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November 10, 2008

Guess what else is in the bailout bill

Quote of the Day: “Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds.” — John Perry Barlow

Subject: Bailout bill contains buried provisions to invade your privacy

Do you think the IRS should set up undercover operations to entrap unsuspecting taxpayers?

Do you think the IRS should release your confidential tax returns to law enforcement and intelligence agencies upon request?

If you answered “No!” to either question, you’re out of luck. Before its October recess, Congress passed a bill giving the IRS these powers.

You may ask, “Why didn’t Downsize DC oppose this bill?”

As a matter of fact, we wrote against it virtually non-stop for two weeks!

Don’t remember?

That’s understandable. These provisions are buried in Sections 401 and 402 of Division C in H.R. 1424, the Bailout bill.

The Bailout, or “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act,” has a wild history. In just twelve days it morphed from . . .

* A three-page proposal by the Bush Administration
* To a 110-page amendment attached to an unrelated bill that was rejected by the House
* To a 422-page bill passed by Congress and signed into law.

The Library of Congress’s summary of the bill is nearly 6,200 words, or 14 pages!  (The final Public Print version of the bill, in smaller fonts, is 169 pages.)

In other words, the bailout bill went from bad to worse, in the space of just a few days, and the final price tag included not just $700 billion, but your privacy rights as well.

Next week, we’ll explain how the One Subject At A Time Act would have prevented the Bailout bill from passing. This week, however, we’ll note how things would have been different under the Read the Bills Act.

* Because the Bailout bill would have gone through a full reading before a qorum in each chamber, Congress would have had incentives to make it as understandable and as brief as possible, with few unrelated provisions and earmarks.
* Because there would have been a seven-day waiting period before voting on passage, members of Congress would have had time to really consider the arguments for and against it.
* Because the bill would have been posted on the Internet during those seven days, Congress would have had an incentive to cut out objectionable parts, such as giving the IRS more power.

Under the Read the Bills Act, Congress would be prevented from spending only a few days to write and pass 400+ page bills costing nearly a trillion dollars. The Read the Bills Act would also make it harder for Congress to attach completely unrelated provisions, such as giving the IRS increased powers to invade your privacy.

Please use our Educate the Powerful System to demand that your Representative and Senators introduce the Read the Bills Act.

In your personal comments, tell them about the IRS provisions in the Bailout bill. Ask them if they knew about these provisions when they voted on the bill. Ask them if this bill was really passed with the “consent of the governed,” given that members of Congress didn’t read and couldn’t understand the bill.

Please also place a Read the Bills Act Coalition button, banner, or tower-ad on your blog or website. This will raise awareness of the Read the Bills Act. In return, your site will be linked at and be mentioned in a Downsizer-Dispatch reaching over 24,000 subscribers. For more information, write to

This week we welcome Worldwide Sawdust to the Coalition.

Thank you for being part of the growing Downsize DC army.

James Wilson
ASsistant to the President, Inc.

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