If you are capable of believing National Football League teams wrongfully discriminate against weak people who run slow and weigh less than 150 lbs and that they wrongfully favor strong people who run fast and weigh over 250 lbs, then you are capable of believing FOX and thinking there actually is an IRS scandal.
Let's examine the law that FOX claims has been scandalously administered by the Internal Revenue Service. And, let's take a look at the parties FOX claims have been wronged and those FOX claims have unfairly benefited from IRS actions.
What does the law say?
This whole sham controversy revolves around how the Internal Revenue Service has administered section 501c 4 of the Internal Revenue Code, which allows tax-exempt status "… for organizations not organized for profit, but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare …" Webster defines the term "social welfare" as "services for the assistance of disadvantaged groups."
Those discriminated against according to FOX
FOX claims TEA Party groups have been unlawfully discriminated against by the IRS in the administration of the law.
TEA Party stands for "Taxed Enough Already." Generally speaking, TEA Party groups believe in self-reliance and the free enterprise system. Their members love to pat themselves on the back and claim, that whatever it is, they built it.
Like Romney, they hold those at the bottom of the economic ladder in contempt. They cheer when Gingrich refers to Obama as "a food stamp President."
To TEA Party people, social welfare programs are to be ridiculed as a manifestation of the "Nanny State."
If any TEA Party group was approved for tax exempt status under the 501c 4 criteria of devoting themselves "exclusively to social welfare", that would be a scandal.
Those unfairly benefited, according to FOX
FOX claims that applications for tax-exempt status under 501c 4 from liberal groups were quickly approved, while applications for TEA Party and conservative groups were subject to delay and scrutiny. In other shocking news, FOX reports that the tallest man in America contest has summarily rejected the application of all contestants under 5 feet tall. Not really. I made that up.
Look, dating back to FDR, liberals have been about social welfare activities and programs: Social Security; Medicare; Head Start; Food Stamps; Job Training Programs; Unemployment Benefits. These are the things FOX, and the viewers to whom they pander, ridicule.
It stands to reason that those who have been in the forefront of social welfare advocacy for decades would be the ones establishing legitimate organizations meeting the statutory definition "operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare."
It also stands to reason that those who have made careers ridiculing those less fortunate than themselves would not suddenly develop a sincere interest in forming organizations "exclusively for the purpose of social welfare".
There may be a scandal hidden in this whole 501c 4 "social welfare" drama. It's clearly not the one FOX is trying to sell. Quite the opposite.
The scandal would be if some TEA Party types were able to sneak through and get approval by the IRS under 501c 4. That would open the door for their deep pocketed funders like the Koch brothers or Ken Langone or Sheldon Adelson to actually claim a charitable deduction on their personal income tax, on the grounds that they were giving to an organization established exclusively for "social welfare", when in fact, they were about the business of assisting FOX in sliming Barack Obama in any way possible.
I find the use of the 501c 4 route in order to garner a personal charitable deduction increasingly plausible in view of the fact that they could accomplish their same ostensible purpose by giving to a tax-exempt Chamber of Commerce. They just wouldn't get a charitable deduction on their income tax return.
Someone should call MSNBC. When they get tired of getting slapped around by FOX, maybe they'll fight back.
I will post again on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 (or before, if the news flow dictates) and, for the time being, I will post on the first Wednesday of each month.
Comments are welcome at tomc[at]wednesdayswars[dot]com. Name and town if you wish to opine. Comments will be addressed in subsequent posts.