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There’s a long-standing joke among politicians, which kind of goes along the following line:
“You had better not threaten my power, or else I’ll set the IRS on you!”
Even President Obama has told a version of this joke:
Unfortunately, the people and managers who staff the bureaucracy of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), who are not known for having a good sense of humor in the first place, appear to have taken the President’s words from 2009 as their license to act against the President’s political opposition. Tax professor Paul Caron writes:
After months of denying that the IRS has been targeting tea party groups for special scrutiny, Lois Lerner, Director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Division, admitted that the IRS had been giving additional scrutiny to applications for tax-exempt status from goups with the “Tea Party” or “patriot” in their title. She denied there was any political motivation and blamed the practice on a low-level employee in Cincinnati.
Apparently, this particular “low-level” employee of the IRS based in Cincinnati would seem to have a very long reach, as dozens of non-profit “Tea Party” and “patriot” groups in at least 18 states were either denied tax-exempt status or compelled to answer what have been described as “intrusive and blatantly unconstitutional questions” in their bid for tax-exempt status.
If the IRS’ explanation for its politically-oriented corruption rings false to you, you’re not alone. At the very least, IRS managers and directors at a number of different locations across the nation would have needed to coordinate such an effort targeting these non-profit groups’ applications for tax-exempt status, as a real “low-level” employee would not have the authority to do so on their own. Remember, the form-loving IRS is nothing if not bureaucratic!
And then, it gets even worse. In what the Washington Post describes as a “public relations disaster“, the IRS, in trying to minimize the impact of the scandal, threw gasoline on them instead as:
Try pulling that last one at your next IRS tax audit!
Rick Hasen of the Election Law blog frames the IRS’ scandal of politically-based selective enforcement:
This is not one of the best days for the IRS. Conservatives are absolutely right to call for a congressional investigation of this one, even if it turns out to be an isolated problem.
For liberals who think this is no big deal, imagine if during the Bush Administration the IRS targeted political groups that were â€œprogressiveâ€ for special scrutiny.
We should recognize the issue of politically-biased selective enforcement is one that is not isolated to the IRS. The same kind of politicization of a federal government agency has also effectively provided pardons to the politically-connected and powerful bankers and finance people who are responsible for having created the housing market collapse and economic crisis in the first place, as the U.S. Department of Justice under President Obama has declined to pursue any prosecution of wrongdoing for their political patrons.
Should we mention that these same politicians and bureaucrats have progressively run up the national debt for the sake of bailing their cronies out?
After all, the whole reason that so many of these Tea Party and patriot grass-roots organizations came into existence was to oppose this kind of extreme fiscal irresponsibility and corruption in the nation’s government. Is it really any wonder that the empire would strike back? Or that their stormtroopers would work for the IRS?