A day after criticizing the IRS over the targeting of Tea Party groups, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, slammed President Barack Obama and the White House for not knowing about the scandals that have recently plagued the administration.
He showed that President Obama’s said that he’d heard about the IRS scandal through news reports, rather than hearing about it from officials in the agency. That, by the way, is odd since President Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday that White House lawyers knew about the investigation into the allegations in April.
Stewart showed that this is actually a pattern when it comes to stories that reflect badly on President Obama and leadership failures, noting that the same line was given in response to Operation Fast and Furious. “You know,” said Stewart, “I wouldn’t be surprised if President Obama learned Osama bin Laden had been killed when he saw himself announcing it on television!”
Check out the segment below:
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.
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.
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.
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.”
While he isn’t exactly a friend of the Tea Party or similar groups, Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, ripped the Obama Administration and Internal Revenue Service last night over legitimizing the criticisms of its opponents.
Stewart laughed at the admission that the agency had targeted conservatives groups and the subsequent mea culpa, saying, “I didn’t realize apologies were sufficent in IRS issues.”
Watch the whole segment below:
The targeting of Tea Party groups just got a lot worse. While an IRS official admitted on Fridy to what we already knew — that it had singled out groups with “Tea Party,” “patriot,” and “9/12” for additional scrutiny — the Washington Post reports that the concerted effort to target these groups reached the highest levels of the agency:
Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved with investigating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear that the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea-party-affiliated groups, the documents show.
details of the IRS’s efforts to target conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency in May 2012, far earlier than has been disclosed, according to Republican congressional aides briefed by the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) on the details of their reviews.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is perhaps the most hated bureaucratic institution in the country, admitted that it had targeted organizations for extra scrutiny last year simply because they had the terms “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names:
The Internal Revenue Service apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.
IRS agents singled out dozens of organizations for additional reviews because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their exemption applications, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for lists of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney declared it was indeed inappropriate for the IRS to target tea party groups. But he brushed aside questions about whether the White House itself would investigate.
Instead, Carney said the administration expects a thorough investigation by the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration. The inspector general has been looking into the issue since last summer, and his report is expected to come out next week, the IG’s office said Friday.
During the debate in the House of Representatives over cyber-security, the White House issued veto threat over CISPA due to Internet privacy concerns. Despite that strong stance on a controversial piece of legislation, there have been a number of news stories recently showing various government agencies willingness to ignore constitutional protections to gain access to e-mail and other forms of electronic communication and files.
In fact, it’s the official policy of President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that agents do not need a warrant when they want to gain access to e-mail and Facebook accounts:
The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don’t need a search warrant to review Americans’ e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files, internal documents reveal.
Government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET show a split over electronic privacy rights within the Obama administration, with Justice Department prosecutors and investigators privately insisting they’re not legally required to obtain search warrants for e-mail. The IRS, on the other hand, publicly said last month that it would abandon a controversial policy that claimed it could get warrantless access to e-mail correspondence.
Earlier this week, we covered a lawsuit filed by Matt Sissel, an Iraq War veteran who is challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — or ObamaCare, as it has come to be known. Sissel contends that because the law, which raises taxes on businesses and individuals, didn’t originate in the House as constitutionally required, it should be struck down.
Sissel’s case, however, isn’t the only challenge to ObamaCare currently working its way through the court system. A group of small business owners from states that have declined to setup insurance exchanges filed a lawsuit yesterday that seeks to prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from imposing fines against them:
The individual plaintiffs in the new lawsuit, from Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia – states that didn’t set up exchanges — say they should not be considered eligible for the subsidies and should not have to pay a fine if they don’t purchase insurance.
The “subsidies actually serve to financially injure and restrict the economic choices of certain individuals,” the new complaint says. “For these people, the Subsidy Expansion Rule, by making insurance less ‘unaffordable,’ subjects them to the individual mandate’s requirement to purchase costly, comprehensive health insurance that they otherwise would forgo.”
The employers from Missouri, Kansas and Texas are arguing that they should not be subject to penalties that they may have to pay if their workers receive tax subsidies through the exchanges