Tea Party

Democrats Use IRS Scandal to Revive Attempt to Limit Free Speech

While Democrats are paying lip-service to holding the IRS accountable for its targeting of Tea Party groups, ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is trying to spin the scandal as a reason to limit political speech:

The IRS is under heavy fire from both parties following recent revelations that some in the agency singled out conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for a certain tax-exempt status.

Pelosi condemned those actions Thursday, saying those responsible “were wrong and must be held accountable.” But the Democratic leader was also quick to link the scandal to the broader issue of campaign finance, arguing that the episode would never have happened if Congress overhauled the system to eliminate so-called 501(c)(4) groups altogether.
Those groups, which do not have to disclose their donors, have gained power and prominence since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision empowered them to participate directly in elections provided they focus primarily on “social welfare” and not candidate advocacy.

“These actions highlight why we must overturn Citizens United,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “There is a very thin line … that these so-called ‘social welfare’ organizations must make their priority promoting social welfare, rather than engaging in politics. Clearly, this has not been [the case].

IRS Official Who Oversaw Tea Party Discrimination Now Leads Agency ObamaCare Office

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.

Cato Institute Highlights History of IRS Abuse


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.

Senate Democrats Block Resolution Calling for IRS Investigation

If Senate Democrats are so bothered by the outrageous developments with the Internal Revenue Service, which targeted Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny, than why are they blocking a resolution for an independent investigation into the matter?

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) offered a resolution (PDF) that would have condemned the IRS for singling out Tea Party and other conservative groups and launched independent investigation into these discriminatory tactics. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats have apparently blocked the resolution for reasons that haven’t been made clear.

“This resolution is not about Republican vs. Democrat or conservative vs. liberal. It is about arrogant and unrestrained government vs. the rule of law,” said Paul in a statement from his office. “The First Amendment cannot and should not be renegotiated depending on which party holds power.”

“Each senator took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, yet Senate Democrats chose to block my resolution and thus refused to condemn the IRS for trampling on our First Amendment rights,” he added. “I am incredibly disappointed in Washington’s party politics and I am determined to hold the IRS accountable for these unjust acts.”

Perhaps they blocked the resolution because Senate Democrats don’t necessarily have a problem with what the IRS has done. Several Democrats, including Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), have expressed concern about the scandal. But Baucus, for example, previously asked the IRS to investigate conservative groups who had tax-exempt status, as Brian Walsh notes at US News:

Chris Matthews Slams Obama’s Lack of Leadership

Chris Matthews

While it may be just temporary, Chris Matthews, a talking head who has fawned over President Barack Obama like some dewy-eyed school girl, ripped the White House yesterday during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

The cantankerous pundit still made the case for a big government during the nearly 22-minute segment on the show, but he didn’t hide his contempt for President Obama’s very serious leadership failures.

“This President’s responsible for the federal government. He’s responsible even if he didn’t do anything wrong,” said Matthews on the Morning Joe. “He keeps acting like the only problem he’s got — the only real problem he has, viscerally — is the talking points in Benghazi because that gets to Susan Rice, people close to him, and Michelle.”

Matthews said that President Obama needs someone to handle the day-to-day affairs of the White House to deal handle problems like the administration has seen over the last several days. He cited the lack of this leadership as a “real problem.”

BREAKING: Acting IRS Commissioner Resigns

Steven Miller

In the wake of a very serious scandal that involved his agency singling out Tea Party groups, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asked for and received the resignation of acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller.

President Barack Obama announced this development during a short statement to this press this afternoon. He took no questions, but added that the recommendations made by the Treasury Department’s Inspector General will be implemented.

Quoting a congressional source earlier today, CNN noted that two Cincinnati-based staffers were largely responsible for the discrimination toward Tea Party groups. They have, according to the story, “already been disciplined,” though specifics weren’t provided.

While it’s good that there has been some accountability, much more needs to be done to prevent this from ever happening again. Moreover, President Obama’s response, to this point, had been woefully inadequate. Just Tuesday, the White House still didn’t want to own up that a mistake had been made, despite an admission and apology from the IRS.

The IRS is the problem. It’s very nature is to harass Americans into complying with the United States’ completely incoherent tax code. Couple that with the intimidating nature of this White House, and it’s a recipe for what happened to these Tea Party groups.

Jon Stewart Slams President Obama on Scandals

Jon Stewart

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:

The Tea Party Movement is Rising Once Again

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.

Tea Party Group Sent Copy of Constitution to IRS


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.

IRS Report Brings More Bad News for the Obama Administration

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.

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