Opinion

MCINTOSH: Pelosi Prioritizes Crackdown On Free Political Speech

David McIntosh Club for Growth

Democrats in Congress have proposed new legislation to stifle free speech, especially political speech, by limiting your right to criticize elected officials. Is that what voters had in mind when they gave Democrats a House majority in November?

Each Congress uses the bill number H.R. 1 as a symbolic measure on its agenda and compass for the direction it wishes to take America. For example, in the last Congress, House Republicans used H.R. 1 as the legislative vehicle for historic tax cuts. President Obama used H.R. 1 as the legislative vehicle for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the Obama Stimulus.

The latest, and perhaps most dangerous proposal yet, is the so-called “For the People Act,” H.R. 1. This dangerous legislation is anything but “for the people.” A more apt title would be “For The Politicians.”

Here’s why.

The legislation represents the latest attempt by Washington bureaucrats to control what voters know and hear during an election. It shreds constitutional speech rights by banning political speech by certain disfavored groups. It seeks to regulate groups that work to  inform voters on what Congress is doing. And it would politicize election regulations by eliminating the current bipartisan composition of the Federal Election Commission, making it a partisan body instead.

The legislation would also dismantle the First Amendment by requiring super PACs and “dark money” groups to make their donors public. And it would expand the definition of “coordinated speech,” making it harder for nonprofit groups to spend money urging the election or defeat of candidates to whom they have a connection.

The American right to criticize our elected officials with some degree of anonymity is what separates us from China, Venezuela and Cuba. But this legislation would take away political anonymity for many by drastically changing reporting requirements for Americans exercising political speech.

Finally, it includes a major provision providing political welfare for politicians. It would provide candidates with taxpayer subsidy — $6 for every $1, which means that taxpayers’ money would fund even more of what they disagree with, including candidates for federal office. Federal candidates don’t need a subsidy akin to food stamps.

Many Americans get upset when their hard-earned taxpayer dollars go to government boondoggles like the “Bridge to Nowhere” or the study of shrimp on tiny treadmills. Now think about taxpayer funding on controversial policy items such as funding for abortion, Obamacare, or corporate welfare for the politically-connected.

And imagine your taxpayer dollars financing the public campaign of federal candidates who you don’t support or vehemently oppose. It could be a racist politician who has smeared black paint on his face, a sexual deviant that has a history of sexual assault and harassment, or an extremist with a history of religious bigotry. Under H.R. 1, all of these types of politicians would get taxpayer subsidies to finance their campaign.

By limiting the way we exercise political speech and petition government, our First Amendment rights become First Amendment restraints. These are some of the most important reasons that H.R. 1 should be soundly defeated and voters should reject any politician who supports this “For the Politicians” monstrosity.

David McIntosh (@DavidMMcintosh) is president of Club for Growth, a nonprofit group that advocates for limited government. He represented Indiana in the United States House from 1995-2001.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.