By John E. Kramer
Protecting economic liberty doesn’t end after we win a major legal or state legislative victory. IJ Attorney Dan Alban and former IJ client Melony Armstrong, an African hairbraider from Mississippi, recently testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and the U.S. House Small Business Committee, respectively, to call on lawmakers to better respect Americans’ right to economic liberty.
Dan was invited to testify after IJ’s victory on behalf of independent tax preparers against the IRS. The IRS sought to demand independent tax pre- parers get a government-issued license to continue in their trade. Dan told the senators, “Licensing reduces competition in the tax prepara- tion market, which is bad for consumers. Between reduced competition and increased regulatory compliance costs, licensing is expected to artificially drive up the prices consumers pay for tax preparation. Many taxpayers will not only be left with fewer options, but will be deprived of their first preference and forced to pick a new preparer if licensing forces their current preparer out of business. Instead, taxpayers—not the IRS—should be the ones who get to decide who prepares their taxes.”
Melony told congressional members, “Every day across Mississippi, hundreds of low-income families are housed because of my advocacy and hard work. But I don’t run a shelter. They are clothed through what I’ve done. But I don’t run a second-hand clothing store. They are fed as a direct result of what I have achieved and continue to achieve. But I don’t run a soup kitchen. I have transformed the lives of lit- erally hundreds of poor women in my state of Mississippi not because I sought out government assistance for them; rather, because I demanded that the government get out of my way so I could provide for myself and for my family, and so other women around me could do likewise in peace, dignity and prosperity. We demand- ed the government respect our economic liberty—the right to earn an honest living in the occupation of our choice free from unnecessary government regulation.”
The right to earn an honest living is one of the most fundamental freedoms we enjoy as Americans. It’s time for Congress to do what it can to protect this vital right.
John E. Kramer is IJ’s vice president for communications.