Congressman Passionately Defends Right to Privacy at DC Summit

Cortney O'Brien

2/10/2014 5:30:00 PM - Cortney O'Brien

Should the government be able to read your emails without a warrant? Representative Matt Salmon (R-AZ) tackled that question today at the Heritage Foundation’s first annual Conservative Policy Summit in Washington, DC.

“Privacy and transparency are the core of a republic. Today, that is reversed [...] “Mass spying did not protect us from the Boston bombing, the Times Square bombing, etc.”

Salmon is determined to stop the government’s secret snooping by leading the House version of the Electronics Communications Privacy Amendments Act, legislation that specifically targets a 1986 law declaring government had a right to search one’s emails without a warrant.

Katie McAuliffe, the Executive Director for Digital Liberty, Americans for Tax Reform, couldn’t think of a reason the government would need this window into one's private correspondence.

“They don’t need this authority. I can’t think of a case where they need broad access to your emails.”

Because privacy is such a powerful issue, Salmon’s legislation has been able to attract bipartisan support. McAuliffe surmised that’s because, “The Fourth Amendment is something everyone can support. We’re all concerned with privacy, its common sense.”

Salmon summed up the issue nicely.

“We have to meet enemies where they are, but we've gotta be careful not to forfeit freedoms we fought for in the first place for temporary security.”

Salmon is especially determined to get the bill passed this year.

“It’s a crime we don’t get things done in an election year. Problems don’t take a holiday.”

Another problem that doesn’t go on vacation is poverty. Rep. Jim Jordan took to the Heritage microphone next to lay out a simple 3-part strategy to transform the welfare state: Work, strong family and free markets. Jordan is hoping to tackle all three with his Welfare Reform Bill to try and undo the harm done by the Obama administration’s policies.

“We’re disincentivizing work - robbing people of opportunities to learn skills that we learned from our first jobs. You learn to deal with people.”

Jordan's bill, on the other hand, which includes a food stamp work requirement, would hopefully encourage states to have work programs to improve people’s lives and encourage an environment of self-discipline.

“Let’s teach them basic skills to move on to better employment.”

Jordan's fellow panelists Jennifer Marshall, Director of Heritage's Domestic Policy Studies and Robert L. Woodson, Sr., Founder and President of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprises, agreed with the representative and shared some alarming numbers: The War on Poverty includes 80 programs and soaks up trillions of dollars of government money. And how about this bombshell? Woodson, Sr. revealed that 70 percent of the money that’s supposed to go to welfare recipients actually go to social workers and other services, not the actual recipients. One city which saw its share of welfare handouts was none other than the Motor City.

“Detroit should be a social reform mecca based on government policy,” declared Woodson, Sr.

And we all know how that ended.

Stay tuned for more from the Conservative Policy Summit this evening, where Townhall’s Sarah Seman is reporting on the rest of the day’s agenda.