In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and…
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First Amendment Rights: Good News from the IRS on Donor Privacy

In this era of increased harassment and persecution of people on the basis of political viewpoints and First Amendment expression, there’s actually good news to report.

In fact, that positive development comes from none other than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which few people typically consider a font of good news.

Specifically, the IRS just announced a proposed rule to stop requiring nonprofit organizations to file what’s known as a Form 990 Schedule B, which exposes sensitive donor information not only to the federal government and potential rogues like former IRS official Lois Lerner, but also people who seek to access and use that information to target people on the basis of political belief.

As we at CFIF have long asserted, this welcome move will help protect the…[more]

September 12, 2019 • 11:07 am

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Want to Reduce Corruption? Reduce the Size of Government Print
By Troy Senik
Thursday, November 21 2013
You'll only get money out of politics when you get politics out of money.

The worst thing that ever happened to the United States of America was dependable air conditioning and central heating. Sure, it’s made life hospitable for those who live in climates that are less than temperate, but it’s had this regrettable consequence:  It’s made it that much more tolerable to live in Washington, D.C.

We’ve come a long way since the days when serving a stint in the nation’s capital was a burden to be suffered rather than a check waiting to be cashed. Washington may not have been built on a swamp, as the popular telling has it, but it’s still considerably different from the city founded in the late 18th century. Long gone are notions that it’s a place where one goes to serve the nation. If anything, the country now works for D.C.

A report by Greg Jaffe and Tim Tankersly in the Washington Post earlier this week revealed that D.C. has added 21,000 households in the top one percent of income over the past decade, a number greatly surpassing that of any other city. Whether intentional or not, there’s a tremendous irony to that statistic. For a president who’s taken so many rhetorical potshots at the one percent, Barack Obama seems to have done an awful lot to make them feel at home in recent years.

This is not the only statistical evidence that Washington has been booming while the rest of the nation has been economically embattled. Loudon County, Virginia, an affluent D.C. suburb, has the highest median income in the nation. In fact, six of the nation’s 10 wealthiest counties are in the D.C. metro area. Discriminating readers can decide for themselves whether that has anything to do with the fact that federal spending in the area has doubled over the past decade. 

Here’s the irony underpinning this development: It cuts directly against every ideological pose of the liberals who control the White House and the Senate (and, truth be told, the permanent governing class that occupies the executive branch regardless of the president’s party).

They claim to admire “bottom up” movements rather than “top down” ones. Yet what could be more representative of hierarchical power and privilege than a Washington that’s the epicenter of the spoils system? They claim to detest income inequality. Yet they artificially exacerbate it by funneling taxpayer money to the new Beltway gentry. They claim to hate the use of force when it comes to the military; when it comes to the coercive power of the state, however, they seem to have no second thoughts about a capitol city that grows rich via forcible redistribution.

For the time being, the left is conspicuously quiet about Washington’s newfound boomtown status. That’s understandable. Their ideology doesn’t allow for any particular responsive answers.

When liberals inevitably are forced to respond — and they will be, given the rapid growth of anti-Washington sentiment throughout the country — their proposed remedy will be as predictable as it is inadequate (not to mention utopian): Get big money out of politics. It’s an easy slogan, and one with undeniable emotional resonance, but it deserves closer scrutiny.

Why has Washington experienced such explosive growth in recent years? Simple: The federal government is spending more money. While moral outrage may be justified, that’s no substitute for analysis. Thus, we have to ask the analytical question: Why is more economic activity centered in the nation’s capital?

Consider lobbying. Why would a major corporation spend, for example, $3 million lobbying the federal government? Well, they’re businesses, so that means they’re only going to spend $3 million if they think the value that they get back will be more than $3 million. This is math even a member of Congress could understand.

Therein lies the rub: You’ll only get money out of politics when you get politics out of money. Liberals may decry the influence of the "fat cats," but they’re the ones empowering them. The bigger the government, the bigger the incentive for business to spend their money lobbying Washington rather than creating products and serving consumers. In competitive markets, businesses rise and fall on the merits. In the crony system currently in place in Washington, success has much more to do with proximity to power.

In the final analysis, the left has the ends right but has totally misunderstood the means. The best way to reduce corruption in Washington is to shrink government back to a size that no longer invites it. A limited government is a government that’s unprofitable to lobby.

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