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December 18, 2006

Repealing Real ID now a Real Possibility

Are we winning?

The opposition to the REAL ID Act, which would create a national identification system, has been great and unrelenting.

It has come from hundreds of groups, including state governments, but we know of no group that has been more relentless than DC Downsizers. We have so far pumped out 40,362 messages to Congress calling for the repeal of the REAL ID Act.

Now, two Senators, Democrat Daniel Akaka of Hawaii and Republican John Sununu of New Hampshire, are threatening to sponsor legislation that would do just that — repeal the REAL ID Act!

But . . .

They would first like to see the Department of Homeland Security adopt new regulations that would reduce the cost of REAL ID to state governments, and increase privacy protections for citizens.

Frankly, no one knows if such changes are even possible. The REAL ID Act requires the states to electronically verify the validity of birth certificates used to acquire ID cards and driver’s licenses. This is so technically difficult that the cost to state governments is expected to be an additional $8 billion.

And it may not work — even after the money is spent! Long(er) lines and (increased) delays are expected at DMVs around the country.

State governments are also required to share data between themselves so that a person born in one state can have his or her birth certificate electronically verified in another. There’s a very real concern that this entire system of electronic verification will be extremely vulnerable to hackers, providing what “Information Week” has called “one-stop-shopping” for identity thieves.

Given how much the states are already being burdened financially, these technical difficulties may be insurmountable. As things stand now, state governments are expected to comply with the REAL ID Act in less time than it took the Department of Homeland Security to write the initial regulations.

Now, Akaka and Sununu want these regulations rewritten or they will take steps to repeal REAL ID! The Senators have also complained that Congress was “forced” to pass this ill-considered legislation because it was combined with an emergency defense spending bill.

We want to point out two things . . .

First, this bill would not have been passed had Downsize DC’s “Read the Bills Act,” or our proposed “One Subject at a Time Act,” been the law of the land.

Second, we would not now have the trouble of trying to comply with this ill-considered legislation if Downsize DC’s “Write the Laws Act” had been in effect. Instead of delegating the legislative details to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats at the Department of Homeland Security, Congress would have had to work out the details themselves. It likely would have been too much for them and they would have left well-enough-alone.

Well, if Congress is incapable of figuring out how to do it’s job, we will do it for them. DC Downsizers will tell them what they need to do, and how they need to do it. Now is the time to give them more instructions.

Yes, we know, they’re busy moving into new offices, and all that (and some of them may already be gone, for good), but (for the rest) that just means this is a good time to pile on and remind them what their priorities need to be. Akaka and Sununu have opened a crack in the door. Now, let’s slam it all the way open.

Bombard Congress with messages demanding the repeal of the REAL ID Act. You can do so here.

Secondly, there are only five days left before we close for the Holidays. Please help us make our December fundraising goal (which now down to about $6,000 to go) so we can be in fine fighting form to oppose the 100-hour legislative onslaught the Democrats have planned for the first week of January. You can make your contribution here.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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