When disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner appears before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, she will not receive immunity for any testimony she gives, according to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA):
“Her attorney indicates now that she will testify. We’ve had a back and forth negotiation,” Issa told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. “But quite frankly, we believe that evidence that we’ve gathered causes her in her best interest to be summoned to testify.”
The evidence that Issa, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, has obtained are emails showing that Lerner drafted the proposed IRS regulations that would restrict political speech of nonprofit groups that engage in public policy discussions. The regulations are currently being considered by the IRS.
Wallace asked whether the House Oversight Committee offered Lerner immunity in exchange for her testimony. “We did not,” Issa replied, adding later that he believes the disgraced IRS official will answer all the committee’s questions about the powerful tax agencies targeting of conservative groups.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” — First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Perhaps at no time in its history since the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts have the citizens of the United States been more in danger of losing their First Amendment right to free speech than they are today. How ironic then, that the attacks are coming primarily from the political left, who have long declared themselves defenders of free speech.
Yet the astute William F. Buckley seems to have had it right when he observed that ”Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”Such reviling of opposing speech is rampant today, and is getting worse.
Following the revelation last year that the IRS had been targeting conservative groups with words like “TEA Party” or “Patriot” in their names, Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder claimed to be shocked and appalled that this agency would be used as a bludgeon to silence their political opponents. Senior IRS official Lois Lerner resigned, and refused to testify before Congress, invoking her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. The nation was assured that the Obama administration would get to the bottom of it.
In an occasionally contentious interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, President Barack Obama defended his administration’s handling of the Benghazi terrorist attacks and the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) targeting of conservative groups. He also addressed the Obamacare canceled health plan controversy.
Obamacare rollout and Sebelius
O’Reilly began the interview by asking President Obama why HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius still has a job in his administration after the initial, disastrous rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange, Healthcare.gov.
President Obama repeated the line that no one in his administration “anticipated the degree of problems” on the federal Obamacare exchange website, which isn’t necessarily true, given the warnings from some officials that the website wasn’t ready for launch. Instead, he acknowledge the problems and focused on the fixes applied to the website.
Now that the anti-Obamacare defund “strategy” (such as it was) has been tried and failed, many on the right are suggesting we get out of the way and let it be implemented in full, on time, as written, so that it can be allowed to fail on its own. The theory is that when it doesn’t work, runs out of money, and breaks the insurance system, the public will demand its repeal just in time for a Republican president to be elected in 2016 and do just that. This, like “repeal and replace” and defund before it, is an unwise and short-sighted strategy.
What precedent is there for a government program, especially an entitlement, failing and just ending? Social Security is out of money, but no one will touch it. Medicare is out of money, Obamacare cut doctor payments rates under it, but no one will dare to truly reform it. Welfare was reformed, not ended or repealed, in the 1990s. Food stamps have exploded. Medicaid doesn’t work either, but was expanded under Obamacare. But we somehow think that if Obamacare runs out of money or doesn’t work as well as it was intended, it will just go away, unlike every other program ever?
Many conservatives who consider themselves the real Republicans have been grousing about those damn Tea Partiers; you know, the ones Ted Cruz was trying to appeal to when he filibustered against Obamacare? A calculated risk — because he and probably everyone else knew defunding was never going to happen — that led almost directly (no offense to a friend of mine who keeps trying to separate the two things) to the nearly two-week shutdown that ended with celebratory high-fives as bureaucrats skipped their way back into work this week.
Just shut-up rabble rousers, they said in kinder terms, Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn among them. Because you managed to make us all look bad and get us nothing in return except repeated lectures from the Reid-Pelosi-Obama trifecta.
I make no claims to be a Tea Partier but (with apologies), I don’t hold with Grover Norquist’s assertion that Cruz et al should apologize to their fellow conservatives:
“They hurt the conservative movement, they hurt people’s health care, they hurt the country’s economic situation and they hurt the Republican party,” he says. “And a lot of congressmen and senators are not going to win because we spent three months chasing our own tail — or at least, parts of the conservative movement spent three months chasing their own tail.”
After the revelations today about Lois Lerner, and her emails to her colleagues, perhaps quite a few of the victims of the IRS “special treatment” for conservative organizations would be wanting a good, stiff drink. While it might be a little reassuring to find out that Lerner really was behind the targeting of Tea Party organizations, what does that mean now? True, it’s come out that Lerner was communicating via email about the “very dangerous” matter of dealing with Tea Party organizations, but what now?
Lerner remains out of the loop, but she is still being paid by the taxpayers, and members of Congress have started screaming for accountability, but it’s not likely that anything meaningful will be done, at least not during this administration.
The activities that got Lerner in hot water in the first place are still happening now, and it’s not likely that Congress will manage to get bi-partisan support for any legislation that could possibly address the matter. That’s unlikely in itself, because this is a regulatory issue, as opposed to a legislative one, as in policies and procedures within the IRS have been misused for the political gain of the administration. However, at least one “mystery” has been solved. This probably is part of the reason why Lerner had pleaded the Fifth in her testimony.
Otherwise, the reaction from The Hill was at least a little interesting, with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) leading the charge to hold Lerner accountable:
FreedomWorks hosted a group of bloggers, social media stars, activists, and other liberty-loving folks at its D.C. offices this weekend to discuss the central issue we face today: Defunding ObamaCare.
January 1, 2014 is the ObamaCare ultimatum. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has stated: “On Jan. 1, the exchanges kick in and the subsidies kick in. Once those kick in, it’s going to prove almost impossible to undo Obamacare. The administration’s plan is very simple: Get everyone addicted to the sugar so that Obamacare remains a permanent feature of our society.”
It’s crucial to use any constitutional resources at our disposal to prevent that from occurring. Fortunately, the Constitution grants the House power over the purse. This is the moment that the 2010 and 2012 Tea Party influx in the House needs to bear fruit.
The federal government’s fiscal year ends September 30. Congress must pass (and the President must sign) a continuing resolution (CR) by that date to continue funding the federal government as of October 1. As explained by Dean Clancy, FreedomWorks Legislative Counsel and VP of Health Care Policy, the key to the defunding strategy is that the CR is a must-pass bill to avoid a temporary slowdown of non-essential government services. This is the leverage we have. We cannot waste it.
How Do We Defund?
Former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman and current Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller have been the subjects of intense questioning from Congress over the past two weeks over their relation to the Tea Party targeting scandal. For Shulman, questions remain as to whether he may have lied in front of the House Ways and Means Committee in March 2012 when questioned about allegations of targeting that at the time were simmering without mainstream awareness. He appeared to be less than forthright in his responses when questioned by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday. Miller has already tendered his resignation under pressure.
But there’s another IRS scandal waiting to gain widespread awareness, and this time it undeniably has Shumlan’s and MIller’s fingerprints all over it. The IRS is unconstitutionally implementing ObamaCare exchange subsidies in states that refuse to establish an exchange.
What PPACA Says
“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.” — George Orwell, 1984
On May 5th, speaking at Ohio State University, Barack Obama lamented that “Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, and creative, and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.”
Obama has it exactly wrong. It is not that our experiment in self-rule is a sham, or that it can’t be trusted, it is that the experiment has been undermined by the growing power of government in our lives, the very danger of which the Founding Fathers warned us. James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution” declared that “The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.” Obama tries to convince us of just the opposite; namely, that we should place our trust in a benevolent government which will take care of us, and all we have to do is give up a little freedom.
This past week brought forth a deluge of breaking news stories regarding scandalous behavior within various agencies and departments of the Obama Administration. They all seem to point to the same thing: government overreach. Furthermore, they all have been earning Obama a litany of Nixon comparisons.
In case you missed them, here’s my (link fest!) summary of events:
1) Last week’s Benghazi revelations were twofold: