On Friday we received a bombshell from the IRS after it issued an apology for admittedly targeting groups applying for 501(c)(4)/tax-exempt status that used the words “tea party” or “patriot.” What we were told on Friday is that “low-level” officials in the IRS office in Cincinnati were targeting conservative groups during the 2012 election season.
But it turns out to be much deeper than that.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “High-ranking IRS official knew as early as mid-2011 that conservative groups were being inappropriately targeted—nearly a year before then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told a congressional committee the agency wasn't targeting conservative groups.” Furthermore, the trigger words – words that were flagged for more intense scrutiny – went well beyond “tea party” or “patriot.” Other triggers for scrutiny included anything related to government spending, taxes, national debt, limiting/expanding government, 9/12 Project, criticism of how the country is being run, education of the public to “make America a better place to live,” educating Americans "on the Constitution and Bill of Rights." An internal mandate within the IRS said that personnel should “be on the look out” for these organizations.
Today during a press conference with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Barack Obama addressed the IRS scandal stating that “if” this proves to be true, “then that's outrageous. There's no room for it. They have to be held fully accountable, because the IRS – as an independent agency – requires absolute integrity and people have to have confidence that they are applying the laws in a non-partisan way.”
Notice that Obama used similar language to Jay Carney from last Friday: That the IRS is some sort of “independent agency” to somehow distance responsibility from the administration. The fact is that the IRS is part of the Treasury Department and the Treasury Department is part of the executive branch. Period. End of story. I'm not saying that Obama instructed the IRS to target conservatives, but I AM saying that the IRS is very much a government institution and not some independent body operating unto itself.
On this story, there appears to be a collective outrage (for the most part) among all sides of the political spectrum. While we are currently seeing targeting of conservative groups, it is easy (and scary) to see how that targeting can shift to other groups depending on who is in power. It's an outrageous abuse of power. The fact is that if George Bush were president and the IRS were targeting progressive groups, we'd have wall-to-wall coverage with politicians demanding his immediate resignation.
As many people have also pointed out, the IRS is only going to become more powerful as it grows in size and scope to enforce ObamaCare. I have a feeling that the subsequent hearings and investigations to come on this issue will only make Americans all the more weary about big government and ObamaCare.