Dan Gilmore / Dec. 2, 2015

Highway Bill Increases IRS' Power

The FAST act has also fast-tracked some major pot holes.

Negotiators in Congress have agreed on a $305 billion highway bill that keeps that sector of the government running for five years, days before the legislation’s Dec. 4 deadline. In a joint statement, leading lawmakers in Congress’ transportation committees including Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said, “This legislation is a vital investment in our country. A safe, efficient surface transportation network is fundamentally necessary to our quality of life and our economy.” House Speaker Paul Ryan said he expected the bill to pass with “very good majority support.”

While the bill keeps the funding for the nation’s infrastructure flowing for five years — a political lifetime — the FAST act has also fast-tracked some major pot holes on the path to prosperity. First, it reanimates the crony politician’s cookie jar known as the Export-Import Bank. And, as National Review’s Iain Murray writes, the bill gives the IRS (the same agency used by Barack Obama to target conservative nonprofits ahead of his re-election campaign) the power to revoke the passport of any American who owes the agency over $50,000. In the age where every slight against the burgeoning reams of regulation is met with massive fines, this means that the IRS could control the movements of dissident citizens. Presently, Murray opines, the IRS is targeting the millions of Americans working abroad. “Millions of Americans,” he writes, “who aren’t even meaningfully represented in Congress, will suddenly find their natural liberty to travel at risk. Families will be uprooted or, like mine, divided, perhaps forever.” Welcome to “comprehensive” legislation.

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