IRS: Inalienable Rights Suppressor?
If you thought giving money to the IRS was frustrating, try handing it your First Amendment rights. Under the Democrats' new rule, conservative activists may have no choice. In the run up to the 2014 elections, the President's party can't hide from their scandalous record, but they can certainly keep the opposition from talking about it. That seems to be the strategy behind the greatest attack on free speech that no one is talking about. The Wall Street Journal is sounding the alarm about the rule, which was made possible (along with who-knows-what else) by the Hill's debate over the 1,600 page-beast known as the congressional omnibus.
As part of the bargaining process, Republicans tried to block a new IRS rule that would help silence conservative groups before the midterm elections. Liberals went to the mat to keep their intimidation factory afloat, sources say, conceding a lot of legislative ground to protect a rule that would help gag its political opponents. Under the proposal, the IRS would subject lobbying groups like FRC Action, our 501(c)(4) legislative action affiliate, to taxation and reporting on everyday activities like: grassroots lobbying, candidate forums, candidate debates, voter registration, voter guides, and general issue advocacy. Obviously, the goal is to drive these groups out of business by making it too difficult to operate.
"The fight was sparked by a new rule that the Treasury Department and the IRS introduced during the hush of Thanksgiving recess," the Journal explains, "ostensibly to 'improve' the law governing nonprofits. What the rule in fact does is recategorize as 'political' all manner of educational activities that 501(c)(4) social-welfare organizations currently engage in. It's IRS targeting all over again, only this time by administration design and with raw political goals." Apparently, the fox that's now guarding the henhouse wants to kill the farmer to make sure there's no interference.
Movements like the Tea Party, which was built on the backs of 501(c)(4)s, would be forced to transition into PACs (Political Action Committees), where all donors are reported. This gives the Left the opportunity to harass and intimidate donors to conservative organizations until there is no opposition to their radical policies. The effect is an information blackout, where candidates won't be held as accountable for their votes on unpopular policies like ObamaCare. And heading into an election where the health care law, spending, the economy, and other failures loom large, liberals need something to tip the scales. "With one little IRS rule, [the White House] can shut up hundreds of groups that post a direct threat by restricting their ability to speak freely in an election season..."
And while this isn't the IRS's garden-variety political targeting, these guidelines are equally lopsided. As usual, the President looked out for his friends, deciding -- not-so-coincidentally -- to exempt unions from the rule. Although Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) introduced a bill to block the guidelines from taking effect, it's as good as dead in Harry Reid's Senate.
As Americans have come to understand, this isn't your grandfather's IRS. This is the President's biggest and most powerful weapon to punish his detractors. What was once the tax collector is now the administration's favorite avenue for carrying out political vendettas. And with Eric Holder as Attorney General, they have no worries about being prosecuted for breaking the law. If the IRS isn't collecting penalties from pro-life employers who don't comply with the HHS mandate, its mafia will be stripping conservatives of their other First Amendment rights.
Fortunately, conservatives aren't about to go quietly. Our good friend Cleta Mitchell, who is representing the groups targeted in the first IRS scandal, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with Treasury to see how much collusion took place between the White House and IRS on the creation of the rule. If you want to know how you can get involved, click over to WeWillNotBeSilenced.org.
In the meantime, Congress is still fighting for the transparency the administration refuses to give. Last night, House Democrats sided with Republicans in passing Rep. Lee Terry's (R-Nebr.) bill by a 259-154 vote to hold the White House's feet to the fire on ObamaCare enrollment numbers. Under Terry's measure, HHS will have to provide weekly reports on the health care exchange's numbers -- something it's been reluctant to do since the data reflects so poorly on the system. And if Terry's bill becomes law, no amount of IRS bullying would be able to protect the President from those facts!
Eat, Drink, and Read MARRI!
Earlier this week, FRC's Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) released a demographic chart-book of pertinent abortion-related data from the federal National Survey of Family Growth for the years 2006-2010. In its analysis MARRI found evidence of deeply troubling relationships. Nearly 90 percent of women who report having had one or more abortions have had three or more male sexual partners. And the more sexual partners a woman has the more likely she is to abort. The younger a woman is when she starts sexual intercourse the more likely she is to have an abortion. Girls who start sexual intercourse at ages 12, 13 or 14 are the most likely to abort of all women (about 40 percent of them abort). Cohabitation is closely related to abortion: All but 17 percent of abortions are to women who have cohabited and the more cohabitations the higher the rates of abortion.
Knowledge and use of contraception fail totally in preventing abortions: 99 percent of women who have aborted have used contraceptives. And among women reporting an abortion, the rate of abortion is 26 percent for those who have never married but only 16 percent among those who have ever married. There is a significant amount of underreporting of abortion because of shame and guilt, particularly among younger women. This makes reliable abortion data more difficult to obtain.
However, women at the end of their fertile years (twenty to thirty years after they have had an abortion) are, we hope, less likely to underreport. When asked, only one sixth of all women of that stage in life report having had an abortion and only one fifth of women who have ever been pregnant. Strong, loving families and abstinence before marriage are essential to the moral and physical health of women and their unborn children, which is why "Family" is FRC's first name.
Get Well Soon, Senator Coburn
It was with a heavy heart that Republican Tom Coburn announced yesterday his decision to step down from his Senate seat, where he had been serving Oklahomans for the last 10 years. Coburn, a former FRC board member, fought -- and beat -- a serious case of cancer before. Now that the disease is back, he felt it best to spend as much time with his family as possible. For conservatives, who've admired his tough-as-nails approach on spending (including the Wastebooks his office is famous for), his voice will be missed.
"Carolyn and I have been touched by the encouragement we've received from people across the state regarding my latest battle against cancer," the OB/gyn said in a statement. "But this decision isn't about my health, my prognosis or even my hopes and desires," Coburn said. "As a citizen, I am now convinced that I can best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere." Like so many others, FRC will be praying for a speedy recovery for one of the Senate's most reliable leaders. We continue to be grateful for all Tom has done in the cause of faith, family, and freedom.
** Celebrate religious liberty all weekend with columns from FRC experts Emily Minick, "Remembering the Religious Freedoms We're Losing," and Bob Morrison, "Religious Freedom Day: January 16, 1786." Also, if you missed Ken Blackwell's appearance on Fox to talk about the President's "promise zones," you can catch it in the video below.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.