American Elephants


Pay No Attention to the Excuses. There Is No Excuse! by The Elephant's Child

I don’t think I have ever heard anything quite a shocking as Steven Miller’s testimony before  the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday on the targeting of organizations that might have been able to raise money to oppose the reelection of Barack Obama.

” I do not believe that partisanship motivated the people who engaged in the practices described in the Inspector Generals’ report. …Foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient in their workload selection.  …We provided horrible customer service. It’s my belief that what happened here is not illegal, but it was unappropriate. It’s my belief that what happened here was not illegal, but I suppose that there are some facts that might come out that would indicate otherwise, but it’s not my area.”

So he said he is accountable and  pushed up his previously announced retirement by a couple of weeks. Mistakes were made. Always the passive voice. In an earlier day he might have been run out of town on a rail.

So the United States Treasury Department is crooked. The agency within that department that collects taxes and has the legal power to investigate citizens’ and businesses’ financial affairs believes that they are free to conduct their investigations in a manner which will determine the results of a national election. But that’s not illegal, it’s just trying to be more efficient. Not inappropriate. You cannot trust the Internal Revenue Service. They are not only untrustworthy, but they do not understand what is wrong with what they have done.

The President of the United States, in complete defiance of manners, custom, and the separation of powers defined by the Constitution, which he took an oath to defend, called out the Supreme Court of the United States in the middle of a State of the Union Speech to tell them they were wrong in their Citizens United decision that said corporations has the same right to donate money as unions did. So it starts right at the top, in spite of any allegation of innocence.

Targeting of pro-life groups began in 2009. An IRS agent told the Coalition for Life of Iowa that approval of their application for tax-exempt status was withheld. They were told to send a letter to the agency signed by the entire board—under perjury of the law—stating that they do not picket, protest or organize any other groups to picket or protest any Planned Parenthood clinic.

The Obama administration was aware of the IRS scandal five months before the election. Ace of Spades notes that it’s about a union: the National Treasury Employees Union (NETU). Anything indicating conservative leanings like “Tea Party,” “Patriot,” were not only denied tax exempt status to which they were entitled, donors to right-leaning think tanks names were illegally given to their opponents, but other agencies were directed to investigate such groups. The Tax Professor’s blog includes a long list of links for those who want to understand what the IRS is up to more clearly.

Meanwhile, you might want to investigate the Cayman Islands or other tax sheltering venues.

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The part that had me snorting about this guy’s testimony was where he explained that the reason all of this was done was an attempt to save time and paperwork(!). Really… asking people for more information that the statute required and not responding to requests by the applicants for up to a year at a time… this was a cost-saving measure?

The other laugh that I got from his testimony was that none of this was “political”. Right. My guess is he got the talking points from last week when it was still just some “low-level staffers” and he completely missed the part where the IRS ADMITTED that they had been targeting conservative groups, admitted that they knew, and then (quietly… they hope no one pays attention) admitted that they withheld this information until after the election of a president that promised to expand their agency and functions.

I still don’t think that Obama or his campaign had direct knowledge of what they were doing (“Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”), but I do think that the statements and actions of Obama led to the atmosphere where people in the IRS and other areas of government thought that this would be acceptable.

Count me as one of those who believes this really does anger Obama… but only because it serves as a counterpoint and a refutation of his “bigger government is better government” argument.

This, along with everything else that’s going on (with more in the pipeline, so I am told) has caused some to wonder if Obama’s “credibility” has problems. And that’s just wrong to do. If you don’t have a car, do you wonder if your car has problems? No. Obama’s isn’t having problems with his credibility. His problem is that he has none.

Comment by Lon Mead

Ace of Spades headline was “Rep. Mike Kelly rips into man with dead poodle on his head.” Miller’s testimony was beyond annoying. But apparently he was not really responsible, but the one who was in charge was the woman now on the ObamaCare desk. And although he clearly did not take the matter seriously, I’m afraid he was right. Their actions were not illegal, there are no laws that say they can’t go after their political opponents, nor rules that define who can be targeted and when and how. We have apparently relied on natural American ethics. Silly us.

I got a kick our of Axelrod’s plaintive whine that the government was just too big for Obama to know what was going on in all parts of the vast bureaucracy. Obama probably didn’t have direct knowledge of what they were doing, but he clearly set the tone and general directions. From lecturing the Supreme Court on Citizens United in the middle of the State of the Union Speech (The man has no manners) to daily complaints about Republicans holding back his good works. He is apparently little involved in the actual work of governing, or ‘presidenting’. He likes the trappings and the adoration.

I think we err when we assume that Democrats want Big Government. Big Government is just the natural result of their intense desire to fix things. Sure that they and their friends are smarter and wiser than the rest of us, and confronted with a world that is so annoying, they busily set about trying to fix the annoyances. People are fat— put nutritional information on everything, Ban tobacco, Ban soft drinks, ban standard light bulbs, generate energy from free wind and solar, get us out of unpleasant wars, shut Guantanamo. Because they are uninterested in studies, data and investigation, nor in consequences and incentives, their bright ideas seldom work, and most of them are dreadful, costly flops. LBJ’s War on Poverty is the easiest example. $15 trillion, and now the highest number of people dependent on the government in history.

So we need some clear laws that define an ethical IRS, with penalties attached. Call your Congressman.

Comment by The Elephant's Child




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