My time as chauffeur is over. (As least for awhile.) Now that I’ve time to scan headlines and news articles, I’ve decided it was well worth the absence. For the first time in a decade, perhaps, the media and Washington pols and staffers speak of a flat tax to rein in the power of the IRS.
I’ve listened to conservative and libertarian friends and acquaintances say the IRS must be abolished—NOW! I can agree with the sentiment. They pronounce scheme after scheme. None that are realistic. Some, all too many of them, also have their tin-foil hats screwed on too tight. And that, is dismaying.
Why? Because it prevents them from looking and seeing the reality of government. They have a firmly held fantasy and won’t give it up. That same attitude led them to stay home in the last election and ruined our chance to remove Obama from office.
OK. ‘Nuff said on that issue. Getting back to the post. The IRS—as a function of government, will NOT go away. As long as government receives funds, income, money to operate, there will have to be an agency to insure the government gets their legal share. Note, I didn’t say fair share. There is nothing fair about government. We, the people, must control government to insure we receive as much “fairness” as feasible. For the rest, well, life…and government, isn’t fair. Live with it.
As long as government requires funds to accomplish the task of government, some agency, whether it is called the IRS or by another name, must exist. Our task, our duty, is to insure that mechanism is controllable and as simple as possible, while still accomplishing it’s single task. To insure the government receives its legal share of the wealth of the people and the nation.
Too many of my friends believe a national sales tax is the solution. For the nation, I don’t believe it is the answer. As long as the 16th Amendment exists, the income tax can return as soon as the dems, once again, control Congress. If that happens not only will the income tax return, but we’ll still have the national sales tax—both forms of taxes—like Europe. And how long will that sales tax exist until it becomes a VAT tax? Only until the dems gain power again in Congress.
The promises of, by, and from Congress are only valid until the next election. The probability of repeal of the 16th Amendment is so low as to be impossible. It can neither gain 2/3rds approval in Congress nor can it gain 2/3rds approval from the states. It won’t happen. Any plan to reduce the power of the IRS must, therefore, be formulated within the bounds of that amendment. The Flat Tax does.
I’ve yet to hear any cry from Congress nor the states to repeal the 16th Amendment. That leaves the Flat Tax as an option…and it has little support either. What can we do? Really not much with the dems controlling the Senate. If we conservatives can control both houses of Congress and have enough real Tea Party conservatives elected, maybe, just maybe, we can repeal Obamacare in its entirety and shrink the IRS back to its original function. Strip the IRS of everything else—including its criminal investigative function. Relegate that to the FBI or within the Treasury…the Secret Service, perhaps?
We can’t eliminate the IRS. We can reduce it to its core functions and strip it of much of its extra-legal power.
I wrote earlier this week how the present events remind me of those leading to Nixon’s resignation. Nixon’s woes began with the desire to eavesdrop on his political opposition, i.e., the Watergate affair.
Obama’s excesses, crimes as some claim, make Nixon appear to be a piker. The common statement heard on the ‘net is that no one died in Watergate. Four died in Benghazi.
Obama’s support appears to be shifting. The segments he once had in his pocket may be escaping. Scott Rasmussen published this column today.
A Commentary By Scott Rasmussen
Friday, May 24, 2013
Despite a tough couple of weeks, President Obama’s job approval ratings are holding up fairly well. As I write this, 47 percent of voters nationwide offer their approval. That’s little changed from attitudes of late and essentially the same as the president enjoyed during most of his first term in office.
But if you dig just a bit beneath the surface, it becomes clear that the controversies dogging the White House have had an impact. So far, there are three major issues — the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservatives, the Justice Department’s secret media probe and the circumstances surrounding the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya in Benghazi last Sept. 11.
White House press secretary Jay Carney, speaking on CNN, dismissed “the premise, the idea that these were scandals.” However, voters see it differently. Just over half believe each of the three qualifies as a scandal. Only one out of eight sees them as no big deal.
Voters also reject the notion that the IRS targeting was the work of some low-level rogue employees. Just 20 percent believe that to be the case. A slightly larger number (26 percent) thinks the decision came from IRS headquarters. But 39 percent believe the decision to target conservative groups was made by someone who works at the White House.
This isn’t just a case of people believing politicians always behave this way. Only 19 percent think the IRS usually targets political opponents of the president.
Skepticism is so high that few are convinced the IRS acted alone. Sixty percent believe that other federal agencies also were used to target the tea party and other conservative groups. Ominously for Democrats, two out of three unaffiliated voters share that view.
So, why hasn’t it hurt the president’s overall job approval? Some believe it has. The theory is that with a recovering economy, his ratings should be higher. Another possibility is that the president’s base may have doubts, but they are still sticking by their man.
It also may be that the doubts are popping up in other ways. For example, at Rasmussen Reports we regularly ask voters which party they trust to deal with a range of issues including government ethics and corruption. Before the scandals broke, Democrats had an 8-point advantage on this particular issue. But there has been a 10-point swing, and the GOP now has a 2-point edge.
Among unaffiliated voters, Republicans enjoy a 23-point advantage on the ethics front. Before the controversies, it was a toss-up.
The last week has seen serious slippage in the president’s numbers when it comes to national security. From the moment Obama took office, he has always received better ratings on national security matters than he did on the economy. However, just 39 percent of voters now give him good or excellent marks in this area. That’s down 7 points from a week ago and the lowest ratings he’s had on national security since Osama bin Laden was killed two years ago.
There is obviously no way of knowing where things will lead. At this point, however, it’s fair to say that the controversies have had an impact, and the political environment is shifting against the president.
When Holder approved the investigation of the AP and FOX’s James Rosen, he gored a major ox—the MSM. They thought they were Obama’s partners (in crime). When they realized they were perceived as just another tool to be used—or abused as needed, they responded. Like this.
By Charlie Spiering May 23, 2013 | 7:55 pm | Modified: May 23, 2013 at 8:05 pm
“We have a message for Attorney General Holder over at http://huffingtonpost.com,” read a message from the Huffington Post political Twitter account earlier this evening.
The website’s home page is one big splash calling for Eric Holder’s exit from the Obama administration, suggesting that the news reported earlier by NBC News was the final straw for liberals who are critical of Obama’s attorney general.
NBC News’ Michael Isikoff reported that Holder signed off on the search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator”authorizing seizure of his private emails.
The Huffington Post page also highlights Holder’s record on banks, marijuana, mortgage settlements, drones and the prosecution of Aaron Swartz.
Not only has the HuffPuff beat on Holder, Peggy Noonan, a so-so conservative, chimed in on Obama this week in the Wall Street Journal. Her column is another ram, battering at Obama’s walls.
The IRS’s leaders refuse to account for the agency’s corruption and abuse.May 23, 2013, 7:25 p.m. ET
“I don’t know.” “I don’t remember.” “I’m not familiar with that detail.” “It’s not my precise area.” “I’m not familiar with that letter.”
These are quotes from the Internal Revenue Service officials who testified this week before the House and Senate. That is the authentic sound of stonewalling, and from the kind of people who run Washington in the modern age—smooth, highly credentialed and unaccountable. They’re surrounded by legal and employment protections, they know how to parse a careful response, they know how to blur the essential point of a question in a blizzard of unconnected factoids. They came across as people arrogant enough to target Americans for abuse and harassment and think they’d get away with it.
So what did we learn the past week, and what are the essentials to keep in mind?
We learned the people who ran and run the IRS are not going to help Congress find out what happened in the IRS. We know we haven’t gotten near the bottom of the political corruption of that agency. We do not know who ordered the targeting of conservative groups and individuals, or why, or exactly when it began. We don’t know who executed the orders or directives. We do not know the full scope or extent of the scandal. We don’t know, for instance, how many applicants for tax-exempt status were abused.
We know the IRS commissioner wasn’t telling the truth in March 2012, when he testified: “There’s absolutely no targeting.” We have learned the Lois Lerner lied when she claimed she had spontaneously admitted the targeting in a Q-and-A at a Washington meeting. It was part of a spin operation in which she’d planted the question with a friend. We know the tax-exempt bureau Ms. Lerner ran did not simply make mistakes because it was overwhelmed with requests—the targeting began before a surge in applications. And Ms. Lerner did not learn about the targeting in 2012—the IRS audit timeline shows she was briefed in June 2011. She said the targeting was the work of rogue agents in the Cincinnati office. But the Washington Post spoke to an IRS worker there, who said: “Everything comes from the top.”
We know that Lois Lerner this week announced she’d done nothing wrong, and then took the Fifth. (Or tried to…Crucis.)
With all the talk and the hearings and the news reports, it is important to keep the essentials of this story in mind.
First, only conservative groups were targeted in this scandal by the IRS. Liberal or progressive groups were not targeted. The IRS leaked conservative groups’ confidential applications and donor lists to liberal groups, never the other way around.
This was a political operation. If it had not been, then the statistics tell us left-wing groups would have been harassed and abused, and seen their applications leaked to the press. There would be a left-wing equivalent to Catherine Engelbrecht.
And all of this apparently took place in the years leading up to the 2012 election. Meaning that before that election, groups that were anti-Obamacare, or pro-life, or pro-Second Amendment or constitutionalist, or had words like ‘tea party’ or ‘patriot’ in their name—groups that is that would support Republicans, not Democrats—were suppressed, thwarted, kept from raising money and therefore kept from fully operating.
That is some kind of coincidence. That is some kind of strangely political, strangely partisan, and strangely ideological “poor customer service.”
IRS officials have complained that the law is murky, it’s difficult to define what the tax exemption law really means. But they don’t have any problem defining it. They defined it with a vengeance.
Second, it is important to remember that there has never been an investigation of what happened in the IRS. There was an internal IRS audit, not an investigation, carried out by an inspector general, who was careful this week to note to the House what he’d done was not an investigation. He was tasked to come to conclusions on whether there had been wrongdoing at the agency. It was not his job to find out exactly why it happened, how and when the scandal began, who was involved, and how they operated.
A dead serious investigation is needed. The IRS has colorfully demonstrated that it cannot investigate itself. The Obama administration wants the FBI—which answers to Eric Holder’s Justice Department—to investigate, but that would not be credible. The investigators of the IRS must be independent of the administration, or their conclusions will not be trustworthy.
An independent counsel, with all the powers of that office, is what we need.
Again, if what happened at the IRS is not stopped now—if the internal corruption within it is not broken—it will never stop, and never be broken. The American people will never again be able to have the slightest confidence in the revenue-gathering arm of their government. And that, actually, would be tragic.
I’ve excerpted the section of Noonan’s column concerning the trials of Catherine Engelbrecht, “a nice woman, a citizen, an American.” Her story could make a post all by itself. I invite you to go and read Noonan’s entire column and the one from the National Review about Engelbrecht. I don’t always agree with Noonan, but this time, she’s hit the mark.