Showing posts with label IRS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IRS. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Oh, Really?

'Conservative Republican' at IRS defends treatment of Tea Party. 

John Shafer, who described himself as "a conservative Republican," told congressional investigators he flagged the first application for tax-exempt status from a Tea Party-aligned group that he and a lower-level agent came across in February 2010 because it was a new, high-profile issue.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

It's About Time

A shout out today to Jim McDermott (D-WA) for finally asking why the tea party groups, who supposedly loathe government handouts, wanted to be subsidized in the first place.

“But as I listen to this discussion, I’d like to remind everyone what we are talking about here. None of your organizations were kept from organizing or silenced. We are talking about whether or not the American taxpayers would subsidize your work. We are talking about a tax break”.

Recall that the tea party groups in question were applying to become tax exempt 501(c)4 groups, also known as social welfare organizations. McDermott noted the purpose of such groups was to advance the common good and general welfare a community. Political organizations, on the other hand, are categorized under section 527 of the federal tax code.

“Each of your groups is highly political”, McDermott said. “From opposing the President’s healthcare reform, to abortion restrictions, to gay marriage, you’re all entrenched in some of the most controversial political issues in this country – and with your applications you are asking the American public to pay for that work. Many of you host and endorse candidates. The line between permitted political activity and non-permitted political activity can be very fine, and it’s important that tax payers know which side you fall on”.

Here's the video.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Oh Really?

Meet the group the IRS actually denied: Democrats!

In fact, the only known 501(c)(4) applicant to have its status denied happens to be a progressive group: the Maine chapter of Emerge America, which trains Democratic women to run for office. Although the group did no electoral work, and didn’t participate in independent expenditure campaign activity either, its partisan status apparently disqualified it from being categorized as working for the “common good.”

How Far Should They Go?

A recent piece in the New York Times echoes what I said yesterday.

With the House set on Friday to convene the first of its hearings into the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service, the lessons learned from the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, which cost Republicans in elections in 1998, have been on display in recent days. Republicans took obvious pains to balance their investigatory zeal with a promise to stay committed to a legislative agenda.

“Our job is to legislate, and we’re trying to legislate things that will help create jobs in our country,” Mr. Boehner said. “But we also have a responsibility, under the Constitution, to provide oversight of the executive branch of government.”

It's going to be interesting to see if they can control themselves.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Scandals Redux

Now that all the dust has settled down from the "big" three scandals things have pretty much played out like I predicted. Conservatives don't really give a shit about the AP phone tapping flap because they hate the media anyway. Hasn't the media always been comprised of traitors and always been a threat to national security? Yes. Yes they have.So no mas on the AP shizzle.

And the IRS flap was greeted by people with a resounding ho hum. The president's approval rating has remained about the same...a little lower of a little higher depending on which outfit you are looking at. It's pretty clear at this point that the IRS was put in a really crappy position by Citizen's United and then went off the rails after that. Had Citizen's not turned out the way it did, the targeting of Tea Party groups would likely have not happened as there would not have been as much pressure to root out the tax dodgers (side note: I'll have post about Apple coming in the next few days).

Benghazi, of course, is still going strong inside the bubble even with people outside of the bubble not really caring about it all. Clearly, this is all the Right has to stop a Hillary Clinton presidency so they are getting an early jump. It continues to amaze me how tone deaf conservatives are on the priorities of voters. This simple fact was summer up recently in my Honors Civics class when students in all three blocks wondered why DC was talking so much about scandals and not actually governing. Even the libertarian kids find the continued personal attacks on the president and Democrats to be counter productive and have wondered to me many times if Republicans simply want to keep losing election after election.

Voters want to see action on immigration, the budget, and jobs. Some Republicans are getting this message and don't want to see a repeat of 1998. But far too many want to "win." That's why I say, keep it up, dudes! We'll take back a few more seats in the House and hold the Senate in 2014 followed by a Hillary Clinton presidency and full control of both houses in 2016 at this rate.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Oh Really?

Interesting piece in the Times yesterday on the origin of the IRS controversy.

Any group claiming tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(4) of the internal revenue code can collect unlimited and undisclosed contributions, and many took in tens of millions. They are not supposed to spend the majority of their money on political activities, but the I.R.S. has rarely stopped the big ones from polluting the political system with unaccountable cash.

Right. So, the initial motivation for this was the Citizen's United decision and the fallout that has come since that time.

So, my question is this: would all this have happened if Citizen's United had not passed and the IRS was not tasked to get tough on the tax cheats?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

More Often

With seven million people working for the federal government, I'm surprised that we don't here more stories about government fuck ups and hare brained schemes similar to what we have seen in the last few days with the IRS and the Department of Justice. Honestly, it's fundamental sociology. Anytime you increase the number of people from 2 to 3 in any sort of situation, there are going to problems. Infighting, conspiracies, jealousy, and unlawful competition are just a few of the many problems that arise in any group of people. Imagine what sorts of issues seven million people bring to the table let alone trying to keep track of all of them. Why on earth would anyone want to be president? Simply by design, one would know very little about what goes on yet expected to take all of the blame.

This is truly the problem of "big government." Conservatives make the mistake and think that the government acts like a monolith, organized to an evil, Big Brother like perfection. That is completely false. In reality, the government is made up of hundreds of mini-kingdoms who all war with one another and behave in criminal fashion. With these latest two scandals in IRS and the Department of Justice, this fundamental truth will reveal itself.

The IRS story is the one that is really going to hurt, not just the president and the Democrats but the view of the federal government in general (as if it needed any more bad press!) Targeting only conservative groups is simply illegal and shameful. Those involved should be fired as quickly as possible but even then this one is going to linger for a long time.

The AP story will go away fairly quickly because conservatives hate the media and love national security. This whole thing was born out of desire to uncover who was leaking classified information, another thing hated by conservatives (exception: libertarians).We simply don't have enough information at this point to call for Eric Holder's head, although this fact alone would be a highly motivating principle for conservatives to stick around.

The good news for the president? I'd say this is pretty much the end of the non-scandal of Benghazi. That's not really saying much because the IRS story is going to seriously impede the immigration bill, budget talks, and a renewed look at a gun bill. Along with everyone else, I'm interested  to see what information will be uncovered over the next few weeks.