FreedomWorks’ activist-chosen dumpster fire of the month for February 2019 is the so-called “For the People" Act, H.R. 1. Last week’s live stream featured four bills — the Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act, the "For the People" Act, the State And Local Tax (SALT) Deduction Fairness Act, and the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act. These bills are made out to sound like good things, but it is quickly revealed that they are but thinly-veiled dumpster fires.
All would prove wasteful at best and disastrous at worst for America. Federal workers are already paid substantially more than their private sector counterparts, the “For the People" Act is actually for the politicians, the SALT deduction would lead to higher state and local taxes, and there would be no real relief from Sen. Sanders’ drug pricing bill — only imported socialism from Europe.
Following the live stream, our activists overwhelmingly chose the “For the People" Act as the worst of them all. In no way is this bill “for the people.” At every turn, it has serious constitutional issues from the First Amendment to the Tenth Amendment to the Fourteenth Amendment and beyond. This bill fundamentally threatens American democratic principles and turns federalism on its head.
The “For the People" Act (a.k.a. the “For the Politicians" Act) usurps states’ constitutional power to run their own elections and puts it in the hands of the federal government. It prevents states from determining the qualifications of their own voters. It takes away the constitutional authority of state legislatures to redistrict and instead gives this authority to a three-judge panel at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
The “For the Politicians" Act would also force political organizations to reveal their donors, overturning the Citizens United decision which upheld that political donations are protected speech under the First Amendment. The purpose of this is not transparency, as purported, but political gain, as Democrats wish to — as they already often do — expose those who donate to or support conservative organizations and individuals and rely on the media to target and pressure such private citizens into abandoning their rightful speech.
Besides the constitutionality, though, the policies included are overwhelmingly absurd. To name a few, the “For the Politicians" Act authorizes federal employees working at executive agencies to take time off of work to work at polls, and get paid with taxpayer dollars for doing so. It would also take taxpayer dollars for a “My Voice Voucher” pilot program to give individuals who request it a government-issued voucher worth $25 during an election cycle, which the individual can donate to any qualifying candidate.
It goes further in funding campaigns with taxpayer dollars by ensuring a six-times match subsidy of taxpayer dollars to qualifying candidates’ small-dollar donations. It should be easy to see that funding campaigns by taxpayer dollars directly is a gross misuse of Congress’ power of the purse and forces all taxpayers, in turn, to indirectly produce political speech that they may likely disagree with. No Americans should be subject to this improper use of their money.
In accordance with Article VI, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, which states that public officials “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution,” members of Congress are sworn in. They swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic… [and] bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
Supporting a bill that so sweepingly defies the Constitution flies in the face of this oath and is a disgrace to the fundamental principles that undergird American democracy and that keep our country the freest in the world.