THE IRS SCANDAL
OBAMA HAS PROMISED TO ‘FIX IT.’
► YET WE ARE NOT REASSURED
By Jay B Gaskill, Attorney At Law
ALSO POSTED ON THE POLICY THINK SITE — http://jaygaskill.com/IRS2.pdf
B R E A K I N G …
TOP IRS OFFICIAL TO ‘TAKE THE FIFTH’ TOMORROW
Lois Lerner, the top IRS official who is at the center of the controversy for the targeting of tea party and other conservative groups, will refuse to answer questions at a congressional hearing Wednesday and invoke her Fifth Amendment rights, ABC News has learned. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/05/irs-official-lois-lerner-to-take-the-fifth/
J U S T R E V E A L E D …
WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Eighty-three-year old great-grandmother Marianne Chiffelle of the Albuguerque Tea Party was a target of the IRS harassment of conservative political groups from 2010 through the 2012 presidential campaign.
Internal Revenue Service officials not only wanted a wide variety of information from the Albuquerque Tea Party’s application for non-profit status, it also wanted to know what contacts it had with people from other political organizations too.
That included an 83-year-old great-grandmother who was once held in a World War II internment camp, New Mexico Watchdog has discovered.
“I’ve always paid my taxes and everything,” Marianne Chiffelle told New Mexico Watchdog. “What I do think is, it doesn’t surprise me…because of this government we have at the moment.”
BY JAY B GASKILL
Victor Davis Hanson, the classical/military historian, Hoover scholar, has just released a trenchant summary, Obama’s Second Term Embarrassments. It is linked HERE: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/348413/obama%E2%80%99s-second-term-embarrassments . Hanson’s piece closes with – “What is the common denominator in all these second-term administration embarrassments? “Hope and change” is fast becoming the 1973 Nixon White House.”
Like this author, Dr. Hanson has identified himself as a conservative democrat.
Now, in a late-breaking article, published in the American Spectator, we learn that –
…[A]ccording to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Report, IRS employees — the same employees who belong to the NTEU — set to work in earnest targeting the Tea Party and conservative groups around America. The IG report wrote it up this way:
April 1-2, 2010: The new Acting Manager, Technical Unit, suggested the need for a Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party cases. The Determinations Unit Program Manager Agreed.
In short: the very day after the president of the quite publicly anti-Tea Party labor union — the union for IRS employees — met with President Obama, the manager of the IRS “Determinations Unit Program agreed” to open a “Sensitive Case report on the Tea party cases.” As stated by the IG report.
The NTEU is the 150,000 member union that represents IRS employees along with 30 other separate government agencies. Kelley herself is a 14-year IRS veteran agent. The union’s PAC endorsed President Obama in both 2008 and 2012, and gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles to anti-Tea Party candidates.…Putting IRS employees in the position of actively financing anti-Tea Party candidates themselves, while in their official positions in the IRS blocking, auditing, or intimidating Tea Party and conservative groups around the country.
THE ADMINISTRATION’S ‘PANTS-ON-FIRE’ MOMENT
This administration’s latest narrative – that a rogue operation in an isolated part of the IRS bureaucracy was solely responsible for the scandal- is falling apart, just as Nixon’s “this was just some two bit burglary” narrative did in 1973.
The president has accepted the resignation of the head of the IRS, but many ask:
Where did the green light to use the IRS and other government agencies for the harassment of political ‘enemies’ come from?
Who is Lois Lerner, director of the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Division, protecting?
IR-2005-148, Dec. 22, 2005
WASHINGTON — Lois G. Lerner has been selected as the director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the Internal Revenue Service. In this position, she will be responsible for administering and enforcing the tax laws that apply to more than 1.8 million organizations recognized by the IRS as exempt from tax.
“Protecting the integrity of tax-exempt organizations is an important part of our enforcement program,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson.
It should be painfully obvious that (a) there was a green light and (b) it had to come from someone close enough to the president to speak with authority.
This is no small problem. The IRS is too powerful even when under the restraint of apolitical management. Our democratic system will not long survive a politicized IRS.
The president expressed outrage at the IRS scandal, promising to “work with congress” to “fix it”, meaning to clarify the law, making it less ambiguous, less subject to misinterpretation. But that misses the point entirely: The authority and power of the IRS was abused by motivated individuals who are still in place and who still believe they were helping the administration’s political agenda; it was not caused by poorly written laws or policies.
In Nixon’s time, a trusted advisor, John Dean, went to the president and warned him there was a “cancer on his presidency”.
Now there is a cancer in the IRS.
No half-measures or rule-tweaks can fix cure a partisan malignancy that infects something this vital, as long as the same people who tacitly encouraged or actually performed the harassment are in place.
My professional experience taught me to be skeptical when habitual wrong-doers make redemptive, “trust me this time” promises. As a public defender, I worked professionally in a milieu inhabited by crooks; and as a department head I encountered a number of ideologically driven political hacks. For both of these subgroups, “Sorry we got caught; we promise to do better,” is usually followed by “the coast is clear; and be more careful next time…not to get caught.”
This cancer in the IRS will respond to nothing short of surgery (by cutting out the all the partisan personnel leaving only “clean margins”), and radiation therapy (by authentic and forceful policy reversals from the top down, reinforced at every level, transparency, accountability, evenhanded treatment without even the appearance of partisanship or ideological bias).
CAVEAT: Unless and until the tacit support by the White House political types for the harassment of Mr. Obama’s perceived political enemies is shut down, firmly and irrevocably, this cancer will not be cured.
Responsible democrats (yes they are many, though cowed into silence) want a real fix instead of just a cosmetic one. But that project requires that we have a sincere and honest president at the helm who will follow through. ▼
BUT Where is that president WHEN WE NEED HIM?
“President Barack Obama said last week he learned about the controversy at the same time as the public, on May 10, when an IRS official revealed it to a conference of lawyers.” A litmus test suggests itself: When the president of the United States told us that the first time he heard about the IRS problem was Friday, May 10, 2013, when the press broke the story, was he being honest with the American people?
I am persuaded that any thorough investigation will produce evidence that the president was already aware of the IRS scandal, in other words, that he was lying in his profession of ignorance. If/when that proves out, how can he be trusted to implement reform? What a self-crippled presidency we must endure. The calls for a fully independent special counsel to investigate should be heeded.
Just two reports that have surfaced so far. More will follow.
May 15, 2013
“The White House’s chief lawyer learned weeks ago that an audit of the Internal Revenue Service likely would show that agency employees inappropriately targeted conservative groups, a senior White House official said Sunday.”
“The investigation into the IRS’s targeting of the Tea Party and Tea Party-like groups has led investigators to information pointing to an August 2011 meeting in which the office of the chief counsel for the IRS was made aware of the issue.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
History never quite repeats itself, but it provides us with striking and instructive parallels.
On June 25, 1973 John Dean, the former counsel to President Nixon, recounted under oath a conversation he had with the President. Dean’s testimony was witnessed by millions. He described a conversation that took place in White house during the late morning of March 21, 1973:
“I began by telling the president that there was a cancer growing on the presidency and if the cancer was not removed that the president himself would be killed by it. I also told him that it was important that this cancer be removed immediately because it was growing more deadly every day…”
Nixon had a chance to salvage his presidency. By opting for cover-up and misdirection, he left office in disgrace. Obama has a similar opportunity. But if he fails to move soon enough, with a very thorough housecleaning and full transparency, we next will hear the questions: What did he know? & when did he know it?
In the current environment and situation, impeachment is a fantasy, not an option.
Thirty months with a leadership vacuum in the White House is unacceptable. There is too much at stake: The US economy risks being stuck in a new normal so anemic that the worst economic year in the Bush presidency will look pretty good by contrast; a dangerous, destabilizing jihad is being waged against us; Iran is determined to acquire a nuclear bomb, unless stopped by military force; the prospect of a European depression is very real, threatening a damaging riptide effect on our fragile economy; the very survival of Israel is at risk; the burden of maintaining colossal public indebtedness is a dead weight on the economy; the American health care system and even the economy itself have been placed at risk because of coming Obama Care train wreck; there is more….
Much of this mess can still be salvaged by bipartisan measures that this president has rejected out of hand. Change will not take place without a level of presidential leadership that the current occupant of the White house has yet to demonstrate.
Will we finally have a real president, a political leader willing to govern from the center by brokering traditional deals in the larger public interest, or will we be stuck with an embattled, self-involved orator, disconnected from political reality, a public figure lacking gravitas who has squandered public trust?
This presidency can be salvaged only by a decisive change of direction agreed to by the man who holds the office of the presidency. A series of decisive legislative defeats may be needed to produce the necessary teaching moment. Bill Clinton’s governance improved in his second term only when he faced a determined majority in both chambers that demanded a more centrist agenda. He gave them a balanced budget and welfare reform and received a revived reputation in return. The country benefitted.
Senator Obama campaigned on hope and change. Without a significant change in his leadership and policy stances, there will be too much negative change and too little practical hope.
Copyright © 2013 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law, except for the quoted pieces from other credited sources
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 See Obamcare’s Costs Revealed by Cherylyl Harley LeBon in Volume 23, Number 2 of The Newsletter of the Independent Institute. “A recent report by the GAO suggests that Obamacare will end up adding $6.2 trillion to the deficit (for two generations)” and “the future taxes on (a 45 year old making $75k a year) in order to fund Medicare weakened (after the funds transfer to sustain Obamacare) will be $87,127.” The first use of the term “train wreck” to describe the implementation phase of Obamacare was by Democratic Senator Max Baucus.