The number of Americans who believe the federal government is too powerful has reached a record high, according to a poll released earlier this week by Gallup, though the historical numbers reflect partisan divisions depending on which party controls the White House.
The Gallup poll, conducted between September 5-8, found that 60% of American adults believe that the federal government is too powerful, surpassing the previous high recorded in September 2012, while 32% say that the government has about the right amount of power, which is a record low.
Just 7% of Americans believe that the federal government has too little power.
An eye-popping 81% of Republicans believe that the federal government has too much power. And though only 38% of Democrats agree with that view, that number is up from 28% just last year. Sixty-five percent (65%) of independents believe the government has too much power.
The Obama Administration has come under criticism from both Republicans and Democrats concerned about the erosion of civil liberties through the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, which collects Americans’ phone and Internet metadata even if they’re not suspected of a crime. The Internal Revenue Service’s politically motivated targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups has been heavily criticized by Republicans.
But the historical patterns show that Republicans (Bush 2003-2009) and Democrats (2009 to present) are less likely to think the federal government has too much power when their party has control of the White House, as you can see in the chart below.
Lois Lerner, the official at the center of congressional inquiries into the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups, has retired, according to a statement released by the agency:
Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service official investigated by Congress over the agency’s scrutiny of Tea Party groups, has retired effective today, the agency said in a statement.
Lerner, the tax agency’s former director of exempt organizations, was placed on paid administrative leave earlier this year. Last week, acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel told a congressional panel that Lerner was “technically still employed.”
The agency declined further comment, citing privacy concerns.
Refusing to resign over her alleged role in the scandal, Lerner was instead placed on paid administrative leave in May, just after she invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself in a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Republicans on the committee believe that Lerner waived her rights by declaring her innocence before invoking the Fifth Amendment.
There is a new wrinkle in the IRS scandal. Documents obtained by USA Today shows that the tax agency targeted Tea Party and conservative groups specifically because of what they deemed to be “anti-Obama rhetoric” (emphasis added):
Newly uncovered IRS documents show the agency flagged political groups based on the content of their literature, raising concerns specifically about ”anti-Obama rhetoric,” inflammatory language and “emotional” statements made by non-profits seeking tax-exempt status.
The internal 2011 documents, obtained by USA TODAY, list 162 groups by name, with comments by Internal Revenue Service lawyers in Washington raising issues about their political, lobbying and advocacy activities. In 21 cases, those activities were characterized as “propaganda.”
Tax law experts say those comments appear to show IRS employees trying to apply the murky rules governing political activities by social welfare groups.
But the American Center for Law and Justice, a nonprofit legal institute that represents 23 of the groups appearing on the IRS list, said it appears to be “the most powerful evidence yet of a coordinated effort” by the IRS to target Tea Party groups.
Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball, said on Thursday night that the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups is a “phony,” using the issue rail against non-profit groups that engage in politics and the Citizens United ruling, which overturned campaign finance laws that suppressed political speech.
Matthews made the comments during a segment with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who alleges that leftist groups have been targeted in the same manner as conservative organizations and has filed a lawsuit against the IRS seeking to clarify tax-exempt laws, and Nia-Malika Henderson.
“[T]o this point [House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s] witchhunt has found no witches, not in the White House, of course. In fact, the entire narrative — this so-called ‘scandal,’ this repeated scandal — has gotten pretty hard to follow,” said Matthews in the lead into the segment.
“In fact, is it a scandal? Well, yesterday House Democrats released new evidence that the IRS was also targeting liberal groups in addition to flagging groups with names like ‘progressive.’ They also flagged applicants with terms like ‘emerge’ and, of course, ACORN, a group on the left which would associate with liberal causes,” he added before introducing Van Hollen. “Issa’s camp have dismissed those reports, of course, which could be evidence that he’s using the issue to score political points instead of actually trying to solve whatever problems there are at the IRS.”
It may have taken a backseat as other issues and legislative fights have dominated the news in recent weeks, but congressional investigations into the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups haven’t ended, even if President Barack Obama believes it’s a “phony scandal.”
More news has surfaced in the last week about Lois Lerner, the now-suspended IRS official at the center of congressional inquiries. On Monday, the National Review reported that Lerner may have illegally disclosed information about a conservative group to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which is a felony.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), is now seeking to obtain e-mails from Lerner’s personal account that relate to her duties at the IRS.
“Through the course of the investigation, we have learned that you sent documents related to your official duties from your official IRS e-mail account to an msn.com e-mail account labeled ‘Lois Home,’” wrote Issa and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) via a statement from the committee (the full letter wasn’t available). “This raises some serious questions concerning your use of a non-official e-mail account to conduct official business.”
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has gone off the rails again. During an interview Nevada Public Radio, the Senate Majority Leader attacked the Tea Party presence in Washington, comparing them to “anarchists” who want to destroy the government.
The host of the segment asked Reid about the “gridlock” in Congress and any way out of the legislative “standstill.” Reid called the current Congress the “least productive in the history of the country.” And that’s when he took the opportunity to slam the Tea Party.
“Who is the Tea Party? Well, understand, when I was in school, I studied government, among other things, and prior to World War I and after World War I we had the anarchists. Now they were violent — you know, some say that’s what started World War I, the anarchy movement — but they were violent,” Reid told KNPR. “They did damage to property and they did physical damage to people.”
“The modern anarchists don’t do that. That’s the Tea Party. But they have the same philosophy as the early anarchists,” he continued. “They do not believe in government. Anytime anything bad happens to government, that’s a victory to them. And that’s what’s happened.”
“We have absolute gridlock created by a group of people who represent few Americans. But it makes it extremely difficult to get things done,” he added.
Voters reject President Barack Obama’s notion that the scandals being investigated in Congress are “phony,” according to a new poll from Fox News.
During an economic speech last month in Illinois, President Obama told a crowd of supporters that Republicans in Congress have been trying to distract Americans. “[W]ith this endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball,” he said. “And I am here to say this needs to stop.”
But voters believe that the each of the four scandals that have plagued the Obama Administration in recent months should be taken seriously.
Seventy-eight percent (78%) of voters believe, that the Obama Administration’s handing of the Benghazi terrorist attack, during which four Americans died, should be taken seriously. Only 17% believe Benghazi is a “phony scandal.”
The poll also finds that 62% of voters say that the administration is trying to cover up what happened in Benghazi.
This scandal has come up in the news again recently after revelations that the CIA had been actively trying to discourage agents who worked on the ground in Benghazi from talking to Congress. The first charges related to the attack on the American compound in the Libyian city were brought forward this week.
Much is being made of this idea called ”Libertarian Populism” and its perceived value as a winning political strategy. The problem is, few seem to know what those words really mean. As such, a range of politicians and policies have incorrectly been grafted onto specific words that have specific meanings.
I’ve silently watched as this LibPop movement(?) has unfolded; see this litany of articles at this link roundup provided by Reason Magazine. The term seems to have been coined at a book forum for Tim Carney at the Cato Institute. In its next iteration, Ross Douthat succinctly defined Libertarian Populism as:
“A strain of thought that moves from the standard grassroots conservative view of Washington as an inherently corrupt realm of special interests and self-dealing elites to a broader skepticism of ‘bigness’ in all its forms (corporate as well as governmental), that regards the Bush era as an object lesson in everything that can go wrong (at home and abroad) when conservatives set aside this skepticism, and that sees the cause of limited government as a means not only to safeguarding liberty, but to unwinding webs of privilege and rent-seeking and enabling true equality of opportunity as well.”
Apparently, wearing a Tea Party shirt and holding a sign that says good things about capitalism means you’re a security threat. That’s what 10 college-age Republicans were told last week when they showed up at the University of Central Missouri to listen to President Barack Obama give a speech:
Ten College Republicans were dubbed a security threat and refused admittance to President Barack Obama’s speech at the University of Central Missouri on Wednesday.
Despite the fact that the students had tickets to the event, security personnel turned them away at the door to the recreation center where Obama gave a speech on economic policy, telling the group it wasn’t about their politics but the president’s safety, State Treasurer of the College Republicans Courtney Scott told The College Fix.
The students, some of whom donned Tea Party T-Shirts and others who wore patriotic or Republican-inspired clothing, had protested the president earlier in the day on campus, but had put away their signs and said they were ready to simply listen to Obama when security shut them down – and even told them to leave the vicinity and stay several hundred yards away from the rec center.
The students had waited in a long line and under the hot sun to wind their way to the front of the line two hours in advance of Obama’s scheduled 5:30 p.m. remarks. Still, they were rejected.
The House of Representatives will vote in the next two weeks on H.R. 2009 — the Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act — legislation sponsored by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) that will prohibit the agency, which is under fire for wrongly targeting conservative groups, from enforcing ObamaCare.
In response to the IRS scandal, House Republicans are promising a series of votes on legislation to send a message to the embattled agency and to keep the Obama Administration playing defense as ObamaCare continues to collapse on itself.
“As we’ve seen in recent announcements from the White House, the Obama Administration is clearly unable to manage the implementation of its own health care law. We’ve also learned that the IRS is clearly unable to prudently and impartially enforce current law,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) in a press release from his office. “The Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act is essential in preventing further targeting, abuse and harassment, as well as in ensuring Americans have access to quality health care.”
“It is thanks to the American people who have voiced their support for our plan and the more than 100 members of Congress who have cosponsored H.R. 2009 that we have this opportunity to take action,” he added. “I urge more of our fellow citizens to get involved, so together, we can continue to keep the pressure on Washington to keep health care decisions in the hands of patients, families and doctors, instead of the government.”