IRS attack on Tea Party urged

New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D) doubled down on his previous calls for President Obama to use the IRS to target Tea Party groups while speaking before the extreme-left, tax-exempt Center for American Progress (CAP) yesterday.

The Washington Free Beacon reports that Schumer advocated that Tea Party organizations be targeted, saying, “the Obama administration should bypass Congress and institute new campaign finance rules through the IRS.”

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Schumer is further quoted as saying: “It is clear that we will not pass anything legislatively as long as the House of Representatives is in Republican control, but there are many things that can be done administratively by the IRS and other government agencies — we must redouble those efforts immediately."

“One of the great advantages the Tea Party has is the huge holes in our campaign finance laws created [by] the ill advised decision [Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission].”

The irony is that CAP, which is a tax-exempt nonprofit “charity” whose sole purpose is political education, is exactly what Schumer claims to abhor about Tea Party groups. CAP even has an “Action Fund” that is the exact same tax category as the small, local Tea Party groups Schumer fears.

Currently, the IRS has proposed regulations that would institutionalize the political targeting that Schumer urges. If they became law, and were equally applied, CAP, the Sierra Club and a number of George Soros's front groups, including ProgressNow, would be at the front of the line for IRS scrutiny.

One of the brakes on one party’s abuse of government power against its political opponents is the presumption that the same could happen to them when they are in the minority. 

Schumer apparently has no fear that far-left advocacy groups will suffer from the same IRS targeting fate, making this political equivalent of mutually assured destruction moot.

It may be that the weak stance congressional Republicans have taken in response to the end of Senate filibusters on most executive and judicial nominations has emboldened Schumer to believe that a Republican administration would shrink away from applying the same targeting standards to the left’s tax-exempt political machine.

It is likely that Schumer is betting that a combination of media pressure and an inate sense that political speech should be protected will prevent a future Republican from blatantly using the IRS to target political enemies.

The other, more pernicious alternative is Schumer believes that if the federal government sufficiently suppresses political speech, his party will never lose control of the White House, eliminating the fear that the IRS would be turned against his political soul mates.

In either case, Americans of all political stripes need to tell the IRS to reject their proposed rules as a dangerous encroachment on First Amendment freedom. The comment period is open until Feb. 27, so time is short to say no to Schumer and overwhelm the IRS with comments to protect free speech from the IRS. 

Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government, a 501(c)(4). Contact him at rmanning@getliberty.org.

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