Friday, May 17, 2013

A Stunning Development

Gary L. Bauer
Campaign for Working Families

For the past week the Obama Administration has been embroiled in a growing IRS scandal. The tax agency was involved in a massive effort to target the tax-exempt status of conservative organizations, including well-known Christian ministries like Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Tea Party, pro-life and other conservative groups were denied IRS tax-exempt recognition, resulting in some groups literally shutting down. The apparent purpose was to intimidate and harass the administration's perceived political enemies. It worked.

Americans rightly resist Big Government -- and especially the IRS -- precisely because of this kind of abuse. It is also why so many Americans do not want the IRS involved in our healthcare. We've already seen partisan abuse, but just imagine having to deal with the IRS when it comes to the bypass surgery you need!

Well, guess what? News broke last night that Sarah Hall Ingram, the commissioner who led the department at the center of the IRS scandal while the abuses were taking place, is now the director of the IRS' Affordable Care Act Office. And get this -- she received more than $100,000 in bonuses when these abuses took place!

When told about Ingram's new job, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, "Stunning, just stunning."

Meanwhile, Joseph Grant, Commissioner of Tax Exempt Organizations and Government Entities, announced he is retiring next month. Grant was the deputy commissioner under Sarah Hall Ingram when the politically-motivated abuses occurred. But more heads may roll soon as Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced that he is looking to see if any Ohio state laws were violated by "rogue" IRS agents in the Cincinnati office.

Was There A Cover-up?

Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller and IRS Inspector General J. Russell George testified under oath this morning before the House Ways and Means Committee. Based on his opening statement alone, members of the committee should consider charging Miller with perjury. Just consider this comment:

"Partisanship or the perception of politics has no place in the IRS. I do not believe that partisanship motivated the people that engaged in the practices described in the inspector general's report. Foolish mistakes were made by people who were trying to be more efficient in their work."

Only conservatives were targeted and tied in knots while progressive groups were rubber-stamped. Groups were targeted based on names like "Tea Party" or "Patriot." Pro-life groups were ordered not to protest Planned Parenthood. But none of that is political, just a mistaken attempt at better efficiency. Give me a break!

When pressed to identify the individuals involved in the abuses, Miller could not offer any names. He had to know that question would come up today. But Miller either walked into that hearing room willfully ignorant or he again misled members of Congress.

More importantly, several Republicans ripped into Miller for the fact that top IRS officials knew about these abuses back in 2011, knew about the inspector general's report and never informed Congress until this year.

Again, as happened with the infamous Benghazi talking points, was there a cover-up by officials within the Obama Administration to keep a lid on these abuses during last year's election? The answer seems obvious, and some in the media are now asking that very question.

Watergate's Woodward: Don't Dismiss Benghazi

While the IRS scandal has taken center stage, famed Watergate reporter Bob Woodward said this morning that the Benghazi scandal is still a very potent issue that has not been put to rest. His remarks are worth repeating:

"You were talking earlier about kind of dismissing the Benghazi issue as one that's just political and the president recently said it's a sideshow. But if you read through all these emails, you see that everyone in the government is saying, 'Oh, let's not tell the public that terrorists were involved, people connected to al Qaeda. Let's not tell the public that there were warnings.'

"…this is one of the documents with the editing that one of the people in the State Department said, 'Oh, let's not let these things out.' And I have to go back 40 years to Watergate when Nixon put out his edited transcripts to the conversations, and he personally went through them and said, 'Oh, let's not tell this, let's not show this.'

"I would not dismiss Benghazi. It's a very serious issue … four people were killed. You look at the hydraulic pressure that was in the system to not tell the truth… we use this term and the government uses this term, talking points. Talking points, as we know, are like legal briefs. They're an argument on one side. What we need to do is get rid of talking point and they need to put out statements or papers that are truth documents."