Congressmen and senators used to protect citizens rights, not trample themThe good news is that Congress will revisit a provision of the $338 billion omnibus spending bill that would give appropriations committee chairmen access to Americans' tax returns. It's also good news that members of Congress recognized this provision as a breach of taxpayer privacy.

The bad news is that this reveals a new and troubling mindset among some key senators and congressmen. There was a time when federal lawmakers were guardians of the public's privacy.

The Wall Street Journal last Wednesday published a news report saying the original concept behind this provision was to aid congressional oversight of the Internal Revenue Service. Hmmm. Can't Congress obtain that kind of information from the IRS through its normal oversight process?

This is one more example of why giant spending bills are a bad idea. Like the abortion provision that has become law with little explicit discussion, the tax return provision merited open debate, not midnight subterfuge.

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