POLITICS

New York Times applauded the IRS last year for targeting Tea Party groups

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Tea Party,IRS

The New York Times has been noticeably unenthusiastic in covering the IRS/Tea Party scandal. A news story about it on their web page now is headlined: “IRS focus on conservatives give G.O.P. an issue to seize on.” As far as it is concerned, the big issue here is that the IRS’s abuses may have helped the GOP, not the core fact that the IRS abused its power.

There may be a reason why the Times thinks this way: Just 14 months ago it was actually cheerleading the targeting of Tea Party groups by the Internal Revenue Service.

In an unsigned March 7, 2012, editorial it stated:

Taxpayers should be encouraged by complaints from Tea Party chapters applying for nonprofit tax status at being asked by the Internal Revenue Service to prove they are “social welfare” organizations and not the political activists they so obviously are.

Tea Party supporters claim they are being politically harassed with extensive I.R.S. questionnaires. But the service properly contends that it must ensure that these groups are “primarily” engaged in social welfare, not political campaigning, to merit tax exemption under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code.

Such I.R.S. inquiries are long overdue and should be applied across the board to the growing number of organizations, allied with the major political parties, that are also ludicrously posing as “social welfare” groups. Legitimate social welfare organizations are allowed limited political activity. But these political offshoots are using that tax status in a transparent ploy to keep big donors secret while funneling the money to campaigns. Chief among these groups are American Crossroads, the campaign machine created by Republican guru Karl Rove, and Priorities USA, the Democratic counterpart founded by former White House aides, now openly encouraged by President Obama as he runs for re-election.

These groups, which already have 501(c)(4) status, should be as thoroughly investigated as any Tea Party chapter applying for that tax exempt status. So should two other blatant offenders: the conservative American Action Network, a “social welfare” claimant reported by the Center for Public Integrity to have spent more than 80 percent of its expenditures on the 2010 elections; and Americans Elect, a third-party effort enjoying “social welfare” secrecy as it secures ballot space across the nation.

All these groups should be operating as political organizations required to disclose their donors under the law. Blatant abuses of tax law and common sense are part of the laissez-faire dynamic that is driving the 2012 campaigns. The I.R.S. must not flinch from its duty to enforce the tax code and root out political operatives who are abusing the law and conning taxpayers and voters. (All emphasis added.)

Hat tip: Reason magazine.

So in other words, the administration went ahead and did exactly what the Times was encouraging it to do, something that even President Obama now says he has “no patience” with.

 

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