Senate Dems ready to quash speech

Frustrated that the Constitution enshrines Americans’ freedom of speech, including that in which they spend money to speak out on political candidates, a few liberals in the U.S. Senate have become so eager to curb that liberty that they are adopting a new strategy: change the Constitution.

Democrats who control the Senate Judiciary Committee have proposed broad new limits on political spending. They are so expansive they would require scrapping part of the First Amendment.

Conservatives say the plan is no more than a political stunt intended to give liberals traction during the current campaign season. Some of them, such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, already have begun to sound like broken records as they decry political spending by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.

For some reason, Reid and company never seem to mention political spending by ultra-rich liberals such as George Soros and Tom Steyer.

Some of those skeptical about the proposed constitutional amendment say it could result in serious limits to freedom of speech far beyond the curbs on big spenders that liberals claim they want.

Fortunately, the nation’s founders anticipated some in government would attempt to use constitutional amendments for transient political purposes. The founders made it very difficult to alter the nation’s basic document of government. It is unlikely the new proposal will go anywhere.

But it is a reminder to Americans that in order to gain advantage, some politicians are willing to chip away at our basic freedoms.

Most Americans probably believe the main threat they face from the Environmental Protection Agency is higher electric bills and devastation to the economies of coal-mining states. That is incorrect.

Many individuals and families have run afoul of the EPA for infractions such as planning to build homes in the wrong places. The agency recently threatened to fine a Wyoming man $187,500 a day for building a pond on his own property.

If agency officials have their way, they will be able to garnish paychecks to collect such fines. That is, employers will be forced to withhold money from paychecks to satisfy the EPA.

The idea upsets some members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans. They see it as another example of government running amok.

They are correct. Congress should do more than stop the EPA from proceeding with the plan. It should rein in the agency on several fronts, starting with the war on coal.