In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom…
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Image of the Day: More Economic Freedom = Higher Standard of Living

In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom, which shows that Joe Biden has dragged the U.S. down to 22nd, our lowest rank ever (we placed 4th in the first Index in 1995, and climbed back up from 18th to 12th under President Trump).  As we noted, among the Index's invaluable metrics is how it demonstrates the objective correlation between more economic freedom and higher citizen standards of living, which this graphic illustrates:

 …[more]

May 19, 2022 • 12:53 PM

Liberty Update

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Biden Seeks to Further Empower Leaky IRS While Cutting Defense Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, June 17 2021
[T]he Biden Administration and Pelosi-Schumer Congress want an expanded IRS to collect even more sensitive information about your political activities, unrelated to any lawful IRS purpose.

Last week brought alarming news that far-left activist website ProPublica obtained illegally leaked Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax returns on thousands of Americans spanning a period exceeding 15 years, which in turn means that unknowable numbers of political extremists and criminals now possess that sensitive data.  

ProPublica didn’t identify its source, as hacking or leaking that information constitutes a federal crime, but it reconfirms how an increasingly politicized IRS simply cannot be trusted to safeguard your sensitive personal information.  Yet the Biden Administration and Pelosi-Schumer Congress want the IRS to collect even more of it going forward.  

All of this occurs at a moment when the Biden Administration proposes unprecedented federal spending and tax increases, which necessitates a fresh round of class warfare and redoubled efforts to wring even more revenue from American taxpayers.  Last week’s leaks played right into ProPublica’s attempt to influence that debate by claiming that too many Americans aren’t paying their “fair share” to the federal government.  

Coincidence?  

Adding insult to injury, however, Joe Biden actually seeks to increase the IRS budget by $80 billion, claiming that we must “revitalize” IRS enforcement against American taxpayers who allegedly “aggressively plan to avoid the tax laws.”  Apparently Biden believes that what ails the IRS is that it isn’t fearsome enough, and that hiring legions of new enforcers is the solution.  

Meanwhile, demonstrating the Biden Administration’s misplaced priorities in an increasingly perilous geopolitical stage as Russia, China and Iran measure Biden’s weakness, it seeks to cut defense spending in real dollars.  China alone continues to boost its defense spending by over 6% annually and now boasts a navy with more ships than our own, but Biden seems to believe that additional IRS staffers will frighten our global adversaries toward better behavior than the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines can.  

It doesn’t end there.  The centerpiece agenda item for both the Biden Administration and Pelosi-Schumer Congress remains their misnamed “For the People Act,” an effort to federalize the nation’s electoral system to their lasting advantage.  Included in their proposed legislation is a provision that would empower the IRS to once again forcibly collect sensitive private information from donors to nonprofit organizations, and post that personal information on a searchable government database.  

In other words, their bill seeks to expose even more Americans to the very sort of “outing” and harassment that we just witnessed with the latest IRS leak.  That threat of exposure effectively chills Americans’ First Amendment freedoms, as a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court recognized in NAACP v. Alabama (1958).  

In that seminal case, Alabama officials sought to force the NAACP to publicly expose its confidential membership lists to the government.  Recognizing that “outing” an organization’s members would unconstitutionally chill their First Amendment rights by exposing them to potential targeting and harassment, the Supreme Court ruled that impermissible:  

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.  

In today’s internet age, that logic applies even more obviously.  In addition to last week’s IRS leak, states like California that have forcibly collected nonprofits’ donor information have similarly suffered massive hacks.  In addition to outside hacking, recall how IRS officials like Lois Lerner during the Obama Administration deliberately persecuted conservative and pro-Israel organizations using data collected and available to them.  

What’s more, the type of donor information sought by the “For the People Act” serves no substantive legal purpose.  Where the IRS suspects fraud and begins an investigation, it remains perfectly free to seek relevant documents via court order.  Accordingly, collection of sensitive donor data serves no purpose other than to potentially harass.  

For years, we and other First Amendment advocates have warned that sensitive donor information cannot be safeguarded with an increasingly politicized IRS.  Last week simply provided the latest reminder.  Despite that, the Biden Administration and Pelosi-Schumer Congress want an expanded IRS to collect even more sensitive information about your political activities, unrelated to any lawful IRS purpose.  

It will remain up to courts and the American electorate to put a stop to their politicized scheme.  

Quiz Question   
How many days does it take the average U.S. household to consume as much electrical power as one single bitcoin transaction?
More Questions
Notable Quote   
 
"Lawmakers continued to raise concerns about the Internal Revenue Service at a Congressional hearing this week as the agency deals with billions in misspent dollars, hefty processing backlogs, and complaints over poor customer service.Lawmakers lobbed questions at the tax-collecting agency during the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee hearing.'The program has an annual improper payment rate…[more]
 
 
—Casey Harper, The Center Square
— Casey Harper, The Center Square
 
Liberty Poll   

Should any U.S. government agency have a function called the "Disinformation Governance Board" (See Homeland Security, Department of)?