“Dr. No” stands alone yet again
This week, Dr. Paul once again stood for the Constitution despite pressure to play politics and vote for bills that, while sounding harmless on the surface, undermine our founding principles and ignore the federal government’s constitutional limitations.
One of these bills was House Resolution 1370, a bill that, among other things, “calls on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to immediately end abuses of the human rights of its citizens, to cease repression of Tibetan and Uighur people, and to end its support for the Governments of Sudan and Burma to ensure that the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games take place in an atmosphere that honors the Olympic traditions of freedom and openness.” You can read the full text here.
A House “Resolution” is a bill expressing the opinion of the House on a particular issue. It does not have the force of law, but, if abused, can be quite dangerous, such as when occasionally used for grandstanding against foreign governments and making demands that we have no right to make. (Remember this story concerning Turkey from late last year?)
In the following statement, Congressman Paul explains why he voted against the resolution:
Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to this resolution, which is yet another meaningless but provocative condemnation of China . It is this kind of jingoism that has led to such a low opinion of the United States abroad. Certainly I do not condone human rights abuses, wherever they may occur, but as Members of the US House of Representatives we have no authority over the Chinese government. It is our Constitutional responsibility to deal with abuses in our own country or those created abroad by our own foreign policies. Yet we are not debating a bill to close Guantanamo , where abuses have been documented. We are not debating a bill to withdraw from Iraq , where scores of innocents have been killed, injured, and abused due to our unprovoked attack on that country. We are not debating a bill to reverse the odious FISA bill passed recently which will result in extreme abuses of Americans by gutting the Fourth Amendment.
Instead of addressing these and scores of other pressing issues over which we do have authority, we prefer to spend our time criticizing a foreign government over which we have no authority and foreign domestic problems about which we have very little accurate information.
I do find it ironic that this resolution “calls on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to begin earnest negotiations, without preconditions, directly with His Holiness the Dalai Lama or his representatives.” For years US policy has been that no meeting or negotiation could take place with Iran until certain preconditions are met by Iran . Among these is a demand that Iran cease uranium enrichment, which Iran has the right to do under the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is little wonder why some claim that resolutions like this are hypocritical.
Instead of lecturing China, where I have no doubt there are problems as there are everywhere, I would suggest that we turn our attention to the very real threats in a United States where our civil liberties and human rights are being eroded on a steady basis. The Bible cautions against pointing out the speck in a neighbor’s eye while ignoring the log in one’s own. I suggest we contemplate this sound advice before bringing up such ill-conceived resolutions in the future.
Congressman Paul also found himself the lone dissenting vote this week on H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act, which is the House of Representatives’ attempt to deal with the recent problems concerning lead in children’s toys, among other provisions in the bill. As we can see in this article from an ABC affiliate, inspection and evaluation of the legislation gives way to political rhetoric, with yet another bill being passed “for the children.” They even include a parting shot at Dr. Paul at the very end for good measure. You can read the summary (which is quite long in itself) of the legislation here.
If it was truly a bill solely dealing with lead in children’s toys, then it wouldn’t be nearly as lengthy as it is. Once again, the federal government goes above and beyond when exceeding its constitutional limitations.
Many will look at this bill and say that Dr. Paul voted against making toys safe for children. Besides the obvious problems with that statement, here are some of the reasons Dr. Paul voted against H.R. 4040:
– It authorizes $626 million in new money over six years for the Consumer Product Safety Commission without any offsets in the overall congressional budget, further driving up our debt and devaluing our dollar.
– It creates new mandatory standards for four-wheel all-terrain vehicles, temporarily banning three-wheel all-terrain vehicles until they devise safety rules for them. This was added in conferences.
– It encourages frivolous Eliot Spitzer-type lawsuits by allowing state attorney generals to bring lawsuits based on violations of federal law.
– It also creates new federal standards for garage door openers and cigarette lighters. A little overboard with the regulations, perhaps?
– It permits the Consumer Product Safety Commission to use asset forfeiture, a system that has been abused in the past by law enforcement.
As one of Dr. Paul’s congressional aides mentioned to me, if federal regulation was an effective way to promote safety, than why was 2007 the year of the recall? This bill does nothing more than further tear away at the Constitution and waste more of your money. It’s time that we start trying to find solutions other than throwing money and regulation at a problem.