By Congressman Peter Roskam
Recent stories out of Washington center around a bureaucracy run amok. At the IRS alone, scandals vary from millions spent on wasteful junkets, to the targeting and harassment of individuals and certain groups based on their religious and political beliefs, and the mismanagement and illegal release of confidential information. In an age of big government, federal agencies have grown larger and more powerful. Faceless, unelected and largely unaccountable bureaucrats are acting as both judge and jury for too many Americans caught in the crosshairs.
Congress must put a check on Executive Branch agencies and end this ridiculous behavior. This week, in an effort dubbed "Stop Government Abuse Week," the House of Representatives is advancing a bipartisan package of ten common-sense bills, each focused on restoring accountability, loosening the grip of the bureaucracy and putting power back in the hands of individual Americans.
Two of my own bills will be voted on as a part of the effort to stop government abuse. First, the Stop Playing on Citizen's Cash Act--better known as the SPOCC Act--takes direct aim at the expensive junkets and ridiculous Star Trek-themed videos that have wasted millions of taxpayer dollars. My bill halts IRS conference spending until a list of real fixes are made in agency management. Additionally, my Taxpayer Bill of Rights bill will ensure IRS officials know and abide by a common-sense code of conduct when interacting with taxpayers, such as the right for taxpayers to be informed, assisted, heard, and for their information to be kept confidential. On the heels of shocking allegations of IRS officials targeting individuals based on their political or religious beliefs, it is time to put real checks on this out of control agency.
Currently, the IRS is on deck to play a lead role in enforcing nearly 50 different aspects of the president's health care law. Not only will the IRS collect new Obamacare taxes, the agency will be expanding its powers outside of typical IRS functions, from enforcing penalties on individuals, approving health care plans and maintaining a database of personal health information from millions of Americans. The Keep the IRS Off Your Healthcare Act will also be considered by the House and will shut this troubled agency out of implementing the healthcare law and out of your personal health care choices. With its already long track record of abuse, taking the IRS out of Obamacare implementation and your personal healthcare decisions is a no brainer.
Federal agencies have the ability to regulate matters both large and small and there are few American's whose lives aren't in some way impacted by this new, bigger government. The increasing size and role of the bureaucracy leaves the door open to a runaway government, rife with waste and abuse. Congress must step in to ensure accountability and reinforce the rights of individuals and taxpayers. This week's Stop Government Abuse effort is an important first step in tipping the balance of power back to the people with another round of legislation set for the fall. We need a government that is responsive to taxpayers, not a government that hurts the very people it is supposed to serve.