As usual, I find myself pretty much in agreement with Jim Hightower (left) on this social welfare tax exemption situation. Also as usual, it’s because he finds a way to inject a huge dose of common sense into the usual he said/she said pissing contests. I’m sorry as hell Democrats and Republicans, you don’t get to pick and choose which political 501(c)(4)s are the good guys and which are the bad guys. The simple fact is that any group that gets a tax exemption as a charitable or at least nonpartisan or non political organization… and then acts on behalf of any party, candidate, cause or ideology… is the bad guy and needs to have it’s tax exempt status yanked. Now. Yesterday, if we can manage it. And that includes many churches or faith based organizations as well as those brazenly formed for and engaged in the open support of purely partisan political causes.
You Democrats especially, are constantly yelling about getting the money out of politics and yet you have just as many… if not more… organizations operating under a tax exemption working for specific political causes and openly soliciting money for political candidates as the Republicans do. I know this because I get a dozen or so emails a day from them asking for money or for me to sign this or that petition. Of course the petition ones solicit money too along with asking me for a list of my friends and their email addresses so they won’t miss out on the chance to be solicited too, but honest folks, it’s the petition, where we get to tell that bunch of pimps and whores that have assumed control Washington and who are making millions a day telling us to go eff ourselves, not to be doing that shit that’s the important thing. It really, really is.
Lately, a mess of right-wing tea party groups have been wailing nonstop that they have been targeted, harassed and denied their civic rights by partisan, out-of-control, Obamanistic IRS thugs (no adjective too extreme when assailing Obama or the IRS). The groups certainly are right that it’s abhorrent for a powerful agency to run a repressive witch hunt against any group of citizens just because of their political views. After all, liberals have frequently felt the lash of such official repression by assorted McCarthyite-Nixonite-Cheneyite forces over the years, and it must be condemned, no matter who the victims.
In this case, however, the right-wing groups were not targeted by government snoops and political operatives, but tagged by their own applications to be designated by the IRS as 501(c)(4) “social welfare” groups. This privileged status would allow them to take unlimited bags of corporate cash without ever revealing to voters the names of the corporations putting up the money. The caveat is that 501(c)(4)s are supposed to do actual social welfare work and cannot be attached to any candidate or party, nor can politics be their primary purpose.
Forget what the rule says, though. Such notorious political players as Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have cynically set up their own pretend-welfare groups, openly using them as fronts to run secret-money election campaigns. Suddenly, hundreds of wannabe outfits were demanding that they be given the special hide-the-money designation, too, brazenly lying about their overt political purpose. Some even asserted that they were engaged in no political activity, when their own websites bragged that they were.
Pretty much sums it up. Any time something like this comes up which appears on the surface to be something that benefits the people of this country over the nobility we aren’t even supposed to have, you can damned well bet bet what’s left of the farm that that someone… some political consultant or other jolly trickster… has already figured out a way to monetize it to their own advantage and the ink won’t be dry on the apps before someone will be exploiting the living crap out of it. The only thing that’s going to vary is the scale.
The scale will range from the huge Wall Street greased organizations supported by Republicans and condemned by the Democrats as the living embodiments of evil… at least at least for public consumption… to smaller political consultancy outfits working the social network memberships at the grass roots level.
For an example of the latter that I’m personally familiar with, consider the Green family, currently involved an an attempt to switch horses in mid stream from and open attempt on Twitter to privatize and therefore monetize the political movement we mistakenly refer to as the left to the 501(c)(4) model. This switch comes about partly as the result of a backlash against privatization/monetization early on in the organization’s inception, but it’s also due largely to the fact that the 501(c)(4) designation provides a neat little bag of financial benefits to those running it without the regulation and scrutiny and of course taxation a private organization would get if things worked the way they were supposed to.
Put simply, you do not deserve a tax exemption if your organization is engaged in activities that blatantly discriminate for or against large segments of the population based on any political ideology. That’s just not the way the thing is supposed to work and all the fake outrage and flatulent fury being expressed by the usual suspects in this case isn’t going to change that. And when the party in power either targets specifically those groups and organizations to whom it is ideologically opposed… OR GIVES THE APPEARANCE OF HAVING DONE SO… then the only solution is simply to shut ‘em all down and this is what the IRS needs to do if it’s going to preserve at least a shred of credibility with the thinking segment of the public for itself and the administration.
Unfortunately, with the proclivity of the current administration for wimping out on anything that requires them to directly confront the chancrous pustule we call our financial sector, we’re more likely to simply see “our” government once again bending over and grabbing its collective ankles while the Kochs and the Roves solidify their total control of the country and we tweet meaningless hashtags and indignant demands that our elected leaders stop being bootlickers for the powers that pay them more to be bootlickers than we can pay them not to be. In Washington today, in any war between dollars and hashtags, I can pretty much guarantee you dollars are going to kick the crap out of hashtags. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.