Thursday, February 7, 2008

Funding for Invasive Real ID Cons States in Exchange for Their Privacy

As opposition across the country continues to mount against the Bush Administration's REAL ID Act one would think they may be reticent to force states to shoulder even more of the financial burden for the invasive program? But then, that would be using logic and common sense, not trademark characteristics of this White House.

The ACLU has taken a look at the recent White House budget and done some REAL ID number crunching for us...and let's just say it isn't pretty:

The President’s budget proposal requests only $110 million in federal grant money toward the states for Real ID implementation, and even that money, if actually appropriated by Congress, will be split among Real ID and other programs.


Even combined with about $80 million in federal dollars already in place to pay for Real ID implementation, the funding would fall far short of the projected cost – estimated by the Department of Homeland Security to fall between four and 23 billion dollars – for the constitutionally suspect driver’s license program. States are left to fend for themselves to comply with the unfair, unworkable demands of the Real ID Act. The National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan coalition of state legislators, expressed outrage at the paltry funding request, calling it the "most egregious example" of unfunded federal mandates.


Seventeen states have rejected Real ID, in large part because of privacy and civil liberties concerns, but also because the federal government is not contributing enough to the program’s enormous cost. Under Real ID, every American would be required to have a federally approved ID in order to participate in basic aspects of American life, and everyone’s personal information would be stored in a national database available to officials in all levels of government.


"We still haven’t gotten the truth about the funding for Real ID. These kinds of false promises don’t help build our confidence in DHS, which appears bent on cataloging every American’s personal data and making states pay for it. They haven’t fixed Real ID’s civil liberties problems, and they haven't shown us the money for Real ID – they have only left unresolved significant threats to our privacy," said Tim Sparapani, ACLU senior legislative counsel.

Click here to read the Consumer Federation of California's analysis of the Act, as well as the testimony of CFC Executive Director Richard Holober at the only public Town Hall held by the Dept. of Homeland Security in California.

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