IRS abuse of power and the re-election of the president

By Bruce Branick | May 20, 2013

Should anyone doubt the purpose of these recent revelations that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeted conservative Tea Party and patriotic grassroots groups such as the Glenn Beck inspired 9/12 groups seeking tax-exempt status from the government?

Cast all skepticism aside.  Be advised there was a single purpose to this act of unmitigated government tyranny: to re-elect Barack Obama to a second term as president of the United States. The trail may yet lead not to the White House, clearly a diversion, but rather to the Obama campaign headquarters and its chief operatives Jim Messina, David Plouffe and David Axelrod all leftist partisans with solid White House connections who operated outside of Washington, in the corruption-soaked city of Chicago. Each viewed as a threat to the president’s reelection and despised the conservative Tea Party movement then sweeping the nation in opposition to everything Obama, including but not limited to trillion dollar deficit spending and politically threatening the dominance of the two-party system.

In many cases, IRS actions neutralized the opposition to Obama enabling the reelection of the president by silencing Tea Party and patriotic groups depriving them of their First Amendment rights granted under the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

This IRS story, along with unrelated scandals – new Benghazi revelations, the Associated Press phone records seizure by the Justice Department and the HHS Obamacare shakedown of businesses Secretary Kathleen Sebelius oversees and regulates – mercilessly pounded the Obama White House last week.

President Obama in a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron was asked about the IRS scandal and responded that “if” it was operating in other than a neutral and non-partisan way that would be “outrageous.”

None the less, the Friday House Ways & Means Committee’s “IRS Targeting Conservative Groups” hearing saturated the news channels across the board – including the mainstream media – and swept the blogosphere like a digital version of the 14th Century’s Black Plague that ended Europe’s Middle Ages.

Chaired by Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI), Friday’s hearing interrogated two witnesses, Acting Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Steve Miller, and the Treasury Department’s Inspector General of Tax Administration (TIGTA), J. Russell George. According to Camp, the American public has an expectation that the IRS will be “apolitical in its enforcement of our tax laws.” Camp further established the targeting of conservative groups began in June 2010.

TIGTA found in its report issued on May 14th, “The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention.” Explaining the reason TIGTA performed the audit the report further states, “TIGTA initiated this audit based on concerns expressed by members of Congress. The overall objective of this audit was to determine whether allegations were founded that the IRS: 1) targeted specific groups applying for tax-exempt status, 2) delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications, and 3) requested unnecessary information from targeted groups.”

Camp who called for an end to corruption at the IRS stated in his opening remarks, “Listening to the nightly news, this appears to be just the latest example of a culture of cover-ups – and political intimidation – in this Administration. It seems like the truth is hidden from the American people just long enough to make it through an election.”

Highlighting one of the leaders of a Tea Party group in his Texas congressional district who had filed for tax exempt status in July 2010, Ways & Means Committee member Kevin Brady said his constituent has yet to receive approval, nearly three years later. Brady described her as a law abiding American citizen who had never been audited by the IRS before she applied for her organization’s tax exempt status. Yet, she was targeted with personal and business IRS audits, as well as OSHA and ATF audits and was visited by the FBI domestic terrorism unit. Brady asked Miller, “Is this still America?”

In the midst of the IRS scandal, Maryland Representative Andy Harris (R) brought to light that “the IRS official who oversaw the operation that’s under scrutiny for targeting conservatives is now in charge of the IRS’ Obamacare office.” Between 2009 and 2012, Sarah Hall Ingram headed the office of the IRS overseeing tax-exempt organizations. It will be up to the IRS, which will have access to personal medical records, to require individuals to have health care insurance. However, American’s trust quotient on this score is hovering below zero.

But, it wouldn’t be the first time our presidents have taken it upon themselves to harass their opponents and even snoop at anything they want, including their adversary’s tax returns going far back to Franklin D. Roosevelt and the infamous Richard Nixon of Watergate infamy. Even John F. Kennedy’s IRS audited his opponents in 1961, wrote chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax, John Gizzi. The IRS has had within its means the power to destroy political opponents and ordinary American citizens alike.

The Treasury Department’s Bureau of Internal Revenue evolved with the passage of the Revenue Act of 1913, which reinstituted the federal income tax following the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution. This progressive income tax began at the rate of 1% in an effort to offset the lowering of tariffs, which were then a primary source of federal revenue. It is long past time to devolve the IRS into an agency that collects post cards, following the implementation of a flat tax that portends smaller government.

“Conservatives often have a difficult time explaining why we support a smaller, more limited federal government. These scandals make that job a little easier. It’s not that we don’t like government, but we don’t like government intimidating and harassing media outlets, businesses, citizen organizations, or anyone else in the manner these scandals have brought to light,” writes Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) in National Review.

Bruce Branick served his nation for over 5 decades at sea. After three years of North Atlantic convoy duty as a Radioman in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Greenland Patrol and a fourth year attached to the Richmond Naval Air Station, a Florida Blimp Base concerned with Anti-submarine Warfare, he spent 50 years in the U.S. Merchant Marine as a Radio Officer, voyaging the world over from the Arctic to Antarctica, from Galveston to Istanbul, from Suez to Hong Kong. Mr. Branick, a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis, is author of Memoirs of a Loose Cannon and Two If By Sea (1970).