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:
Over the last three years, Democratic senators repeatedly and publicly pressured the IRS to engage in the very activities that they are only now condemning today. At the same time, Republicans repeatedly and publicly warned against this abuse of government power and pointed to a series of red flags that strongly suggested conservative political organizations were being targeted by the IRS. Those warnings were deliberately ignored by the Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress.
As the New York Times reported back in 2010 :
With growing scrutiny of the role of tax-exempt groups in political campaigns, Congressional Republicans are pushing back against Democrats by warning about the possible misuse of the Internal Revenue Service to audit conservative groups….And the Republicans are also upset about an I.R.S. review requested by Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who leads the Finance Committee, into the political activities of tax-exempt groups. Such a review threatens to “chill the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights,” wrote two Republican senators, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Jon Kyl of Arizona, in a letter sent to the I.R.S. on Wednesday. … Democrats dismissed the Republicans’ complaints as groundless.
You read that correctly.
The same Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee who this week is calling for hearings into IRS activities, specifically called on the IRS to engage in that very conduct back in 2010. And he wasn’t the only one. Just last year, a group of seven Senate Democrats sent another letter to the IRS urging them to similarly investigate these outside political organizations.
That’s right, Democrats have been feigning outrage over the IRS scandal, and they’re true feelings about it are shining through by blocking Paul’s resolution. If they truly want answers and accountability for what was clearly discrimination, than they will pass this resolution and launch a full investigation. It’s that simple.