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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Congress Must Pass Donor Privacy Legislation Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, September 27 2018
Citizens must feel secure that they won't be targeted for simply exercising their right to free political speech.

Are you fatigued or even aghast from the escalating state of partisan warfare that increasingly characterizes American society? 

Do you shudder at the prospect that it will only continue to get worse? 

This week provided just the latest frightening illustration of the seeping contamination of society by political warfare, when deranged leftist "resistance" activists shouted, "We believe survivors!" while chasing Senator Ted Cruz (R - Texas) and his family from dinner at a Washington, D.C., restaurant.  If you haven't seen the video footage, you should. 

Meanwhile, activists flooding the halls of the Senate office building shouted, "You are not safe!  We will find you!" 

Those latest incidents follow similar instances in which people like Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders were attacked and chased from restaurants earlier this year. 

That sort of terrifying targeting and harassment, however, isn't confined to public officials who voluntarily enter the public spotlight. 

Everyday citizens are often subjected to it as well.  People who simply contribute their own dollars to organizations and causes that they support have been hounded at their workplaces, driven from employment, stalked and harassed at home and endured online threats. 

Unfortunately, for years federal law enabled that sort of targeting and harassment.  In fact, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has itself engaged in that sort of misconduct. 

Until the Trump Administration acted earlier this year, the IRS required nonprofit organizations to file a 990 Schedule B form, which mandated the names, addresses and other sensitive personal information concerning many of those organizations' donors.  Strangely, however, the IRS was prohibited from actually using that information for any meaningful purpose, calling into question why it was collected at all. 

But what the IRS collection of such information did do was subject donors to harassment, whether by IRS officials themselves, other politically motivated government officials seeking the information and outside hackers. 

For example, donors to the National Organization for Marriage had their personal information leaked.  Additionally, far-left state attorneys general like the disgraced Eric Schneiderman of New York demanded access to the IRS's confidential donor information on the Schedule B forms to target organizations and donors who held unfashionable climate change viewpoints that they considered worthy of persecution. 

Fortunately, as mentioned above, the Trump IRS finally revised that policy earlier this year.  At long last, the IRS clarified that certain tax-exempt groups will no longer be forced to surrender to the government the names and addresses of significant donors on IRS forms. 

But now, Democratic Senators Jon Tester (Montana) and Ron Wyden (Oregon) seek to reverse the IRS's commonsense policy through a Congressional Review Act (CRA) vote.  Apparently, they're comfortable with the prospect of the IRS or vindictive hackers targeting Americans who simply donate to causes in which they believe. 

All of this reconfirms that Congress must end this threat once and for all by passing legislation currently pending to protect donor privacy. 

In 2016, the House of Representatives passed the "Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act," and the same legislation was introduced on the Senate side by conservative Tim Scott (R - South Carolina).  The bill would permanently codify the prohibition against forcing nonprofit organizations to surrender their confidential donors' identifying information by the IRS.  Earlier this year, the same bill was introduced as H.R. 4916 by Representative Peter Roskam (R - Illinois). 

The First Amendment protects Americans against infringement of their freedoms of speech and association, and forcing citizens to surrender their private information to the government as a prerequisite to engaging in free speech and free association violates that mandate. 

In 1958, the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that peril in NAACP v. Alabama, when state authorities sought access to the targeted group's sensitive membership data.  The Court rejected that demand, unanimously ruling that forcing the NAACP to surrender member information inherently threatened its mission and very existence: 

"This Court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one's associations.  Compelled disclosure of membership in an organization engaged in advocacy of particular beliefs is of the same order.  Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs." 

As we've seen on a daily basis, the same concept applies today.  Citizens must feel secure that they won't be targeted for simply exercising their right to free political speech. 

That's why Congress must pass legislation to permanently ensure that security.  It's also an issue that maintains unanimous support among conservatives and libertarians, so Congress would be wise to act quickly as November elections approach. 

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?