Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category
Tuesday, Jim Knoblach officially announced his candidacy for the House seat in HD-14B, currently held by DFL freshman Zach Dorholt:
Knoblach, a St. Cloud real estate investor, served in the state House from 1995 to 2006, when he chose not to run again.
He said last month that he was considering a run for the 14B seat. In a news release Tuesday, Knoblach said he wants “to put some balance and common sense back in the Legislature.”
First things first: I will be supporting Jim at next week’s endorsing convention. I’m not part of Jim’s campaign team but I’ll enthusiastically support Jim, partially because I’ve considered Jim as a friend for years, partially because he’s one of the smartest policymakers I’ve ever met.
Immediately, Jim started defining the race against Dorholt:
“Unlike Mr. Dorholt, you won’t find me voting for new job-killing taxes one year, and then claiming to be a tax cutter by suggesting they should be repealed the next year,” Knoblach said in his release.
It isn’t just that Rep. Dorholt is attempting to make his vote for the Democrats’ Tax (increase) Bill disappear. It’s true that, in voting for the bill, he voted for funding Tom Bakk’s $90,000,000 office building. Not only that but Dorholt voted for the Business-to-Business tax increases that he’s now hoping to repeal.
With Jim, I know that I won’t see him changing his mind moment-to-moment to fit his political needs. The great thing about Jim is that he’s a man of principle who thinks things through first. Jim’s willing to fund important priorities that Minnesota’s Constitution madates. He just won’t vote for things like $90,000.000 office buildings for part-time politicians.
Recently, Rep. Dorholt tried explaining away his vote for the Democrats’ tax increases this way:
“I’m not somebody who’s going to vote against a bill when it has much more good in it than bad,” Dorholt said.
Shame on Dorholt for saying that. The Democrats’ tax increase bill included middle class tax increases, the funding for a politician’s pork palace and a sales tax on farmers. If that’s Dorholt’s idea of a bill that “has much more good in it than bad”, then it’s time to question Dorholt’s priorities.
Last spring, Zach Dorholt willingly voted for the DFL’s tax increase bill. This year, Rep. Dorholt is trying to wiggle out of that vote with a little spin:
For local Republicans, the DFLer in the crosshairs on this issue is St. Cloud Rep. Zachary Dorholt. He’s among the DFLers who voted for last year’s broad-ranging tax measure that included the business-to-business taxes.
Dorholt since has lobbied to repeal those taxes.
“I’m encouraged to see that Rep. Dorholt has changed his mind,” Sen. John Pederson, R-St. Cloud, said last week. “He originally supported those business-to-business taxes coming out of the House.”
Well, yes and no.
There’s no question Dorholt voted for the measure that put the taxes into law. He says the measure, which also raised taxes on wealthy people and tobacco, made other priorities possible, such as boosting funding for schools and freezing tuition at state colleges and universities.
“I’m not somebody who’s going to vote against a bill when it has much more good in it than bad,” Dorholt said.
But Dorholt says he never supported the business-to-business taxes.
Actually, it’s yes, no and yes again. Rep. Dorholt allegedly promised Teresa Bohnen, the president of the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce, that he wouldn’t vote for the B2B taxes. Then he voted for the B2B sales taxes. That’s bad enough but it’s more than that, though. Rep. Dorholt said that he wouldn’t “vote against a bill” that “has much more good in it than bad.”
That sounds relatively reasonable. Unfortunately, further investigation of the bill shows that the bill didn’t have more good than bad in it. The final tax bill that Rep. Dorholt voted for didn’t just include the B2B sales taxes in it. That tax bill also had the Senate Office Building appropriations in it.
Did Rep. Dorholt think it was right to impose sales taxes on farmers and small businesses that rent warehouses? I’d love hearing Rep. Dorholt’s explanation on that. The B2B taxes were awful enough. Rep. Dorholt didn’t just vote for those taxes. He voted to fund a Taj Mahal building that the legislature didn’t need, too. He also voted to raise income taxes on small businesses.
Rep. Dorholt isn’t voting to repeal those B2B taxes. He’s voting to hide his mistake. He doesn’t want taxpayers noticing the fact that he voted to raise taxes on small businesses, farmers and the middle class while voting to fund a palace for Senate fat cats.
That isn’t the definition of voting for something that “has much more good in it than bad” in it. That’s voting to raise taxes regardless of the details.
The DFL’s hostility towards businesses has been frequently documented. Tax the Rich became their mantra in 2008. It’s still part of their mantra today. Unfortunately for Minnesotans, Gov. Dayton and the DFL didn’t just ‘tax the rich.’ They dropped a ton of taxes on the middle class and the working poor.
Speaker Thissen officially went on the record at a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce event that the DFL will raise the minimum wage and that it’s likely to be closer to $9.50 per hour than $7.75 per hour:
Tuesday’s Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Session Priorities event may have been full of literature, displays and speeches promoting business interests, but House Speaker Paul Thissen wasn’t shy about telling business leaders that they won’t be getting some of the biggest items on their wish list.
For starters, the highest income tax bracket is not going away, the DFLer from Minneapolis predicted. There will be a minimum wage hike, and that new minimum wage will be closer to the high end than the low end, he said.
“Quite frankly, I think this is the right direction for Minnesota to go. I know that’s going to disappoint a lot of the people in the room, but I think it’s where we should head,” Thissen said at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, where 1,650 tickets were sold to the annual event.
The short-term effect of raising the minimum wage to $9.50 per hour is that fewer teenagers will find jobs if the minimum wage is raised. In this sluggish economy, employers will have an additional excuse not to hire teenagers for summer jobs.
What’s most disturbing is that Thissen thinks that Democrats think this is the right direction to head in. It indicates that the DFL doesn’t understand what creates prosperity. One of Thissen’s top lieutenants, Rep. Ryan Winkler, repeatedly says that raising the minimum wage doesn’t hurt hiring. He’s both right and wrong. There’s sufficient proof that raising the minimum wage during good times isn’t tragic for businesses. It isn’t helpful but it isn’t catastrophic.
Likewise, there’s sufficient proof that raising the minimum wage during a struggling economy hurts hiring, especially with young people looking for their first job.
Finally, it looks like the warehousing services sales tax and the farm equipment repair sales tax will be repealed. Two weekends ago, SEIU Local 26 President Javier Morillo-Alicea tried spinning the repeal of these taxes as DFL tax relief. That’s the most deceitful spin I’ve heard in ages.
The DFL legislature passed a Tax Bill that raised too many taxes. After a lengthy public outcry, they’ve decided that it’s in the Democrats’ political self-interest to repeal their mistake before voters punish them this November. This isn’t about the Democrats realizing that their tax increases will hurt businesses.
It’s important to remember that these taxes were in Gov. Dayton’s initial budget. They were stripped from the Democrats’ Tax Bill thanks to an intense lobbying campaign by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. On the final weekend of last year’s session, the DFL put the tax increases back into the final bill.
Simply put, Democrats thumbed their noses at the Chamber. The DFL only changed directions when they noticed how upset the Chamber was with these tax hikes. Thissen is especially worried because the Senate isn’t up for re-election. That means all of the Chamber’s anger will be directed at House DFL legislators.
That isn’t automatically catastrophic with a statewide candidate, though it can’t help. It’s likely to have the biggest impact in House races where a well-funded challenger can defeat a vulnerable incumbent. That’s why Thissen is rightfully worried.
Technorati: Paul Thissen, Mark Dayton, Tax Increases, Warehouse Services Sales Tax, Farm Equipment Repair Sales Tax, Ryan Winkler, Minimum Wage Increase, DFL, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Election 2014
If this article is right, then we’re seeing the first signs that opposition to the Senate Office Building is mounting:
Lawmakers in Minnesota had hoped to break ground in March on a $63 million new state Senate office building next to the state Capitol in St. Paul.
But a fight has broken out over the project, which critics have called an unnecessary expense in a city with high office vacancy.
The project has been delayed amid the debate, and now could face further delays because a committee of the state House of Representatives intends to hold a hearing in coming weeks rather than vote immediately on the project.
House Majority Leader Erin Murphy said in an interview that she felt some of the concerns raised by critics were legitimate. “Before we’re going to take that vote, I want to make sure that we’ve had ample time to consider the options before us,” she said. Those options include using existing government space to house Senate workers, she said. “I think that it is important to get this right, versus get it fast.”
Yesterday, I wrote this post to highlight the fact that Sen. Bakk shrouded this project in secrecy because he knew that publicity would kill the plan. In that post, I highlighted the fact that Sen. Bakk didn’t write a standalone bill for this project.
That’s exceptionally odd for this big of a project, especially in light of the fact that legislators routinely write bills for tiny projects to be included in the Bonding Bill.
Sen. Bakk didn’t write a bill for this project, opting instead to introduce this project as an amendment to last year’s Tax Bill. Testimony wasn’t taken for or against Sen. Bakk’s ‘amendment’, probably because Sen. Bakk didn’t want the publicity.
Opposition to this project must be building. If it wasn’t, Erin Murphy wouldn’t be exercising this tiny amount of fiscal restraint. Rep. Murphy is lots of things but the taxpayers’ watchdog isn’t one of those things.
This feels like a sinking ship. Holding a hearing on the project will bring out tons of angry taxpayers protesting this project. I’m betting there won’t be many people testifying that the project should proceed. I’d bet the proverbial ranch that Sen. Bakk won’t testify that this project is needed.
Like the Tax Bill this project was contained in, this project is a portrait of the Democrats’ lack of fiscal restraint. Now that it’s exposed, they’ll try telling us that they had to vote for the Tax Bill. The Tax Bill itself is part of the Democrats’ attack on taxpayers.
This weekend, Javier Morillo-Alicea tried spinning the repeal of the B2B sales tax increases as proof of the DFL’s plan for tax relief. That’s chutzpah personified. They raised those taxes last May. If people hadn’t expressed their disgust with those tax increases, they’d still be in the bill.
Thanks to that opposition, they’re likely to repeal those sales taxes. Thanks to this uprising, they’re likely to defund the SOB (Senate Office Building).
The thing to remember is that the Democrats’ first instinct was to a) raise taxes on the middle class and b) spend money on a lavish, ill-advised palace for themselves. They voted for the Tax Bill. They voted against stripping out the Senate project. Democrat legislators can’t credibly say that they oppose it. They cast their votes. They expressed their priorities.
They’re opposing this project because they’d get clobbered this November if they didn’t.
Keep the pressure on. Don’t relent. Plan on attending this hearing. Plan on testifying against this project. Let’s sink this project once and for all.
If anything is gaining traction as a totally unexpected issue, it’s the DFL’s palace, aka the Senate Office Building. In January, Joe Soucheray wrote this blistering piece about the SOB foolishness. He wasn’t finished. He’s written this article to blast the foolishness again.
The duplicitous DFLers in the state Senate are moving the marble around under the thimbles. Again. Watch it. Keep your eyes sharp.
As near as I can understand it, they are now informing us that a new Senate office building they want to build for themselves has always been a part of the plan to renovate the Capitol building.
We didn’t know that. Most of us are on board to renovate the Capitol, but we didn’t sign on to build a new office building for 44 of the 67 senators as part of the project. No, they tossed that new building into a tax bill in the closing minutes of the last legislative session and are now trying to sell us on the idea of how desperately they need the new space and that was the plan all along.
Let’s cut through the DFL’s spin. It’s entirely possible that Democrats, starting with Sen. Bakk, always planned on building this monument. Before you get upset with me, take time to think of it from an Obamacare perspective. After President Obama said that people could keep their health plan if they liked it, they followed that up by saying it was never their intent to let people keep their “substandard health insurance plan.” There’s no disputing that.
Pay attention to this thinking. President Obama and DC Democrats always planned on quietly pushing people out of the health insurance plans that they liked. Likewise, it’s totally plausible that Sen. Bakk and the Democrats supported this ill-advised project if it was done quietly.
If you need to seriously remodel your house to the point where you have to move out, it is unlikely that you are going to build a new house for yourself in the interim. No, you would rent a house.
The senators can rent office space in St. Paul. They don’t need an opulent $63 million building with a $27 million parking ramp on the side. That parking ramp is a beautiful window into the minds of the people who brought you light rail. In fact, light rail will swing right by the Capitol. So they should put their mouths where your money is, rent some of the extraordinarily available office space in St. Paul, hop on the train and get dropped off at the Capitol for votes and meetings and whatnot. Why would they need a parking ramp? They don’t even like cars.
Let’s get to the heart of this. Had the Capitol press paid attention and if they were in touch with Main Street Minnesota, they would’ve highlighted this foolish spending. Rather than actually reading bills and asking questions about whether the bills working their way through the legislature, the Capitol press spends most of its time tracking down quotes from legislators.
That isn’t journalism. That’s stenography. If newspapers want to increase readership, they should require their reporters to read the bills that are getting passed.
Part of the problem, unfortunately, is because people don’t care until after the outrage has happened. If people don’t want money to be spent foolishly, the citizenry should be eternally vigilant. Then, if politicians spend money this foolishly, the citizens should boot their arses out.
Finally, let’s have a straightfoward discussion about what Sen. Bakk perpetrated. Sen. Bakk didn’t want anyone to testify about his ill-advised initiative. That’s why he slid the proposal into the Tax Bill as an amendment in the final weeks of the session. If you look, Sen. Bakk didn’t author legislation proposing construction of the Senate Office Building.
It’s time for Minnesotans to step forward and speak with a loud, passionate and unified voice that any politician that isn’t willing to stop this project dead in its tracks will be targeted and defeated this November. Legislators who aren’t the taxpayers’ watchdog are utterly worthless. They should be fired this November.
That’s the only remedy for this disease. When people get re-elected after spending money foolishly, citizens are sending the signal that they’re ok with foolish spending. I’m not ok with this foolish spending.
Defunding this project is imperative to good governance and protecting the taxpayers’ pocketbooks. The House Rules Committee can stop this ill-advised project with a simple vote. Here’s the committee website. All of the GOP legislators will vote against the project so it’s imperative to call or email the DFL committee members and politely but firmly tell them that a vote to approve this project is a vote that will be remembered this November.
Technorati: Tom Bakk, Plutocrats, Senate Office Building, House Rules Committee, Committee Hearing, Legislative Amendment, Secrecy, Pork, DFL, Accountability, Transparency, Taxpayer Revolt, MNGOP, Election 2014
This SCTimes Our View editorial highlights something obvious: that the “legislature didn’t consider [the] taxpayers’ interests:
The Legislature’s $90 million plan to build a Senate office building is as wasteful as it is self-serving.
Lawmakers signed off last session on a multimillion-dollar plan to construct a new Senate office building and parking structure across the street from the Capitol.
The office building is as pure of pork as you’ll ever find. It wouldn’t house the entire Senate. It would only house 44 of Minnesota’s 67 state senators. I agree with this part of the editorial, too:
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk has said the new building is needed to ensure the Senate has enough office space the next three years during the Capitol renovation.
But a $90 million office building and parking ramp paid for by taxpayers is excessive, especially if some senators will not continue to have offices there once Capitol renovations are complete.
Lawmakers should have considered housing senators’ offices in rentable commercial properties near the Capitol. Surely that would have been a more affordable plan than building new offices, which also will take time to construct.
Sen. Bakk should be run out of St. Paul for shoving this project down our throats. It’s excessive. It shouldn’t have gotten a committee hearing. It certainly shouldn’t have gotten through a committee. The DFL legislators who voted for the Tax Bill had the opportunity to strip this provision from the bill. They voted against stripping the provision from the bill.
That means they’re just as guilty of pouring on the pork as Sen. Bakk and Gov. Dayton are. Gov. Dayton could’ve line-item vetoed out the appropriation of money for this project. That’s certainly within a governor’s rights under Minnesota’s constitution. They can’t line-item out policies but they can line-item out appropriations.
The House Rules Committee should reject the proposal. If they did that, they’d stop the project dead in its tracks, which is what it deserves. We know that ground hasn’t been broken yet. That means construction hasn’t started. While there’d be some hard feelings in the Senate if the House rejected the project, it’d be worth it because it would halt the project.
This exchange between overmatched Ron Fournier and Charles Krauthammer is the stuff that President Obama’s nightmares are made of:
Here’s a partial transcript of the segment:
KRAUTHAMMER: But generally speaking you get past the next election by changing your policies, by announcing new initiatives, but not by wantonly changing the law lawlessly. This is stuff you do in a banana republic. It’s as if the law is simply a blackboard on which Obama writes any number he wants, any delay he wants, and any provision.
It’s now reached a point where it is so endemic that nobody even notices or complains. I think if the complaints had started with the first arbitrary changes, and these are are not adjustments or transitions. These are political decisions to minimize the impact leading up to an election. And it’s changing the law in a way that you are not allowed to do.
Fournier didn’t have a rejoinder when Charles said “It isn’t incompetence. It’s the willful breaking of the constitutional order. Where in the Constitution is the president allowed to alter the law 27 times after it has been passed?” Fournier did write something approaching intellectual honesty when he wrote this article. Unfortunately, he’s still bitterly clinging to the thought that the ACA might still work. Here’s is the opening of the article:
It’s getting difficult and slinking toward impossible to defend the Affordable Care Act. The latest blow to Democratic candidates, liberal activists, and naïve columnists like me came Monday from the White House, which announced yet another delay in the Obamacare implementation.
For the second time in a year, certain businesses were given more time before being forced to offer health insurance to most of their full-time workers. Employers with 50 to 99 workers were given until 2016 to comply, two years longer than required by law. During a yearlong grace period, larger companies will be required to insure fewer employees than spelled out in the law.
Not coincidentally, the delays punt implementation beyond congressional elections in November, which raises the first problem with defending Obamacare: The White House has politicized its signature policy.
The win-at-all-cost mentality helped create a culture in which a partisan-line vote was deemed sufficient for passing transcendent legislation. It spurred advisers to develop a dishonest talking point—”If you like your health plan, you’ll be able to keep your health plan.” And political expediency led Obama to repeat the line, over and over and over again, when he knew, or should have known, it was false.
Mr. Fournier and other journalists shouldn’t have been that intellectually incurious. They should’ve questioned the ACA while it was being written. Furthermore, he shouldn’t still cling to the notion that it’ll work. Unfortunately, that’s what he’s doing for all the wrong reasons:
Put me in the frustrated category. I want the ACA to work because I want health insurance provided to the millions without it, for both the moral and economic benefits. I want the ACA to work because, as Charles Lane wrote for The Washington Post, the link between work and insurance needs to be broken. I want the ACA to work because the GOP has not offered a serious alternative that can pass Congress.
Fournier’s anti-conservative blind spot still exists. Saying that “the GOP hasn’t offered a serious plan that can pass Congress” is giving Harry Reid a pass. The Patient CARE Act will do the things that the ACA was supposed to do without raising taxes. It isn’t the Republicans’ fault that Sen. Reid is so intransigent that he’ll do anything to sabotage plans that might help families. It isn’t the Republicans’ fault that Sen. Reid is willing to do anything to keep President Obama’s signature legislation from getting declared a total failure before he leaves office.
Why won’t Fournier take Sen. Reid to task for being intransigent? Why won’t he ask him tough questions about why he won’t consider legislation that’s a serious attempt to fix what’s broken in the ACA? When Mr. Fournier is willing to take off his ideological blinders, then I’ll pay attention to him.
At this point, he isn’t a serious man because he isn’t willing to take those blinders off.
Technorati: Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, President Obama, Ron Fournier, Agenda Media, Progressive Movement, Charles Krauthammer, Constitution, Patient CARE Act, Dr. Tom Coburn, Republicans, Election 2014
After the Obama administration’s announcement that they were postponing the employer mandate another time, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus issued this statement:
The Obama Administration is failing to deal with ObamaCare because it is simply bad law. After refusing to accept bipartisan changes to the law, the administration is unilaterally making it up as they go along. Whether you are an American worker, employer, a union member or healthcare provider, you’ve had enough. What’s the remedy? Elections matter. Democrats may try hiding from President Obama on the campaign trail, but when it comes to his signature accomplishment, ObamaCare, each Democrat Senator up for reelection this year helped make it a reality.
That statement is forgettable. It represents a lost opportunity to pound a big nail in Obamacare’s coffin. Here’s the statement I would’ve written if I was in charge of the RNC’s messaging:
Rather than admitting that his signature issue is a failure, President Obama announced he was delaying the employer mandate. Again. The American people know that the Affordable Care Act isn’t affordable. People are paying more and getting less. Families’ premiums and deductibles are higher. Their networks are smaller. All too often, they’re being told that they can’t continue seeing the doctors that they’ve trustded for years.
Obamacare is the wrong perscription for a difficult situation. Dr. Tom Coburn, working with his Senate colleagues, has put together a plan that does what Obamacare was supposed to do. It addresses the problem of insuring people with pre-existing conditions. It lets families buy insurance across state lines. It lowers health care costs. Unlike Obamacare, it does all this without raising taxes.
Obamacare is killing jobs. The Patient CARE Act will create jobs and unleash the awesome job-creating power of American entrepreneurs. Families need good-paying full-time jobs. Families can’t wait through another delay to a failed bill.
This morning, Mark Halperin said what others hadn’t said:
At some point, we’ll reach a tipping point. I suspect we’re fast approaching that point. Charles Krauthammer is more skeptical of the bill than I am:
Mssrs. Halperin and Krauthammer are right that Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act, is killing jobs and the decision to delay another part of the employer mandate screams of survival politics at its worst.
Technorati: Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee, Patient CARE Act, Repeal And Replace, Dr. Tom Coburn, Orrin Hatch, Richard Burr, GOP, President Obama, Employer Mandate, Democrats, Election 2014
I didn’t know about Joe Soucheray’s column from the Jan. 11, 2014 edition of the Pioneer Press. It’s a fascinating read. Here’s part of Mr. Soucheray’s column:
Not only is a new state Senate office building unnecessary, but the effort to bring it about was, essentially, crooked. In the final minutes of the last legislative session, the lodge tucked into a massive tax bill language that authorized a new edifice for themselves. They might as well have been throwing candy from a parade float.
They didn’t even know what it would cost, and they apparently didn’t care. They didn’t even seem to care that their action might very well have been unconstitutional. Former state Rep. Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, filed a lawsuit in October. We should be cheering for this guy. He contends in the suit that authorizing the project in a tax bill, instead of the usual bonding bill, violates a state constitutional requirement that a law embrace only one subject. A hearing is scheduled this month in Ramsey County District Court.
Mr. Soucheray is right. Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk, Speaker Thissen and the DFL didn’t care how much this building cost. They didn’t care that the building wasn’t needed or that there were cheaper ‘solutions’ to this non-problem. The Minnesota Senate needed that building like this ship needed more ice near Antarctica:
The Minnesota Senate needed that office building like Olympic athletes need this type of drinking water:
Let’s get serious about this. If we do, then we’ll be more considerate of the taxpayers’ plight than the DFL was. The DFL Tax Bill is a disaster. First, it raised taxes on the middle class and on small retailers. Next, it’s spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need, aka the Senate Office Building. Third, the DFL is already admitting that they raised taxes too much because they’re already preparing to repeal some of the taxes they created less than a year ago.
All of these things are major mistakes. Building the SOB is the biggest of those mistakes because, potentially, it’ll exist a generation or more. Hopefully, the middle class tax hikes will be repealed. (The sooner the better, right?) Repealing the B2B sales taxes will happen this session.
Unfortunately, if it’s approved by the DFL House Rules Committee, the SOB will be with us for a generation or more.
The biggest question Minnesotans need to ask themselves is whether they want inconsiderate, thoughtless people running state government. The DFL did what conservatives predicted they’d do. They raised taxes on the middle class and working poor. They foolishly spent money on things like the Senate Office Building. They built a collosal monument to their warped ideology when they passed MNsure.
I’d argue that the DFL is the ‘gang that couldn’t shoot straight’ if I thought that were true. Unfortunately, this DFL governor and this DFL legislature has aimed their taxing and spending guns at every Minnesotan. Every Minnesota taxpayer will pay for this monstrosity.
Mostly, the SOB is a testimony to the DFL’s appetite for spending money foolishly. That alone should get them fired this November.
Hans Spakovsky’s post on the Heritage Foundation’s blog is a fantastic one-stop-shopping-center for what the IRS’s proposed rules mean:
On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee questioned IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. The Committee released an email it had obtained from inside the Treasury Department showing that back in 2012 when it appears that the IRS was in the middle of trying to prevent conservative organizations from being granted tax exempt status, the administration was already planning to draft new regulations restricting the political activity of the same organizations. The email was sent by Ruth Madrigal of the Office of Tax Policy at Treasury to Lois Lerner, the IRS official who refused to answer questions from Congress about the scandal by asserting her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
That June 14, 2012, email indicated that Madrigal and Lerner would be devising the new rules “off-plan,” which is federal government-speak meaning that their plan would not be published on the public schedule of the IRS. What is significant about this email is that it flatly contradicts prior assertions by the Obama administration that the proposed new regulations defining “candidate-related political activity” were planned only after the IRS scandal was made public in order to “clarify” the regulations. Instead, it appears the administration not only tried to delay and prevent conservative organizations from receiving their tax-exempt status prior to the 2012 election, but was also already planning new regulations that would stifle their political speech and potential criticism of the administration.
In short, the Obama administration intended to silence its critics while violating Americans’ constitutional rights. The Obama administration didn’t hesitate in crushing TEA Party organizations’ First Amendment rights.
If we had an attorney general that was interested in justice, Lois Lerner would’ve been prosecuted and convicted already. That’s because she lied to Congress about the IRS scandal was restricted to a couple rogue IRS agents in their Cincinnati office. That’s before finding out that she knew about the proposed new rules that would intentionally trample TEA Party organizations’ First Amendment rights.
What’s most important is that Chuck Schumer and Al Franken think it’s a good idea for the IRS to redouble their efforts of improperly investigating and harassing these TEA Party organizations.
This is just the continuation of the Democrats’ assault against the Citizens United ruling. That’s the ruling which said that it’s better to have more political speech. Democrats disagree, insisting that less political speech, especially that which happens close to an election or primary, is desirable.
When the Citizens United ruling took away the FEC’s ability to limit speech in 2010, the administration switched to Plan B. That meant the IRS would replace the FEC as the federal government’s agency in charge of limiting political speech. John Hinderaker’s post highlights what the Obama administration thinks of political speech. Here’s part of a speech Lois Lerner gave on the subject:
What happened last year was the Supreme Court–the law kept getting chipped away, chipped away, in the federal election arena. The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow, overturning a 100-year-old precedent that basically corporations couldn’t give directly to political campaigns. And everyone is up in arms because they don’t like it. The Federal Election Commission can’t do anything about it.
They want the IRS to fix the problem. The IRS laws are not set up to fix the problem: (c)(4)s can do straight political activity. They can go out and pay for an ad that says “Vote for Joe Blow.” That’s something they can do as long as their primary activity is their (c)(4) activity, which is social welfare.
Q: When did political speech become a problem to be fixed? A: When this administration took over. It’s been their habit to eliminate political speech that doesn’t sing from their hymnal.
The telling line in Ms. Lerner’s speech is “The IRS Laws aren’t set up to fix the problem: c4s can do straight political activity.” Corporations still can’t contribute to candidates’ campaigns. That shouldn’t mean they can’t spend money campaigning on issues important to them. If unions have the right to campaign on issues important to them, then corporations have the right to do the same.
This article does an excellent job explaining the IRS’s proposed new rules:
But under the proposed rules, which would remove a 501(c)(4)’s tax exemption if it engages in virtually any political activity, if they choose to do so collectively, rather than individually, the organization will be subject to income tax on the amount it collects. If an individual spends $1,000 on posters, he will get $1,000 worth; but if he donates $1,000 to the organization, it will have to pay $350 to the IRS and will be left with only $650 to purchase posters.
That’s the Obama administration’s ‘fix’ to the free speech ‘problem’.
Technorati: Lois Lerner, President Obama, Censorship, First Amendment, Citizens United, IRS, FEC, Unions, Corporations, Poltical Campaigns, Democrats, Elections