All articles will be written by Samual Rawmone.
|Posted on May 14, 2013 at 5:35 PM||comments (0)|
Image courtesy of upi.com.
The IRS not only demanded personal information of donors to conservative groups in their persecution of political dissent, they also illegally distributed the information to left-wing groups. Liberal media advocacy group Pro-Publica is reporting that in November they received tax information from the IRS on thirty-one right-wing groups. From Pro-Publica:
On Nov. 15, 2012, ProPublica requested the applications of 67 nonprofits, all of which had spent money on the 2012 elections. (Because no social welfare groups with Tea Party in their names spent money on the election, ProPublica did not at that point request their applications. We had requested the Tea Party applications earlier, after the groups first complained about being singled out by the IRS. In response, the IRS said it could find no record of the tax-exempt status of those groups — typically how it responds to requests for unapproved applications.)
Just 13 days after ProPublica sent in its request, the IRS responded with the documents on 31 social welfare groups.
One of the applications the IRS released to ProPublica was from Crossroads GPS, the largest social-welfare nonprofit involved in the 2012 election. The group, started in part by GOP consultant Karl Rove, promised the IRS that any effort to influence elections would be “limited.” The group spent more than $70 million from anonymous donors in 2012.
Applications were sent to ProPublica from five other social welfare groups that had told the IRS that they wouldn’t spend money to sway elections. The other groups ended up spending more than $5 million related to the election, mainly to support Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Much of that money was spent by the Arizona group Americans for Responsible Leadership. The remaining four groups that told the IRS they wouldn’t engage in political spending were Freedom Path, Rightchange.com II, America Is Not Stupid and A Better America Now.
The IRS also sent ProPublica the applications of three small conservative groups that told the agency that they would spend some money on politics: Citizen Awareness Project, the YG Network and SecureAmericaNow.org. (No unapproved applications from liberal groups were sent to ProPublica.)
The IRS then realized that the documents they sent should not have been distributed. “It has come to our attention that you are in receipt of application materials of organizations that have not been recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt,” said IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge in an email to the organization. Eldridge then went on to cite a law that publishing unauthorized returns could result in a $5,000 and five years in prison. ProPublica published the information in reports anyways.
It is truly outrageous that the IRS not only illegally tries to intimidate these conservative groups, but then gives away the financial information for the public to see. If it is not tyranny that the American people cannot expect basic privacy from their own government, especially when the government is targeting them merely over political dissent in the first place, what is?
Barker, Kim and Justin Elliot. “IRS Office That Targeted Tea Party Also Disclosed Confidential Docs From Conservative Groups.” ProPublica.org. ProPublica, Inc.: 14 May 2013. Web. 14 May 2013. <http://www.propublica.org/article/irs-office-that-targeted-tea-party-also-disclosed-confidential-docs>
|Posted on May 14, 2013 at 4:45 PM||comments (0)|
More details are now being released regarding the IRS’s illegal targeting of right-wing groups, which was brought into light by an Inspector General Report, that show the extreme extent of the agencies’ perverse actions. Documents show that some groups were given 55-question forms that demanding the groups to give away personal information of their donors and volunteers.
Image Courtesy of the Daily Mail.
Item number 11 given to a group called “Richmond Tea Party,” a Virginia-based organization that was a victim of the illegal audits required them to give “the names of the donors,” the use of the donations, and their amounts.
The questions came as a result of applying for 501(c)(4) status. The agency claimed they complied fully with over 500 pages of documentation in 2011 and did not hear back from the IRS until January 2012, when they received the 55 documents. At the time, the group lashed out against the IRS for “unreasonable requests,” releasing the following press release in 2012:
This illustrates everything the American people find unacceptable from their government. A simple request for tax-exempt status should not take years to complete, involve hundreds of pages of documentation, require hundreds of volunteer hours, and request private information we should never have to disclose.
This grants the Federal Government the dangerous power to selectively stymie those voices with which they disagree, bogging them down in endless paperwork and compliance costs so that they are unable to spend time serving the principles they founded their organization to advance.
Richmond Tea Party is just one of 75 groups that were inappropriately audited merely for disagreeing for the government.
Congress is now launching numerous investigations into the IRS’s wrong doing. Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) has introduced a bill to the House which would increase penalties on the IRS for applying tax law on people specifically for their political beliefs. Currently, IRS officials can only be terminated for discriminating in their application of tax law; the bill would leave the perpetrators with a $5,000, five years in prison, or both.
Gibson, Ginger. “New bill would boost penalties on IRS lawbreakers.” Politico.com. Politico: 13 May 2013. Web. 14 May 2013. <http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=0387D53E-E899-4D6D-9B39-B9B62621F5C0>
Martosoko, David. “Revealed: The 55 questions the IRS asked one tea party group after more than two years of waiting – including demands for names of all its donors and volunteers.” DailyMail.co.uk. Associated Newspapers, LTD: 13 May 2013. Web. 14 May 2013. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2323978/Revealed-The-55-questions-IRS-asked-tea-party-group-years-waiting--including-demands-names-donors-volunteers.html>
|Posted on May 14, 2013 at 1:10 PM||comments (0)|
Image Courtesy of MSNBC.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is now back into controversy after blaming the IRS’s recent targeting of conservative groups on the Supreme Court. She blasted the IRS’s audits of Tea Party, but last night on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, she also called it an “opportunity” to overturn Citizen’s United:
The fact is that the law says that as long as the funds, the 501(c)(4)s do not use as the primary purpose politics but instead promoting social wellbeing, welfare. Well, that's what primary purpose means, could be the secondary purpose. And here's what I'm calling for: As we look at this and we should, and I think it's very wrong that they would have targeted them, we should be saying what are these groups? Let's have transparency, disclosure. Who are these contributors, a.? B., Let's have accountability for what it is. This is a very vague law, let's bring a clear definition of what a 501(c)(4) -- is that somebody could give them money and they don't have to pay taxes on it.
We need accountability at the IRS, of course, as to how this happened. But we've really got to overturn Citizens United which has exacerbated the situation. So I've called for DISCLOSE, that's a dare, disclose… I've been calling for it for over a year, disclose, who are these people? Transparency, amend the constitution to overturn Citizens United, reform the political system, let's take money down as far as possible. Public financing of campaigns, clean campaigns and empowerment of people because people feel very left out of the loop. But I do think that some scrutiny has to be placed on what these 501(c)(4)s are.
Citizens United was a 2010 Supreme Court case that ruled so-called “Political Action Committees,” or 501(c)(4)s, are allowed to create political advertisements without government abridgement as limiting the amount of money citizens are allowed to spend on speech would limit speech itself. It also ruled that the PACs are not forced to disclose their donors.
The Citizens United case, however, has little to do with the IRS’s draconian actions. The groups were seeking to file for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status, true, however whether the IRS sought to audit groups based on political persuasion has nothing to do with what specifically they were seeking to file for. In this case, Pelosi has committed a non sequitur. Whether the groups were simply filing tax returns or 501(c)(4) is irrelevant, the controversy revolves around the IRS’s decision to abuse its power and investigate groups purely based off political persuasion.
Pelosi’s demands to reveal donors to 501(c)(4) also opens the door for intimidation of political patrons. People should have the right to discreetly execute their right to donate to political campaigns just as they should have the right to discreetly vote.
Schwartz, Ian. “Pelosi: IRS Scandal "An Opportunity" To Scrutinize 501(c)(4)s And "Overturn Citizens United”.” 13 May 2013. Web. 13 May 2013. <http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/05/13/pelosi_irs_scandal_an_opportunity_to_scrutinize_501c4s_and_overturn_citizens_united.html>
|Posted on May 13, 2013 at 9:55 PM||comments (0)|
Image Courtesy of Floyd Yarmuth.
Since misnamed “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” is now increasing healthcare and drug costs, disregarding the “Affordable Care” aspect of its name, it might as well drop the “Patient Protection” as well. The law will require taxpayers to complete a new form that will include the company providing coverage, identification number of taxpayer, number of months under the plan, and whether or not the plan was purchased in a healthcare exchange. All of which, in all of virtue, should be none of the government’s priority in the first place.
The reason for the new invasive tax form is as an enforcement mechanism for the bills individual mandate, which is intended to offset potential cost hikes of other provisions of the law such as eliminating preexisting conditions. The Individual Mandate, which was ruled constitutional as a tax last June, will be expected to impact 3.9 million of the 140 million families who will complete the new form. According to the Heritage Foundation, 75% of them will be in the middle class.
Clearly, such personal information in the hands of the IRS may be disconcerting to proponents of personal privacy, especially considering the IRS’s recent tendency to audit political dissenters. The IRS is given massive new power even outside the form, enforcing 47 new taxes.
The bill is named the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” when it does not even protect the personal information of patience, and will increase costs. What are we left with when we remove “Patient Protection and “Affordable Care” from the name, just “Act.” Which is far more accurate as its just an “Act” by the government that will benefit none but those seeking to expand the government’s ability to “Act” on our lives.
Jackowsky, Stephanie, Ashley Shelton and James Sherk. “ObamaCare Raises Taxes on 3 Million Middle Class Americans.” Heritage.org. Heritage Foundation: 29 June 2012. Web. 13 May 2013. <http://blog.heritage.org/2012/06/29/obamacare-raises-taxes-on-3-million-middle-class-americans/>
Kartch, John. “Obamacare: Taxpayers Must Report Personal Health ID Info to IRS.” ATR.org. Americans for Tax Reform: 10 May 2013. Web. 13 May 2013. <http://www.atr.org/obamacare-taxpayers-must-report-personal-health-a7611>
|Posted on May 13, 2013 at 9:10 PM||comments (0)|
Image courtesy of MSU.
The tragically misnamed Affordable Care Act is expected to massively hike healthcare premiums. According to a study by the Society of Actuaries it will increase premiums by 32% on average across the nation, even as high as 80% in states like Wisconsin, 66% in Massachusetts and 81% in Ohio. It should come as no surprise that a law with 47 new taxes, increases demand for healthcare, with 30 million new customers and extremely invasive regulations would increase prices on the commodity it affects. As a result, some states are looking to allow companies to offset the premium hikes, but still at a hefty cost for consumers, and some of the sickest and most in need in healthcare.
States like California, who is expecting a 61% increase, are allowing companies to charge patience with up to 30% of the cost for expensive “specialty drugs.” These “specialty drugs” are often used to treat the side-effects of cancer treatments, and can cost thousands a month in co-pays. For an example, a widely-used cancer drug such as Gleevec can cost up to $2,000 a month according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Such high drug costs are expected to certainly reduce access to care as industry research firm Avalere Health found 25% of consumers walk away from pharmacies without necessary medication when facing a co-pay of above $500.
The cooperative in charge of California’s health markets under the law says, Cover California, claims that the situation is balanced between making premiums affordable and hiking premiums. “We are trying to keep the insurance affordable across the board," a spokesman for the organization said. "This is just part of trying to manage the overall risk of the pool."
Either way, government intrusion in the economy once again means higher prices for consumers, and in this case less coverage for the most ill in society. All of this is done under the façade, most ironically, of reducing healthcare costs and increasing coverage. It’s a true Harold to the way statism fails to work: bad legislation which harms the American people are past under shallow political rhetoric at odds with reality, then the bill does the opposite of what is intended and the people are saddled with the consequences of tyranny and manipulation.
Associated Press. “Cancer patients could face high costs for medications under ObamaCare, critics warn.” FoxNews.com. Fox News, LLC: 13 May 2013. Web. 13 May 2013. <http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/05/13/cancer-patients-could-face-high-costs-for-medications-under-obamacare-critics/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+foxnews%2Fnational+%28Internal+-+US+Latest+-+Text%29>
Society of Actuaries. “Cost of the Future Newly Insured under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).” SOA.org. Society of Actuaries: March 2013. Web. 10 May 2013. <http://cdn-files.soa.org/web/research-cost-aca-report.pdf>