As we all know, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under fire for its targeting of Tea Party groups. This scandal, while outrageous and demanding of answers and accountability, isn’t exactly a new thing for the United States’ most disliked bureaucratic entity.
The Cato Institute has a released a new video highlighting the past administrations’ — from FDR to LBJ to Nixon — uses of the IRS to target political and ideological opponents. The video features comments from David Keating, President of the Center for Competitive Politics; Michael MacLeod-Ball, Chief Legislative Council at the ACLU; John Samples, Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Representative Government; and Gene Healy, Vice President of the Cato Institute.
Samples and Keating noted that there are efforts in and outside of Congress to give the IRS more power to monitor groups that have tax-exempt status, which they explain is an ironic notion, given this most recent scandal. Healy also points to recent comments by President Obama, who decried voices warning of tyranny in a recent commencement address.
“I think if you’re one of these Tea Party groups that spent, in some cases, two years, under an IRS inquisition, you might start to think that these voices are onto something,” said Healy, just before a clip of President Obama joking about auditing university officials who had refused him an honorary degree.
Here we go again. After making a deal with Republicans over the filibuster at the beginning of the current session, some Senate Democrats are threatening once more to eliminate the procedural tactic because they can’t get the votes necessary to push through President Barack Obama’s nominees to regulatory bodies:
Senate Democrats frustrated with the GOP’s blocking of a string of President Obama’s nominees are seriously weighing a controversial tactic known as the “nuclear option.”
The option — which would involve Democrats changing Senate rules through a majority vote to prevent the GOP from using the 60-vote filibuster to block nominations — was raised during a private meeting Wednesday involving about 25 Democratic senators and a group of labor leaders.
The labor groups expressed frustration over future nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, as well as Obama’s nomination of Thomas Perez as secretary of Labor.
Democrats’ anger also boiled over last week when Republicans stalled Gina McCarthy, the president’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, by boycotting a meeting of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Both of these regulatory bodies have come under fire over the last couple of years. President Obama made appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) early last year, but because the Senate wasn’t technically in recess, those appointments were found to be unconstitutional.
With all the excitement over the comeback of the TV show, Arrested Development, the trailer for which was just recently released, the House Republican Conference has come up with a humorous parody of the show featuring a “dysfunctional Democratic majority.”
The video features President Barack Obama, ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), all of whom pushed for passage of ObamaCare, and notes that the law is causing insurance premiums to rise and causing employers headaches. It also highlights the doubts about ObamaCare now being expressed by members of their own party:
If Senate Democrats are so bothered by the outrageous developments with the Internal Revenue Service, which targeted Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny, than why are they blocking a resolution for an independent investigation into the matter?
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) offered a resolution (PDF) that would have condemned the IRS for singling out Tea Party and other conservative groups and launched independent investigation into these discriminatory tactics. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats have apparently blocked the resolution for reasons that haven’t been made clear.
“This resolution is not about Republican vs. Democrat or conservative vs. liberal. It is about arrogant and unrestrained government vs. the rule of law,” said Paul in a statement from his office. “The First Amendment cannot and should not be renegotiated depending on which party holds power.”
“Each senator took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, yet Senate Democrats chose to block my resolution and thus refused to condemn the IRS for trampling on our First Amendment rights,” he added. “I am incredibly disappointed in Washington’s party politics and I am determined to hold the IRS accountable for these unjust acts.”
Perhaps they blocked the resolution because Senate Democrats don’t necessarily have a problem with what the IRS has done. Several Democrats, including Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), have expressed concern about the scandal. But Baucus, for example, previously asked the IRS to investigate conservative groups who had tax-exempt status, as Brian Walsh notes at US News:
Even before the scandals that have recently hit the Obama Administration, some were already worried that the Democratic Party was in decline. Just last week, Doug Sosnick, a Democratic strategist, told colleagues in a memo that the party is “in decline” and “at considerable risk” when President Barack Obama’s second and final term expires in January 2017.
Sosnick noted that, despite President Obama’s electoral success, “Democrats have lost nine governorships, 56 members of the House and two Senate seats” since he took office. The memo hit before the IRS and DOJ scandals became public knowledge, so there is no measure of the impact of those from the memo. However, there is growing concern from Democrats that the now-scandal plagued White House could cost them next year.
Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, explained the electoral implications of the scandals earlier this week:
The danger for Obama, of course, is that many Americans will start to doubt his administration’s veracity and values. If that happens — and for now it is only a danger, not an inevitability — then the president could well turn into a serious liability for Democrats in next year’s elections.
While it may be just temporary, Chris Matthews, a talking head who has fawned over President Barack Obama like some dewy-eyed school girl, ripped the White House yesterday during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
The cantankerous pundit still made the case for a big government during the nearly 22-minute segment on the show, but he didn’t hide his contempt for President Obama’s very serious leadership failures.
“This President’s responsible for the federal government. He’s responsible even if he didn’t do anything wrong,” said Matthews on the Morning Joe. “He keeps acting like the only problem he’s got — the only real problem he has, viscerally — is the talking points in Benghazi because that gets to Susan Rice, people close to him, and Michelle.”
Matthews said that President Obama needs someone to handle the day-to-day affairs of the White House to deal handle problems like the administration has seen over the last several days. He cited the lack of this leadership as a “real problem.”
In the wake of a very serious scandal that involved his agency singling out Tea Party groups, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asked for and received the resignation of acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller.
President Barack Obama announced this development during a short statement to this press this afternoon. He took no questions, but added that the recommendations made by the Treasury Department’s Inspector General will be implemented.
Quoting a congressional source earlier today, CNN noted that two Cincinnati-based staffers were largely responsible for the discrimination toward Tea Party groups. They have, according to the story, “already been disciplined,” though specifics weren’t provided.
While it’s good that there has been some accountability, much more needs to be done to prevent this from ever happening again. Moreover, President Obama’s response, to this point, had been woefully inadequate. Just Tuesday, the White House still didn’t want to own up that a mistake had been made, despite an admission and apology from the IRS.
The IRS is the problem. It’s very nature is to harass Americans into complying with the United States’ completely incoherent tax code. Couple that with the intimidating nature of this White House, and it’s a recipe for what happened to these Tea Party groups.
A day after criticizing the IRS over the targeting of Tea Party groups, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, slammed President Barack Obama and the White House for not knowing about the scandals that have recently plagued the administration.
He showed that President Obama’s said that he’d heard about the IRS scandal through news reports, rather than hearing about it from officials in the agency. That, by the way, is odd since President Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday that White House lawyers knew about the investigation into the allegations in April.
Stewart showed that this is actually a pattern when it comes to stories that reflect badly on President Obama and leadership failures, noting that the same line was given in response to Operation Fast and Furious. “You know,” said Stewart, “I wouldn’t be surprised if President Obama learned Osama bin Laden had been killed when he saw himself announcing it on television!”
Check out the segment below:
On Monday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) floated the possibility of impeaching President Barack Obama over the administration’s handling of the terrorist attack on the American compound in Benghazi:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz says President Barack Obama’s handling of the government’s response to the Benghazi terrorist attack could be an impeachable offense and vows to continue digging at the “lies of highest magnitude” from the White House.
“It’s certainly a possibility,” the Utah Republican said Monday when asked about impeachment. “That’s not the goal but given the continued lies perpetrated by this administration, I don’t know where it’s going to go. … I’m not taking it off the table. I’m not out there touting that but I think this gets to the highest levels of our government and integrity and honesty are paramount.”
Chaffetz did clarify, however, that he’s not necessarily calling for impeachment. As he explained during an interview on CNN, he was asked about impeachment, so merely answered the question.
If you’ve listened to pundits over the last couple years, you’ve no doubt heard them say that the Tea Party, a grassroots movement that was essential to Republicans taking control of the House in the 2010, doesn’t have the influence that it once had. But the IRS scandal that has plagued the White House this week has placed new emphasis on the dangers of big government that were the central focus of the Tea Party and, as Sean Sullivan explained this morning at the Washington Post, it could breathe new life in the movement:
A product of frustration with the government’s direction — specifically the Obama administration’s decisions on spending, taxes and the creation of the federal health-care law — the tea party was angst channeled into activism. Now comes another moment of widespread frustration, if a smaller one, with the potential to incite a new round of advocacy.
Even as the tea party sentiment is not as widespread as it once was, the ideology underlying the movement remains a force in Congress. Look at the House, where an unruly conservative GOP conference has caused headaches for leadership. The House will hold yet another vote on a repeal of Obamacare on Thursday, an effort designed in part to satisfy freshmen lawmakers who want the vote on their record.