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Saluting Watchdogs

March 28, 2014
Senator Chuck Grassley , Dysart Reporter

From the earliest days of the republic, America's Founders fought tooth and nail to strike the proper balance between an effective federal government, the sovereignty of the states and the natural rights of individuals.

The timeless principle of self-governance embodied by the Constitution preserves the blessings of liberty and prosperity in America more than two centuries later. Thanks in large measure to the leadership of James Madison, widely acknowledged as the Father of the Constitution, Americans today live in a free society, protected by freedoms of religion, speech and the press and rights of assembly, privacy and property.

The influential Federalist essays, co-authored with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, served as a catalyst in the 18th century for ratification of the Constitution and flesh out the brilliance of our system of checks and balances today in the 21st century. As a member of Congress, Madison also spearheaded adoption of the Bill of Rights. His legacy for promoting and protecting the free flow of information and the public's right to know is observed as National Sunshine Week throughout the week of Madison's birthday, which was March 16, 1751.

Among my highest priorities in the U.S. Senate are holding the federal government accountable to the taxpaying public, making its policymaking transparent to the people and demanding scrupulous stewardship of public programs and resources. The federal bureaucracy too often circles the wagons and erects a stone wall to bypass transparency and accountability.

Even the federal judiciary has resisted my bipartisan-led efforts to let in the sunshine. I've championed legislation that would allow cameras into federal courtrooms and the Supreme Court. An informed and engaged citizenry has a right to see and a duty to digest why the courts rule one way or another on issues that shape our society and impact how federal laws apply to daily life in America.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis wrote in 1913 that "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." I couldn't agree more. That's why I work to throw open the shutters of the federal bureaucracy. My most recent oversight work has found ongoing fiscal mismanagement at the Pentagon; squandered tax dollars for federal housing assistance; mismanagement of foreign visa programs; and, negligent stewardship of Medicaid dollars financing substandard dental care for low-income children.

Fortunately, the good works of good government watchdogs breathe down the necks of wrongdoers and obfuscators to spread sunshine into the public's business. America needs these truth seekers to infiltrate closed doors of corruption, negligence and injustice that infect the works of good government. Mold and mildew won't disappear if left in the dark. And once exposed, these areas require thorough scrubbing to remove the damage and constant vigilance to prevent reoccurrence.



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