Monday, May 13, 2013

Update on Friday's Tea Party Story ... More Political Fireworks on the IRS Targeting Conservatives Prior to the 2012 Election ... It Wasn't Just the Tea Party They Were After

In theory America is a nation of laws and not of men. At least that's one of the main ideas as contained in the U.S. Constitution. We're all entitled to equal treatment under the law and equal application of the law. We're also entitled to our own views and individual rights to attempt to persuade others to believe as we do.

Soon after our nation's beginning, the U.S. Constitution was formed and it specified that a limited national government would exist with limited and separated powers consisting of the legislative, judicial and executive branches. This government would, among other things, be charged with protecting our individual rights as citizens.

But our Founders also realized that men (aka people) aren't angels, and since men run government, our Constitution provides checks and balances on what are supposed to be the limited powers of government officials in seeking to guarantee the rights of us as free people living in a free society.

Accordingly, the Founding Fathers also spelled out that our natural rights are not to be infringed by government officials or anybody else, and especially protected are those views which may be contrary to those held by the majority of Americans.

This is what is known as holding in check the "tyranny of the majority." In that vein, the First Amendment guarantees that we each are free to believe what we want, say what we want and do what we want as long as what we say and do doesn't infringe the rights of others.

The Founding Fathers knew that people have biases and that government is run by people. That's why there are limits on the powers of government in its branches outlined in the Constitution.

Let's fast forward to today where the levers of government are generally entrusted to believers in the greater ability of big government to do good things rather than leaving people alone to do as they choose. Because of that, it seems that many people in government today believe that those individuals outside of government who favor limited government represent the "enemy."

So let's update the IRS story that's developed over the past several days and may be instructive in the dangers of government powers relative to the rights of individuals. It's real and it's now.

The until now informal probe into the IRS targeting Tea Party conservatives for harassment during the 2012 election campaign is getting interesting. It's not just the Tea Party they were after but basically anybody advocating smaller government and greater fiscal responsibility by government.

As we reported on Friday, May 10, this saga looks like it could very well be a biggie in the making. See "Breaking News on the IRS and Targeting the Tea Party ... Today's Big Story ... It Will Be a Bigger One in the Months Ahead."

As the quickly developing story unfolds, We the People will undoubtedly learn much more about just how the sick and silly game of politics is played. Suffice it to say that our government officials aren't exactly disinterested and objective "public servants" just trying to do their jobs. And more of us will come to realize why politics sucks.

The simple fact is that these government "do gooders" are more often than not partisans with agendas. Specifically, many of their agendas are "progressive" and consider as their "enemy" those people and institutions that advocate small and limited government.

Wider Problems Found at IRS is subtitled 'Probe Says Tax Agency Used Sweeping Criteria to Scrutinize Conservative Groups:'

"The Internal Revenue Service's scrutiny of conservative groups went beyond those that had "tea party" or "patriot" in their names—as the agency admitted Friday—to also include ones that raised concerns over government spending, debt or taxes, and even ones that lobbied to "make America a better place to live," according to new details of a government probe.

The investigation also revealed that a high-ranking IRS official knew as early as mid-2011 that conservative groups were being inappropriately targeted—nearly a year before then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told a congressional committee the agency wasn't targeting conservative groups.
Tax-exempt groups organized under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code are allowed to engage in some political activity, but the primary focus of their efforts must remain promoting social welfare.                    

The new disclosures are likely to inflame a widening controversy over IRS handling of dozens of applications by tea-party, patriot and other conservative groups for tax-exempt status.

The details emerged from disclosures to congressional investigators by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The findings . . . don't make clear who came up with the idea to give extra scrutiny to the conservative groups.

The inspector general's office has been conducting an audit of the IRS's handling of the applications process and is expected to release a report this week. The audit follows complaints last year by numerous tea-party and other conservative groups that they had been singled out and subjected to excessive and inappropriate questioning. Many groups say they were asked for lists of their donors and other sensitive information. . . .

On Friday, Lois Lerner, head of the IRS tax-exempt-organizations division, said the agency was "apologetic" for what she termed "absolutely inappropriate" actions by lower-level workers. She said those workers had selected some conservative groups for extra scrutiny to determine whether their applications should be approved. She said they had picked groups for extra scrutiny according to whether they had "tea party" or "patriot" in their names, among other criteria.

Ms. Lerner came to the IRS in 2001 from the Federal Election Commission, and assumed her current position in 2006. IRS officials said Sunday that Ms. Lerner wasn't available for comment, and she didn't respond to an emailed request. . . .

The IRS said the report supports its view that its missteps weren't politically motivated and were limited to lower-level workers.

The IRS also said the report reflects that "IRS senior leadership was not aware of this level of specific details" at the time of a March 2012 hearing where Mr. Shulman denied any targeting of conservative groups. Mr. Shulman, who no longer works for the IRS, declined to comment.

The new details suggest that agency workers were examining statements in applications for tax-exempt status to determine whether groups had political leanings.

Tax-exempt social-welfare groups organized under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code are allowed to engage in some political activity, but the primary focus of their efforts must remain promoting social welfare. That social-welfare activity can include lobbying and advocating for issues and legislation, but not outright political-campaign activity. But some of the rules leave room for IRS officials to make judgment calls and probe individual groups for further information.

Organizing as such a group is desirable, not just because such entities typically don't have to pay taxes, but also because they generally don't have to identify their donors. . . .

But questions continued to swirl about the failure of IRS officials to disclose the problems until the inspector general's report was about to become public.

The timeline contained in the draft report indicates that IRS scrutiny of tea-party and other conservative groups began as early as 2010 and came to the attention of Ms. Lerner, the head of the tax-exempt-organizations division, at least by the following year. . . .

Letters from Ms. Lerner in April and May 2012 responding to questions by Republican lawmakers made no mention of the problems that had surfaced in the IRS unit. . . .

The report indicates that in 2010 and 2011, some IRS workers weren't just singling out groups because their names contained certain words, as IRS officials suggested on Friday, but appeared to be probing for indications of political interests or leanings.

According to the report, by June 2011 some IRS specialists were probing applications using the following criteria: "issues include government spending, government debt or taxes; education of the public by advocacy/lobbying to 'make America a better place to live'; statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run.""

Summing Up

This is getting interesting quickly, albeit hardly surprising.

Now that the official report is about to be issued later this week, the "progressive" politicians favoring big and intrusive government are obviously circling the wagons and running for political cover.

And We the People are supposed to believe that all this was done by "low level" IRS employees and not at the behest of "higher ups."

We may or may not ever find out the gruesome details regarding what actually happened and who ordered what, but we do know that government officials favoring bigger and bigger government are always out to get those favoring individual freedoms and smaller government.

That's just the way the game is played, and it's a sick game at that.

Thanks. Bob.

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