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Message to liberal senators: Don’t meddle with the IRS

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If you are a liberal education activist or liberal senator, you have fallen on hard times. You don’t have an opportunity to ram your misguided agenda through the Department of Education, the Congress or the White House, so what does one do? Perhaps round up a few of your colleagues and try to pressure the IRS into taking action against your political opponents?

That is exactly what is happening.

{mosads}During the Obama years, the IRS was pressured into taking enforcement actions against various conservative organizations that had every right to operate. The Obama administration shamelessly forced the IRS into operating like a partisan, political arm of the Democratic National Committee by taking action against conservative groups.


Disturbingly, a repeat effort is under way to pressure the IRS into taking partisan political action, brought about by a small group of education activists and senators who hope the IRS will make trouble for private colleges and universities.

A letter aimed at shutting down some private colleges was recently sent to the IRS, signed by the Senate’s most liberal members including Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and others. The letter actually says how these senators want the IRS to “closely scrutinize” applications from colleges and universities that wish to make a transition from for-profit status to non-profit status. These misinformed senators say there has been a, “troubling trend of for-profit colleges converting to or attempting to covert to non-profit organizations.”

What trend? There are roughly 2,800 for-profit colleges in America today that receive Title IV funding, and private education officials say there are perhaps 15 to 20 of these schools exploring perfectly legal options of changing their business models. But the education elitists and Senators continue to believe that only government-run education has a place in America today and that privately-run schools somehow do their students a great disservice.

Private schools that offer career oriented education — meaning degrees in engineering, automotive repair, nursing, technology, law enforcement, etc. — play a vital role in our education system.But not according to a small cloister of activists and senators who believe in government-run education and nothing else. 

Everywhere else in our economy for-profit companies are accountable to delivering not only a good product or service, but one that serves the needs of consumers who are free to choose where to put their money. When these senators say the education establishment shouldn’t be “tainted” by profits, they’re not only undermining accountability, but denying consumers the right to make their own choices regarding their future.

Apparently, Warren, Durbin, Blumenthal and others have either ignored or condone unscrupulous past actions of President Obama to use the IRS as a political lever. The IRS has one mission — to objectively and fairly enforce existing tax laws. The IRS is not a political committee and should never operate like one. The motives behind these actions are clear: harass a few privately-run colleges and if successful, expand the number of schools you hope to shut down.

Members of the U.S. Senate demean themselves by asking IRS workers to become political operatives. The senators who call for such heavy-handed action against private schools should be called out for their ideologically driven agenda that not only hurts students seeking education choice, but attempts to turn the IRS into an education czar.

Gerard Scimeca is vice president of Consumer Action for a Strong Economy – CASE advocates for consumer rights while protecting free markets.   

Tags Bernie Sanders Dick Durbin Education Elizabeth Warren For-profit education IRS Patty Murray

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