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Rep. Tom Price Hits IRS Regulation of Political Speech, But What's Next?

Rep. Tom Price

Conservative Congressman Tom Price of Georgia has been a leader in the fight to stop the IRS from trampling on the First Amendment rights of tax exempt conservative organizations.

A Member of the House Committee on Ways and Means Price was an early advocate and strong proponent of H.R. 3865, the “Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014,” passed by the Committee earlier this week.

Price characterized Obama’s proposed “clarification” of the IRS rules regarding speech by exempt organizations this way:  "Make no mistake about it: the Obama Administration is doing this as a blatant attempt to silence political speech. The Stop the Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014 is absolutely critical in allowing proper congressional oversight to prevent this from occurring."

Price said he is well aware of the targeted abuse imposed by the IRS on those who dare speak out against the Obama Administration. Now, through executive fiat, President Obama's Internal Revenue Service is attempting to silence American citizens who merely seek to exercise their constitutionally-protected right to freedom of speech.

"The abuse of the American people at the hands of their government must stop immediately. The federal government ought to work in service to the people of this country, not the other way around. The efforts by the Obama Administration to silence its opponents have absolutely no place in this country and should be condemned by decent people of all political stripes.”

The comment period on Obama’s new regulations closed yesterday, so the bill Price advocated one of the few avenues left to prohibit the IRS from implementing its proposed new regulations on tax-exempt groups, and it would only do so for one year. However, the bill would give Congress the ability to continue its investigation into the IRS targeting scandal and long-term oversight over the agency said Congressman Price. 

We agree with Price that the Obama Administration's IRS has already demonstrated that it cannot be trusted to fairly enforce the law. Now, they claim that the 501(c)(4) classification is simply too confusing for them, despite no trouble since its implementation in 1959. The problem is that H.R. 3865, the “Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014,” is unlikely to see the light of day in a Harry Reid-controlled Senate, and House Republicans, having passed their spending bills and given-up on the debt ceiling have no other vehicle for stopping Obama from proceeding to use the IRS to silence his critics.

Tom Price and other advocates of free speech in the House Republican Conference have the policy on the IRS right, but to make it stick there must be Republican leaders who have the backbone to face down the Senate Democrats and President Obama and so far top Republicans in the House like Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have shown neither the leadership nor the backbone for that kind of fight.

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