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Friday, February 28, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 295

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal: All the President's IRS Agents, by Kimberley Strassel:

Few presidents understand the power of speech better than Barack Obama, and even fewer the power of denying it to others. That's the context for understanding the White House's unprecedented co-option of the Internal Revenue Service to implement a political campaign to shut up its critics and its opponents.

Perhaps the biggest fiction of this past year was that the IRS's targeting of conservative groups has been confronted, addressed and fixed. The opposite is true. The White House has used the scandal as an excuse to expand and formalize the abuse. ...

Politics is also guiding the Justice Department's alleged investigation of IRS abuses. The Oversight Committee held a separate hearing on Wednesday, at which legal experts laid out the ludicrously partisan nature of Justice's probe—including the choice of Barbara Bosserman, an Obama donor in the liberal civil-rights division, to handle it.

Ms. Mitchell, the attorney, was due to testify before the Oversight Committee Feb. 6. On Feb. 4, she filed her written testimony, which explained that nine months after this scandal broke, neither she nor her clients had yet to receive a phone call from the FBI or Justice. Three hours after filing, she told me, a Justice representative called, wanting to check on this targeting thing.

And now we have new IRS regulations, which will formalize the crackdown on 501(c)(4) political speech. The IRS has no business here—there is a bipartisan Federal Election Commission to enforce laws about political speech. But the FEC can't be controlled by the White House, and Democrats have been unable to pass new speech restrictions through Congress.

Democrats are instead fully vested now in using the IRS to shut down criticism by outside groups of ObamaCare, overspending or (ironically) the IRS targeting. Even liberal groups are howling about the White House's use of the IRS to silence political speech, and the House on Wednesday passed a bill to delay the regulations. The White House's response? A veto threat.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee markup Thursday morning, Texas's Ted Cruz offered an amendment to prohibit IRS employees from deliberately targeting individuals or groups based on political views. It was unanimously rejected by every member of the Democratic majority.

The IRS targeting was shocking because Americans expect that agency to be free of politics. In the age of Obama, that era is over. Only when Washington recognizes the IRS for the political tool it has become can it start to fix the problem.

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Comments

Both the conservative and liberal media, and the conservative and liberal non-profits seem to find great fault in the proposed 501(c)(4) reg revisions. When both sides start to squeal like stuck pigs, that generally means the proposed regs are probably spot on.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Feb 28, 2014 6:48:38 AM

Generally, prosecutors and congressional committees will give immunity to lower level witnesses in order to get to the "big fish" at the top of the food chain. Issa and his compatriots have repeatedly and loudly proclaimed that the big fish at the top of the food chain is the President. If Issa, et al., really believe this, why not give immunity to Lerner and force her to incriminate the President?

Posted by: Publius Novus | Feb 28, 2014 7:01:59 AM