Congress was in recess the entire month of August, but is returning to session this week to tackle two pieces of legislation, including an amendment I am introducing.
The first bill to be considered will be the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for 1998. Congress began work on this measure back in July, but tabled it until now to avoid some partisan wrangling. This measure includes funding for such unconstitutional programs as overseas corporate welfare for big US corporations, funding for Bosnia activities, the UN's so-called peace-keeping missions in Sinai and Cyprus, and a wide variety of direct foreign aide packages. I introduced an amendment in July, which was voted down, to abolish some of the corporate welfare included in the measure. That amendment alone would have saved taxpayers more than $700 million dollars.
The Foreign Operations Appropriations Act also includes funding of so-called family planning and international population control activities, both of which are, in reality, back-door methods of using taxpayer dollars to fund abortions worldwide. More than $385 million of US taxpayers' money is being spent on these programs.
It is in response to this portion of the "Foreign Ops" Act that I am introducing an amendment to be voted on this week to zero-out all taxpayer funding for international family planning activities, population control activities, and, of course, abortion services.
In the first place, there is no constitutional basis for the federal government to take money from the taxpayer and then transfer it overseas, and there is certainly no basis - constitutional or moral - for spending taxpayers' money in foreign countries to pay for the wholesale slaughter of children.
The second piece of legislation to be considered this week will be the 1998 appropriations bill for the Labor Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education. These departments, and their related agencies, are entirely unconstitutional, have been completely ineffective, and when one looks at their stated goals they are in fact destructive. This appropriations act will spend at least $80 billion to continue funding these departments, and the systematic attack on the constitutional principles their existence represents.
For example, included in this appropriation is $32 billion for the Department of Education, an increase of $4 billion over last year. We need to abolish the Department of Education, not increase it's budget. As the federal government has taken over education, we have seen academic achievement plummet and our schools become a mockery of scholarship. The Department of Education has been a favorite tool of those seeking a big-government agenda, and they are constantly working to tighten their grip on the minds of our children by forcing more and more programs on local schools, such as Goals 2000.
My basic opposition to these appropriations, though, has really little to do with how the money is being spent. It's almost useless to criticize how the federal government is spending the money, for that is not the real issue. For example, when we only criticize how the federal government spends money on education, we are tacitly agreeing to the philosophy of federalizing education. Instead, we need to focus on the fact that the federal government, under the enumerated powers outlined in the Constitution, has no authority at all to be involved in education.
The real issue we need to address is whether or not the federal government has the authority to do the things it does. Under our Constitution - the law of the land - it is very clearly stated what the federal government can and cannot do. So on these appropriation measures the question really isn't one of supporting or not supporting the multitude of ostensibly "good things" they entail. The issue is whether or not we are going to follow the law, the Constitution.
I swore an oath to uphold and follow the Constitution. It's an oath I take seriously because when a congressman violates the Constitution and spends money on programs not authorized, a great deal of harm is done. In the first place, harm is done directly to the individual taxpayer because the fruit of his labor is wrongly taken from him. Second, harm is done by the way the money is spent, almost always violating the rights of states and the liberties of people. Finally, harm is done to our society as we hypocritically throw to the wind the notion that Congress is bound by any law. How can Congress expect individuals to follow the laws created on Capitol Hill, when Congress doesn't follow the law as embodied in the Constitution?
The real challenge before Congress as we come out of this August recess is not to be found in the specifics of each piece of legislation, but rather by addressing the issues before the nation in the light of the Constitution.
Ron Paul represents the 14th District of Texas. His office may be contacted at 203 Cannon, Washington, DC 20515.