In addition to passing the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Act, the Congress voted to pass the Treasury and Postal Operations Appropriations Act. This bill appropriated $1.3 billion more than the respective appropriation for the most recent fiscal year. In addition to funding the IRS at $7.6 billion, (that's an 8% increase over last year's funding), the bill also included 97 million dollars for the Treasury Department's "Violent Crime Reduction Programs" despite the fact that criminal law enforcement is a matter reserved to state and local governments by the ninth and 10th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Needless to say, this is a bill I opposed for constitutional reasons. Additionally, I want the IRS eliminated, not given more taxpayer money with which to further harass taxpayers.
It wasn't, however, the IRS budget increase which caught the fancy of newspaper editors and American citizens. Rather, it was the failure by Congress to follow its recent trend of invalidating its automatic cost-of-living pay-raise increase of 2.3 percent.
Under reforms passed by Congress in 1989, Congress was automatically given a cost-of-living adjustment, at a rate ½ of one percent below all other federal employees. Every year since 1989, Congress has voted to disallow its COLA pay increase. This year, the leadership of both parties evidently decided Congress should get this pay raise so the appropriation came to the House floor for a vote under a rule forbidding an amendment to stop the "automatic" increase could be offered. This situation further strengthened my justifications for voting against the entire measure in the first place. Congressmen currently are paid $133,600 annually with a massive, lucrative taxpayer funded pension program, in which I do not participate.
Unfortunately for the taxpayer, many members of Congress evidently believed the IRS was deserving of even more of your money and the House passed this appropriations bill. The bill will also be considered by the Senate where there is some opposition to the de facto pay raise.
Sadly, though, there seems to be no real opposition in the Senate to increasing the IRS budget. There is a lot of talk about IRS reform, yet Congress increases its budget while the media diverts our attention. Unfortunately we are not on the verge of true IRS reform.
This week Congress will be considering several pieces of legislation, including HR 901, a measure I have co-sponsored. Entitled "The American Land Sovereignty Protection Act," HR 901 takes a laudable step toward reaffirmation of the constitutional tenet that only Congress has the authority to make rules and regulations regarding federally-owned land, and not the powerful independent agencies. And now we even have to be concerned about the international government bodies like the UN.
The federal government has no authority to erode United States sovereignty. According to the Constitution, all sovereignty, all authority, other than those delegated in the carefully delineated enumerated powers, remains vested with the people, not the federal government, and certainly not with the United Nations.
A lot of politicians in Washington worry about the public's perception
of their performance. The politicians need to realize that only
by cutting agencies like the IRS, not giving themselves sneaky
pay raises, and actually passing constitutional legislation, will
the public ever do more than shake their heads in disgust at the
day-to-day operations of Congress.
Ron Paul represents the 14th District of Texas. His office may be contacted at 203 Cannon, Washington, DC 20515.