Senate DRIVing away liberty

UPDATE: The Senate has removed the provision limiting the ability to those with outstanding felony warrants to receive social security, meaning none of the bill's funding is offset with spending cuts. Instead, the increased transportation funding in this bill is paid for entirely with "Revenue increases."

The United States Senate is currently debating the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, legislation renewing the federal highway funding for three years. The bill increases spending on highway funding, as well as on safety research, public transportation, new auto safety regulations, and other programs.

Sponsors of the bill claim that they are being "fiscally responsible" by offsetting this spending.However, only one of their proposed offsets-- a prohibition on people with felony arrest warrants from receiving social security benefits--actually cuts spending. The rest of the offsets "raises revenues" by changing the rules governing tax collection to make it easier for the IRS to steal our money   enforce the tax laws.

One provision of particular interest gives the IRS authority to revoke someone's passport if they have more than $50,000 of unpaid taxes. As Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul has pointed out, one characteristic of authoritarian government is  restrictions on the right to travel abroad, as well as the right to move our cash and other assets overseas. It is also a bad sign for both liberty and prosperity when Congress gives new powers to the tax police  to squeeze as much revenue  as possible from the people.

Those tempted to dismiss the threat posed by this provision because it only applies to those already facing IRS enforcement actions should ask themselves how likely it is that Congress will build on this new power to extend the universe of Americans who must seek "permission" from the IRS before traveling abroad.

In any case, Congress should be working to cut spending, and returning responsibility for transportation to the states and the private sector, not giving the IRS new powers.

Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity has some additional thoughts on the passport provisions.

Campaign for Liberty members who think Congress should cut spending instead of giving the IRS new powers should call their Senators and tell them to oppose the DRIVE Act.

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