A new plan proposed in Congress would establish that every American is a “citizen-lobbyist” and force executive branch officials to record and publish all contacts with them, virtually eliminating the free exchange of ideas needed for open representative government, say critics.
The “Executive Branch Reform Act,” or H.R. 984, filed by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has been endorsed by the Committee of Government Oversight and Reform 20-0 and continues to advance in the U.S. House.
Records show it would impose vast new requirements on executive branch officials to keep track of the names of citizens who contact them, and the subjects of any conversations, so that information could be compiled four times a year and published for all the world to see.
“In Waxman’s brave new world, Joe Q. Citizen is no longer viewed as a welcome source of input to the federal government,” said Rev. Ted Pike, of Truth Tellers. “Rather, only Waxman and select colleagues, primarily in Congress, the intelligence community, and the military, are allowed to communicate freely with one another.
“The common American is viewed as a potential source of unhealthy opinions (i.e., grassroots lobbying efforts),” he said.
The plan follows by only weeks a different proposal, Section 220 of the Senate’s Lobby Reform bill, which was attacking free speech at the other end of the spectrum.
That plan would have required organizations that do grassroots work, encouraging constituents to contact Washington about its latest plans and actions, to do the paperwork. But after its intent was publicized, the very grassroots activism that it sought to crush rose up and triggered its defeat.
It would have required any organizations making grassroots contacts to document phone calls, personal visits, e-mails, magazines, broadcasts, phone banks, appearances, travel, fund-raising for government tabulation, verification and audits.
Officials said it would have virtually eliminated the ability of organizations to publicize Washington actions and encourage citizens to comment.
Now Pike has concluded that the new bill is “just as sinister.”
It would “bring the democratic process to a crawl, not just on the grassroots level but at its furthest extreme, among more than 9,000 employees of the executive branch of government.”
“Because of such potential ‘corruption’ of federal officials by heartland America, H.R. 984 will require all members of the executive branch to keep records of every call from concerned citizens,” Pike said.
“Such federal employees must even keep records of conversations during work or at a bar after work or even from their spouses in bed – input which might be construed as desiring to influence national policy. These records must include names, date, and detailed information about the content of each conversation.”
“The federal government will then take this data and publish it for the world to see. This, Waxman contends, is ‘openness in government,'” Pike said.
But in reality, “H.R. 984 means the government, which should be responsive to free petition, comment and criticism from the American people, will find its paperwork obligations so burdensome that the only way to govern will be by isolation from the public.”
He said, “This sinister legislation demolishes free exchange between citizens and those who govern, helping create a ‘big brother’ police state. The government will know everything about us while we would be afraid to raise our heads in comment or protest for fear of even greater federal control over our lives.”
Leave a comment
No comments yet.