Wall Street Journal –
by Kimberley Strassel,
President Obama and Democrats have been at great pains to insist they knew nothing about IRS targeting of conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofits before the 2012 election. They’ve been at even greater pains this week to ensure that the same conservative groups are silenced in the 2014 midterms. That’s the big, dirty secret of the omnibus negotiations. As one of the only bills destined to pass this year, the omnibus was—behind the scenes—a flurry of horse trading. One of the biggest fights was over GOP efforts to include language to stop the IRS from instituting a new round of 501(c)(4) targeting. The White House is so counting on the tax agency to muzzle its political opponents that it willingly sacrificed any manner of its own priorities to keep the muzzle in place. And now back to our previously scheduled outrage over the Chris Christie administration’s abuse of traffic cones on the George Washington Bridge.
The fight was sparked by a new rule that the Treasury Department and the IRS introduced during the hush of Thanksgiving recess, ostensibly to “improve” the law governing nonprofits. What the rule in fact does is re-categorize as “political” all manner of educational activities that 501(c)(4) social-welfare organizations currently engage in. It’s IRS targeting all over again, only this time by administration design and with the raw political goal—as House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) notes—of putting “tea party groups out of business.” Congressional sources tell me that House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R., Ky.) had two priorities in the omnibus negotiations. One was getting in protection for groups that morally oppose ObamaCare’s contraception-coverage requirement. The other was language that would put a hold on the IRS rule. Read more