Defund the Ministry of Truth?

Defund the Ministry of Truth?
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

Remember when Democrats were in a frenzy to defund the police as a sop to the Black Lives Matter movement? Those efforts have largely fizzled in the face of rising crime rates in cities across the nation, with some Democrats joining the ranks of the “refund” movement. But conservatives may be taking a page from the Democratic playbook this month. After the announcement of Joe Biden’s new Ministry of Truth (or “disinformation governance board”), Senator Tom Cotton introduced a bill that would defund the new entity being led by TikTok musical sensation Nina Jankowicz. The theory behind this idea seems to be that Congress can’t actually disband an office summoned into existence by executive order, but the legislature still controls the purse strings, and it will be hard to operate such an organization if they don’t have any money to pay people and cover all of the other expenses associated with it. (Washington Examiner)

Led by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), several GOP senators introduced legislation Tuesday to “prohibit the use of Federal funds” in financing the Biden administration’s recently announced Disinformation Governance Board.

“The Biden administration wants a government agency dedicated to cracking down on what its subjects can say, an idea popular with Orwellian governments everywhere,” Cotton said in a press release.

“This board is unconstitutional and un-American — my bill puts a stop to it,” he added.

The bill quickly attracted at least 17 co-sponsors, all Republicans, including Ted Cruz, Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, and Joni Ernst. Perhaps not surprisingly, not a single Democrat stepped up to support the measure.

Todd Young, another co-sponsor, described the proposed disinformation board as being “radical and unconstitutional.” He added that the board needs to be shut down “immediately.” The comments from other sponsors ran along similar lines.

I found myself initially shying away from a proposal to “defund” almost anything in the government because the entire movement involving police departments around the country turned into such a debacle. But we should also realize that we’re not talking about a state or municipal government clamping down on a long-established and vital service. The office never existed before last week and no coherent arguments have been made by the executive branch as to why such a board was needed in the first place. But Cotton and his allies will need to specify how this defunding effort would work. Money has already been appropriated to fund the Department of Homeland Security for the year. In theory, they can spend that money how they see fit. We’ll need to wait to see how this plays out.

But the question we should be asking is whether or not this is a hill that the Democrats really want to die on, particularly while moving into the heart of a midterm election cycle. Is the establishment of an office to monitor and potentially restrict what people say something they believe the voters will rally behind? For the time being, I’m sure you could find some Democrats to support it if they assume that such power will only be used against conservatives. But surely even the average liberal will realize that the shoe inevitably winds up on the other foot. What happens if the board is made permanent and a Republican wins the presidency in 2024? What if that president replaces Nina Jankowicz with Tucker Carlson? Do they really want Tucker monitoring their speech and muting voices he doesn’t approve of?

Joe Biden has absolutely kicked a hornet nest by creating this board. If he’s being advised by anyone with a decent amount of common sense right now, they should suggest that he back off and find a different job for Jankowicz. Perhaps something in the performing arts would be more appropriate.

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