May 19, 2013
According to Salon, there was no political motive behind the IRS move to target patriot groups. Instead, the scandal is about “much confusion, poor training, unclear directives and what seems to be pretty lousy, or, at least, extremely ineffective management.”
No political motivation? “How stupid do they think we are?”
In other words, the IRS wouldn’t target political groups. The problem is government ineptitude. This is the same old tired excuse government lovers – and in the case of the IRS, lovers of confiscatory taxation – use when government does something criminal and predatory. It’s broken management and shoddy training, something that can be remedied if we throw more money at problems.
According to Salon, the only organization that actually lost its tax-exempt status was a progressive organization, “the Maine chapter of Emerge America, which trains Democratic women to run for office.”
Salon’s assertion that the IRS wouldn’t target political groups is at odds with history. The IRS has been used numerous times to attack political enemies.
FDR used the agency to go after newspapers opposed to his socialist New Deal. Roosevelt had the IRS target Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and Republicans such as former Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon.
President Kennedy used the IRS to target the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, the American Enterprise Institute, the Foundation for Economic Education and other groups. “By directing tax audits at individuals and groups solely because of their political beliefs, [Kennedy’s] Ideological Organizations Audit Project established a precedent for a far more elaborate program of targeting ‘dissidents,'” states a 1976 report by the Senate Select Committee on Government Intelligence.
Richard Nixon created a Special Services Staff to go after “all IRS activities involving ideological, militant, subversive, radical, and similar type organizations.” Nixon went so far as to pass his enemies list on to the IRS in an effort to “use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies,” according to White House counsel John Dean.
Nixon’s 1974 impeachment charged him with trying to gain “confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposes not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.”
Following a report issued by the Democratic National Committee in 1995 attacking Clinton’s political enemies, the IRS went after the Heritage Foundation and the American Spectator magazine. Clinton accusers, including Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers, were hit with IRS audits.
In 1999, the Associated Press reported that “officials in the Democratic White House and members of both parties in Congress have prompted hundreds of audits of political opponents in the 1990s,” Requests from Congress to audit political enemies were expedited.
“Permitting congressmen to secretly and effortlessly sic G-men on whomever they pleased epitomized official Washington’s contempt for average Americans and fair play. But because the abuse was bipartisan, there was little enthusiasm on Capitol Hill for an investigation,” writes James Bovard for the Wall Street Journal.
Salon would have you believe the latest IRS scandal is either a managerial problem or skullduggery engaged in by out of control lower-level employees. History, however, demonstrates that orders to go after political enemies often come from the highest levels of government.
Both Democrats and Republicans have exploited the agency to go after political enemies, but Democrats will now attempt to portray the targeting of patriot political groups as bureaucratic bumbling or an isolated, one-off incident taken advantage of by ruthless Republicans.
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