IRS vs Bridgegate
I posted the difference in media coverage between the Chris Christie bridge scandal and the IRS targeting scandal. I made the point that media coverage of the bridge scandal has dwarfed that of the IRS scandal in recent months.
In the comments nickgb called shenanigans base on the fact that the tails of a scandal are less covered than the beginnings of the scandal.
Listen, I mentioned that government is coercion:
We allow ourselves to be governed in exchange for a certain degree of order. We allow ourselves to be subject to the confiscatory practice of taxation in order to pay for that order, that law and order.
And we give power to men that we wouldn’t otherwise give.
Power corrupts – absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Can’t blame them really:
“Mr. Werfel, last week your employees who are a member of the National Treasury Employee’s Union sent a form letter for union members to send in to ask they be exempt from the exchanges,” a congressman asked. “Why are your employees trying to exempt themselves from the very law that you’re tasked to enforce?”
“I don’t want to speak for the NTEU, but I’ll offer a perspective as a federal employee myself and a federal employee at the IRS,” said the IRS chief. “And that is, we have right now as employees of the government, of the IRS, affordable health care coverage. I think the ACA was designed to provide an option or an alternative for individuals that do not. And all else being equal, I think if you’re an individual who is satisfied with your health care coverage, you’re probably in a better position to stick with that coverage than go through the change of moving into a different environment and going through that process. So I think for a federal employee, I think more likely, and I would — can speak for myself, I would prefer to stay with the current policy that I’m pleased with rather than go through a change if I don’t need to go through that change.”
All of a sudden the IRS story that didn’t have legs to reach the White House has grown legs that reach all the way to the White House:
Washington (CNN) — New details emerged of what the White House knew about the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups, with spokesman Jay Carney disclosing Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was among the top officials made aware of the matter late last month.
We’ve now gone from individual low level IRS employees at a Cincy office all the way to the White House.
This cannot be good news for the Obama administration.
Can you imagine, just for a second imagine, what the world would say if Timothy Cook, CEO of Apple, responded the way the Obama Administration has handled the trio of scandals?
“Mr. Cook, we the senators seated before you, want to know how you avoided paying your fair share of taxes!”
“Senator, I cant say that I know that answer. I don’t know what happened there. We were not clear on who exactly carried it out.”
Can you imagine what would happen if a CEO of a company was so in the blinds as this administration is having us believe it was?
What’s worse – A President and administration that knows what’s going on and doing inappropriate things or a President and administration having not clue one as to what is going on?
I think that Coyote sums it up nicely:
There won’t be any direct order found telling the IRS to go hassle Conservative groups. That’s not the way it works. Obama’s style is to “other” groups he does not like, to impugn their motives, and to cast them as pariahs beyond the bounds of civil society. Such and such group, he will say, opposes me not because they have reasonable differences of opinion but because they have nefarious motives. Once a group is labelled and accepted (at least by your political followers) as such, you don’t have to order people to harass them. They just do it, because they see it as the right thing to do to harass evil people. When Joe Nocera writes this in support of Obama in no less a platform as the NY Times, orders are superfluous
You know what they say: Never negotiate with terrorists. It only encourages them.
These last few months, much of the country has watched in horror as the Tea Party Republicans have waged jihad on the American people. Their intransigent demands for deep spending cuts, coupled with their almost gleeful willingness to destroy one of America’s most invaluable assets, its full faith and credit, were incredibly irresponsible. But they didn’t care. Their goal, they believed, was worth blowing up the country for, if that’s what it took…
He concludes by saying
For now, the Tea Party Republicans can put aside their suicide vests. But rest assured: They’ll have them on again soon enough. After all, they’ve gotten so much encouragement.
There are probably some deeply confused people in the IRS right now — after all they were denying tax exempt status to terrorists, to enemies of America. They should be treated like heroes, and now they are getting all this criticism. So unfair.
Jay Carney mentioned the other day that the White House and Barack Obama is responsible for setting “tone.”
I think that Obama has been clear that the Tea Party is the bad guy. That’s the tone.
Recently ReflectionEphemeral posted on the IRS scandal:
On a scale of 1-10, the IRS scandal seems to me about a 3. It is improper to focus on one side’s fundraising groups. An overall examination of supposedly tax-exempt organizations would probably be worthwhile. But they didn’t audit or persecute people; they sent them additional questionnaires.
Recently, nickgb got me thinking that perhaps profiling groups isn’t that bad an idea. In fact, it’s an idea that I have been a proponent of in the gun debate. As such, RR may have a point. Overtly political groups may need to be audited. However, it might be nice if such political groups were audited in equal measure based on their ideology; right and left groups.
However, in RR’s post, he pointed out the fact that there maybe a bigger scandal:
If someone at the IRS actually took confidential information and sent it out, that’s unequivocally a crime.
Well, as it turns out:
ProPublica on Monday reported that the same IRS division that targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny during the 2012 election cycle provided the investigative-reporting organization with confidential applications for tax-exempt status.
That revelation contradicts previous statements from the agency and may represent a violation of federal guidelines. Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS sector that reviews tax-exemption applications, told a congressional oversight committee in April 2012 that IRS code prohibited the agency from providing information about groups that had not yet been approved.
As an interesting experiment I Googled “ProPublica IRS”:
Not one single major news source on the first page. And when I include “CBSnews” in the search I do get a New York CBS affiliate and, at the bottom, a cbsnews.com story about how the scandals benefits conservatives. And even that story is lifted from Slate.
Anyway, it would seem that we now have a legit scandal. We’ll see if it goes anywhere.
…hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some seperate sinister entity that’s at the root of all of our problems Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is just around the corner.
You should reject these voices.
Obama is talking about conservatives in general. Republicans in congress and Tea Party republicans in specific.
He is referring to people who feel that we must ever be careful that government is only one day away from becoming a tyrannical mechanism that will restrict liberty. He is referring to people, specific people.
Think those voices need to be rejected now?
Right now the report is only mentioning Cincinnati. I’m not sure what caused the IRS to review its data or how they determined the discrimination took place, but it sure would be fun to see if they are willing to audit other IRS offices:
(Reuters) – U.S. tax auditors inappropriately targeted applications from conservative political groups seeking tax-exempt status, an Internal Revenue Service official acknowledged on Friday.
Lois Lerner, director of the IRS tax-exempt office, said the practice was “was absolutely incorrect and it was inappropriate.”
Lerner, speaking at an American Bar Association conference in Washington, said, “We would like to apologize for that.”
None of the groups that were given extra scrutiny have been rejected yet for tax-exempt status, she said.
Organizations that used the words “patriots” or “Tea Party” in their filings were flagged by the Internal Revenue Service for further review, something conservatives complained about during the 2012 election campaign.
I think it’s important to note that the IRS is reporting, as above, that no group given extra scrutiny has yet been rejected.
So, this story is interesting:
WASHINGTON — Worried the Internal Revenue Service might target you for an audit? You probably should be if you own a small business in one of the wealthy suburbs of Los Angeles.
You might also be wary if you’re a small-business owner in one of dozens of communities near San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta or the District of Columbia.
A new study by the National Taxpayer Advocate used confidential IRS data to show large clusters of potential tax cheats in these five metropolitan areas. The IRS uses the information to target taxpayers for audits.
The taxpayer advocate, Nina Olsen, runs an independent office within the IRS. She got access to the data as part of an effort to learn more about why some taxpayers are more likely to cheat than others.
The study also looked at tax compliance in different industries, and found that people who own construction companies or real estate rental firms may be more likely to fudge their taxes than business owners in other fields.
This whole concept resonates with me. In my line of work I’m pretty aggressive in trying to sift through data to find root causes and trends. I get this idea. On the other hand, is it legal? Can certain citizens face increased scrutiny, based only on what might be arbitrary profiling?
What is the difference between profiling wealthy citizens in certain industries that live in certain regions with, say, profiling certain people by age, race, nationality and religion?
Or, for a more pertinent subject, profiling citizens in order to reduce gun violence?