IRS scandal: new face of tyranny

The IRS administers Obamacare and made a rule the Supreme Court might have to strike down.
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Tyranny gained a new face today. It now wears the face of the United States government. That’s where the IRS scandal has now led. And incredibly, some of the de facto President’s allies openly defended it.

IRS scandal: the witnesses

Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), of course, leads the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Over the weekend, Mr. Issa raised the IRS scandal to a new level – or the first step to today’s level. On CNN’s State of the Union program, he told his hosts what everyone knew, but until now could not prove: the IRS agents in the Tax Exempts Division, who held up people’s Forms 1023 and 1024, did so on orders from Washington.

In other words: the “rogue agents” in the Cincinnati Office (and, as it turns out, in other offices) refused to let de facto President Obama or anyone else throw them under the proverbial bus. They “ratted out” the “Washington office.” (Clip One, go.) The only problem: Issa’s employees could not get any agents to name names. They might not have wanted to, with high-ranking supervisors in the same room with them as they talked. They arguably ruined their careers by saying even that much.

Issa went further. He denounced White House Press Secretary Jay Carney as “that paid liar.” (Former White House insider David Plouffe later shot back in a Twitter tweet:

Strong words from Mr Grand Theft Auto and suspected arsonist/insurance swindler. And loose ethically today.

Tommy Christopher of Mediaite.com explained where that came from. And also said David Plouffe’s “journalism” did not impress him. (Furthermore, Christopher said if Plouffe were a journalist, that tweet would have been an ethical breach – because Darrell Issa does not stand convicted, nor did he ever even go to trial, for “Grand Theft Auto” or any other crime.)

The IRS scandal gained a new face - in Congress.

New York office of the IRS. Photo: Matthew G. Bisanz, CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported License.

Today the House Committee on Ways and Means heard from six very important witnesses. These are the leaders of groups whose Forms 1023 and 1024 the IRS toyed with in the months after Citizens United v. FEC came down. These six are the new face of the IRS scandal. They are the Thomas Beckets against Obama’s Henry II – or the IRS’ knights or barons.

Katie Pavlich at Townhall.com sums up. She quotes Karen Kenney, of the San Fernando Valley Patriots, Here’s an excerpt:

My personal favorite was question No. 33, which in relation to protests asked for a listing of our “committed violations of local ordinances, breaches of public order or arrests” then requested details on how we “conduct or promote” illegal activities. I think the IRS needs to fix its labeling machine: We’re the San Fernando Valley Patriots, not Occupy Oakland.

Kevin Kookogey, head of Linchpins for Liberty, offered this story:

In order to raise money, I filed an application with the IRS in January 2011, seeking to obtain 501(c)(3) applications annually, and prior to 2010, the average time to process an application for an organization such as mine was between two and four months. As of today I have been waiting for twenty nine months. In the interim, I lost a $30,000 launch grant from a reputable non-profit whose Executive Director advised me that he never had seen such treatment of a 501(c)(3) applicant in his 25 years of making grants. I also lost and continue to lose multiple thousands of my own money, and had to cease any further official activity to fear the IRS would target me further for harassment.

He’s right. Many donors won’t give, and indeed can’t give, to an organization on the bet that they will get their 501(c)(3) status.

The Creation Science Hall of Fame gives an interesting “internal control.” It filed its Form 1023 in February of this year and won recognition as an educational-scientific public charity last month – about ninety days after applying for it. Evidently “creation science” was not on Obama’s radar. For the record, CSHOF plans to build a museum, not to lobby to change any laws.

So the IRS didn’t target conservative or Christian organizations across the board. They specifically targeted any organization that opposed Barack H. Obama’s career or his most cherished initiatives. The disparate treatment these witnesses described, including delays beyond any rational estimate, show this as surely as does any controlled experiment in a laboratory.

Becky Garritson of the Wetumpka Alabama Tea Party gave the most poignant protest:

I am not here today as a serf or a vassal. I am not begging my lords for mercy. I am a born free, American woman, wife, mother and citizen and I’m telling my government that you have forgotten your place. It is not your responsibility to look out for my well being or monitor my speech. It is not your right to assert an agenda. The posts you occupy exist to preserve American liberty. You have sworn to perform that duty. And you have faltered. The abuses I will discuss today occurred on your watch. It is your responsibility to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Using these agencies as weapons against citizens is scary and it feels like tyranny.

IRS scandal: raising the stakes

And then Representative Jim McDermott raised the stakes. In one short interval he threatened to tarnish the House Democratic Caucus and the entire Democratic Party with the IRS scandal.

At time of posting, he has not explained why he:

  1. Suggested the witnesses were lying, and then
  2. Suggested nothing unusual had happened to them.

Nor did he explain these remarks. (Clip Two, go.)

As I listen to this discussion, I’d like to remind everyone what we’re talking about here.None of your organizations were kept from organizing, or silenced. We’re talking about whether or not American taxpayers will subsidize your work. We’re talking about a tax break. If you didn’t come in and ask for this tax break, you would have never had a question asked of you. You could go out and say anything you want in the world. And I get the feeling that many of you, and my Republican colleagues, believe that not only should you be free from political targeting, but you should be free from any scrutiny at all! The purpose of a [501](c)(3) or -(c)(4) tax exemption is to enable easier promotion of public good, not political work.

McDermott then got to the real issue: anyone who opposed Barack Obama, or “gay marriage” (i.e., granting the privileges and imunities of marriage to same-sex roommates sharing bed), did not deserve a tax exemption in the McDermott Book. And those organizations who supported these things, did. For he did not say one word about the many liberal organizations who got the customary treatment of tax-exemption applicants, or even a free pass.

In so saying, James McDermott became the ugliest face yet of the IRS scandal. Representative Paul Ryan lost no time correcting him (Clip Three, go):

I’m going to deviate from my original question in response to what I just heard.

That brought a rousing round of applause. McDermott complained – though whether he was complaining about Ryan or about the applause, one cannot easily tell. “Welcome to Washington,” Ryan said cheerfully to the witnesses and the audience. Then the dialog went on:

MR. RYAN: We heard Gingrich, we heard Bush,…

MR. MCDERMOTT: Mr. Chairman…!

MR. RYAN: The former IRS Commissioner, Mr. Shulman, who knew about the targeting long before Congress were told, and since implied that the organizations were responsible for the targeting, because they chose to apply for tax exempt status! So you’re to blame, I guess, is the message here! Do you think you were targeted because of your political beliefs, your religious beliefs, or just because you chose to apply?

Mrs. Gerritson replied, “Our beliefs.”

Ryan went on:

We had the Acting Commissioner, Mr. Miller, here a couple of weeks ago. And we asked him: did groups with the word “organizing” or “progressive” in their names, were they targeted? The answer was “No”! We do know – this is one of the facts we now know – people were singled out because of their beliefs.

And incredibly, Representative McDermott is OK with that. This is the real problem with the IRS scandal: the IRS did not invent this program on its own. Neither rogue agents in the Cincinnati Office, nor a claque of rogue supervisors in Washington, ordered this selective application of the law. This is why Commissioner Shulman visited the White House a hundred fifty-seven times.

Megyn Kelly of Fox News’ America Live program was more blunt still (Clip Four, go):

They so screw it up at the IRS in Cincinnati and Washington, that now the lady from Iowa has to come in before the House Ways and Means Committee and say “this is the way it needs to be done”? How dare he put the burden on her?

IRS scandal: the real question

Actually, that’s not the real question. The real question is: how does such an arrogant man stay in office as a Member of the House of Representatives?

For the real issue in the IRS scandal is freedom, and a direct threat to it.

Thomas Jefferson described the central character flaw in then-King George III of Great Britain and Ireland:

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

And likewise, six witnesses came to petition a committee of Congress in the most humble terms for redress of certain oppressions that the IRS visited upon them. And to answer them, James McDermott added insult to injury. Anyone who calls himself a Representative, whose character is thus marked by every act that may define a bully, is unfit to be a representative of the people or any district of them. Indeed he is not fit to hold any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States or any of them. If Representative and Speaker-of-the-House John Boehner (R-OH) had any fortitude, from whatever system of the human anatomy anyone might choose, he would refer Mr. McDermott at once to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. CNAV cites the Constitution, Article I, Section 5:

Each House may determine the rules of proceedings, punish its members for disorderly conduct, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.

Aside from McDermott’s unseemly outburst, the one way to prevent a future IRS scandal is to abolish the IRS. A body of laws, the essence of which is thus marked by every requirement of compliance and enforcement which may define a police state, is not a fit body of laws for a free society.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) knows this. (Clip Five, go.) He calls for a flat tax, and for a tax system so simple that “an average American can fill out their taxes on a postcard.” And he has called for it since he set out to be a Senator.

If any good can come from the IRS scandal, this, and nothing short of this, would be it.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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