Loading...
Did we move up a conference too far? Remember the WWII movie named "A Bridge Too Far?" Has ECU talked its way into a...

House unleashes avalanche of campaign cash

Congress Taxes-5

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., left, leads applause for House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, along with Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., during a news conference following a vote on tax reform on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. Republicans passed a near $1.5 trillion package overhauling corporate and personal taxes through the House, edging President Donald Trump and the GOP toward their first big legislative triumph in a year in which they and their voters expected much more. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Loading…

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Moneyball politics took a great leap forward when the Supreme Court opened the door to campaign contributions from corporations and unions in the 2010 case Citizens United v. FEC. Now the Republican-controlled House has passed a tax bill that, should it become law, would unleash another tidal wave of change. It would permit churches, charities and foundations to engage in candidate-specific politicking and enable donors to reap tax breaks for political contributions for the first time. Congress ought not allow this to happen.

The 1954 Johnson Amendment, named for LBJ, prohibits tax-exempt churches, charities and foundations under Section 501(c)3 of the tax code from endorsing candidates. The amendment has long been a target of evangelical Christian groups who yearn to amplify their conservative voice in campaigns, and President Donald Trump promised in February at the National Prayer Breakfast to "get rid of and totally destroy" it.

A provision tacked on to the tax bill by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, would effectively roll back the Johnson Amendment, saying that such groups can keep their tax status if they engage in electioneering. The new language offers only vague stipulations that such campaigning should be done "in the ordinary course of the organization's regular and customary activities in carrying out its exempt purpose" and that its additional expenses be minimal. Neither of these is likely to be enforced by an underfunded Internal Revenue Service.

What the House bill really amounts to is throwing open an entirely new channel for campaign money to politicize churches, charities and foundations. Today, so-called super PACs are a massive force in politics, spending more than $1 billion in the 2016 election cycle. Such super PAC donations must be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission and are not tax-deductible. What if these donors are tempted to give their money to a 501(c)3 organization that beckons with a tax deduction and no disclosure? The givers won't hold back.

Churches and church-affiliated groups generally don't even have to file IRS returns, so there will be no information about who these contributors are. Other 501(c)3 groups do file, but the donors are not disclosed to the public. The politicized churches, charities and foundations could become the latest vessels for dark-money politics. The House language is not in the Senate legislation, but it could survive to a conference.

The change is unwanted by large numbers of tax-exempt groups, who fear the corrosive impact. In a letter in September, more than 5,500 organizations in 50 states warned that repealing the Johnson Amendment would destroy their hard-won credibility as nonpartisan organizations. The change would also set a dangerous precedent, offering a federal subsidy — the tax deduction — for those making political contributions.

The churches, charities and foundations already enjoy the right to advocate for issues. There is no need to give these groups a new cash window and make them servants of special interests seeking to further warp the nation's electoral politics.

The Washington Post

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Editorials

October 16, 2018

This has been a banner season for punishing white-collar crime. Guilty pleas by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former longtime personal lawyer, and criminal convictions and additional guilty pleas in the case of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort have drawn enormous attention.…

Trump Political Fallout

October 15, 2018

Nearly three dozen administration officials have left or been forced out of key posts since President Donald Trump was sworn in last year. Few, if any, will be missed as much as Nikki Haley, who announced her resignation as United Nations ambassador on Tuesday.

For a former South Carolina…

Trump Haley-2

October 14, 2018

It’s the kind of anniversary no one wants to remember. A year ago this past Friday, four inmates at Pasquotank Correctional Institution beat to death four correctional employees in a failed escape attempt.

The brutal murders on Oct. 12, 2017, coming on the heels of the vicious murder of a…

October 13, 2018

It’s sorely tempting to criticize Harnett Central High School Principal Cindy Gordon after she reportedly kicked a student out of a football game for wearing a Donald Trump shirt. But examining this blunder in isolation misses the bigger picture.

The Oct. 5 incident didn’t happen in a…

October 12, 2018

Global progressives are having an anxiety attack over the near-triumph Sunday of Brazil’s conservative presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro.

After years of corruption and recession, apparently millions of Brazilians think an outsider is exactly what the country needs. Maybe they know more…

Braizl Protest-6

October 11, 2018

Mercury is a noxious byproduct of burning coal. It contaminates fish and, in turn, people, leading to brain damage in infants and small children, as well as serious cardiovascular and central nervous system problems in adults. Restrictions on U.S. power plants have substantially reduced their…

ENERGY-POLICY

October 10, 2018

If anything, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has a habit of understatement. The U.N. group issues reports so thoroughly scrubbed that they seem cautious in the moment and downright timid in retrospect. That gives their latest and most dire warning added force.

The new IPCC report…

United Nations Climate-15

October 09, 2018

Trying to protect an open internet state by state, rather than by federal law, is a daunting and unwieldy goal.

Unfortunately, it’s also entirely necessary, given that the Trump administration and Congress are more than happy to let internet providers restrict what we — the American…

Net Neutrality

October 08, 2018

Jim Allison lost his mother, a brother, two uncles and a cousin to cancer, but he says he never set out to find a cure for the disease. Like many great scientists, he was driven by “the selfish desire to be the first person on the planet to know something,” as he explained to Houston…

Nobel Medicine

October 07, 2018

“I built what I built myself.”

This boast has long been at the core of the mythology of Donald Trump, Self-Made Billionaire. As the oft-told story goes, young Trump accepted a modest $1 million loan from his father, Fred, a moderately successful real estate developer from Queens, and…

Trump Inheritance Taxes
100 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 10
        Next Page»   Last Page»