Beto O’Rourke Doubles Down on Revoking Tax-Exempt Status of Churches Opposed to Same-Sex Marriage

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Jaybird

Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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  1. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    I admit, I was one of the people who snorted at one of the kabillion tweets that said “someone should ask him about Mosques!” after Beto’s statements at the Equality Town Hall.

    Indeed, I thought that he would immediately hem and haw and walk his statement back.

    He was asked about this and did not hem and haw. He came out and said “heck, yeah.”Report

  2. Avatar Aaron David
    Ignored
    says:

    In general, I feel that nothing should be tax-exempt; no private universities, NGO’s, churches, etc. But that said, as we do have that status, we should all be horrified that we would use the gov’t to in all its grotesque power to inflict a violation of the first amendment. Both the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech provisions.

    Absolutely sickening.Report

  3. Avatar North
    Ignored
    says:

    Desperate no shot candidate says desperate left wing nonsense things in desperate attempt to stave off the inevitable. He should never have run for the nomination in the first place- he could have gone for a Senate seat and actually accomplished some good; what an utter waste. Guess he drank too much of his own koo-aid.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to North
      Ignored
      says:

      It’s ‘Woo-Aid’, not ‘koo-aid’Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North
      Ignored
      says:

      I admit. Watching this stuff online, you get to see the pivot from “NOBODY IS ARGUING THAT!” to “it’s the only principled position, really… anyone who disagrees is morally unserious at best and morally bad in the worst case scenario” and that is always fun to watch in real time.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Oh, are there a lot of liberal outlets backing Beto up and saying “he’s right, churches that say what we don’t like should lose their tax exemption?” I haven’t done a lap of the mediot circles yet today.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North
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          says:

          I don’t think that I’ve seen any outlets argue this but there is no shortage of “he’s right, you know” kinda supportive comments from individuals.

          (Granted, I’ve also seen a number of people who are left-aligned that argue that Beto must be deliberately trying to torpedo the Democrats.)Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Sure, you could find the same thing for the right wing nuts when the clown car of GOP contenders desperately made even crazier pledges to try and keep their heads above water. You can find some imbecile on the internet to say anything.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North
              Ignored
              says:

              The gulf between “nobody is arguing that” and “someone is arguing that” is *HUGE*, though.

              This is the first time that a politician that people have actually heard of has argued that Mosques that don’t support SSM need to have their tax exempt status revoked.Report

              • Avatar blake in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Also Beto was the recipient of a year-long tongue-bath from the media.

                The pseudo-nickanme alone should have made Robert Francis a laughing stock.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                See, for you the important question here is the pivot, and the moral and intellectual rigor of those doing the pivoting.

                The actual pivot and what it means seems to be of only passing interest.

                For me, that is the most interesting thing.

                People have been making Beto’s point since before any of us were born.

                Why would taxing churches get traction in 2019 and not, say, 1969?

                What has changed?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Hey, North! See?

                Chip, for what it’s worth, the whole debate is one that I find fairly interesting as a historical kinda artifact because we’ve moved from “what should the government be allowed to tax?” to “what shouldn’t the government be allowed to tax?”

                As for why we don’t tax churches, it goes back to “we’ve never taxed churches” and the whole inertia thing.

                As for my take on the whole thing, I’ll just ask what I asked back in 2015:

                Has any other country done this? If so, what happened?

                Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Why are we talking about this in 2019 though?

                In 1969, the proposal to tax churches had been made, repeatedly, but was laughed off by virtually the entire American political establishment.

                Today, as you note, people are taking it seriously.

                That shift seems remarkable to me.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I suppose my theory about why we’re talking about it now is because Protestantism is undergoing a Reformation of its own and the New Religion is coming into its own and challenging The American Religion the same way the Prods challenged the Catholics back in the 1500’s.

                For one, we were due.

                For two, The American Religion has excesses that put the old Catholic ones to shame.

                Anyway, that’s why we’re talking about it.

                I’m curious as to whether there will be a backlash to this that will move the Democrats back to arguing “nobody is arguing that” (see the AWB) or if we’re going to find new Church-Adjacent Non-Profits to be the official things that we don’t tax because we agree with their ministry.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                At any given moment someone somewhere is arguing for virtually everything conceivable.

                So “nobody’s arguing for X” is never, technically true.

                What people really mean is that nobody with traction is making the argument.

                And like you, I think it will be interesting to see how much traction this gets, since the number of people whose ox would be gored is rapidly shrinking.

                As recently as 15 years ago I might have taken part in a backlash to this.

                Today, I’m not so sure I wouldn’t support it.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Personally, I’m with Aaron up above. It’s an all or nothing deal. If churches are tax exempt, they are all tax exempt, regardless of what they preach.

                If we take away tax exempt status from one, we do it for all, regardless of what they preach.

                I prefer they not be tax exempt, but honestly I’m good either way, as long as the gov aren’t playing favorites based upon messaging.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I agree, but only note that “what is a real church” is something the government has struggled mightily with over the years.

                Because (and I say this with as little snark as I can manage) the line between a church and a scam operation can be difficult to discern.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Which is one of the big reasons I lean towards revoking tax exempt status.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                the line between a church and a scam operation can be difficult to discern.

                This is a good insight.

                Get rid of the assumption of a deity and look at churches vs. tax exempt nonprofits and you might be hard pressed to tell the difference.

                Why do we even have tax exempt nonprofits anyway?Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Why do we even have tax exempt nonprofits anyway?

                To give Chelsea Clinton some kind of job.Report

              • Avatar Blake in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                You could ask why we even have income tax, anyway.

                But you ask that these days and everyone turns into a Vogon.

                “Income tax? You gotta have income tax!”Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                So Chip is talking about it. I’m happy for Chip. And I’m happy for the Christian Right that Beto handed them their talking points for the week so they can pry some more of those pious dollars out of the trembling hands of credulous elderly religious voters. They should send Beto a fruit basket for that- he’s bought them probably several more luxury planes.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                And I’m happy for the Christian Right that Beto handed them their talking points for the week so they can pry some more of those pious dollars out of the trembling hands of credulous elderly religious voters.

                Ah, but it’s not just the Christian Right. If it were just those guys, I don’t think it’d be particularly notable and certainly not worth a fruit basket.

                He specifically said Mosques and religious HBCUs as well. It’s *THAT* that makes it worth calling FTD.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to North
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                says:

                You speak as if the religious community is some electoral colossus that is poised between the two parties in a kingmaker position.

                I don’t think Beto’s comments will move a single vote.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t think Beto’s comments will move a single vote.

                Oh, I think it will.

                Remember, there are three groups of voters.

                Maybe this will not change a single vote from Harris to Trump (or vice-versa), but it will move people from “maybe I will vote for my preferred candidate instead of staying home” (or vice-versa).

                The power of “nobody is arguing X” is when it is used as a response to the argument “X is what my opponents actually believe!”

                “Not *ALL* of your opponents believe that!” is a much less persuasive argument… and while it might not be the difference between voting red and voting blue, it is the difference between being energized and not being energized.

                And then we can discuss whether “energized” means anything.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Its true only in the sense that every day, people like Franklin Graham act as GOTV recruiters for Warren.

                The counterpart to “OMG they want to oppress Christians” is the Republicans who are earnestly arguing for Gilead.

                But see thats the thing. We keep getting this argument, that liberals need to be nice to the Trumpists for fear of provoking them into voting.

                Except they are already in a state of perpetual rage. Its their defining trait.

                Just a day ago, Warren triggered them by tossing off a silly quip about same sex marriage and they went into a frenzy.

                Like Africanized bees, they are triggered by anything or nothing.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                We keep getting this argument, that liberals need to be nice to the Trumpists for fear of provoking them into voting.

                You misunderstand my point.

                I didn’t think that what he said was interesting back when I thought that he’d walk his statements back when asked to clarify them.

                It’s the fact that he’s arguing that this needs to apply to Mosques and HBCUs that make his statement interesting.

                Heck with Trumpists. They’re not going to vote for you anyway.

                This goes beyond Trumpists. Like, pretty far beyond them.

                That’s what makes it interesting.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s what makes it a (theoretical) attack on an important part of the D coalition. Maybe not so much for Muslims but certainly for religious black people.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                If you cup your hand to your ear you will hear that deafening silence of the Muslims and black churches as they calmly go about their business.

                I suspect its because they consider the white guys with assault rifles and Stormfront connections to be a bigger threat than Beto.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                If it were really that simple I don’t think the front runners would have been so quick to clarify their own stances, which thankfully they did.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m mostly hearing “not all Democrats want to do that!”, when I cup my hand to my ear.

                Which is weird because I *WAS* hearing “this is something that ought to be discussed” a mere day ago.

                Will I be hearing that Beto is a nobody tomorrow?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                OK I guess we’re doing this.

                Just yesterday I was hearing that not all Republicans want to implement Gilead.

                Which is weird, because today I’m hearing them say we should reconsider letting women vote.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Strangely, I when I heard “Republicans want to implement Gilead!”, I heard that from people who were avowedly not Republicans (though they may have been Republicans once).

                When I heard that Beto thinks that Mosques and Religious HBCUs that don’t recognize SSM should lose their tax exempt status, I heard that from The Horse’s Mouth.

                Which is weird, because today I’m hearing them say we should reconsider letting women vote.

                Oh my gosh! What a horrible argument! Who among the Republicans is saying this?

                (Is it some nobody best analogized to Beto?)Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Rod Dreher, Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham, are “not Republicans”?

                How many seconds would it take Google to find a dozen more Republicans saying Gilead type things?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                find a dozen more Republicans saying Gilead type things

                Wait. These goalposts used to be there.

                Now they’re over here.

                Where will they be an hour from now?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Ho ho.
                I notice you didnt address the first pointReport

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I thought that the interesting point was not that you gave me names, it’s that you went from “they’re calling for women to not be able to vote!” to “they want Gileadish things”.

                So should I google to see if the names you mentioned show up with “Gilead” or “19th Amendment” or were you making a point that relied on Poetic Truth?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                The named figures speak for themselves.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                We don’t even need quotations, then?

                Gotta say: I’m used to a higher standard in whataboutery.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                And I love the defense here.

                Sure, Republicans want to implement a patriarchy where abortion is banned and women are second class citizens, but Nobody Is Arguing against suffrage!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                From you a mere hour ago:

                Which is weird, because today I’m hearing them say we should reconsider letting women vote.

                You a minute ago: (see above)Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                So if I rephrase it from “Republicans are talking about reconsidering letting women vote” to “talking about women’s bodies being hosts for fetuses” the point would stand?

                I mean, if we were to troll thru the fetid swamps of the Gateway Pundit comment section, or a Liberty University seminar, which crazy thing are No Republicans Talking About?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                That, at least, would be higher-quality whataboutism, yes.

                If you could actually make a claim that “people are saying this!” and point to someone saying something adjacent to what you say they said, that *WOULD* be better.

                I’m not sure that it’s a great counter-argument to a direct quotation from Beto about the policy he wants to endorse, but, sure.

                We’d just be hammering out that Beto should be seen on the level of a blogger rather than on the level of presidential candidate.

                Which is where I thought we’d end up back in my comment timestamped 11:45.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, Rick Santorum has said he is reconsidering the Griswald decision which legalized contraception.

                And Republicans in several states have introduce flat bans on all abortions, so Republicans Are Saying this too.

                Or is a total ban on abortion and contraception, something that Republicans Believe or something that No Republicans Are Talking About?

                Or if I said that in 2016, No Republicans Are talking About concentration camps for immigrants, but now they are a reality, would that be comparable?

                If you want to engage in a battle of extreme and crazy stuff that No One Is Talking About, this probably won’t go in the direction you want.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                See? Much better to compare Beto to Rick Santorum.

                (I assume we’re talking Rick Santorum 2008?)

                For what it’s worth, this works for me.

                If you want to engage in a battle of extreme and crazy stuff that No One Is Talking About, this probably won’t go in the direction you want.

                I was actually talking about the stuff that Beto was talking about and noticing how the conversation was evolving from “this is important and nobody is talking about this!” to “Beto shouldn’t be seen as representative of the Democrats!” to “What about Rick Santorum!”

                So what Beto said is best analogized to “extreme and crazy stuff”, then?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Definitely crazy talk in 2008, less so now, but still pretty much a fringe position.

                Like I said, it is very interesting how little pushback this has gotten, from self described moderates and even from the Muslim and black churches.

                Maybe that’s the lesson from Trump, that once boundaries and norms are smashed without consequence, they all start to fall.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                it is very interesting how little pushback this has gotten, from self described moderates and even from the Muslim and black churches.

                From what I can tell, it’s because O’Rourke is considered a punchline (in the same way that Santorum is considered one).Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Maybe Beto is so obviously a non-serious candidate that no one cares.

                That suggests the DNC shouldn’t be putting him on the stage with the more serious candidates.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                We keep getting this argument, that liberals need to be nice to the Trumpists for fear of provoking them into voting.

                If you just got the ones who voted for Obama you’d be fine.

                Just a day ago, Warren triggered them by tossing off a silly quip about same sex marriage and they went into a frenzy.

                I watched that. IMHO the quip on SSM was fine. Going on to say people with opposing views likely won’t be able to find mates seemed a step too far. It played well with the crowd (i.e her base) but the deplorables were probably annoyed. If she didn’t understand it would be insulting then that’s a different problem.

                I expect we’ll see something like “Vote for Warren you deplorables, she’ll take your HCI but trust her, she has your best interests at heart!”Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                This isn’t specifically about Beto’s remark, but in the aggregate of Progressive candidates talking points and debate statements, I think this has bearing:

                JOE SCARBOROUGH: It’s in Florida, Michigan. Yeah, it’s democrats as well who are really scared right now. In the suburbs, people in the suburbs where this is — this is Democratic territory. If what we are hearing is actually true, then Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, either one of them against Donald Trump puts the suburbs back in play, it just does.

                Report

        • Avatar blake in reply to North
          Ignored
          says:

          Funny how “share the wealth” became “GOVERNMENT SHOULD CONTROL EVERYTHING”.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        “NOBODY IS ARGUING THAT!”
        Beto: “I got this!”
        “Dang it…”

        His position is so contrary to history and a knowledge of religion that it boggles the mind. We should only recognize religions that don’t actually believe in ancient religious precepts? Church and state should be separated unless the state decides to regulate religious beliefs?

        I thought he’d reached peak unawareness when he went to Kent State and basically argued that only the government can be trusted with rifles, but I was wrong.

        I think he gives a good preview of what AOC will be like once she becomes thirty-five and runs her own campaign for President.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to George Turner
          Ignored
          says:

          I’ve heard it theorized that it is his job to be the unreasonable one so that (eventual nominee) will be seen as reasonable due to being the middle of the road between Trumpian Trumpism and Betovian Betoism.Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            I find that unlikely because Beto isn’t capable of sacrificing his own vanity for the greater good. I’m sure folks wish that’s what he was doing, or that he serves that purpose, but I think he’s just reinforcing many moderate’s impression that the Democrats have gone stone cold bonkers and shouldn’t be allowed within a mile of actually governing anything.

            What’s sad is that they bumped Marianne Williamson and several seasoned governors off stage in preference for Beto, who apparently could be replaced by any almost-sober member of an 80’s hair band.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            The problem with that is how much of their debating process relies on “you say you’re concerned about (thing) but nobody is actually saying (thing), you’re just engaging in slippery-slope reasoning and therefore you’re wrong!”

            When there is, in fact, someone out there actually saying (thing), they can’t use that line anymore…Report

  4. Avatar Marchmaine
    Ignored
    says:

    Just want to point out that the Catholic Church is perfectly fine negotiating its status within any Regime… taxes, no taxes, services, no services, heck we’ll pretend to tolerate your heresies for enough space to take you down in a few centuries (we just did it again with China this year). This isn’t our City, this isn’t our Hill.

    The restraint doesn’t help or hurt us… its for the American Experiment that the separation exists… not the other way around. End the experiment… you’ve got all the cards; what could possibly go wrong?Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Marchmaine
      Ignored
      says:

      I know you’re joking but this gets at what I find disturbing about the idea. Tax exempt is one of those little things that contributes towards a keeping of the peace.

      A devout guy like you would laugh at this but I suspect even in my ultra lapsed status I’m still sufficiently in the sphere of the Catholic church to be deemed an enemy of someone. After all my son is baptized, I’ve been seen drinking and eating fish at a Knights of Columbus in the last year. What else does anyone need to know?Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to InMD
        Ignored
        says:

        Heh, we’re all enemies of someone, that’s the American Experiment writ large.

        I was in grad school some years ago working on a project involving Vatican Diplomacy in 19th century America… a Baptist (older and wiser than I at the time) was also in the same study group and it was he who flipped my understanding of the Separation of Church and State. Or, more accurately, it expanded my understanding from a Catholic Two Spheres understanding to recognize that from a Baptist perspective, it wasn’t two spheres. It’s one sphere and the separation is to protect the Church, not the other way around. Rereading Tocqueville, he clearly makes this point (esp. with regards his comments in New England), but it was lost on me for many years. It helped me realize (which my 19th Century Vatican protagonists never could) that in America, there aren’t two spheres of influence.

        So, my counter-intuitive concurrence with your comment about keeping the peace is that not only is it one of the little things that contributes towards a keeping of the peace, it might be the only thing.

        It isn’t there to protect the State from Religion, but to protect us from the Religion of the State.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Marchmaine
          Ignored
          says:

          It isn’t there to protect the State from Religion, but to protect us from the Religion of the State.

          As a Baptist: Yup.

          It’s why I pointed out, somewhere on this page, that tax-deductable donations to churches were, in fact, a state imposition on religion…as they give tax deductions for _money_ donated to the church, and not time or effort, whereas the church might rather have time donated, or even believe it is more moral to donate time. It’s the government placing a _secular reward_ on one specific _religious_ act, above any other religious act, and thus should not be permitted.

          But I sorta feel that, as a Baptist, this is a thing only I would catch or care about.

          And, of course, there’s this very discussion, whereas churches have decided they should qualify as ‘charitable institutes’, aka, things that operate for the public good, under the law to give their members special tax breaks…but then don’t want to follow the sort of things we _really_ should be requiring charities to do, like not discriminate.

          That’s not the fault of the government, guys. That’s the fault of churches being really dumb and intermingling themselves with the government.

          If you want to be a charity, you have to do charitable stuff as determined by the government. But if you want to be a religion, you tell the government to eff the hell off and literally nothing you do inside your walls is relevant to them unless you’re breaking the law. You can’t _ask them to reward_ you for doing religious stuff, or you’re asking them to _punish_ you for doing other religious stuff.

          And Baptists know that…at least, we used to know that. Not so much anymore.Report

  5. Avatar greginak
    Ignored
    says:

    2%er’s gonna 2%. In other news the Secretary of State is talking about being a good “Christian Leader” on the SOS homepage and gave a speech railing against eevviliiiillll secularists and progresives destroying the good Gosh fearing people and country over the weekend.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Elizabeth Warren comments:

    Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Good to know ‘Liz can occasionally see a far left pothole and not plant her foot firmly in it.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North
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        says:

        Occasionally? She is not that far left and most (if not all) of what she advocates for is popular with over half of Americans.

        She has also been rising in the polls and has gone above Biden in the last few. Do you care about the Democratic Party being seen as “moderate” that much? Are you going to sit this one out if Biden does not get the nomination?Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Saul Degraw
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          says:

          Warren is not far left by Venezuelan standards, but for people who don’t like abject poverty, she might not be a good candidate.

          Right as we switch major parts of the grid from coal to natural gas, she wants to ban fracking – which produces the natural gas that keeps the grid up and keeps electricity prices low. We can switch back to coal but coal plants have a long lead time because they’re large high-pressure boilers instead of commercially made gas turbines derived from jet aircraft. This means natural gas prices would revert to their historical spikes, some of which are severe, and with the grid now dependent on natural gas there’s not much limit to how high electricity and home heating costs would go.

          Her plan to tax capital instead of dividends would of course tank the stock market, destroying everyone’s IRAs and retirement savings, and wipe out the real estate market, causing a housing crash far worse than 2007.

          She also wants to massively change contract work, which would eliminate people working for Uber or Lyft and probably destroy Hollywood.

          But little of that matters because she wants to eliminate all vehicle emissions, which simply can’t be done because our grid won’t support it and we don’t have enough lithium to even make the batteries, and it makes no sense to switch to electric right as she’s closing down most of the existing power plants.

          She’s not much brighter than Beto or AOC, and perhaps far less honest, considering her fake Indian claims and now her fake pregnancy firing story. She also has a weak, thready speaking voice and virtually no charisma. She makes Dukakis or Mondale seem like shoe-ins.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to George Turner
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            says:

            Wealth Tax. Never forget that. The next Amazon will be created somewhere else and the Gov will gradually take control over Amazon, Microsoft etc. What the gov does with Trump handing them a golf course every year I don’t understand.Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to Dark Matter
              Ignored
              says:

              Oh, what they do with a golf course is easy. It ends up being a dead government asset that they’ll opaquely unload because there won’t be any buyers who want to watch the government take the golf course they just bought. Years later we’ll find out it was given to a shell company run by Hunter Biden right before the wealth tax was abolished because middle class people were eating out of trash cans.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw
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          says:

          Of course not. But between taking away peoples private medical insurance, banning nuclear power and frakking (evidently the power grid will run on environmentalists sense of self satisfaction alone) etc… Liz has been much further to the left than I think is wise and I think it’s going to bedevil her in the general if she gets the nod. I certainly will support her- she’s a hell of a lot better than Bernie. But I’d rather a candidate without her difficulties gets the nomination.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North
            Ignored
            says:

            Except fracking has a causal link to earthquakes so it is not like it is without known and serious risks and hazards:

            https://cosmosmagazine.com/geoscience/fracking-can-cause-earthquakes-a-long-way-from-its-site

            And it isn’t like she is a libertarian or conservative nut job that wants to take away private insurance and replace it with the “market will run freeee and make everything into a unicorn and pony wonderland!!!” She actually wants to replace it with universal healthcare.*

            *I know conservatives like to scare monger about this but if you are replacing a monthly contribution of a 800 or more a month with a 750 dollar yearly increase to taxes, it is a dishonest and corrupt fear-mongering sleight of hand.Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to Saul Degraw
              Ignored
              says:

              Yes, but you’re talking about taking something away from voters, voters who really like their existing company health plans.

              It doesn’t matter if the replacement is better. The voters will be irate because they had a thing they liked and somebody came along and took that thing away, substituting something else that the voter didn’t ask for and didn’t want. The result is anger, sometimes extreme anger.

              This is basic psychology that every kindergarten teacher knows. You take away a kids toy and they will throw a fit, even if you run and replace it with what you claim is objectively a better toy. But it’s not their toy, and it’s not what they were playing with.

              Most voters prefer the Democrats on health care, but not if Democrats are promising to take away their hard-won gold-plated union plan, the one that their grandfather and father went on strike for time after time, and the one they sacrificed so many other potential perks and benefits to get. No, they’re going to have it stripped away and replaced by a generic plan that’s no better than what Warren will offer to illegal Guatemalans who’ve been in this country all of three weeks.

              So you go into an election cycle with that as the policy position, and then you’ll wonder why the entire rust belt and parts of the Northeast flipped and went for Trump, and why the once rock-solid union vote is looking like West Virginia’s mining vote.

              Republicans learned such lessons the hard way when they were talking about replacing Social Security with something better, something market oriented, blah blah blah. Well voters have seen Social Security checks but they haven’t seen any of those Wall Street government dividend checks, and they didn’t trust those those fancier, bigger checks would ever actually materialize. After getting punched in the nose for a few elections, the idea was abandoned.

              It’s like when some slick talking salesmen starts his fancy pitch with “First, I’m going to take away your…” and gets cut off with “The heck you are!” A smarter salesmen would let them use the new thing first, and then later suggest abandoned the old obsolete thing that isn’t shiny anymore.

              Unfortunately, Warren has committed herself too fully to her position, repeatedly and on camera, and likely can’t fix this rookie mistake.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to George Turner
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                says:

                I think this may have been right even 15 or so years ago but now that more and more people are on high deductibles with huge out of pocket costs I’m not so sure. Maybe people are scared that the replacement will be worse than the little they have but private sector coverage is increasingly crappy.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to InMD
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                says:

                The problem is the polling doesn’t bear it out. Most people polled still like their insurance. That could well be because most people aren’t suffering medical crisis and thus aren’t realizing they’re swimming without their swim trunks on. But the politics of telling folks you’re gonna take away something they like and give them something better “trust me” are not good.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to North
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                says:

                That’s fair but I also think it’s something that needs to be confronted bravely (and hopefully with some savvy).

                I’d also be kind of curious on the specifics of the polling. What is it people say they ‘like’ exactly? The fact that it doesn’t help you until you’ve hit a 2.5k deductible a lot of people don’t have on hand to begin with? That at the end of the day you don’t really know what’s going to happen if you have an emergency or need surgery? That a routine corporate re-org will knock you off it to COBRA?

                I also think the gradual change in polling on Obamacare is instructive. Yea the politics matter and people fear change but I don’t think that’s a reason to concede defeat.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to InMD
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                says:

                IIRC the polling was simply “What level of satisfaction do you have with your current employee provided health insurance” and the results were overwhelmingly positive. But if you’re a healthy person with no medical issues and a low annual insurance cost of course you’re going to feel great about it, even if you are walking over a financial abyss on a girder.
                But the political implications of that are not imaginary and I am not deeply confident in Warrens political finesse on tackling this- especially when she’ll have the entire right wing machine and Trumps bellowing lined up on the other side. In the American context I fear that the moderates incremental implementation is the only politically feasible way to get to universal coverage.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to North
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                says:

                Well now you’re getting to Warren specifically and I’m a lot more ambivalent on the approach. Like it isn’t even 100% clear to me what M4A really means and right off the top of my head I can think of 3 or 4 different implementations some of which would be minor and gradual within the ACA, others of which would amount to total overhaul of how care is paid for.

                But I’m also going on 10 years as a corporate lawyer in healthcare so my perspective on this is not anywhere close to where I imagine the low information voter is.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to InMD
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                says:

                Yeah this sub-thread is very emphatically about Warren specifically.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                I’d like to agree with this. Back when I got my (awesome) (previous) job in 2007, my insurance plan was amazing.

                Like, I thought “I have achieved grown-uphood.”

                Now? Sure, I’d be willing to switch to M4A (with supplemental insurance available for people with jobs).

                I might come out ahead in that program.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                We’re a long way off from the days when people had $20 copays and the system was sound enough to absorb the cost of freak injuries to the able bodied uninsured.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw
              Ignored
              says:

              Err.. no? She’s a liberal nut job who wants to take away private insurance that the voters who have it like and replace it with gummint healthcare that’ll be wonderful, just trust her.

              You and I can finagle and argue about the policy implications of that- I am generally in favor of single payer; it’s been good in the rest of the world. But you can’t possibly try and claim that it’s not electoral poison; mostly for the reasons that George outlines above. It is a fumble and potentially a big one.

              As for frakking, sure, sometimes they cause earthquakes or flaming tap water etc.. and when they do the frakkers are gonna have to pay for it. But ban it all? And produce power with what?? The coal that all that cheap natural gas supplanted? Hell, even you didn’t suggest what power source is going to replace it? She ruled out nuclear already. Maybe unicorn treadmills? So this one is both politically idiotic AND bad policy.

              I have no beef with Warren and think she’s a very Hillary like politician who’s smart, organized focused and would make a great President. My only objection to her is that she’s gone too left into the weeds and it’s gonna be a serious problem for her in the general election.Report

              • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                Single payer has a lot to commend it, and I’d probably endorse it. Framing it as “medicare for all,” however, gives single payer a branding problem.

                True, medicare is “popular” in the sense that the beneficiaries form a strong lobby. But medicare is also, even for the beneficiaries, that government program that tells them what they can’t do and that makes them pay up (at least sometimes) when they believe they shouldn’t have to. It’s also that government program that makes them fill out (what seem like) reams of confusing paperwork.

                For the uninformed, “medicare” is probably seen as “basically the same thing as medicaid.”

                The above is likely to be misinterpreted, perhaps as “concern trolling,” so let me be clear: I support government provided access to health care and single payer is probably a good way to do it.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Saul Degraw
              Ignored
              says:

              Except fracking has a causal link to earthquakes so it is not like it is without known and serious risks and hazards:

              That link’s science seems questionable, if they were controlling for naturally occuring earthquakes I didn’t see it. Given the whole “the earthquake happened many miles away” they may be mistaking noise for signal.

              Further the number of people killed by earthquakes (especially at 5 or below which is what they’re calling “major”) is typically zero while the number of people killed by other forms of power extraction is typically non-zero. In practice this would replace fracking with coal.

              I know conservatives like to scare monger about this but if you are replacing a monthly contribution of a 800 or more a month with a 750 dollar yearly increase to taxes, it is a dishonest and corrupt fear-mongering sleight of hand.

              My expectation is that our Political Class won’t be willing to destroy millions of well paid jobs and we’d end up with a massive tax increase for UC on top of the insurance industry.

              Further claiming 800/month (yearly cost: 9,600) can be replaced with a 750 yearly cost seems questionable. We need to expect UC will be more expensive, not less, certainly not 12x less.Report

  7. Avatar DavidTC
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    says:

    As people may suspect, I have a lot of feelings on this topic. First, let me clarify what he’s saying…I think.

    I think he’s proposing not allowing certain churches to be 501(c)(3)s, and _presumably_ creating some sort of other 501(c) non-profit status for them.

    The difference is _not_ in what taxes an organization pays. All 501(c) are non-profits, legally. They have no profits, and thus pay no Federal income tax…and, as far as I’m aware, no state income tax. And usually no property tax. The main difference between a 501(c)(3), aka, a ‘charity’, and other 501(c)s is that donations to 501(c)(3) are tax deductible by the people making the donation.

    I think that’s what he is trying to do. Talking about putting certain churches under (Let’s say) a new 501(c)(30). (There are 29 existing categories) Or, more reasonable for the law, putting all religious organizations under 501(c)(30), and only allow donations to certain ones be tax-deductable.

    That’s what I think he’s suggesting? He’s very unclear.

    This is…unconstitional. But I don’t think it’s exactly for the reasons people think.

    cont…Report

  8. Avatar DavidTC
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    says:

    See, the logic of letting churches count as charities is that they are educational non-profits. They exist to teach people. What they are teaching people is religion, but the charity tax code literally doesn’t care what is being taught…charities could teach people how to…do cannibalism or rob banks, they would _still_ count as charities, because their purpose is educational. (Just…bad education.) Or, for a more realistic example, the NRA making up nonsense about the history of gun rights.

    Now, the problem here is that…the government certain can step forward and only give a tax deduction to certain ideas. That happens in all sorts of places…it’s one of the reasons that TV runs PSA, or cell phone companies have to carry 911 calls for free…the government can pay for speech. This is a pretty well-established constititional principle.

    So the government can pay organizations to produce content that, for example, promotes marriage, and refuse to pay organizations who propose just promoting alternate-sex marriage. In fact…it does that.

    But…there’s no rules about what charities are teaching.

    And what I’m 100% sure of is a law that allows _literally any information_, true or false, good or bad, to be considered as ‘educational’ under the law, can’t just haphazardly kick out one very specific religious belief. There’s no way that will hold up in court. If it was currently structured where the government gave tax deductions for non-profits that provided _specific_ educational infromation, they could do whatever. But they can’t exclude one religious belief like that.

    What would hold up in court? Restructing the entire thing.

    cont…Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC
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      says:

      even if in theory anyone can walk in and use it.

      Not just in theory. In practice these groups would be thrilled if someone walked in and wanted to be “educated” on the joys of Catholicism (etc). These groups have a message/story and educating the world on their story is a big reason they exist.

      If you view them as a social club then them being a “charity” passes some sort of smell test.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter
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        says:

        Not just in theory. In practice these groups would be thrilled if someone walked in and wanted to be “educated” on the joys of Catholicism (etc). These groups have a message/story and educating the world on their story is a big reason they exist.

        What they wish is true doesn’t really change what is. Again, it’s really easy to see the problem if you remove religion from it.

        Let’s say that I, and four other people, form a non-profit, donating to it, with the goal of educating people about the Vietnam war. This an entirely reasonable non-profit.

        Let’s then say we find a nice speaker on that topic, a local historian, pay some of his expenses, and we rent a space for him to speak, and we charge no admission. A few dozen people show up, I give a nice intro little speech, and he gets up and gives a talk. This is, again, entirely reasonable as non-profit behavior to educate people.

        But let’s instead a few dozen people, let’s say…one guy shows up. And yet, for some reason, the next week, we do it again. Keep renting the space, keep keep having the historian talk. In fact, we put the historian on salary. Eventually, we get that one extra guy to join the non-profit, and even more people come in, and they often join. In fact, that’s kinda the point, we’re trying to get people to join us, and come every week, expand the…club to talk about this.

        Because it is a club. It’s not educational. It’s just a club that likes to talk about a specific topic. It’s not educating the community at large. It _could be_, if the community community at large cared…but they don’t.

        I have nothing against social clubs, I’m _in_ a few social clubs. And there’s specifically a place in the code, 501(c)(4), where social clubs belong. People can make an organization, a legal fictional person under the law, rent a place in that name, have pooled assets, a bank account, etc. It’s all fine.

        What they can’t do is _get a tax deduction_ for donating to it. Because it’s not a _social good_. It’s just a way for like-minded people to pool their resources in regard to things that interest them.

        And that is what churches are. A way for like-minded people pool their resources to have a place to met with each other, and pay for someone to talk about topics that interest them, and even serve as a sort of counselor and therapist.

        Churches _specifically use language_ that indicates they are aware of this, asserting things like churches ‘are bodies of believers’ and whatnot.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC
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          says:

          Because it’s not a _social good_.

          We have multiple thousands of years of God’s followers earnestly proclaiming that God in general and their faith specifically is a social good. So I don’t think you’d get anywhere with this approach.

          They even had a point back in the days when organized religion was the backbone of society, the educated class, the government, the welfare state, the source of science, and so forth.

          More importantly to the right now, identity is so deeply intertwined with religion that we have such things as legal “privilege” between Priests and worshipers (i.e. like spouses). We are hundreds of years to being able to pass basic sanity laws on a lot of this stuff, and the US’s laws are actually seriously “sane” by world standards because we have separation of church and state.

          Worrying about the tax code is pretty far down the list of issues when we’re not even sure we can reliably stop Priests from raping children. Religion is THAT strong.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter
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            says:

            I’m not really worried tax code, per se. Or at least, not about taxes.

            I’m more worried about religions having basically ‘infected’ the charity part of the tax code. Causing the actual charities, ones that are supposed to provide a social good, thinking they can do whatever the hell they want and still somehow count as a charity. All they have to do is call themselves ‘religious charities’.

            It is extremely hard to reign that in while churches exist in the same group.

            So what I’d like to see is some other group just for churches. However that gets done. They can even get the same tax deductions as now, I don’t mind. As an added bonus: They’d get to take positions on politics and political figures all they want.

            And then we turn around and say ‘Okay, actual charities, if you want to keep your donor tax exemption, you can’t discriminate against gay people. Or any sort of people. In fact, we reserve the right to come in and see exactly who you’re helping, and how much, and judge you on that, and if we don’t approve, we’ll dissolve you, take your assets, and give them to some other charity.’

            This also means that ‘religious charities’ would have a choice to make. Oh, they can still do charity work all they want, even if they’re a church, but what they won’t be getting is _any_ government partnerships. Or…pick the other side, and now they have to follow the same rules as any business does.

            Because I’m sick and tired of non-profit hospitals being allowed to get all sorts of government help while being unable to terminate a pregnancy for any reason, even medically necessary reasons. I’m sick and tired of religious adoption agencies working with state governments but refusing to place kids with gay couples. I’m sick and tired of the damn Boy Scouts trying to slip religion in.

            Pick a category. You’re either a church providing a religion, or you’re a charity providing a social good.

            And if they want to asset their religion is a social good, like you said, they should feel free to say that, but even they have to admit it’s not a social good the government is allowed to promote, so they need to get back in the church category.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC
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              says:

              That’s brilliant. I like it.

              However I think there’d be a lot of screaming. You’d be asking adoption agencies who claim to be religiously motivated to pick between their mission to help and their religion, and I expect that won’t work well. There’s an element of making people live the way we want them to rather than how they want to.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                I mean, there have been some pretty high-profile court cases lately about “is it legal to force someone to do something directly in contravention of their expressed religious beliefs”, and thus far the win column is not stacked very high on the “make them do it anyway” side…Report

  9. Avatar DavidTC
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    says:

    Although we don’t really have to. There’s already a really obvious way that churches fail the charity test…as I’ve pointed out before here, 99% of the provided religous ‘education’ is provided _to members of their own organization_, which should disallow them as a charity. Under existing law. The entire point of giving someone a tax deduction is that they donated money _to help others_, not to pay for something _for themselves_, even if in theory anyone can walk in and use it.

    People should no more get a tax deduction for ‘hiring a peacher for themselves’ (Which is what they are really doing) than they should for hiring a therapist or an auto mechanic…the fact they did it via a non-profit doesn’t change that. Churches, fundamentally, do not educate non-members. They may want to, they may claim to, but they simply don’t. At best they provide a once-a-year Christmas music production for non-members.

    This is opposed to, say, a literacy program, where the people who benefit from the (paid or not) teachers are not the donors. Donors give money with the intent of helping non-donors, and thus should get reduced taxes.

    And…this would actually still allow some religious programs, just only ‘mission’ ones. (I would say evangelical, but apparently that’s something else now.) Like…Gideon bibles. People donate to that so that people (who are not them) can get a free book full of information. Or missionaries. People might think that is pointless, or even bad, but…it’s not the ‘self-dealing’ that most churches operate under, where members donate to get a free religious education for themselves, and somehow get a tax deduction for that.

    There are other ways to restructure this, but…I think that’s enough for now. Maybe I’ll be back with them tomorrow.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to DavidTC
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      says:

      A religious person might make the argument that they’re not spending the money on themselves, they’re spending it on their immortal souls which will outlive all the church members and exist for all eternity, and to benefit Almighty God and his blessed Kingdom.

      A judge is not going to happy listening to a government lawyer argue the non-existence of or nature of an immortal soul, an argument which has little place in the courtroom. Then the lawyers for the churches will produce a raft of quotes from Founders and various justices about how the realm of God is distinct from the Earthly realm, and perhaps quote from Ronald Reagan’s prayer breakfast speech.

      Then they’ll point out that the First Amendment says: ““Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It doesn’t say “charity” even though charities were ubiquitous even back then. Nobody had been historically persecuted for giving to the Feed the Peasants or Ebenezer Scrooge’s Home for Crippled Children, but millions had been slaughtered in Europe’s vicious religious wars, and countless more had been forced to profess the beliefs of their state church.

      So as soon as something is identified as a religion, the state stays hands off, no matter how wacky the religion seems, because states have a horrible track record about crushing people who fail to worship in the proper way or to acknowledge that the king’s rule is ordained by Almighty God and his one true Holy Church. Holding all that as no more weighty than the YMCA or the Metropolitan Opera Foundation isn’t going to pass muster.

      But what it might do is make every priest, minister, cleric, swami, rabbi, and imam tell their followers that their beliefs are in one party’s crosshairs, and as much as it may pain everybody, in November they should vote to remove the threat and send a clear message the the domain of the Almighty is not subject to the whims of government, and that together than can survive whatever personal tribulations the wrong party might throw their way. But if the church is broken apart and subject to government censorship, the Truth of His Word will be suppressed and his flock will dwell in darkness. White or black, Hispanic or Hindu, Jewish or Muslim, none shall be free, as if forced to worship Ba’al or labor under Pharaoh’s whip.

      So at some point in that oratorical goat rodeo the judge is going to pound his gavel and call an end to the whole travesty, which was started by a pandering narcissistic skateboard-riding punk rocker who married into money and got into politics so people could better appreciate his awesome genius.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        A religious person might make the argument that they’re not spending the money on themselves, they’re spending it on their immortal souls which will outlive all the church members and exist for all eternity, and to benefit Almighty God and his blessed Kingdom.

        Wait, did you just argue that people are somehow _independent_ of their immortal souls? That’s an interesting theological position.

        So as soon as something is identified as a religion, the state stays hands off, no matter how wacky the religion seems, because states have a horrible track record about crushing people who fail to worship in the proper way or to acknowledge that the king’s rule is ordained by Almighty God and his one true Holy Church. Holding all that as no more weighty than the YMCA or the Metropolitan Opera Foundation isn’t going to pass muster.

        What you mean is as soon as _a charity_ (Aka, 501(c)(3).) is identified as a _church_ (Not a religion)…and the question is not if something is a church, which the government is silent on. It’s if it’s a charity to start with.

        Churches can actually be other sorts of organizations besides a charity.

        In reality, churches agreeing to be classified as charities is actually extremely short-sighted of churches. They get more cold hard cash in donations, yes. but in return they get extra government interest…or at least, _could_, because they really are in violation of a lot of rules of charities in general, and if the government cracked down, a lot of them would be in trouble. The government has never really done that, but it could.

        Churches should have demanded, from the start, to be classified as something else, to have a non-profit category specifically for churches. But they wanted tax-exempt donations.

        Honestly, if I were going to try to change things, I’d just start pointing out that the entire purpose of the charity tax exemption is to get people to donate to charities who otherwise would not, and thus it looks bad for churches to claim they ‘need’ that exemption.

        Shouldn’t their member be willing to donate _without_ getting a tax deduction? Pretty sure Jesus didn’t say to tithe…but only if you’re getting a tax deduction for it, otherwise keep the money yourself. Pretty sad sort of religion there, if people only follow it if the government gives them a financial incentive to do so.

        On top of that, the government only gives it for cash donations, which means the government is rewarding someone more for donating money, and not for ministering to others. I.e., the second that the premise of ‘tax exemption donations’ was inserted into the law, the government created a statement what sort of things that _religions should value_…namely cash. This, in itself, is the government meddling in religion…in a way that care more about money than anything else.

        And…now we have a presidential candidate talking about meddling in their beliefs, apparently.

        They should just demand their own non-profit category, instead of being forced to conform to the ‘charity’ group. Or…honestly they fit under 501(c)(8), which are fraternal benefit societies. (Aka, Shriners, Freemasons, etc.) Those can have fairly strict rules for admission, including religious and other beliefs. And they’re still allowed to discriminate on gender and race! So…obviously would be allowed to do so on same-sex marriage.

        Probably need to do some slight tweaks to that category, but it mostly works. Some of those groups sorta are religions already.Report

        • Avatar JoeSal in reply to DavidTC
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          says:

          David, just to make the premise clear here for the fine audience, could you tell us if the federal tax was supposed to be permanent or temporary when it was first deployed?

          And since the herd folks are all about consensus, where was direct and continued concensus reached in giving the government the authority to do this?Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to JoeSal
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            says:

            The…Federal tax on non-profits? Which has never existed? Or do you mean income tax in general?

            The direct consensus for the Federal income tax was the ratification of the 16th amendment. The continued consensus is electing politicians who do not remove the Federal income tax. That is how things work in a republic.

            Incidentally, income tax was _already_ legal (It had existed in wartime repeatedly), and the 16th was not really needed.

            The constitution says if the US government collects ‘direct taxes’, which was generally held to be when the state itself pays money, that tax has to be per person in the state. Whereas Federal income tax, which is collected from the person not the state, had repeatedly been held to be indirect tax, and thus it didn’t have to be evenly divided between states…it didn’t have anything to do with states.

            And then the courts screwed up a single decision, Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co., calling a tax on ‘income gained by certain property’ a direct tax. This decision was…objectively wrong, or at least in conflict with all previous decisions, and a 5-4 political vote, but whatever.

            What then happened was, The People of the United States of America, when faced with a Federal government that might not be able to tax their income any longer, unequivocally voted the Federal government the right to do so via constitutional amendment.Report

            • Avatar JoeSal in reply to DavidTC
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              says:

              “The continued consensus is electing politicians who do not remove the Federal income tax.”

              There it is, maybe we ought to have a direct vote on this.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to JoeSal
                Ignored
                says:

                Why this as opposed to anything — indeed, everything — else?Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                Well Chip informs on consensus as a social justice facet, I’m curious of how this would shake out.

                Aren’t you?

                Plus people are really getting into the popular vote stuff since the last pres. election.

                Also, it appears we are importing a lot of people who may not want federal taxes pulled from their paychecks.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to JoeSal
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                says:

                I’m not curious at all. Virtually everyone wants taxes on themselves lowered, spending on themselves increased, and the budget balanced. This, of course, is incoherent. That’s one of the reasons we don’t submit every legislative issue, or even many of them — as opposed to the issue of who will represent us in the government — to a direct popular vote. So why this one in particular?Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                Just holding folks to what they claim is most virtuous about their own ideologies.

                Plus, this does appear to at least meet a threshold of what would be important enough to popular vote on.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to JoeSal
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                says:

                I’m not sure whom you’re arguing with. It isn’t me. To the extent you’re trying to answer my question, repeating yourself is not the usual response to “why?”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to JoeSal
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                says:

                We could just as easily ask about the “direct and continued consensus” on oh, I don’t know, how about property rights and claims?

                I mean, the government forcibly and with violence protects some claims on property but not others.

                Was there a vote on this? Where did I sign to agree to abide by this?
                What if I don’t wanna?Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                property rights and claims

                ha, did you think there are pearls to be clutched there?

                How quicker to get to a point where nothing is taxed?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                Call it incentives. Income tax funds a lot of the government, from politician paychecks to funding available so the politicians can do the things that get them headlines. Eliminate the income tax and the federal government will have to have a new source of revenue in order to maintain the status quo, or it will have to break with the status quo and contract.

                Politicians may quibble on the exact percentages and deductions and what not, but none of them want the massive headache that would result if the income tax was summarily done away with.

                Hence, you will likely never get the politicians to vote for it without some unprecedented groundswell of support.

                But a citizen initiative/referendum, if you asked every individual citizen if they want to pay income tax… well, you might very well clear that 51% threshold.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                Exactly. That’s why we don’t do it that way. The math doesn’t work and someone has to be responsible about it.
                Given my druthers, I’d be cool with moving from an income tax to a VAT, but in a referendum a majority will be against any tax, unless they think it will land on someone else. Again, the math won’t work.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                So if a government is doing something that the populace doesn’t approve of, what is that called?Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to JoeSal
                Ignored
                says:

                The normal course of things. And the normal remedy is the next election.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                Ahhh yes the next election…….. I wonder if Chuck Todd will be on again and repeat that bewildered expression.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                if you asked every individual citizen if they want to pay income tax… well, you might very well clear that 51% threshold.

                Similarly we could vote to eliminate carbon, eliminate income inequality, the homeless, and make the oceans fall.

                This is a bad referendum unless you include some sort of directions on how we’re supposed to make this happen.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to JoeSal
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh…I suspect you _really_ wouldn’t like the outcome if the general public was able to directly vote on what levels of incomes taxes we’d have.

                According to pretty much all polling, we’d have massive taxes on the wealthy, with basically no exceptions.

                In fact, why stop at income taxes. Let’s put a wealth tax up for a direct vote. Let’s see what outcome we get there.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                yadda yadda yadda ….social objectivity … yadda yadda yaddaReport

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                I do have to give ya some credit here, the math doesn’t work.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to JoeSal
                Ignored
                says:

                My meager powers of parody are no match forthe the real thing.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                My meager powers of parody are no match for the the real thing.

                In the news: Bernie’s spending plan is to have the gov spend 70% of the GDP, significantly more than any of the Northern European states, or something like 97T over 10 years.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                …Bernie’s spending plan…

                And BTW this sort of thing is why I think Trump would qualify as the “lesser” evil if they go head to head.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                Probably wouldn’t be wise to get in a game of chicken with me on this one.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to DavidTC
      Ignored
      says:

      You’ve made this argument at me at least once that I can recall. It’s something I’ve ruminated upon, and see merit in. I can’t deduct fees paid to my life coach, but I can deduct a tithe given to my church, even if I’m receiving functionally the same advice from my pastor that I receive from my life coach.

      Having a life coach, after all, is modern and flaky. But having a pastor is an ancient and sacred religious tradition. (Except for the part where it isn’t really so “ancient,” depending on how you define the term “ancient.”) Sometimes the law reflects culture, even if culture is irrational.

      Concededly, sometimes a change in the law reciprocates to become a change in the culture. Usually with generations of political feedback, some positive and some negative, but it can happen. (See: legally imposed anti-discrimination law vis-a-vis public accommodations.) There’s no reason to think that cannot be the case with this issue, but we should be aware that breaking people of thinking of their own churches as public charities is a significant shift in the baseline mindset.

      I don’t see a way to legally get to the morally clear place you describe, without powerful political feedback from the cultural status quo, other than to do what Beto is describing. And for right now at least, that is general election cyanide.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        There’s no reason to think that cannot be the case with this issue, but we should be aware that breaking people of thinking of their own churches as public charities is a significant shift in the baseline mindset.

        If the problem is the word ‘charity’…just remove that from the law entirely. Rename 501(c)(3)s to ‘philanthropic institutions’…which churches generally wouldn’t call themselves.

        And doing this would be simple enough. What you do is just start excluding things from counting as part of the donation, which is something I’ve mentioned as part of a general reform.

        For the obvious start, don’t include salaries. If someone donates $100 to an organization, and $10 of that goes towards someone salary, only let them deduct $90 on their taxes. (We might need to do some exception for places like Goodwill that do charity _by_ hiring people, but that’s not too hard.)

        Now, it’s easy to argue that charities, especially larger ones, do have to pay administrative people…which is fine, they can still do that. OTOH, the government surely has a right to make sure that ‘charitable donations under the law’ (that it itself has incentivized to start with) go towards helping people instead of paychecks, so incentivizing less staff is entirely reasonable.

        Especially since the most common failure mode for charities is they turn into a personal piggy bank by over-hiring friends and family as employees…it’s literally the only legal way to take money out of them. We can’t disallow this, deciding the ‘correct level of staff’ per charity would be a nightmare for the government, but it would be immediately clear to potential donors how much staff overhead a charity had if it was reflected in how much of their donation was going to be tax deductible.

        I don’t see a way to legally get to the morally clear place you describe, without powerful political feedback from the cultural status quo, other than to do what Beto is describing.

        Well, once we’ve made it clear churches don’t function well as philanthropic institutions under the law, we invent a _new place_ for them. A place where, if they move there, they start off at basically the same or slightly _better_ deal as they do under the new 501(c)(3) rules. And, for example, can get political if they want. Or discriminate. Or anything. All the stuff they whine about, all the stuff they go to court about…there’s a place for them under the law. All they have to do is be there.

        As I said, 501(c)(8) sorta can do all that already…just copy that, maybe with a bit of 501(c)(4) thrown in.

        Honestly, I’d even be willing to extend tax deduction for donations to them. Just to get the churches the hell out of the proper charities.

        And then, once they are somewhere different, once ‘religion’ is no longer an issue in 501(c)(3), we can start seriously enforcing non-discrimination stuff against philanthropic institutions. We can even require them to have a _helpful_ mission.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
          Ignored
          says:

          This does not strike me, on its face, as particularly troublesome apart from the whole idea that we’re good at making distinctions between helpful and non-helpful missions.

          So I’ll just return to the questions I always ask:

          Has any other country done this yet?
          What happened when they did it?Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            This does not strike me, on its face, as particularly troublesome

            Oh, it’s very troublesome. Specifically, it assumes that non-profits are going to know their salary expenses in advance, and also we have to figure out a way to stop non-profits from instead hiring ‘contractors’ who are just actually employees.

            It’s nowhere near as simple as I’m making it. This is because it would be _tax code_, which is inherently insane.

            But non-profits already deal with this sorta thing, and it wouldn’t have any impact at all on small non-profits, which tend to not have any paid staff at all, or maybe one person on salary and they know what that is.

            apart from the whole idea that we’re good at making distinctions between helpful and non-helpful missions.

            Well, we do sorta have that under the law already, as 501(c)(3)s can _only_ exist for the purposes of: charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, or preventing cruelty to children or animals

            You will notice that list is…somehow both incredibly vague and way too specific. Like…only sports? Who defines sports? Is chess a sport? And…isn’t preventing cruelty to children generally thought of as ‘charitable’? And surely ‘literacy’ would be covered by ‘educational’?

            And, as I said…’educational’ and ‘charitable’ are both so wide that almost anything can fit under them.

            Has any other country done this yet?
            What happened when they did it?

            Damned if I know. If you want to read through how non-profits work in other countries, here it is:
            https://nexusglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/RULES-TO-GIVE-BY-FINAL-Country-Reports-345-page.pdf

            Starting around page 50, it goes into per-country detail, and question #5 is generally what we want to look at. And…while I haven’t come across any specifically like I said, it’s worth pointing out that a lot of countries have stricter rules…Australia, for example, has a specific list of ‘tax exemption donations’ organizations that they apparently publish online, presumably after deciding each individually actually do good.

            And some of them don’t even have tax deductions like that. The UK, for example, has an extremely weird program where the _non-profit_ get the exemption…like, the donor provides evidence he paid taxes on the donation to the non-profit, and the non-profit gets cash back from the government. Which is..weird.

            Also, in the US, people can deduct up to half their taxes, whereas a lot of places put the limit closer to 20%.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
              Ignored
              says:

              If we’re in a place where we’re suggesting that we institute a policy that no other country has done, then I can’t help but notice that “something nobody else has done” is now, somehow, morally imperative.

              Instituting a new policy of this magnitude strikes me as something that is likely to have approximately one kabillion unintended consequences and if my experience with unintended consequences is any measure, “women/minorities hardest hit” is likely to appear in the subsequent headlines.

              Especially if we’re talking about fiddling with the knobs on non-profits.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                While no other country has done _that specific thing_ that I know of (Although it’s possible.), a lot of countries do, in fact, restrict what sort of entities people can donate to for tax deductions. As I said, Australia has a literal list of eligible entities, that’s apparently not that big, and doesn’t include churches.

                In fact, we already restrict what sort of entities people can donate to for tax deductions. For example, 501(c)(4)s, which look a lot like 501(c)(3)s, can’t be used for that. Or…any other 501(c).

                Pretending that _reducing_ the eligible tax deductible part of a donation to otherwise-eligible non-profit, is somehow an insane unprecedented thing, when other countries literally don’t allow donations to be deducted from taxes at all to many of those sorts of entities (Or to _any_ entities!), is very silly.

                As for hurting woman/minorities…a major problem of the system as it is set up is that we actually have a lot of religious charities with…a lot of prejudice. Extremely unprofessionally operated, discriminating against whoever they want. And…sometimes even professionally discriminating, like the whole bunch of religious hospitals that have been popping up that refuse to perform any sort of procedure that would end a pregnancy, even when medically required.

                But don’t think it’s just those sort of deliberate rules. Often it’s just the entire thing is structured horribly with no oversight or anything.There are religious-based shelters that, for example, are extremely dismissive of minorities, and ones that are just horrifically corrupt in general.

                Search for some of the horror stories from the Salvation Army one day. Which, yes, as a charity is officially prejudice against SSM, which is bad, but it’s _also_ extremely poorly set up and basically each chapter can do whatever the hell it wants and there’s tons of stories of outright theft from people they are supposed to be helping.

                Religions are extremely bad at starting professional real charities. They tend to just…hand everything to a church member they think has good intentions. Now, sometimes, they get smart, and form the charity external to themselves and bring in experts and can have multiple churches involved. Yeah. But usually it’s just a completely cock-up from start to finish. And, yes, sometimes non-religious charities are badly formed too, but they tend to not have any funding and collapse basically immediately. Whereas religious ones tend to end up with a lot of money. Money that could be better spent elsewhere.

                So…if you truly want charities to help people, religions should be encouraged to stay as far away as possible. If they want to help people, they should find a charity and help it…or consult some professionals and form an independent charity with reasonable operating procedures.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                Well. I will say that if you want to make an explicit policy statement that in exchange for increased accounting requirements churches aren’t subject to people suing them on Title VII grounds, I think that a lot of church organizations would take that deal. But I don’t think that’s actually what you want.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Well. I will say that if you want to make an explicit policy statement that in exchange for increased accounting requirements churches aren’t subject to people suing them on Title VII grounds, I think that a lot of church organizations would take that deal. But I don’t think that’s actually what you want.

                Well, no, it’s not, because I have no idea where you got ‘increased accounting requirements’ from?

                My proposal is to create rules that would penalize 501(c)(3)s that do not operate like actual charities. Or, rather, would simply not reward the non-charity things that they do. There’s no condemnation there, if a non-profit is large enough it’s going to have some paid staff, but we can encourage that to be minimal.

                It just so happens that churches are _really bad_ at spending money on actual charity. Slightly under 50% of the average church budget is personnel costs. Which means that donations to them would only be about half tax-deductible.

                So the trick is, we propose this, and then wait for the inevitable outcry from, mostly, churches. And we go ‘Oops’, and make a new category for them. Let’s call it 501(c)(30). It gets created for churches to belong to…and like I said, I’d even be willing to allow the same level of tax deduction as _now_, full tax deduction. (Which would, of course, be more than what they would get under my changed 501(c)(3) rules.)

                And 501(c)(30) would explicitly allow discrimination, but it _also_ would explicitly require things to be _churches_ instead of ‘religious charities’ that try to operate in the gray area of ‘We can do anything we want, we’re a religion’ but also ‘Oh, we’re a real charity, the government can team up with us’.

                Meanwhile, anyone who wants to be an actual charity over in 501(c)(3) now has to comply fully with non-discrimination laws. They can certainly be operated by religious people, in fact, churches might want to start their own just like other 501(c) entities often have one…but they can’t discriminate in hiring or who they help, can’t even promote one religion over another…

                …one we get all the churches out of 501(c)(3) where they don’t belong.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                ” I have no idea where you got ‘increased accounting requirements’ from?”

                Because what you want is for churches to do a big pile of math at the end of the year so they can tell donators how much of their tithing donations are actually deductible? That’s…accounting?

                “And 501(c)(30) would explicitly allow discrimination, but it _also_ would explicitly require things to be _churches_ instead of ‘religious charities’”

                I don’t see how that’s actually different from what I said? But it seems really important to you that you not agree with me on anything?

                I mean, you’re pounding hard on the distinction between A Church and A Charity; what do you have in mind that A Church cannot do that A Charity can?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                I mean, you’re pounding hard on the distinction between A Church and A Charity; what do you have in mind that A Church cannot do that A Charity can?

                Partner with governments. Get any sort of government subsidies. Accept any sort of vouchers.

                You know, the thing we keep having lawsuits about because ‘religious charities’ and ‘religious schools’ and ‘religious hospitals’ keep trying to interject themselves into benefits the government has created to encourage the public good.

                A organization get be in the religious category, and do whatever they want, help or refuse to help anyone you want, and can’t take a _dime_ of government money or anything. Note they’d still be a non-profit, and…I’d even be willing to let donations to them be tax-exempt. I’m talking about they wouldn’t be able to accept things like vouchers to private schools or subsidies to hospitals to cover the uninsured, etc.

                Or they can be in the charity category, absolutely cannot discriminate, and often work with the government…if the government want to encourage what they do.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                “Partner with governments. Get any sort of government subsidies. Accept any sort of vouchers.”

                Aaaaaaah, that’s what this is about. It’s a wedge for eliminating tax breaks entirely without having to go through a nasty public legislative fight. “As part of this year’s tax laws we’re redefining the charitable-contribution deduction for 501c(462) groups…no need to put it through a vote in Congress because administration of the tax code is an Executive Branch function…”Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        “I can’t deduct fees paid to my life coach, but I can deduct a tithe given to my church”

        That’s because tithes are not fee-for-service.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
          Ignored
          says:

          Um, you do realize that’s not the dividing line, right? That it doesn’t have to be an explicit fee-for-service?

          A non-profit isn’t supposed to do things that mainly benefit their own donors, even if a few other people also benefit from those things and it’s technically accessible for everyone.

          In fact, a church hiring a preacher, who then turns around and basically works for the people who donated the money to hire them, is so clearly a violation of how 501(c)(3)s are supposed to work that there are specific IRS regulations exempting that from being disallowed. It’s called an ‘intangible religious benefit’, and 501(c)(3)s are explicitly allowed to provide it to members.

          https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1771.pdfReport

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
            Ignored
            says:

            “you do realize that’s not the dividing line, right? That it doesn’t have to be an explicit fee-for-service?”

            you’re posting this like it’s a total refutation of my statement but both you and the IRS document are actually…agreeing with me? that tithes are not considered fees rendered in return for a service?

            I mean, what actual church are you thinking of that lets people do things without paying for them? Anywhere I’ve been had fees for anything beyond the basic worship service. The closest I saw to anything involving “anyone can come in and do this for free” was the occasional picnic or holiday celebration…which also gets an exception in that IRS publication you so smugly slapped on the table.

            in fact, according to that publication, it doesn’t even have to be a religious organization; I could write off my membership to the local Rotary Club and go get tanked at their Fourth Of July picnic, so long as they spent less than twelve bucks per person for the thing…Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
              Ignored
              says:

              I mean, what actual church are you thinking of that lets people do things without paying for them?

              Church. Services. Which includes an approximately 30 minute speech on ethics and religion. Along with a paid music director who have taught a bunch of volunteers to sing along to a paid accompanist.

              For themselves.

              Paid for by donations, consumed by the same people who donated.

              This is not rocket science.

              If I precisely replicated the structure of a church and _didn’t_ assert it was religious, if I built a social club and got a bunch of friends to donate, then bought a building and that hired motivational speakers (and music directors and organists, etc) to come put on shows and give speeches that were mostly for the consumption of me and my friends in the social club (Even if the event was theoretically open to the public, but in reality it was 90% us and 10% other people every week.), I’d be breaking the law if I tried to file under 501(c)(3).

              I say it’s a church and suddenly it’s fine.

              that tithes are not considered fees rendered in return for a service?

              Uh, no? The IRS regulation clearly shows that what is happening in churches _would_ be considered something of value if the regulations didn’t explicitly exclude it.

              You seem confused as to what I am arguing. I am not arguing that churches behaving like that is currently in violation of IRS regulations. I am arguing that it _regulations should stop giving religions an exception_.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                “Church. Services. Which includes an approximately 30 minute speech on ethics and religion. Along with a paid music director who have taught a bunch of volunteers to sing along to a paid accompanist.”

                I don’t know what churches you’ve been to, but exactly 0% of the ones I’ve been to have checked before I entered to make sure that I’d paid my donations prior to attending a worship service.

                “The IRS regulation”

                It’s interesting seeing you repeatedly and angrily bring up this thing about how church donations ought to be taxed except for this one law that says they aren’t, because it’s the same energy that people bring to discussions of Title VII and how business owners can choose not to do business with disagreeable patrons except for this one law that says they have to.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t know what churches you’ve been to, but exactly 0% of the ones I’ve been to have checked before I entered to make sure that I’d paid my donations prior to attending a worship service.

                I know! And when _I_ created a non-profit to purchase every episode of Doctor Who on DVD, and let anyone sign up to borrow DVDs, somehow the IRS didn’t like the fact that like four people did that ever and the person who watched them most was me. It’s a library, I shout, anyone can check out DVDs, but they don’t seem to agree.

                As I’ve already said repeatedly, the majority of spending at any church is on things that benefit the members. It doesn’t matter that it _could_ benefit others if they showed up. They _don’t_ show up.

                If you were to track the spending at a church, dividing up the time of the personnel (Which is half the spending) and usage of the space (Which is another quarter), something like 90% of those goes to the members, aka, goes to the donors.

                And…I’m not sure I need to adress the fact you don’t know that ‘ought’ means?

                You asserted that churches are not fee-for-service, I pointed out that that’s the problem, they are inarguable mostly helping their own member, which charities are not supposed to do…as evidenced by an IRS regulation that basically exempts them from that.

                You’ve decided this means…I don’t even know.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                something like 90% of those goes to the members, aka, goes to the donors.

                90% seems high.

                If memory serves the single biggest expense is personel, then you have mortgage/various building expenses, apportionments (i.e. not-taxes paid to the parent organization), missions, outreach, and what might be called charity. It’s been a long time since I’ve sat through a finance meeting and obviously this would vary wildly from church to church.

                Missions, outreach, apportionments and “charity” are reasonably not going to the donors. True charity was pretty small where I was but the rest wasn’t. The big nasty question in finance meetings was typically what comes last. There would always be people who really REALLY wanted to put missions FIRST and trust that god would supply enough money that everything else would work. The Treasurer would want to do the reverse because the rest are either not optional or not big enough to balance missions.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                “It’s a library, I shout, anyone can check out DVDs, but they don’t seem to agree.”

                That’s not actually a response to my post, dude, I need you to really do better here.

                Although you can’t even handle basic HTML so, I guess it’s not surprising.

                “You asserted that churches are not fee-for-service, I pointed out that that’s the problem, they are inarguable mostly helping their own member, which charities are not supposed to do…”

                Anyone can attend the church. That few non-members attend any particular church on any specific day does not mean that they’d be turned away if they showed up. And you haven’t, actually, shown that this is not true.Report

  10. Avatar JoeSal
    Ignored
    says:

    Probably ought to slap a additional Pigovian tax on marxist organizations.Report

  11. Avatar Gabriel Conroy
    Ignored
    says:

    If this isn’t just a desperate gamble by someone very far behind in the polls, then it’s one of those things where a President O’Rourke will direct their IRS director to suspend the exemption and where the courts will overturn the that decision because it’s viewpoint based or faith based discrimination, and then the president will be able to say, “look, I did this bigoted thing to placate my constituency, but the courts have foiled and failed us.” We’ve certinily seen that game before and see it now.

    Not that a president would be so foolish. As Greginak says above, a bigger danger is the actually existing administration that goes the other way and seems to be using government speech to endorse a specific religious view.Report

  12. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    So I was talking to Fish yesterday and he made a joke about who actually put a tax on the church and we googled it.

    Anyway, there *IS* a precedent. So if anybody ever again asks “did anybody ever do this?”, you can throw this link in their face.Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Church Tax or Church Tax?

      That link is for Churches that collect Taxes via State mechanics… Germany is by far the single biggest instance – and, btw, the key filter one has to run everything through that comes out of the German Catholic Bishops collective voices (for those keeping score at home). Those Taxes are collected and distributed back the the Churches.

      A simple precedent for the Church Tax Beto is talking about would be England with Non-conformists/Recusants; of course, that should probably also inform our understanding of the US project as Nonconformists were a significant population during the American founding.

      Literally, nonconformity was Taxed for the purpose of suppressing nonconformity… so plenty of precedents if precedents are needed. As for lessons? That’s another question.Report

  13. Avatar quid_pro_quoth_the_raven
    Ignored
    says:

    If you weren’t sure Beto was a joke, now you know. And, frankly, some of the things the Democrats have said, either in the name of getting Trump, or securing the Supreme Court, or whatever, have really dismayed me, as they’re really not well thought through, or, even constitutional. And, shockingly, I agree with Aaron David: tax exempt status for religious entities shouldn’t be a thing.Report

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