The proper lessons of the unfolding IRS scandal are twofold. First, any effort to have the IRS police advocacy activities of social-welfare organizations is bound to be clumsy and prone to degenerate into either selective or broad witch hunts. Second, the remedy is not to further limit political speech by nonprofit entities—which would certainly raise significant constitutional issues—but to encourage such speech by imposing fewer restrictions.
That combines with this:
There are two valid takeaways from the IRS scandal [and the other scandals: AP; Benghazi; Sebelius’ HHS “fund-raising” for Federal government’s health exchanges, just exposed this year]. First, it confirms that big government, whose power Obama is bent on expanding, cannot be trusted to behave properly. Second, it calls for further investigation to determine how high up the chain the wrongdoing extends and whether the administration acted promptly to stop the targeting once it learned of that activity.
The need for an investigation and the firing of miscreants and subsequent jailing of those miscreants whose behavior was criminal certainly is warranted. However, the IRS’ unconscionable behavior, and the Obama administration’s behavior vis-à-vis the other…scandals…, aren’t unique to the Obama administration. These are the inevitable outcomes of Big Government, even when that government acts with the best of intentions.
Our Federal government needs to be drastically shrunk in size and scope, returning it to the small, limited, and so controllable, entity that it was designed to be.
A first step in this, in the present context, would be to do away with the distinction between 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations—the legal distinction is wholly artificial and without meaning, anyway. All entities engaged in otherwise tax exempt activities must be able to engage in some political activity. That’s at the core of the speech clauses of the 1st Amendment:
Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
There’s nothing in there about “except for when individual Americans or groups of them peaceably assembled are doing certain government-identified things.”
Subsequently, reform the tax code altogether to a single low, flat tax and thereby eliminate the need for tax exempt status for any organization.