As an enthusiastic fan of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), I am sorry that an ongoing project prevented me from participating in PJM’s Cruz symposium. But this relevant news just came over the transom, so I thought I’d at least pass it along.
As I’ve previously noted, Obama administration officials have been working the codify in federal law the IRS harassment and obstruction of conservative organizations that President Obama and Attorney General Holder claimed to find “intolerable,” “inexcusable,” “outrageous,” and “unacceptable” back when the scandal first came to light. As usual, it has been Senator Cruz leading the charge to try to stop them.
In the Senate today, Cruz offered two amendments that would have safeguarded the First Amendment rights of Americans against being profiled and targeted for IRS harassment. Specifically, it would have made it unlawful for IRS employees to:
[W]illfully act with the intent to injure, oppress, threaten, intimidate, or single out and subject to undue scrutiny any person or organization in any state.
One might think that discriminating against groups based solely on their political beliefs is something so manifestly wrong and un-American that everyone could agree it should be prohibited – especially after all the Obama administration’s bloviating about how terrible it is. Instead, Democrats unanimously opposed the Cruz amendment. Their majority assured the measure’s defeat.
The second amendment, Cruz’s office explains, would have “amended the tax code to use the bipartisan, independent FEC’s definitions to determine whether an organization is engaging in political activity.” The senator sensibly reasons that, as a tax collector, the IRS should focus on taxation. The agency is clearly not very good at assessing the nature and extent of “political activity” for purposes of determining whether a group gets tax-exempt status. It decided, for example, that hard Left activist MoveOn.org was not too political to get the tax break despite its proclamation of a mission “to lead, participate in, and win campaigns for progressive change.” Yet, after Democrats got hammered in the 2010 midterms, the IRS started wondering whether Tea Party groups were a tad too political … just in time for President Obama’s reelection run.
Democrats also unanimously voted down the second Cruz amendment.
In a press released just issued by his office, Senator Cruz states:
Nearly nine months ago, President Obama declared the IRS’s illegal targeting of conservative groups ‘intolerable and inexcusable,’ yet his administration has authored a new rule to specifically limit free speech for many of those groups, which are classified as ‘social welfare’ organizations.
Free speech is not a partisan issue. The IRS has no business meddling with the First Amendment rights of Americans. Rather than further stifling free speech, the IRS and the Department of Justice should provide the American people with all the facts surrounding the IRS’s targeting of certain organizations based on their political activity. We should all agree the IRS should not be used as a tool for partisan warfare.
Senator Cruz has also been pointing out that today is the last day for public comments on the proposed new rules limiting free speech. Details on how to make your voice heard are here.