Capitalizing on the frustration congressional Democrats have recently expressed over rising health insurance premiums and the Obama Administration’s implementation efforts of ObamaCare, the House Republican Conference rolled out a new video on Thursday that highlights the headlines showing slashed hours and job losses that have come as a result of the law. This is the primary reason, outside of the recent IRS scandal, that House Republicans have pursued repeal of ObamaCare.
After rolling though the headlines, the video asks, “How many more jobs will ObamaCare cost?” It’s a question worth asking because, to this point, ObamaCare has been a nightmare for employers and there are no signs that the consequences of the law are letting up.
It wasn’t just Tea Party and other limited-government groups that were targeted by the IRS. The bureaucratic agency, which is apparently too big for the Obama Administration to know what’s going on, also targeted an Iowa-based pro-life group:
On June 22, 2009, the Coalition for Life of Iowa received a letter from the IRS office in Cincinnati, Ohio, that oversees tax exemptions requesting details about how often members pray and whether their prayers are “considered educational.”
“Please explain how all of your activities, including the prayer meetings held outside of Planned Parenthood, are considered educational as defined under 501(c)(3),” reads the letter, made public by the Thomas More Society, a public interest law firm that collected evidence about the IRS practices. “Organizations exempt under 501(c)(3) may present opinions with scientific or medical facts. Please explain in detail the activities at these prayer meetings. Also, please provide the percentage of time your organizations spends on prayer groups as compared with the other activities of the organization.”
Unbelievable. Regardless of how one my feel about the abortion issue, this sort of questioning is completely inappropriate, and it is very much a religious liberty issue. What difference does the content of their prayers actually make and why does the government need to know about it? And why do they need to know how often or what percentage of their meetings are spent in prayer?
Despite the Justice Department coming under fire for its seizure of AP phone records, which put the press in the middle of the Obama Administration’s war on whistleblowers, Attorney General Eric Holder is planning another controversial move.
Holder, who is certainly no stranger to scandal due to the DOJ’s involvement in Operation Fast and Furious and his subsequent refusal to turnover documents related to the gun-running scheme, is planning to use “regulatory power to make smaller changes” to gun control laws:
In an interview with Attorney General Eric Holder, after discussing the IRS scandal of seizing AP phone records, NPR’s Carrie Johnson checked in with Holder on the issue of gun control. According to Johnson, Holder stated that although the White House lost the battle over expanding background checks for gun purchasers, the administration will be trying again later this year to push gun control in Congress and using their “regulatory power to make smaller changes in the meantime.” Confirming the administration’s unrelenting commitment to what many believe is an infringement of the Second Amendment, Holder declared that the goal is, “moving the needle in the way in which the American people want, which is to make guns less accessible to people that should not have them.”
The IRS scandal continues to get creepier. Yesterday, we told you the story of Justin Binik-Thomas, a Cincinnati-based activist who was mentioned by name in the agency’s queries to the Liberty Township Tea Party, an organization with which he had no affiliation. It appears that this is not just some isolated incident.
The Daily Caller reports that Dylan Nonaka and the Leadership Institute, a well-known conservative organization based in Arlington, Virginia, were also targeted in IRS requests for more information from the Hawaii Tea Party:
In what former Republican executive and activist Dylan Nonaka is calling a massive invasion of privacy that suggests a coordinated effort to target conservative groups, two IRS offices last year independently and simultaneously conducted costly audits and sought tea party-related training materials that they apparently believed could be tied to Nonaka.
Written by Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
ObamaCare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board is everything its critics say and worse. It is a democracy-skirting, Congress-blocking, powers-unseparating, law-entrenching, tax-hiking, fund-appropriating, price-controlling, health-care-rationing, death-paneling, technocrat-thrilling, authoritarian, anti-constitutional super-legislature. Its very existence is testament to government incompetence. It stands as a milestone on the road to serfdom.
[I]f President Obama fails to appoint any IPAB members, all these powers fall to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
The scandal currently engulfing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) no doubt has the attention of the country. As you know this bureaucratic agency singled out Tea Party and other conservative groups for additional scrutiny as they sought tax-exempt status.
There has been some focus on the very odd questions asked of these groups. Some were innocuous, though still very much over the line, while others, as David French of the ACLJ said, are a “far left wish list of discovery of the Tea Party.”
During his testimony on Capitol Hill today, acting-IRS Commission Steven Miller, who resigned earlier this week, told the House Ways and Means Committee that there was no political motivation in his agency’s screening of Tea Party groups. That’s obviously not true. In fact, the very clear intent of the IRS to single out and intimidate this groups is even more clear after reading the questions sent to the Liberty Township Tea Party, a group based just north of Cincinnati.
Under penalties of perjury, the Liberty Township Tea Party was asked for additional information, ranging from queries about family members to fundraising to current and planned employees/volunteers to outreach programs with the local school district.
But one request sticks out. The IRS wanted to know about the Liberty Township Tea Party’s relationship with one particular person, Justin Binik-Thomas:
After the IRS and DOJ scandals became public knowledge late last week and earlier this week, Reuters used the stories as a chance to analyize President Barack Obama’s civil liberties record.
While he seemed like a stark contrast to George W. Bush during the 2008 presidential campaign, the analysis reveals that Obama’s administration, has been a disappointment on civil liberties. Some constitutional lawyers interviewed by Reuters attribute this to the “realties” of the presidency.
But do these so-called “realities” give a president the excuse to infringe upon civil liberties? And shouldn’t there accountability when administration officials, whether they be in the IRS or DOJ, act in a manner is grossly out of line?
In an editorial at The Daily Beast, Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, sees the scandals this week as both a failure of President Obama’s leadership and part of his administration’s continuing assault on civil liberties:
So who is really responsible? Who knew what, and when did they know it?
The day the story broke, Carney tried to deflect blame by claiming that the “IRS is an independent enforcement agency.” However, it is a part of the Department of the Treasury, which answers to the president.
Democratic campaign strategist David Axelrod argued that the “vast” size of the federal government makes it impossible for the president to know what is going on beneath him in the Executive Branch.
If President Obama is not watching over the Executive Branch, then who is?
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has delivered another blow to President Barack Obama, who has had an incredibly rough week due to a series of very serious scandals, by finding a recess appointment to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to be unconstitutional:
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday said an appointment President Barack Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board was invalid, becoming the second circuit to question the validity of the labor board’s decisions.
The 102-page opinion, in a case called National Labor Relations Board v. New Vista, focused on the appointment of Craig Becker, a former board member who was appointed by Obama during a two-week Senate break in March 2010. (Becker stepped down from the board in 2012.) These breaks are often referred to as “intrasession” breaks, as opposed to intersessions, when the Senate is between sessions.
“We hold that the ‘recess of the Senate’ means only intersession breaks, and so we conclude that Member Becker’s appointment was invalid,” Judge Brooks Smith of the 3rd Circuit wrote in a 2-1 decision that Judge Franklin Van Antwerpen joined and Judge Joseph Greenaway dissented from.
There were actually three recess appointments made by President Obama to the NLRB in January 2012, but the appellate court only focused on one. In a decision earlier this year, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals found all three to be unconstitutional.
While Democrats are paying lip-service to holding the IRS accountable for its targeting of Tea Party groups, ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is trying to spin the scandal as a reason to limit political speech:
The IRS is under heavy fire from both parties following recent revelations that some in the agency singled out conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for a certain tax-exempt status.
Pelosi condemned those actions Thursday, saying those responsible “were wrong and must be held accountable.” But the Democratic leader was also quick to link the scandal to the broader issue of campaign finance, arguing that the episode would never have happened if Congress overhauled the system to eliminate so-called 501(c)(4) groups altogether.
Those groups, which do not have to disclose their donors, have gained power and prominence since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision empowered them to participate directly in elections provided they focus primarily on “social welfare” and not candidate advocacy.
“These actions highlight why we must overturn Citizens United,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “There is a very thin line … that these so-called ‘social welfare’ organizations must make their priority promoting social welfare, rather than engaging in politics. Clearly, this has not been [the case].
“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.” — George Orwell, 1984
On May 5th, speaking at Ohio State University, Barack Obama lamented that “Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, and creative, and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.”
Obama has it exactly wrong. It is not that our experiment in self-rule is a sham, or that it can’t be trusted, it is that the experiment has been undermined by the growing power of government in our lives, the very danger of which the Founding Fathers warned us. James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution” declared that “The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.” Obama tries to convince us of just the opposite; namely, that we should place our trust in a benevolent government which will take care of us, and all we have to do is give up a little freedom.