House Ways and Means Committee

Whoa: Disgraced ex-IRS official Lois Lerner really, really hates conservatives

The House Ways and Means Committee is out with a new bombshell revelation in its investigation of disgraced former IRS official Lois Lerner. Turns out that she believes the “our own crazies” are worse than “alien teRrorists” (sic).

The Committee released email correspondence between Lerner and another IRS employee (PDF), whose name has been reacted. What started as a discussion about mundane stuff turned into a rant from the unnamed employee against the “wacko wing of the GOP,” “right wing radio shows” and their “rabid” callers. Lerner lamented that “[m]aybe we are through if there are that many assholes.”

“So we don’t need to worry about alien teRrorists (sic),” Lerner says in one of the emails. “It’s our own crazies that will take us down.”

Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) fired off a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder (PDF) urging that he “begin aggressively investigating” the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups.

“Despite the serious investigation and evidence this Committee has undertaken into the IRS’s targeting of individuals for their beliefs, there is no indication that DOJ is taking this matter seriously,” Camp said in a press release. “In light of this new information, I hope DOJ will aggressively pursue this case and finally appoint a special counsel, so the full truth can be revealed and justice is served.”

House committee to seek criminal charges against Lois Lerner

The House Ways and Means Committee will ask the Justice Department to pursue a criminal case against Lois Lerner, the disgraced ex-IRS official at the center of congressional inquiries into the agency’s targeting of conservative groups:

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee says investigators have uncovered evidence that a former Internal Revenue Service official may have committed crimes as part of the agency’s tea party controversy.

 

Rep. Dave Camp set a committee vote for Wednesday on whether to refer Lois Lerner, who used to head the agency’s tax-exempt division, to the Justice Department “for possible criminal prosecution.”

Camp, R-Mich., did not specify which laws Lerner may have broken.
[…]
If the committee votes to refer Lerner to the Justice Department, the committee is expected to make the referral public.

This is separate from the contempt vote that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold on Thursday. That resolution was made available this morning by the Washington Post.

Kathleen Sebelius may have lied about paid Obamacare enrollments

Not only is Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius under fire for yet another Obamacare delay — this time an extension of the open enrollment period — when she said there wouldn’t be anymore delays, she may have lied about her department’s ability to shine light on paid enrollees.

When she appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee last week, Sebelius told members that the administration could not produce the number of paid Obamacare enrollees. But Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) believe that she may have not been telling the truth:

Administration officials have repeatedly said they’re not able to break down enrollees by who has made a payment because they only have access to information about those selecting plans on the HealthCare.gov website, as consumers are expected to pay the insurers directly after enrolling.

Sebelius reiterated that claim in her March 12 testimony to the House panel.

But Camp (R-Mich.) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) say they have uncovered “new evidence” that “strongly suggests that the administration knows who has enrolled and paid their first month’s premium.”

House Republican seeks to halt pending IRS guidance

Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) has introduced legislation that would temporarily halt the Internal Revenue Service from finalizing proposed guidance that would legitimatize and institutionalize the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the issuance of proposed guidance for organizations seeking tax-exempt status. The proposed rules would define “candidate-related political activity” and exclude groups that engage in this activity from receiving non-profit status and require them to disclose donors.

Camp, who chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, questioned the motivation behind the rules, noting that a congressional inquiry into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups is not yet complete.

“Despite the Administration’s insistence that ‘there’s nothing to see here,’ the Committee has found evidence demonstrating that right-leaning groups were targeted to an extent far beyond what was reported by the Inspector General,” said Camp in a statement.

“Our investigation is still ongoing and the Committee has not received all the requested documents,” he said. “It is premature to publish new rules before getting all of the facts.

Camp said that the proposed guidance would target groups exercising their First Amendment rights.

“We cannot allow these draft regulations to go into effect. Congress must make sure every American’s right to participate and engage in civic debate is protected, and this legislation will provide some much-needed assurance that IRS targeting and surveillance will not continue,” he added.

Paul Ryan could chair tax-writing committee in next Congress

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants to serve as the next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the powerful tax-writing committee, when the next Congress is seated in 2015, according to Politico:

Paul Ryan will seek to become the next chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, a move that would bring instant star power to the cause of tax reform while complicating his presidential ambitions.

The House Budget Committee chairman intends to replace Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) when term-limit restrictions force Camp to step down in 2015, Ryan told The Wall Street Journal.

“That is my plan,” he said in an interview with the newspaper.
[…]
The move would give Ryan, his party’s 2012 vice presidential candidate and perhaps the most popular Republican in Congress, a prime perch to pursue his long-standing interest in tax and entitlement reform. That could bring a jolt of energy to the push to overhaul the tax code for the first time in a generation, an effort led by Camp that has foundered amid widespread ambivalence among rank-and-file lawmakers.

If Ryan takes on tax reform in earnest, the move may also signal Ryan is not planning on running for president in 2016.

Ryan was term-limited from serving as chairman of the Budget Committee after the last Congress, but he was given a waiver that allowed him to stick around for one more term.

Budget committee chairs float tax reform prospects in 2014

Paul Ryan and Patty Murray on "Meet the Press"

Fresh off a budget agreement that rolls back spending cuts approved with strong bipartisan support in 2011, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chairs of respective House and Senate budget committees, openly and optimistically discussed the possibility of a tax reform deal that could happen next year.

“But the fact that we’re doing this, prevent shutdowns, passing bipartisan legislation, it passed the House— 332 to 94, majority of both parties.  That’s a good step in the right direction,” Ryan told Meet the Press host David Gregory in a joint appearance with his Senate counterpart. “You gotta, you know, crawl before you can walk before you can run.”

“I’m hopeful, as a Ways and Means member as well, that we can start moving tax reform legislation,” he said, before Gregory, who surmised that Republicans don’t want tax reform, cut him off.

Ryan disputed that notion, telling the host to “[w]atch the Ways and Means Committee in the first quarter of next year,” which, he said, will be “advancing tax reform legislation because we think that’s a key ingredient to getting people back to work, to increasing take-home pay, to grow this economy.”

Acting-IRS Commissioner doesn’t want ObamaCare

Acting-IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel

The agency he is temporarily overseeing is responsible for ensuring that Americans comply with mandates imposed on individuals and employers, but acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel told the House Ways and Means Committee last week that he wants to keep his current federal health insurance plan rather than be forced to join ObamaCare.

Just last week, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), which includes IRS employees, urged its members to contact their representatives in protest of legislation sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) that would force them to enroll in ObamaCare exchanges.

When asked by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) about the NTEU’s opposition to being included from the “very law that [they’re] tasked to enforce,” Werfel said that he would “would prefer to stay with the current policy.”

“I don’t want to speak for the NTEU, but I’ll offer a perspective as a federal employee myself and a federal employee at the IRS. And that is, we have right now as employees of the government, of the IRS, affordable health care coverage,” Werfel told Johnson. “I think the ACA was designed to provide an option or an alternative for individuals that do not. And all else being equal, I think if you’re an individual who is satisfied with your health care coverage, you’re probably in a better position to stick with that coverage than go through the change of moving into a different environment and going through that process.”

“So I think for a federal employee,” Werfel added, “I think more likely, and I would — can speak for myself, I would prefer to stay with the current policy that I’m pleased with rather than go through a change if I don’t need to go through that change.”

Here’s video of Werfel’s answer:

Audit shows IRS gave Leftist groups a pass

Progressive groups did not receive the same measure of scrutiny as conservative groups, according to the IRS watchdog.

In a letter released by the House Ways and Means Committee, J. Russell George, the IRS watchdog, told Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) that only six progressive groups were set aside for scrutiny, 30% of the total number of progressive groups that sought tax-exempt status. George noted that 100% of conservative groups were set aside for scrutiny.

“Based on the information you flagged regarding the existence of a ‘Progressives’ entry on BOLO lists, TIGTA performed additional research which determined that six tax-exempt applications filed between May 2010 and May 2012 having the words ‘progress’ or ‘progressive’ in their names were included in the 298 cases the IRS identified as potential political cases,” George explained in response to Levin. “In total, 30 percent of the organizations we identified with the words ‘progress’ or ‘progressive’ in their names were processed as potential political cases.

“In comparison,” wrote George, “our audit found that 100 percent of the tax-exempt applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names were processed as potential political cases during the timeframe of our audit.”

Conservative Groups Testify on IRS Abuse

Tea Party, Conservative Leaders Testify on IRS Targeting

Tea Party and conservative groups had a chance yesterday to discuss being targeted by the Internal Revenue Service yesterday before the House Ways and Means Committee. What they told members during the hearing indicates a broader scandal than the IRS and the White House want to admit:

Internal Revenue Service targeting of political groups was not limited to front-line employees in the agency’s Cincinnati, Ohio, office, according to testimony before a House committee on Tuesday.

One group that testified at a Tuesday hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee told members that the 29-month delay in its yet-unapproved tax-exempt status application was the result of orders from higher-ups at the agency.

“Contrary to the statements of [IRS tax exempt division head] Lois Lerner, the targeting of Linchpins of Liberty was not merely the independent act of a few agents in Cincinnati,” testified Kevin Kookogey, the group’s founder and president.

When Kookogey asked a Cincinnati IRS agent about the delays in his application, he was told, “We have been waiting on guidance from our superiors as to your organization and similar organizations.”

Kookogey says he did not know “from where this ‘guidance’ was coming, [but] it was clearly implied that it was not from down the hall.”


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