Thursday, May 23, 2013

The GOP's Not-So-Magnificant Obsession: The IRS 'Scandal'

by Sunnyjane

The IRS scandal  will make Obama a two-term president!  Oh, wait...
These were the three scandals that were supposed to bring down the Obama Administration and kill any chances that Hillary Clinton would ever run for president, much less become president.

Well, the Benghazi scandal has fizzled badly in the heat and humidity of Washington's warmer weather.  Even GOP staffers are making fun of it:  Some of the accusations, I mean you wouldn't believe some of this stuff.  It's just -- I mean, you've got to be on Mars to come up with some of this stuff.  [Pardon me while I engage in a major splort here.]

And the AP scandal?  Well, no one is really talking about it any more, which means there's no there there, so we're not going to waste time on it at this point.

But the IRS scandal?  An entirely different matter, because taxes are something the Tea Party can get behind.  You betcha!   

Don't Legislate: Obfuscate and Intimidate
Damn, we invited the Tea Party to the prom and now we've actually gotta dance with 'em!

In a recent epistle to House leaders Boehner and Cantor, Heritage Action for America, the lobbying arm of the Heritage Foundation that now has as its head-honcho former Senator Jim DeMint, outlined their marching orders: Do not legislate, just focus on the Obama Administration's current scandals. Was this solely to put the thumbscrews to Democrats?  No, not really.  The true reason is that they don't want the American public to see what a fucking chaotic clown show the GOP has become: would be imprudent to do anything that shifts the focus from the Obama administration to the ideological differences within the House Republican Conference.  To that end, we urge you to avoid bringing any legislation to the House Floor that could expose or highlight major schisms within the conference.  Looks to me like a case of children behaving badly because mama and papa are too spineless to discipline them.  No, Boehner would rather discipline the IRS, aka the Obama Administration, by ensuring that somebody goes to jail.  This is, of course, before it's been determined that anyone has actually broken a law, and if so, which law. 

Secret Memos + Lies + Conspiracies = Idiocy

I'm proposing a bill to warn the American public about the hazards of home permanents.
Rand Paul, the same idiot who is sure the Obama administration is responsible for his toilet-flushing problems, believes there are secret memos floating around that prove the IRS was  targeting people who were opposed to the president.  No, he told Candy Crowley of  always reliable CNN, he hasn't actually seen said memo, but it's been reported orally.  As opposed to writtingly, I guess; I dunno.  But if I remember correctly, that's called gossip, which is much more interesting to Tea Partiers than actual facts.  [Memo to Candy Crowley: I know you're the one making the big bucks, but don't you think it would serve your viewers to say something here, like:  So you really have nothing but an unsubstantiated rumor; isn't that correct?]  Maybe Senator Paul has been having too many lunches with Jon Karl, eh?

Everybody in the GOP and the media hyped this little scandal in the beginning by running around saying that the investigation of conservative groups by the IRS was a news-breaking issue and yelling that Congress didn't know anything about it.  Not so.  The inconvenient truth is that the inspector general of tax administration for the Treasury Department did, indeed, notify Congress last year, and in addition sent a letter to Darrell Issa in July 2012 informing him that the IRS would be audited.  It stands to reason that, in an election year in which the Republicans were trying desperately to make Barack Obama a one-term president, that had Issa believed he had a game-changing scandal, he would have brought it forward.  In a heartbeat.  He didn't; if fact, Issa himself said recently, This is one of those things where it's been, in a sense, an open secret, but you don't accuse the IRS until you've had a nonpartisan, deep look. That's what the IG has done. That's why the IGs in fact exist within government, is to find this kind of waste and fraud and abuse of power.

In addition, in March 2012, thirty or so Democrats signed a letter that urge[d] the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate whether any groups qualifying as social welfare organizations under section 501(c)(4) of the federal tax code are improperly engaged in political campaign activity.  Note that the letter says any groups.  That's an important distinction because the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) blogger-in-chief, one Matt Gorman, published a post in mid-May that was headlined 32 House Dems Called For IRS To Investigate Conservative Groups In 2012.  That was, shall we say, somewhat misleading.  But then he outright lied, saying, They go on to specify the conservative SuperPAC Crossroads GPS.  He even published the Democrats' letter, and I defy any reader to find the words conservative groups, Tea Party, patriot, SuperPAC or Crossroad GPS.  That's not a lie; it's a damn lie.

The Real IRS Scandal Began Fifty-Four Years Ago

The IRS code regulating the exempt-from-tax for organizations was written in 1954 and still  states today that:  Civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, or local associations of employees, the membership of which is limited to the employees of a designated person or persons in a particular … 

However, in 1959 the IRS began to interpret the word exclusively to mean primarily.  When it comes to taxes, a government organization should not arbitrarily change the meaning of a word; words matter.  As the New York Times so succinctly pointed out recently, Given the confusion, and the years of abuse, it’s time for the IRS to return to the original language of the statute and require these groups to operate exclusively for the promotion of social welfare and not engage in politics.

End Note  

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