When Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in January they’ve pledged that one of their first items of business will be to make President Trump’s tax returns public. Their ongoing obsession with the issue shows they are out of touch with reality even before their committee chairs and new leaders can touch a gavel.

The reality is the American people are far more concerned about their own tax returns than the president’s. Democrats should be focused on how to improve the condition of each American’s tax returns rather than creating controversy.

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For starters, Democrats should study why tax reform has been so successful. Unemployment is at a 50-year low, wages are increasing and our economy is growing twice as fast under President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos claims he was pressured to sign plea deal Tlaib asking colleagues to support impeachment investigation resolution Trump rips 'Mainstream Media': 'They truly are the Enemy of the People' MORE than Obama. Yet, instead of focusing on policy and how to make tax reform even better, Democrats are gearing up for highly political “hearings” and “investigations” that will include very little listening.

With the 2020 presidential elections looming, the Democrats’ agenda – including their focus on the president’s tax returns – seems to be little more than pandering to their base. Democrats hope to use an arcane 100-year-old law that allows Congress to inspect anyone’s tax returns as justification for essentially breaking into the IRS and releasing the president’s tax returns to the public without his permission. Such a move would certainly energize the “resistance” movement but it would set a dangerous and chilling precedent.

In a statement to CNBC, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyJOBS for Success Act would recognize that all people have potential Smaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive Key author of GOP tax law joins Ernst and Young MORE (R-Texas) said: "The Ways and Means Committee's authority to request and make public any individual's tax return is a powerful oversight tool to be used not for political fishing expeditions but to properly administer the tax code."

If Democrats succeed in raiding the IRS and releasing the president’s tax returns will they stop there? Why not target top donors, conservative celebrities, journalists and other opponents? Using the IRS to compile an enemies list is nothing new. Democrats perfected these techniques – their “intimidation game” – during the Obama years.

The check-and-balance issue at stake isn’t checking the power of the presidency; it’s checking the power of a rapidly partisan Congress that justifies violent mob tactics and has shown itself willing to set aside due process in-order-to inflict political damage on its opponents. How can members of a party that couldn’t be trusted to keep Christine Blasey Ford’s letter secret be trusted to keep anyone’s tax returns a secret? Democrats have already shown they’re willing to condemn political opponents as guilty until proven innocent and are willing to leak confidential documents if it advances their political goals. If the president’s privacy isn’t safe, no one’s privacy is safe.

In today’s polarized climate, politicians are at risk of becoming so convinced the other side is acting “above the law” that they act beneath the rule of law. Democrats aren’t looking for answers. They want a political issue. They’re committed to creating the appearance of impropriety even before they know the facts.

Presumed incoming House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealKey Democrat cites new urgency to get Trump's tax returns House committee chairs call for Mueller report to be released by April 2 House Oversight Dem wants Trump to release taxes and 'get it over with' MORE (D-Mass.) is a thoughtful, pragmatic member but his Democratic colleagues are way past the point of being carried away with emotion. Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Democrats face dilemma after Mueller probe ends Raskin embraces role as constitutional scholar MORE (D-Calif.) and the extreme left will stop at nothing to destroy President Trump. Rep. Neal should refer his colleagues to the kind of non-partisan and fact-based oversight former Sen. Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home House Democrats poised to set a dangerous precedent with president’s tax returns The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race MORE (D-Mich.) recently extolled in an op-ed in Roll Call.

Levin wrote, “Congress has been at its best when members of both parties donned their institutional role and jointly engaged in meaningful, fact-based, bipartisan oversight of all components of the federal government. That is what millions of Americans voted for on Tuesday, and we urge the leadership in both houses to make it happen.”

House Democrats are deeply confused about priorities voters care about and key principles of transparency. The public has a right to inspect the government’s checkbook. The government doesn’t have a right to inspect your checkbook – or your tax returns. The Democrats’ inability to draw that distinction is troubling and dangerous for our democracy.

At the end of the day, this isn’t about the involuntary release of the president’s tax returns. It’s about protecting every American from political intimidation. If House Democrats release Trump’s tax returns, yours may be next.

Estes represents Kansas’ 4th District.