Planned Parenthood's $30M Campaign: All That and Then Sum
There are plenty of Americans who’d hoped Planned Parenthood would be saying goodbye to a lot more than Cecile Richards this spring. As far as they’re concerned, the only thing better would be to see the group wave farewell to its $540 million in taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately, Congress didn’t give pro-lifers that satisfaction on the latest omnibus bill. But the group’s new midterm campaign is giving leaders plenty of incentive to try again!
Hours before Tax Day, Richards’s group made the mistake of reminding everyone where their dollars are going. While most Americans hurry to file their paperwork, Planned Parenthood is already deciding how to spend its share. After sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into a losing effort in Illinois, the nation’s largest abortion business is hoping to make a big splash in three other states. And thanks to your tax dollars, it has plenty of wiggle room to try.
Obviously, it’s illegal for Richards to use even a cent of federal funds on the group’s political activities. And while her accountants use every possible trick to keep the monies separate, there’s something fundamentally wrong with our system. No “nonprofit” organization should be allowed to rake in hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars — and then turn around with a related PAC and indirectly use those dollars to impact the political process. “You can’t divide it up,” attorney Casey Mattox has said. “Planned Parenthood stands alone as a major recipient of taxpayer funding that is also a major participant in elections.”
Already, Planned Parenthood Votes is stocking its war chest for at least three fall targets: Michigan, Florida, and Nevada, where it thinks it can pick off pro-life Republicans. With other groups in a supporting role, Planned Parenthood plans to drop another $30 million on direct mail, phone banks, and other canvassing operations across the country to target “infrequent voters.” The goal? Populating Congress and governors’ mansions with abortion allies who would help protect its multimillion-dollar federal funding stream.
Of course, you can’t blame the organization for being anxious. Donald Trump has blown through his to-do list on abortion, making it easier for states to defund Planned Parenthood, stripping its global funding, appointing pro-life agency leaders and judges and helping to protect the Hyde Amendment. Now he’s contemplating ways to pull an $80 million rug out from the group’s family planning dollars.
But the president isn’t the only person making life tough for Richards. States are tripping over each other to cut ties with the group, starting with Nebraska, Tennessee, Utah, Kentucky, Iowa, and Michigan (with seven more in line to join). In the first four months of this year, 308 new abortion restrictions have been introduced after a historic 2017 for pro-life laws: 63. Then, there’s the shift in public opinion. Planned Parenthood is having a tougher time than ever selling abortion to a nation that has the technology to look inside the womb. More young people are pro-life than ever before. More Americans on both sides of the issue want to limit abortion. And, maybe most importantly, more voters think it’s time to stop taxpayer funding of abortion groups.
“We want to win elections,” said the head of Planned Parenthood Votes, “but we only want to win elections because we want to win things for people.” Starting, no doubt, with themselves. With hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, it’s no wonder the group is going on the offensive. But no amount of campaign investment can compete with pro-lifers’ most important weapon in the midterm election: you! Make sure you know where your candidates stand on these issues. And then help us fight back!
It’s critical that we match Planned Parenthood’s energy and get Values Voters to the polls in November.
Originally published here.
The Taxes Panhandle
Ah, Tax Day. “Time to gather up all those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen your pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta.” Funnyman Dave Barry isn’t the only one complaining. According to experts, Americans will spend more on taxes in 2018 than it will on food, clothing, and housing — combined! Now imagine what those numbers would have been if Congress hadn’t cut taxes.
Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Americans can stop working for Uncle Sam three days early this year. Tax Freedom Day, the point in the calendar when the country has worked long enough to pay its annual tax bill, is a whole three days early this year. That’s still 109 days into 2018 — but, as the Treasury Department points out, the relief is coming! Next year, as many as nine out of 10 Americans will be taking home significantly bigger paychecks.
And the news isn’t just good for workers. It’s good for business. Heritage Foundation’s Adam Michel explains the ripple effect of one of the president’s biggest success stories.
Tax reform did more than cut personal income taxes. It was designed to boost the economy by making it easier for businesses to hire Americans and invest in the United States. The early evidence shows that tax reform is indeed contributing to more new jobs and higher wages for working Americans. More than 450 companies to date have announced bonuses, pay raises, and better benefits — including American Airlines, AT&T, Bank of America, and Comcast. Americans For Tax Reform is keeping a running list here.
This is, as President Trump wrote in his own op-ed for USA Today, “the last year Americans will fill out outdated, complicated tax forms.” Families are already celebrating. And why not? They were some of the biggest beneficiaries of the law. From the child tax cut and education savings accounts to the marriage penalty relief and adoption tax credits, the GOP’s plan is doing more anything since Reagan to jump-start the greatest engine of the economy.
For more on how the Tax Cuts and Jobs bill is helping your family, don’t miss Andrew Guernsey’s special report here.
Originally published here.
Who Owns Free Speech on the Internet?
Yesterday FRC had the privilege to host a distinguished group of speakers for a panel on social media called: “Losing Our Voices: Who Owns Free Speech on the Internet.” The moderator, Sarah Parshall Perry, led a nuanced discussion that included Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), chair of a key telecommunications subcommittees in the House, Brent Skorup, senior research fellow of the free-market-oriented Mercatus Center (Arlington, VA), and Craig Parshall, longtime communications attorney and special counsel to the American Center for Law and Justice.
Several things became clear during the course of the proceeding. First, the bloom is off the Silicon Valley rose. That is, the days of giving the Silicon Valley companies the benefit of the doubt has passed. The Cambridge Analytica revelations were significant not only because they prompted Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the Congress for two days. More significantly, vast swathes of the public now comprehend at a deeper level why the term “surveillance capitalism” has been coined. We are being sold when we use Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple social media. Congress now intends to drill down and examine the important privacy implications for this relatively new business model, but Rep. Blackburn made clear that regulations need to have a “light touch” in order to protect social media users while preserving the benefits this business model brings.
Another area of great concern involves the suppression of ideas and content by the tech companies. Brent Skorup began the discussion with an excellent reminder that the Internet — even with its problems — has given us more access to thoughts and ideas from around the world at a level that would have been unimaginable 25 years ago. This is a tremendous development in human affairs, but as Craig Parshall noted, Silicon Valley has established a long pattern of censorship going back years and starting with Apple’s suppression of the pro-traditional marriage statement, the “Manhattan Declaration,” in November 2010. Discrimination against conservatives and Christians is common and becoming more ubiquitous as YouTube’s war against the innocuous Prager University has made clear.
That said, the panelists were wary of the regulations that would give the government control over speech on these platforms. Replacing one type of censorship with another would not be beneficial in the longer term. It did seem that a proposal Craig Parshall supported may offer a path forward. He has argued the social media companies should voluntarily adopt a code of conduct that could generally approximate the broad free speech principles set forth in First Amendment law. Perhaps this could be coupled with the acceptance of an appeal process somewhat akin to arbitration or mediation. This could be a positive first step — if only Silicon Valley would give it serious consideration. It would be wise to do so.
The entire discussion is available on demand below.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.