Paul L. Caron

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 962

IRS Logo 2New York Times editorial, Political Dark Money Just Got Darker:

As untold millions of dollars pour into the shadowy campaign troughs of the presidential candidates, voters need to be reminded of the rosy assumptions of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that legitimized the new spending frenzy. ...

The court majority in the 5-to-4 decision should have been watching this month when the Republican-controlled Congress, which has firmly bottled up all campaign disclosure legislation, voted to further cripple disclosure at two of its most vital points.

In the new budget bill, Republicans inserted a provision blocking the Internal Revenue Service from creating rules to curb the growing abuse of the tax law by thinly veiled political machines posing as “social welfare” organizations. These groups are financed by rich special-interest donors who do not have to reveal their identities under the tax law. So much for effective disclosure at the I.R.S.

In another move to keep the public blindfolded about who is writing big corporate checks for federal candidates, the Republicans barred the Securities and Exchange Commission from finalizing rules requiring corporations to disclose their campaign spending to investors. ...

In acting to seal that pocket and hobble the I.R.S., congressional Republicans are advancing what has become the dark age of plutocratic money in campaign spending. At every turn, they are veiling the truth about the special-interest ties they have with rich donors shopping for favors. Since the Citizens United decision in January 2010, politicians have collected more than $500 million in dark money from phantom donors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with hundreds of millions more expected in the current campaign.

The move against the S.E.C. blocked it from “finalizing” a corporate disclosure rule, leaving proponents hopeful that it could be studied for some future enactment. This is not likely with a Republican Congress, which has made the I.R.S. even more of a target. Conservative lawmakers contend that tax investigators have been biased against right-wing political groups operating as “social welfare” organizations. And Congress has cut the tax agency budget by 18 percent since 2010, reducing its work force and weakening tax law enforcement.

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Thank you for pointing out unions are the original "Citizens United." Calls for campaign reform always forget about this.

Perhaps the answer is 24-hour disclosure of all campaign contributions, regardless of their entity hidey hole. And for those who bring up privacy concerns, I don't recall the signers of the Declaration of Independence having those same concerns.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Dec 28, 2015 9:08:51 AM

Mr. Teapartydoc: Please try to maintain a higher standard on this blog by restraining your childish urge to call names. (Unsubtle hint to moderator.) As for your attribution to Rousseau, it is generally a good idea to read beyond the first page of an essay or book.

Mr. Woody: I do assume that “the goal of liberals . . . is for our nation to be ‘great and free.’” I also make this assumption for the great majority of Tea Partiers, reactionaries, Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians. Furthermore, I do not assume that everyone and anyone who has a different viewpoint from mine intentionally seeks to undermine our country, support our enemies, or do harm to the U.S. I generally ascribe patriotic and good–if sometimes misguided–motives to those Americans with whom I disagree. It is, after all, the American way. There are other viewpoints of course, one of which seems to be advanced by you.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Dec 28, 2015 7:16:10 AM

Dear Woody,
Publius Idioticus isn't interested in having a free, great nation. He is a big believer in Rousseau's idea that one of the reasons people form governments is to take fetters upon one's self in order to place chains upon another. We are the "other" to him.

Posted by: Teapartydoc | Dec 27, 2015 12:38:51 PM

Publius, you're right when you wrote, "No great and free [nation] has ever flourished or even survived for long without an effective means of levying and collecting taxes." Don't assume that the goal of liberals, who are behind the scandal, is for our nation to be "great and free," because it's not. Don't accuse those who resist as being "perpetrators.

When government illegally and immorally attacks God-given freedoms of citizens, rebukes legal and political efforts to end power grabs and corruption, subjugates one class to benefit others, änd tries to disarm resistance, then the historical pushback is to starve the attacking beast -- in this case financially. That pushback isn't a scandal but rather a natural heroic effort by individuals to save the patient from a deadly virus of liberalism and totalitarian big government. The IRS scandal provided the incentives for finding the vaccine.

Look at the IRS, the consenting Justice Department, the instigating White House, and a "free-press" playing along. Those are your real perpetrators that are destroying our freedoms and nation.

Posted by: Woody | Dec 27, 2015 10:18:37 AM

Unless something changes soon, the continued crippling of the IRS will have grave consequences for our nation. No great and free has ever flourished or even survived for long without an effective means of levying and collecting taxes. This is the real scandal, but few if any on the right understand what has been done. The rest are the perpetrators.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Dec 27, 2015 9:13:41 AM

The Republicans have learned that the Federal Agencies can no longer be relied on to equally apply laws and regulations. So they naturally restrict the power of the agencies.

Posted by: James | Dec 27, 2015 8:20:59 AM

So...the GOP was given an even playing field by the SCOTUS...their organizations get to be treated like the leftwing unions...and the NY TIMES doesn't like it...go figure.

Posted by: VoteOutIncumbents | Dec 27, 2015 8:01:07 AM