The Party of the Taxpayers

|

Discuss.

NEXT: A Week Late

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. At least the didn’t find the rider hidden in there to make Bush “Dictator of Rome”.

  2. “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s; render unto the Appropriations Committee access to your tax returns.”

    -Somewhere in the Bible, toward the back…

  3. It would be nice if some ‘party of the taxpayers’ could actually get elected, but we actually have ‘parties of the government’ running things. I know it’s a standard libertarian whinge, but that doesn’t make it less true.

    Actually, I’m most surprised at so much outcry at the measure. Their biggest error was limiting the access to those two committee chairs. If they’d let the whole Senate have the same access, it would have been hailed as some great ‘anti-terrorism measure’.

  4. Walker’s post is absurd.

    This is like smearing the entire Democratic party by linking the criminal activity and taxpayer funded junkets of Rostenkowski and Carol M. Braun/Hazel O’Leary with the headline: “Party of the honest working man.”

  5. Has anyone heard an explanation from the goons that proposed this?

    where are my stockade keys……..

  6. This is like smearing the entire Democratic party by linking the criminal activity and taxpayer funded junkets of Rostenkowski and Carol M. Braun/Hazel O’Leary with the headline: “Party of the honest working man.”

    Sounds like a perfectly appropriate headline to me, Snake — in part because only a complete ass could mistake it for a smear of the entire Democratic Party.

  7. Explanation? I suppose it’s useful to be able to comb through the tax returns of pesky DAs indicting your congressional leadership? I dunno. I would have thought they could do that already.

    Yeah, they aren’t even bothering to try to rationalize this stuff as part of the War on Terror anymore are they?

  8. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6531547/

    John McCain on Meet The Press, 11.21.2004:

    MR. RUSSERT: In the House version of this spending bill, there was a provision which said that the Appropriations Committee should have access to taxpayers’ tax returns. How did that happen?

    SEN. McCAIN: What happens here is that they slap these omnibus bills together–as you mentioned, this one’s nine bills that we should have passed separately–nobody sees them or reads them. It was a 1,630- page document yesterday that was presented to us sometime in the morning, and we voted on it in the evening. The system is broken, and everybody, of course, wanted to get out of town, understandably.

    MR. RUSSERT: Why should Congress have access to citizens’ tax returns?

    SEN. McCAIN: According to–Senator Stevens’ explanation on the floor last night was that two staffers put in this provision and no one knew about it until another Senator Conrad staffer discovered it.

    MR. RUSSERT: What was their motive?

    SEN. McCAIN: That should–you know, I don’t know. I can’t imagine. But the fact that our system is such that that would ever be inserted and passed by the House of Representatives–if there’s ever a graphic example of the broken system that we now have, that certainly has to be it. ”

    This is the same institutional inertia the Republicans derided when the Dems were the “permanent” majority. Some unelected staff weenie slips a clause in a revised bill past the members, who can’t be bothered to read what they are voting on. Of course, the staffers’ superiors should take the blame for this crap, but notice how McCain doesn’t mention which Senator, (Stevens, it would seem) is their supervisor?

    My guess is that some Senator and/or staffer has a bug up his butt about some particular provisions of the current IRS code, and wants to see how often it is invoked, and by what classes of taxpayers. No doubt some group is making use of such clauses who are contributing overwhelmingly to the donkeys. Once the elephants can identify them, they can threaten their favorite provisions, causing checkbooks to open when the GOP’s fundraisers call. Sadly typical.

    Kevin

  9. Republicans appetite for tax increases has been well documented. The real story is how they manage to hold on to a reputation as anti big-government when they are so blatant in their hypocrisy.

  10. Warren,

    to copy (steal) a phrase from thoreau, the Democrats would be worse. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. If the definition of a complete ass is:

    1) Seeing an all-inclusive headline i.e., “the party of,”
    2) Clicking to a story that completely contradicts the headline, where every relevant powerful person in the party denounces the actions in question,
    3) Then instantly recognizing the absurdity of the headline,

    Then I am a complete ass.

  12. Glad to see we’re in agreement.

  13. Snake-
    Did Rostenkowski or Braun try to justify their criminal behavior by slipping a provision into an omnibus spending bill? If so, then your comparison is apt. If not. . .

  14. HAHAHAHA,
    Jesse Walker, do you write for ‘FHM’ or ‘reason’? Because your answer seems more befitting of the former.

  15. “Walker’s post is absurd.”

    Assuming this comment isn’t a reference to the use of the word “discuss”, what’s absurd about suggesting that the Republicans are no longer the party of taxpayers?

    …one might add that they also betrayed the budget busters, but that’s the other side of the same coin; raising the debt ceiling is to a tax hike as diabetes is to a heart attack.

    P.S. As a free trader, if the Democrats would help me pull out the knife that the Republicans stuck in my back, I’d really appreciate it.

  16. Geez, Jesse. What’s next, a sarcastic headline that says, “The Party of Law and Order” and then some snarky link to an article about the suspention of the rule requiring indicted committee chairs to step down?

  17. Wait…wait…

    …I think I see Snake’s point. When Jesse sarcastically suggested that the Republican Party is no longer the party of tax payers, he didn’t look at the whole party.

    …You see, the Republicans didn’t just betray the tax payers. It’s the tax payers and the budget busters, all the small government types; the Republicans betrayed the free trade people and the pragmatic foreign policy people too. I think what Snake is trying to say is that Walker shouldn’t have written, “The Party of the Taxpayers” because that ignores the rest of the Republican Party. Walker should have written, “The Party of Traitors”, which includes everybody.

    …That’s what you’re trying to say, right Snake?

  18. Maybe Snake was pointing out that instead of “The Party of Taxpayers,” the headline SHOULD have read “The Party of Smaller, Less Obtrusive Government.”

  19. First, to echo Shawn Smith, obviously the Democrats would be much worse.

    That said, I watched a lot of CSPAN over the weekend because I’ve been sick. There’s all sorts of goodies tucked into this 1600 page bill. There’s some provision on abortion that had Barbara Boxer so upset that she actually showed up to work on a Saturday. At first glance the provision seemed pretty innocuous to me (something about how hospital administrators can decide that no abortions will be done in their hospitals, which seems OK to me, but maybe there’s some more controversial provisions that I’m missing).

    McCain was up there railing against the pork projects (Americans of Norwegian descent will no doubt laud the $1 million given to a Norwegian-American group to renew its charter or something like that).

    Then there’s the privacy provisions.

    If I were a member of Congress I think I’d have a standing policy of voting against any legislation weighing in at 1600 pages.

  20. This was actually a carefully orchestrated media event designed to provoke outrage at the IRS, thereby facilitating the tax-cutting/tax-reform agenda of President Bush.

    And it worked, too!

  21. “…something about how hospital administrators can decide that no abortions will be done in their hospitals, which seems OK to me, but maybe there’s some more controversial provisions that I’m missing.”

    I worked in and around hospital reimbursement for years, seven years hard time in an HIM department.

    A little known fact is that a tremendous number of the abortions performed every year are performed in hospitals before surgery. Before any female of child bearing years goes under anesthesia, they have to give her a pregnancy test; standard anesthesia and a fetus just don’t mix. If the test is postitive, well, it’s a good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, if you know what I mean.

    I don’t know the details of the provision you saw thoreau, but from what you described, it sounds like a back-door attempt to kill funding for such procedures.

    P.S. I know; people think their tax money doesn’t go to abortions.

  22. thoreau, I think you got the cause and effect mixed up. You sure you weren’t sick BECAUSE you were watching C-Span all weekend? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    If we made legislators read everything they voted on, why, they’d get nothing done! And everyone knows the major job of the US Legislature is to do something. Doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, just done.

    I know that poll quizzes are kinda out of the question, but how about quizzes on bills that the legislature is voting on? They have to answer the questions right, or they don’t get to vote, and no do-overs! Then we’d actually have a grade for our legislators at the end of a term. They could call it the House (and Senate) Subcommittee on Roll-Call Votes or something. Of course, there’s no hope that the answers wouldn’t be leaked to the legislators beforehand. Might have to be tricky about it…

  23. “Maybe Snake was pointing out that instead of “The Party of Taxpayers,” the headline SHOULD have read “The Party of Smaller, Less Obtrusive Government.”

    If only that were true Jennifer.

    …rather I should ask, “Smaller, Less Obtrusive” than what? The Republicans keep making government bigger, you know? If the Republicans want to expand government, but at a slower rate than the Democrats, it doesn’t make the Republicans the Party of “Smaller, Less Obtrusive Government”; it makes them the party of larger, more intrusive government but at a slower rate.

    The Republican Party was once the party you’re championing Jennifer, but it isn’t anymore.

  24. Ken-

    I know that standard anesthesia and fetuses don’t mix, but there are ways to safely perform surgery on pregnant women. Am I correct in guessing that some of these pre-surgery abortions are done before elective surgery so that the abortion is “medically necessary” and paid for by insurance and/or public funds? Or am I way off target here?

    Either way, I’ve never objected to saying that public funds can’t be used for abortion. Even when I was a liberal Democrat and pro-choice I thought abortion should be privately funded. And now that I’m a libertoid whose stance on abortion is kept with Dick Cheney in an undisclosed location, I still think that way.

  25. I think the test was supposed to be when the health of the mother is affected, but when is Medicare or Medi-cal used to fund a surgery when the mother’s health isn’t affected?

    “Medical Necessity”, which might affect such cases, is a different animal. I would guess that the code for everyone who tested positive for pregnancy would pass the “Medical Necessity” test required for the procedure.

    P.S. I’ve been out of the hospital for more than six years now; I went to making reimbursement software for large hospitals. I’ve been out of the hospital reimbursement software business for a couple of years now too; now I develop commercial real estate. So I don’t know how current this is.

  26. To those of you saying that the Democrats would be worse: they controlled Congress for about half a century and to my knowledge never tried to give themselves this kind of access to tax information. So your claim seems pretty dubious to me.

  27. Ted-

    Well, obviously Democrats would be worse. Isn’t it obvious to you? It’s obvious to me. Just see “Libertoid Articles of Faith”, vol. 3, chapter 2, verses 7-10.

  28. Ted,

    No, the Dems just commit “bureacratic snafus” that result in hundreds of classified FBI background files in the White House.
    And while we’re on a civil rights kick, Dems also covered up the deaths of a few dozen women and children by invoking the phrase “religious extremists, nuts and wackos”

    But please, to all my friends on this thread: I don’t wish to abridge anyone’s right to flip out over something that was caught almost immediately and denounced just as quickly by every major member of the GOP.

  29. This fiasco has Senator Grassley’s fingerprints all over it. This summer he was conducting an investigation into alleged abusive charitable contribution schemes, and the focus was on some violins which were contributed to the Smithsonian at allegedly inflated values. He asked the IRS to produce the tax returns of the individual involved, which they apparently refused to do (there are specific laws prohibiting disclosure of individual tax return information except for limited purposes). If I had to guess, some of Chuck’s staffers probably asked some joint committee staffers to slip this into the bill, but Chuck probably has “plausible deniability”. The blame will all be put on some staffer who “misunderstood” what the Congressman intended.

  30. Ken-
    I was being sarcastic. Get it? We’re un-intrusive, so let us read your tax forms; we’re for smaller government, so let’s expand it; we’re for fiscal responsibility, so let’s turn the surplus into a deficit. . .

  31. You’re right Snake, this little betrayal, inept as it was, is reminiscent of the Clinton Administration.

  32. A thousand pardons Jennifer.

  33. This 1600 page monstrosity is perhaps the best argument in favor of a “single subject” amendment to the Constitution. I’d support an amendment requiring that all legislation deal with a single subject (described in the title) and that any provisions unrelated to the title be null and void even if they would otherwise pass Constitutional muster.

    Then again, they could just call the bill “The Interstate Commerce Act of 2004” and everything under the sun would be deemed related to that subject.

    Oh, well. I still think it’s worth trying. It couldn’t possibly make things any worse, even if it doesn’t cause as many improvements as we might wish for.

  34. Snake,
    Call my cynical, you wouldn’t be the first, but it seems like this outrage was a case of getting caught with a hand in the cookie jar. I mean, since the bill had to be amended to put it in the first place, doesn’t it seem a tad unseemly? Especially since the Republicans were the ones at the controls.

    Why Stevens is begging that it get passed immediately and is asking us to take him at his word that he’ll never use it, cross his heart hope to die? Wouldn’t the prudent thing to do is remove the language and simply pass that bill post-haste?

  35. “Just go ahead and pass the bill. I’ll pull out in time, honey, I swear I will.”

  36. Aw, baby, you know we’ll repeal that provision. Have we ever lied to you?

    You know we’ll restore your privacy rights soon. There’s just some stuff we got to take care of first. Naw, of course you aren’t on the list of people to inspect tax records on. You know we Republicans respect limited government, baby. You just gots to trust us.

    George Soros? Yeah, he’s on the list. What? You think he has some good ideas? Come on, baby, that’s crazy talk. The man is working with drug dealers. Or at least that’s what I heard. I’m just saying.

    Next week? Well, I guess we could repeal the provision next week. But we have this committee thing to do first. How about next session? No, don’t worry, we’ll do it before April 15th…probably. I mean, it depends. Look, honey, let’s not argue. Can’t we just put this whole privacy thing aside and agree that it’s a good thing that John Kerry lost? If he had won you know that right now the Democrats would be working to expand the size and scope of the government. But with us in power it’s all good, honey.

    Now enough of that nonsense, OK? Libertarian girls like you just need to loosen up and stop worrying. We Republicans will take care of everything!

  37. Thoreau: Yeah, I’d definitely support that “single subject amendment”, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t pass, and if it did pass, it wouldn’t have much effect. You think the Congresscritters would think it’s a good idea? They like being able to bury things deep in a bill. And how do we define “single subject”, anyway?

  38. thoreau and JD,

    How about, “every bill must be read aloud at normal speed (3-6 words per second) in its entirety and only while the same quorum of legislators are sitting through it”? And maybe add, “only those legislators actually sitting though the entire reading are allowed to vote on the bill.” Maybe we can get Ben Stein to do the reading in his Ferris Bueller’s Day Off character’s voice. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    I know, I know, it sounds a lot like a Michael Moore stunt, but maybe it will slow them down, somewhat. ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. You know, nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the Speaker of the House must be a member of the House. Officers like the Chaplain and Sergeant at Arms aren’t. Maybe we could make Ben Stein the Speaker, and it would be his job to read all of the legislation.

    And yeah, I know that single-subject would never pass. That doesn’t mean I can’t keep it on my wish list. Right along with 2/3 supermajorities for tax increases and new taxes.

  40. I don’t know about Ben Stein; I’m thinkin’ maybe we have a reality show to pick the Speaker, like they do on American Idol.

    We’ll call it American Speaker!

    All the revenue from the show will go into the Treasury, of course.

  41. I once read an article in a fictional constitution that I’d like to see as an amendment to ours:

    1.2.13 The sum total of Federal laws may not exceed one million words. Any Federal laws passed after this limit has been reached, no previous laws having been repealed, are void and unlawful. Also, each Federal law, before being passed, must be read aloud, at normal speed, to a quorum of each house of the Legislature. These provisions may not be evaded by attempting to give the force of law to documents that are not Federal laws by passing Federal laws which merely refer to these documents.

    Source:

    http://libertariannation.org/a/f22l2.html

    I also like the idea (stolen from Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress) of having a house in the legislative body, popularly elected, that had the sole function of repealing laws. This “Negative Council” could repeal any law passed by the other house(s) upon one-third (yes, one-third) of its members voting to do so. (On the idea that any law intolerable to as much as one-third of the population is a bad law.)

  42. Shawn and thoreau and Ken: I like this idea of a “guest speaker” reading the proposed bills, which a quorum of legislators must sit through before voting. I think this duty should be a rotating one, and I suggest it be given all due gravity by being performed by persons such as the following:

    1) High-Pitch Eric, Jeff the Drunk, Beetlejuice, and various mentally challenged and other members of the Howard Stern “Wack Pack.”

    2) Anna Nicole Smith.

    3) Tortelvis, lead singer of Dred Zeppelin.

    4) Radio DJ “Smash” (sounds sorta like a cross between Wolfman Jack and Don King).

    5) The guy who always calls late-night radio talk shows and keeps saying, “You know?” after every clause.

    6) Any random homeless person off the street.

  43. Stevo Darkly,

    On your 9:22 post, ROTFLMAO! Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  44. Now I really must finally read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. That “Negative Council” is a great idea, and I am excited to find out what other great ideas are in the book.

    Thoreau, keep plugging for “single subject.” It makes excellent sense.

    I don’t know about the million word limit. It’s an interesting idea, but I like better the interim step of saying that for every new law passed, two must be repealed. At some point, the US code will be whittled down to manageable size, and we can change the law to provide for the repeal of only one old law for every new one. We could model the law after fuel-efficiency or pollution standards that the feds slap on industry. Fair’s fair, and our legal environment is certainly being polluted to the point of toxicity by the raw sewage that flows out of DC.

    Finally, if McCain talks about final bills “never being read” by reps and Senators, did he vote for or against the Omnibus bill and if so, is he confessing that he voted on legislation that he never read in its entirety? Clearly, if he didn’t mean himself, he had others of his colleagues in mind. Sounds to me like more than a few officials in DC ought to be shown the door and sent home. Oops! Too late. The election already happened. Drat!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.