Consumer spending accounts for approximately two-thirds of the U.S. economy, and this helpful chart…
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Shattering the Decade of "New Normal" Economic Sluggishness

Consumer spending accounts for approximately two-thirds of the U.S. economy, and this helpful chart from the U.S. Senate's Joint Economic Committee illustrates why our economy suddenly turbocharged over the past two years from its decade of sluggishness that we were told was the "new normal":

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="439" caption="Turbocharging the U.S. Consumer Economy"][/caption]…[more]

October 15, 2018 • 11:46 am

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As Congress Dithers on IRS Reform and Donor Privacy, the Trump Administration Should Act Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, April 19 2018
The Trump Administration...should exercise its rightful executive authority to commence an IRS rulemaking as promptly as possible to put an end to this indefensible IRS Schedule B collection practice.

As perilous November midterm elections approach, Congressional Republicans need all the support from conservatives that they can muster. 

In that vein, few issues galvanize conservatives more than Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reform and preventing future political targeting of conservative organizations and donors. 

This week, however, Congress missed yet another opportunity to address the issue when the House of Representatives failed to incorporate legislative language addressing the issue into a broader IRS bill under consideration.  Doing so would've alleviated the need to pass stand-alone legislation, and this latest whiff follows Congressional failure to address the situation in last month's omnibus bill and other recent legislative vehicles. 

Their ongoing failure to notch this easy win in an election year is curious, if not inexcusable. 

By way of background, recent years have witnessed multiple egregious assaults against First Amendment freedoms of speech and association, most notably during the Obama Administration by IRS agents like Lois Lerner.  On numerous occasions, the IRS has also collected and leaked sensitive identifiable information contained in confidential "Schedule B" documents regarding donors to non-profit 501(c) organizations.  Schedule B forms list the names, addresses and other intimate information about donors, which naturally exposes them to targeting and abuse by rogue IRS officials or outside hackers. 

Additionally, government officials  particularly hyper-partisan state attorneys general in California and New York  have sought to access Schedule B forms and confidential donor information to harass and intimidate citizens and organizations whose ideological beliefs they find objectionable. 

What renders that state of affairs even more egregious is that the IRS itself acknowledges that Schedule B information is irrelevant to the legally permissible processing of tax filings by non-profit 501(c) organizations.  The previous IRS Commissioner as well as the IRS Exempt Organizations Director both publicly questioned the necessity and relevance of Schedule B forms in 2015, and suggested that the IRS couldn't guarantee that the confidentiality of the information collected on those forms could be protected. 

So in 2016, Congressional conservatives decided to do something about it. 

The House of Representatives passed the "Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act," which would end the IRS practice of forcing non-profit organizations to surrender confidential donor information via Schedule B forms.  The bill was introduced by Peter Roskam (RIllinois), who captured the essence of the issue perfectly: 

We voted to eliminate a confidential form the IRS proved incapable of securing.  The agency has said it doesn't even need this form for tax administration in the first place.  Either one of these facts should be reason enough to eliminate an onerous regulation.  In this case, we have both. 

On the Senate side, Tim Scott (R - South Carolina) introduced similar legislation.  With an Obama White House unwilling to sign such legislation, however, the bill died. 

This year, with a Trump White House inclined to sign the bill into law, the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act was reintroduced as H.R. 4916. 

Inexplicably, however, the bill has received zero movement despite a White House presumably willing to sign it and the unanimous support it claims among conservatives and libertarians across the nation. 

Fortunately, the Trump Administration itself can achieve significant reform as Congress dithers. 

Although a permanent legislative fix via H.R. 4916 would be ideal, the IRS under Trump Administration direction can and should initiate a rulemaking to eliminate the Schedule B form filing requirement.  That lies within the IRS's lawful authority, particularly since Congress itself never imposed the Schedule B requirement for most 501(c) organizations.  The IRS nevertheless continues to apply the disclosure mandate to all exempt organizations, as the Treasury Department and IRS decided independent of Congress to require Schedule B filing as part of the Form 990 annual information return of all exempt organizations. 

There is simply no legal or logical justification for the IRS to continue collecting sensitive identifying information on private citizens via the Schedule B form as a condition for exercising their First Amendment freedoms of speech and association.   

Nor does reason exist for Congress to continue to delay corrective legislative action. 

The Trump Administration, therefore, should exercise its rightful executive authority to commence an IRS rulemaking as promptly as possible to put an end to this indefensible IRS Schedule B collection practice. This week, CFIF formally requested that action in a letter to President Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. 

If Congress and the Trump Administration hope to convince voters that they continue to pursue positive reform, this is one of the best and most immediate ways to prove it. 

Question of the Week   
Between 1946 and 2016, what percentage of U.S. Supreme Court decisions have split evenly (4-4)?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
"With the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh, for the first time in generations there is a majority of justices on the Supreme Court who, to varying degrees, practice originalism and textualism. This means that the Court can systematically begin to restore the Constitution to its original meaning. This constitutional restoration does not mean that the Constitution's original meaning is the best choice…[more]
—John Yoo and James C. Phillips
— John Yoo and James C. Phillips
Liberty Poll   

During a campaign season, particularly one as intense as the current midterm cycle, do you respond to telephone political polling?