appropriate – but has often been reluctant to fully assert that authority. The conventional wisdom is that the appropriations process will shortly stall and a continuing resolution will be agreed to. This would be a tragic mistake if it leads to the continued funding of these increasingly unconstitutional and authoritarian measures.
All appropriations must start in the House, which means that a simple majority of this body — by itself — could arrest many of these disturbing developments simply by marshalling the courage and determination to just say no by pulling the purse strings shut.
If we fail to do so, I believe we are allowing our nation to drift dangerously toward a Constitutional crisis with grave implications to the rule of law and the survival of American liberty.
Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, represents the 4th Congressional District, which includes El Dorado County.