“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Is It Right For Our Government To Silence The Voices Of Average Americans?
By: Congressman Kevin Brady (TX-08)
Is it right for our
government to silence the voices of average Americans? What gives any agency
the right to demand concerned citizens to give up their First Amendment rights?
This week I met six brave Americans who travelled to Capitol Hill
to tell Congress what the Internal Revenue Service put them through. The only
thing these civic-minded Americans did to incur this was try to share their
principles with their communities. Their reward was to be
alternately stonewalled and scrutinized by shameless bureaucrats.
Telling pro-life groups their IRS status
hinged on them agreeing to not protest Planned Parenthood is not ok. Leaking
donor information is not ok. Forcing Americans to give up by flooding them with
reams of intrusive questions and document demands is not ok.
Becky Gerritson told us she was fearful for
her country and that her government, that is supposed to work for every
taxpayer, had “forgotten” their place.
Describing herself as “a born free, American woman – wife, mother
and citizen,” she came to the Ways & Means Committee hearing to tell her
government they forgot their place. Powerful words from a mom who never dreamed
she would someday testify on Capitol Hill.
It is not the IRS’s responsibility to monitor any American’s
speech. Nor should they ever assert any agenda.
Constitutional Law professor John Eastman, who chairs the National
Organization for Marriage, testified that his organization’s confidential tax information
ended up in the hands of the Human Right Campaign, which opposes traditional
marriage. As he told our committee, if the IRS leaked his organization’s
confidential tax documents, a “serious felony” was committed.
For the Laurens County Tea Party, the IRS process has made for a
very long three years. After waiting for over two years to process the
application, the IRS sought “extremely burdensome additional information”.
After cashing the Wetumpka Tea Party’s application fee check, the
IRS waited over 450 days before sending an intrusive questionnaire requesting
“90 pieces of additional information”.
The San Fernando Valley Patriots were warned about the penalty of
perjury should they not answer all of the agency’s intrusive questions.
Why? Bureaucrats at the IRS had no legal right to these
organization’s donor information, volunteer information or written
Linchpins of Liberty Founder Kevin Kookogey found it disturbing
that the IRS asked for the identities of their students. Would you want your
minor child’s name given to the IRS?
It’s very chilling to be asked “Are you now or have you ever
been...” questions. It’s chilling that an IRS bureaucrat sought to get Iowa
Coalition for Life to give up their First Amendment right to protest Planned
Parenthood. Sue Martinek’s question deserves an answer. “Why was the IRS
protecting Planned Parenthood” against a ‘small Iowa prayer group’?
With three Congressional
panels, including the Ways & Means Committee that I serve on, an Inspector
General and many others digging deep, whoever gave the orders at the IRS can’t
remain in the shadows for long.
Our nation’s tax code is so huge it holds back small businesses,
creates annual stress on families – and as we are uncovering -- is used against
those who disagree with the direction our country is headed.
House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp says our
entire tax system is “rotten at the core, and it must be ripped out so we can
start fresh.” I completely agree.
While it still lacks major support in Congress, more and
more Americans are beginning to see that the best solution is the Fair Tax
solution. Wouldn’t we all rather spread the good news about real tax reform and
have April 15th be
just another day?
to being a senior member of the House Ways & Means Committee, Texas
Congressman Kevin Brady also chairs the Joint Economic Committee and is a
co-sponsor of HR 25.