So i was watching CSPAN tonight...
You can read about them here, and here just for starters.
In case you're too lazy to click the links, someone slipped a section into an unrelated (and totally gigantic) bill which would let certain government officials check into anyone's tax records they want. For any reason. And do anything they feel like with them. And nobody can stop them or punish them for it.
But TPM leaves some of the juicy details out.
First off, the person who would have this power (an Alaskan Senator, IIRC) has said it would never be used, that he would never use it, and that it would not become law because the President would say he wasn't going to sign it.
But the Democrats, thankfully, weren't going to stand for it. They pointed out that such promises were not legally binding and that if they passed the bill this section would be law. Maybe the guy in charge right now wouldn't use it, but someone theoretically could.
So a Democratic senator proposes stripping the offending portion out of the bill. Except doing that requires unanimous consent.
So here's where it gets interesting: someone objected to removing it from bill. So clearly, even if this section getting into the bill were an accident, someone wanted this power to get passed into law. I'm not an expert on procedure, but AFAIK if the removal of this one section that all the people who were speaking considered totally ridiculous ("evil", "disgusting", "cancer festering in the body politic", and "the most abhorrent, detestable, hated passage...") was un-objected to it would have been stripped out right then and there, no need for any promises or anything. But someone objected to it.
Let's let that sink in. I think my usual paranoid speculations are not necessary here.