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:
It is an established fact at this point that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) willfully targeted Tea Party groups. That is beyond dispute. They acknowledged it on Friday, called it “inappropriate,” and even apologized for it. What’s more, we now know that the agency’s most senior official knew about it a year ago. However, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney tried to spin it today during his daily press briefing.
“Those from the IRS that have spoken about this obviously have much greater insight into what took place than we do. We have not seen the report. We have not independently collected information about what transpired,” Carney told reporters. “We need the independent Inspector General’s report to be released before we can make judgments. One person’s view of what actions were taken or what that individual did is not enough for us to say something concretely happened that was inappropriate.”
The comments came the day after President Barack Obama, Carney’s boss, talked about the IRS scandal in hypotheticals. In his response to a question about the IRS targeting Tea Party groups, Obama said, “If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that’s outrageous.”
If you’ve been following the story, you know that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) gave extra scrutiny to Tea Party groups, including asking them questions about donors, relationships with candidates and eleced officials, and youth outreach programs.
ABC News notes that American Patriots Against Government Excess, one of the groups singled out by the IRS. was asked for a synopsis of books they read. Instead of sending a synopsis, the group sent a copy of the Constitution:
When Marion Bower decided to start her tea party organization in 2010, she didn’t know that it would take nearly two years for the Internal Revenue Service to approve her request for tax-exempt status.
The Ohio woman also did not expect that providing information about the books her group read would be part of the application process.
“I was trying to be very cordial, but they wanted copies of unbelievable things,” Bower told ABC News today. “They wanted to know what materials we had discussed at any of our book studies.”
She ultimately sent one of the books, “The Five Thousand Year Leap,” promoted frequently by Glenn Beck, to the IRS official handling her tax-exempt request in Cincinnati. She also sent a paperback copy of the Constitution.
“They wanted a synopsis of all the books we read,” Bower said. “I thought, I don’t have time to write a book report. You can read them for yourselves.”
That is awesome.
Many on the Left are praising a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) showing that President Barack Obama’s budget, which was submitted two months late, would lower deficits by $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years:
President Obama’s most recent budget request would reduce borrowing by $1.1 trillion over the next decade compared with current law — almost entirely through higher taxes on the rich, large estates and smokers, congressional budget analysts said Friday.
In addition to raising nearly $1 trillion in new taxes, the president’s blueprint would also cut spending modestly, according to the analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
So…more tax hikes, which seems to be the end-all, be-all for this White House. Remember, the $1 trillion in new taxes that President Obama wants would come after a tax hike earlier this year that raised taxes on 77% of American households.And President Obama wants to raise your taxes again.
While White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was hesistant to admit that the IRS did anything wrong during his daily press briefing on Tuesday, a report issued by the agency’s watchdog confirms that Tea Party groups were singled out for additional scrutiny and that the more needs to be done to reassure an already distrusting public:
Lax oversight at the Internal Revenue Service allowed for the singling out of some conservative groups, resulting in lengthy delays in the processing of their applications for federal tax-exempt status, according to a report by the agency’s inspector general released Tuesday.
The report found that for more than 18 months beginning in early 2010 the IRS developed and followed a faulty policy to determine whether the applicants were engaged in political activities, which would disqualify the groups from receiving tax-exempt status.
“The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention,” according to the report.
The list of words that IRS officials were using to flag groups for extra scrutiny is about as blatant as it can get. Obviously, “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” and “9/12” were among them, but they also flagged groups that wanted to “make America a better place to live” or educate about the Constitution and Bill of Rights — our nation’s founding documents.
A lot of Americans know that the US government is out of control. Anyone who has cared enough to study the US Constitution even a little knows this. Still, very few of these people are taking any significant action, and largely because of one error: They are waiting for “the good guys” to show up and fix things.
Some think that certain groups of politicians will pull it together and fix things, or that one magnificent politician will ride in to fix things. Others think that certain members of the military will step in and slap the politicians back into line. And, I’m sure there are other variations.
There are several problems with this. I’ll start with the small issues:
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.
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.
We heard it on the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday from Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA). He made it very clear to his fellow members that the vote to repeal ObamaCare was a “vote to stop the IRS.”
That proclamation was true for two reasons. First, the IRS was given authority to enforce ObamaCare’s individual mandate and the collect the fines imposed on Americans who don’t purchase health insurance coverage. The IRS has also far exceed its statutory authority by imposing fines on businesses that don’t offer coverage to employees in states that rejected the insurance exchanges. Those points by themselves are concerning enough.
The second point is that the IRS official who oversaw the office that dealt with tax-exempt organizations during the time the agency was discriminating against Tea Party groups is now leading the office responsible for ObamaCare:
Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.
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: