The potential for abuse is so great that the Internal Revenue Service itself is discussing whether to stop collecting this information from non-profits. Regardless of what the agency decides, however, Congress should move forward with Rep. Roskam’s bill. It is all but guaranteed to pass the House of Representatives if and when it comes up for a vote. Its progress is less assured from there: Neither Senate Democrats nor President Obama are supporters.
But their intransigence is likely short-sighted. Recent examples mostly involve Democratic politicians seeking this information, and conservative and free-market groups resisting their demands. But there’s nothing stopping Republicans from doing the same thing if given the chance — human nature doesn’t distinguish between the parties. This is especially worrying given the current tone of our national politics. There may be a Democrat in the White House today, but who’s to say a future Republican president won’t use the Internal Revenue Service to suppress his or her opponents’ First Amendment rights?