The Corner

I Have a Very Easy Wish List for Congress: Do Nothing and Let These Programs Expire

For those of you who complain I ask too much of Congress — reforming entitlements, fixing the tax code, abolishing all corporate subsidies, etc. – I have a wish list over at the Daily Beast that should please you.

You might not like my specific plans, but you can’t tell me that these ideas are too hard to implement: All they require is for Congress to do nothing and leave laws as written. 

The list:

Let the Export Import Bank’s charter expire. The Export-Import Bank is the epitome of the unhealthy marriage between large, politically connected corporations and the government. Ending this boondoggle has received thesupport of pundits and economists from both sides of the political spectrum and it is as easy as doing nothing, since the Bank’s charter is set to expire in June. Besides, it should a no-brainer for Republicans who claim to believe in free markets. …

Let the sequester caps return as scheduled. . . . Back in December 2013, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan made a deal with Democratic Senator Patty Murray to lift the sequester caps for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. By law, the caps are scheduled to return for fiscal year 2016. The effect is that if Congress does nothing this year, fiscal 2016 spending on defense and non-defense discretionary should remain virtually flat. Congress should sit on its hands and leave the sequester caps alone. …

Let expiring sections of the Patriot Act go away. . . . Three major amendments to FISA that were passed in the post-9/11 are set to expire automatically on June 1, 2015. Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act amended FISA by lowering the standard required to seize physical materials of foreigners suspected of terrorist activities while expanding the range of items that could be seized. Section 206 of the Patriot Act, the “roving wiretap” provision, amended FISA to provide intelligence agencies with more flexibility in attaining multipoint wiretaps by allowing wiretaps to target people instead of specific places.

Finally, Section 6001(a) of a later anti-terrorism bill, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), also known as the “lone wolf” provision, permits intelligence agencies to conduct surveillance on foreign nationals suspected of terrorism even if there is no evidence linking the suspect to a known terrorist organization.

As I explain in the piece, the plans aren’t going to fundamentally change the unsustainable fiscal course we’re on, but they will send a strong signal that this Congress takes limited-government principles seriously.

The best part: If Congress wants to reauthorize or change any of these three laws, lawmakers will have to make the case for them. 

Let’s hear Republican lawmakers side with Democrats, and vice versa, to reauthorize corporate welfare or intelligence overreach. It ought to be telling.


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