During the 2008 campaign, President Obama declared, “It’s time to fundamentally change the way that we do business in Washington.” And change it, he has done! It’s been transformed into even more of a brash, thuggish, and coercive environment than it ever was before. The current IRS scandal of politically motivated discrimination against conservative non-profit groups perfectly characterizes the disturbing ends-justify-the-means “Chicago-style politics” that Obama and his comrades have brought to Washington.
As admitted by an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official last week, and confirmed this week by the Inspector General’s (IG) special report on IRS abuses, the IRS, arguably the most onerous and oppressive government agency in the country, was discriminating against conservative, religious, and pro-Israel non-profit groups seeking 503(c) designation. What would normally take 6-12 months for such a ruling was taking up to three years. In addition, the filing requirements of such groups went far beyond the requirements specified for such applications.
To make matters even worse, IRS employees were releasing the confidential filings for such groups to the George Soros-backed liberal propaganda organization ProPublica. They admitted earlier this week, “In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved — meaning they were not supposed to be made public. “We made six of those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy”, according to ProPublica.
There are clearly five improprieties or crimes under one scandalous umbrella here. First, the systemic targeting of groups thought to be critical of the administration; second the demand for information that was irrelevant to the tax status filing; third, obfuscation and outright lying by IRS officials to Congress and the public about those abuses; fourth, sharing those confidential filings with an opposing political group, ProPublica; and fifth, intentional withholding of information until after the election.
And lest we think these abuses were perpetrated by just a couple of rogue employees, all requests for 503(c) status go through the Cincinnati office. The Inspector General’s Report indicated it was the entire division, referred to within the IRS as the “Advocacy Group.” The IG’s report clearly documents that Washington was aware of what the “Advocacy Group” was doing.
So what’s happening to those involved? Not much. Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, has resigned, even though he was already planning on leaving the agency. And Sarah Hall Ingram, who had been serving as commissioner of the Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Division from 2009 to 2012, the “Advocacy Group,” is now serving as director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act division. That is the unit that’s responsible for enforcing Obamacare. Now isn’t that comforting?
Although this has been going on for at least three years, if we’re to believe White House Spokesman Jay Carney, Obama only found out about it from press reports, though the IG’s report reveals that Treasury Secretary Geithner’s office knew last summer.
The President seems to know nothing about what’s happening in his administration. From the Fast and Furious gunrunning, to the IRS and the AP phone records scandals, the president knows nothing until he hears “from news reports.” Whether he knows personally about these scandalous activities of his administration or not, it seems clear that since he’s surrounded himself with compatible ideologues and sycophants, that the entire atmosphere of Washington has become an extension of his Chicago-style politics of suppressing dissent, colluding against groups opposed to his agenda, intimidating the opposition, and suppressing damaging news.
Charles Krauthammer said this week, “Obama ran as a man who would not only change Washington but change the essence of politics itself in America as a kind of Olympian historic figure. He can’t even run the bureaucracy, that’s what we’re seeing. There’s arrogance here, of course, but there is incompetence of the highest order. He poses as the bystander. ‘I learned about it in the press.’ This is an indictment of people who believe in big government, want to expand it, have it control healthcare and cannot run the minimal essence of the duties of government.”
Harry Truman famously kept a plaque on his desk that said, “The Buck Stops Here.” If Obama had a plaque on his desk along the same lines, it would likely read, “The Buck Never Gets Here.” It could also include an additional qualifier, “And if it does, I don’t know anything about it.”
On March 7, 2010, Obama famously declared, “Ultimately, the buck stops with me.” On Sept. 23, 2012, in a 60 Minutes appearance, he said, “As president, I bear responsibility for everything, to some degree.” Yet still we have Jay Carney denying the president is responsible for anything. Obama has said of the Benghazi scandal that it’s merely “a side show.” If that is the case, this entire administration is a scandal-ridden three-ring circus, and the president is the ringleader.
Even Commissioner Miller understands the idea of accountability. In his testimony on Friday before Congress, he said, “I resigned, because as the acting commissioner, whatever happens in the IRS, whether I was personally involved or not, stops at my desk. So, I should be held accountable for what happened.” It’s too bad the head of the country hasn’t come to that same realization.
Just two weeks ago at the Ohio State University commencement, President Obama said, “Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.”
How ironic that we’ve seen so much of his administration unmasked by his adulating media so soon after that statement, for the first definition of tyranny is, “arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.” And that’s precisely what we’re seeing as the Oz curtain is pulled away revealing the tyranny of the Obama administration.
Whether the president is explicitly complicit in all of these scandals or not, his politics and leadership style have created, and are conducive with, the pattern and atmosphere of corruption and abuse now in full display by the administration.
AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: watchingfrogsboil (Creative Commons)