Obama reverses position on IRS targeting of conservative groups
Shortly after Lois Lerner, a senior IRS official who has since retired, and an internal watchdog report confirmed that the tax agency had targeted conservatives and Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status, President Barack Obama slammed the actions as “outrageous” and “inexcusable.”
But since those initial comments, President Obama has, noticeably, tried to dismiss the scandal, one of many that his administration has faced this year and led the American public to question his honesty and trustworthiness. In July, for example, he complained that Republicans in Congress investigating the IRS’s targeting of conservatives organizations were engaging in an “endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals.”
But President Obama and leftist pundits have continued to downplay the IRS scandal, despite evidence that showing that the agency disproportionately targeted conservative organizations.
The latest example came in an interview last week with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, in which President Obama complained that the media doesn’t report on about the things government does right compared to the focus on the IRS scandal.
“[T]hat’s not something that’s reported about. If, on the other hand, you’ve got an office in Cincinnati, in the IRS office that — I think, for bureaucratic reasons, is trying to streamline what is a difficult law to interpret about whether a nonprofit is actually a political organization, deserves a tax exempt agency,” President Obama told Matthews, according to a report from The Daily Caller. “And they’ve got a list, and suddenly everybody’s outraged.”
“I’ll point out that there are some so-called progressives and, you know, perceived to be liberal commentators who during that week were just as outraged at the possibility that these folks, you know, had — had been, you know, at the direction of — the Democratic Party, in some way — discriminated against these folks,” he added.
Voters, by the way, have disagreed with President Obama’s assertion that the IRS scandal was “phony” or in some way not deserving of attention. According to a Fox News poll from this summer, 59% believe that the scandal should be taken seriously.
A Quinnipiac poll released in May showed that 76% of Americans want a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS over the scandal, though, President Obama refused to do so. Separately, a CNN poll showed released in June found that a rising number of the public believed the IRS scandal is connected to the White House.
The Daily Caller noted that the Justice Department, which is supposed to be investigating the IRS over the scandal, has yet to contact any of the groups that were singled out by the agency.
The Treasury Department and IRS have recently proposed guidance for non-profit groups seeking tax-exempt status that would undermine free speech and, ostensibly, codify the targeting of these groups via regulatory fiat.