Hidden deep in the Republican tax bill is a proposal that will see the Johnson Amendment watered down. The proposal seeks to allow charities and more so churches to engage in open electioneering. The proposal will definitely have a huge impact on the American campaign finance system. Since its inception in 1954, the Johnson Amendment has prevented tax-exempt charitable institutions from using their platforms for endorsing candidates in elections. The greatest fear, however, is that the organizations of charity might be turned into avenues to channel campaign funds to specific campaigns. This, as it is, will go against the reasons for the tax exempt status they enjoy.
The proposals in the tax bill will allow wealthy financiers to make donations to charities in exchange for endorsements of specific candidates. What is more is that the billionaire donors can go ahead and claim tax relief from such donations. While the contributions will be outrightly political, they will not look any different from other charitable donations for tax purposes. The church remains a tax-exempt organization, and the billionaire donor gets to channel campaign funds with a definite tax write off.
Most Americans, however, are not excited by the proposal. There is need to keep campaigns from some specific aspects of society. Not very many religious leaders are excited at the proposal either. This was seen as more than four thousand religious leaders signed a letter in support of the Johnson Amendment. The leaders argued the current status provided by the Johnson Amendment is adequate as it provides churches and other charities a reasonable limit to engage in politics. While church institutions can participate in advocacy to promote a moral agenda, they cannot outrightly tell congregations who to vote for in an election. Up to five thousand not for profit organizations too waded into the debate and signed a similar letter saying the Johnson Amendment adequately protected the integrity of charitable institutions.
As things stand, the Johnson amendment stops dark money from seeping into the campaign system and the idea to allow churches to be used for purposes of introducing dark money into the political system is detestable. As the affront to the Johnson Amendment continued, End Citizens United has had to shift its focus to the Republican tax bill. The Political Action Committee that was formed to fight the Supreme Court decision of 2010 that saw an introduction of dark money into politics, now sees the tax code as an extended affront on campaign financing reforms. While previously the threat of dark money in campaigns was from corporations, a new avenue was opening that includes charities. ECU hopes to mobilize as much support for candidates who will carry out the campaign agenda in Congress and the Senate.
President Donald J. Trump is about to alter the rules of political campaigning, and most people don’t know it yet. The Johnson Amendment, which has largely separated politics from many NGOs, is under threat of being repealed under the Trump Administration.
What is the Johnson Amendment?
The Johnson Amendment was signed into law in 1954 to prevent the mingling of politics and NGOs. The amendment states that NGOs that are exempted from taxation should not campaign for political parties or candidates in any way. Some of the most notable things included in this category are churches and universities, which are naturally expected to be politically neutral.
Early this fall, the Trump amendment took steps to repeal some parts of the Johnson amendment by altering the law’s stipulations in the House Financial Services appropriation bill. Although this did not have much of an effect, President Trump went further to sign an executive order relaxing some parts of the law.
If repealed, tax-exempt NGOs such as churches will be permitted to engage in political campaigns including through financial donations. The greatest fear is that this will bring religion into state affairs, which is considered a setback from what the American Constitution (and most other constitutions of developed countries) stands for. Other fears include the fact that unscrupulous politicians will use churches and other organization for their selfish needs, including transferring money or making political donations tax-free.
The repeals planned by Trump’s administration will not include all tax-exempt organizations – in fact, it mostly focuses on churches, hence the concern about mixing religion and state affairs.
Fighting to Uphold the Johnson Amendment
Although most people have not heard about this, many concerned organizations and individuals across the U.S. have engaged in vigorous campaigns to stop the Trump administration.
End Citizens United is one of the many organizations that have come out in defense of the Johnson Amendment. It has taken several approaches to win the long fight ahead. To start with, it has undertaken a campaign to make people aware of the underlying threat. It has done this by issuing press releases and mobilizing its followers to spread the message. The organization is also lobbying senators to try to deter President Trump and his Republican allies directly.
About End Citizens United
End Citizens United is a political action committee (PAC) that seeks to empower ordinary American citizens politically. It is a grass root organization that relies on the donations and support of individual Americans to further their collective political ambitions.
End Citizens United mostly aligns itself with Democrats as they represent most of its principles: progressiveness, equality, and tolerance, among others. In fact, it has successfully campaigned for the election of several Democratic candidates to the Senate. The organization is so popular that it has been seen as an effective deterrent against big-money politics considering that it collects millions of dollars in donations.Learn more: http://www.politifact.com/personalities/end-citizens-united/
The political legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson is often questioned by political experts but few doubt the importance of his contribution as a Senator who made a major impression on the way election campaigns are funded. President Johnson’s Amendment of 1954 has largely remained untouched over the latter half of the 20th-century but has been brought back into the public eye with a series of attacks on the Amendment by Republicans in Congress and The White House. End Citizens United has become increasingly alarmed by the threats to the democratic process being affected by conservative lawmakers at all levels and has taken the step of coming out and declaring its unease with the way the campaign funding rules are being subverted in a stealth-like fashion. Read more on Facebook about End Citizen United.
End Citizens United was founded out of a large amount of support for the protection of the democratic process in the U.S. and a high-level of concern about the way the elections of the country were going. One of the most impressive aspects of the End Citizens United campaign is the way the group has formed itself as a PAC which means the group is not going to accept the millions of dollars on offer from billionaire donors and major corporations who were allowed an almost unlimited range of rights by the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Across the U.S. the number of concerned citizens searching for ways of combating the growing unease at the millions of dollars being spent to influence elections has been growing and led many to provide their support for End Citizens United in its fight to reverse the decision of 2010. End Citizens United has been a vocal supporter of many different liberal-leaning politicians looking for election in the 2016 and 2018 election including Elizabeth Warren because of her support for the cause of overturning the Citizens United decision.
The For-Profit-Presidency is reporting strong returns this holiday season. https://t.co/ozQNRc3qbe
— End Citizens United (@StopBigMoney) November 27, 2017
The tactics being used by Republicans to bypass the Johnson Amendment have been highlighted by End Citizens United as attempting to sidestep the rules in place without voting outright on the measure. Among the attempts of recent months to make the Johnson Amendment redundant is the inclusion of the measure in the tax reform bill brought to the floor of Congress in recent weeks. A second attempt is to be fought by End Citizens United was put in place when President Trump signed an executive order calling on the IRS not to attempt to enforce JOhnson’s Amendment. The law states all charitable organizations have no right to fund political campaigns or face being stripped of their tax-exempt status. Check more:http://endcitizensunited.org/about/
Venezuela is flushing itself down an economic toilet. The President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has turned the country into a wasteland even though it sits on the largest oil reserves in the world. But oil is one of the reasons that Venezuela is in this mess in the first place, according to Deputy National Assemblyman José Manuel González. González tried to stop Hugo Chavez when he chose imports over domestic food production during the oil boom years. Chavez had a cash cow at his fingertips, and he spent the cash like a drunken sailor. Chavez did help people raise their standard of living, but he did at the expense of saving money for the future. His handpicked successor, Maduro, was left with empty pockets when the oil business crashed, and he didn’t have the sense to change the economic direction of the country.
González is a well-known entrepreneur in Venezuela, and as Deputy of the National Assembly from the state of Guárico he has the task of trying to bring some semblance of common sense in play when it comes to domestic food production and domestic business support. But Maduro may have tipped the economic scales too far, according to Mr. González. Venezuela’s inflation rate is traveling at warp speed. The current rate of inflation is 773 percent and it’s climbing every day. In one month, food prices rose 30 percent. Even opening the borders so people could find food in Colombia hasn’t helped. Maduro’s 50 percent minimum wage hike, which takes effect in September, is only going to increase inflation, according to González. The wage increase was Maduro’s way of dealing with the opposition that wants to remove him from office.
There is a national rally scheduled in September that will show Maduro that his time is up as president. He said the national petition to remove him is illegal, and some fear he will use the military to squash the rally. If that happens, Venezuela’s only salvation may be a revolution.