Distracting From The Real War

The Democrats have consistently blamed the Republicans for a ‘war on women.’ However, they have been waging a war on religion. I am not talking about a war on Islam–I am talking about a war waged on all deeply held religious beliefs, whether they be Islamic, Christian, or other.

Yesterday the Daily Caller posted an excerpt from a Hillary Clinton speech at the sixth annual Women in The World Summit :

“Laws [about reproductive health care and safe childbirth] have to be backed up with resources and political will,” Clinton said. “And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

This can be loosely translated as ‘the church needs to get over its problem with killing babies.’ Obviously, Mrs. Clinton also has a problem with those who hold a Biblical belief about homosexuality.

The success of American politicians who hold ideas that are contrary to Biblical Christianity shows that it is time for the people in the Bible-believing churches to get involved in politics. If Christians do not get out of their pews and get involved, they will soon find themselves not allowed to speak out in their own churches. The Internal Revenue Service is already moving in that direction (see rightwinggranny).

Here’s One Place We Can Cut Government Spending

The Washington Examiner posted a story today about Medicaid fraud. Medicaid is the federal program that provides medical care to people who can’t afford it.

The article reports:

Healthcare providers banned from Medicaid may have been reimbursed $213 million in federal money, thanks to a state agency oversight, a government watchdog reported.

Valid identification numbers — identifiers that ensure providers are eligible for Medicaid reimbursements — were missing from 800,000 Colorado claims in 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services inspector general reported Wednesday.

The state reimbursed the providers $424.4 million for the claims, of which, $213 million was federal money.

Regardless of how you feel about government-provided healthcare and whether or not it is constitutional, a $213 million dollar savings in federal spending would be nice. If one state has that much Medicaid fraud, how much do the other states have?

The article goes on to explain that the computer system in Colorado was not able to alert officials to missing or incorrect identification numbers and that the problem would not be corrected until 2016. However, the agency is now denying claims with invalid or missing numbers. It sounds like Colorado is working with the same programmers that designed the ObamaCare website.

Another Reason The Internal Revenue Service Needs To Go Away

I posted an article earlier today about the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) monitoring what is said in churches, but another story illustrating the problems with that organization has surfaced in the Washington Examiner today. It seems that money given to the IRS for the purpose of helping taxpayers with income tax questions was diverted to other things.

The article reports:

“Spending decisions entirely under the IRS’s control led to 16 million fewer taxpayers receiving IRS assistance this filing season,” said the report (House Ways and Means Committee report), which was prepared by majority staff of the tax-writing House panel chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.

“Other spending choices, including prioritizing employee bonuses and union activity on the taxpayer’s dime, used up resources that otherwise could have been used to assist another 10 million taxpayers,” the report said.

Budget cuts that Congress has imposed on the IRS in recent years resulted in part from “waste and misconduct” at the tax agency, including nearly $50 million spent on employee conferences that critics say were extravagant and unnecessary. Congress has reduced IRS funding by $1.2 billion since 2010.

The article goes on to explain many of the mixed-up priorities of the IRS. It seems to me that if the IRS cannot properly allocate the funding it is given, we should not give it any more money. There are a number of tax proposals out there that would abolish the IRS. I think it is time we looked at them more closely.

Defending Free Speech

The Washington Examiner is reporting today that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch has asked Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen not to change the Internal Revenue Service’s rules regarding political speech by nonprofit organizations.

The article quotes Senator Hatch:

“The IRS is just beginning to recover its reputation, and your agency is just beginning to regain trust from lawmakers,” Hatch wrote to Koskinen. “Do not throw all of that away in a quixotic and bizarre mission to regulate the political activity of Americans.”

Hatch said Congress will “have no choice” but to investigate the agency’s motivations if it issues the rules, claiming that it would be viewed as an act of political bias. He asked Koskinen to preserve all communications related to the rulemaking, in case the Obama White House or Treasury Department is playing a role in shaping it.

The IRS is not supposed to be a political organization. Unfortunately under President Obama it has become one. It would be nice to have an IRS Commissioner who would uphold the political neutrality of the IRS. Evidently John Koskinen is not that person.

Sometimes Justice Is A Slow Process

On Monday, The Daily Signal reported that Federal District Court Judge Susan Dlott granted a motion to compel and ordered the IRS to produce the names of the 298 targeted organizations identified by the IRS for the Treasury Inspector General. Last week U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald Machen disclosed the Justice Department‘s decision not to charge Lois Lerner with of Congress. This latest decision at least allows the probe of wrong doing by the Internal Revenue Service to continue.

The article reports:

…the plaintiffs have been trying through the discovery process to identify all of the conservative organizations unfairly targeted by the IRS so that they can seek class certification. If they can convince Judge Dlott to certify a class, then the lawsuit would expand from the ten original plaintiffs to all of the organizations on Lois Lerner’s hit list. This would greatly expand the risks to, and potential liability of, the government.

But the IRS, in a fitting bit of irony, refused to turn over the names of the organizations whose applications were mishandled, claiming that would violate the confidentiality requirements of Section 6103.

On April 1, in what must have seemed a cruel April Fool’s joke to the Justice Department lawyers handling the case, Judge Dlott denied a protective order sought by Justice Department to prevent the IRS from being forced to turn over this information. She pointed out that Section 6103 has an exemption for tax information “directly related to an issue in” a judicial proceeding. Since the identity of all of the targeted organizations “is directly related to the issue of class certification in this federal court proceeding,” she granted the plaintiffs’ motion to compel.

According to the article, the IRS will be forced to turn over:

  • All charts, lists, spreadsheets or indexes of groups that had their Applications for Tax Exemption selected or flagged by the IRS for heightened review based on an infamous BOLO (Be On the Look Out) edict issued by IRS officials;
  • The document listing the 298 organizations that the IRS sent the Inspector General on June 11, 2012; and
  • The document titled “Advocacy Case Tracking Sheet” that the IRS sent the Inspector General on the same date.

There is little doubt that the Obama Administration was using the IRS to suppress free speech. Hopefully those at the root of this action will be identified and charged with the appropriate crimes.

Let’s Give Away More Of Taxpayers’ Money

Sometimes you wonder if Congress were spending their own money, would they be a little more careful with it?

On Saturday, The DC Clothesline reported that the Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee voted unanimously to allow illegal immigrants to receive Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and child credit. Note the words “illegal immigrants.”

The article reports:

Sen. Jeff Sessions proposed an amendment, which would prevent illegal aliens from receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)  and child credit.

…In the last year with complete records, 2010, the amount of fraudulent payments hit 4.2 billion dollars and all tax credits combined cost about 7.6 billion last year.

Democrats who voted against the amendment were:  Bernie Sanders, Debbie Stabenow,  Sens. Patty Murray, Ron Wyden, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Mark Warner, Tammy Baldwin, Tim Kaine and Angus King.

…Debbie Stabenow, who is one of many democratic women with IQs in single digits said she doesn’t believe illegal aliens are collecting federal benefits even though the idea came from the Treasury Inspector General who stated unequivocally that illegals are collecting benefits was right in front of her.

The amendment failed with unanimous support of the republicans on the committee.

Why don’t we either return illegal aliens to their home countries or take steps to prevent them from taking money out of the pockets of Americans. I don’t mind giving someone a hand-up when needed, but we have reached the point where illegal aliens are committing fraud to take money from Americans. That has got to stop.

Sometimes You Just Have To Keep Digging To Find The Truth

Yesterday the Washington Times reported that the Internal Revenue Service‘s Inspector General is conducting a criminal investigation into the disappearance of Lois Lerner’s emails.

The article reports:

Investigators have already scoured 744 backup tapes and gleaned 32,774 unique emails, but just two weeks ago they found an additional 424 tapes that could contain even more Lerner emails, Deputy Inspector General Timothy P. Camus told the House Oversight Committee in a rare late-night hearing meant to look into the status of the investigation.

“There is potential criminal activity,” Mr. Camus said.

Unfortunately, the Inspector General is still having problems getting the information he needs to pursue the case.

The article reports:

Rep. Gerald Connolly, Virginia Democrat, said Mr. George is refusing to turn documents over to him, prompting a heated reply.

“You’re not entitled to certain documents,” Mr. George said.

“Oh really? We’ll see about that, won’t we,” Mr. Connolly replied, saying that he questioned whether Mr. George could be trusted if he’s refusing to provide documents, yet is in charge of an investigation into whether the IRS stonewalled document requests.

The hearing was the latest chapter in the complex investigation into the IRS’s targeting of tea party groups for special scrutiny.

Several congressional committees are still probing the matter, and both the inspector general and the Justice Department are conducting criminal investigations.

I wouldn’t hold my breath for the results of the Justice Department investigation.

 

This Might Be A Good Place To Cut The Federal Budget

Fox News reported yesterday that the illegal immigrants that President Obama has granted amnesty will be eligible for retroactive tax refunds.

The article reports:

Byron York explained on “America’s Newsroom” that illegal immigrants will be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is actually a government grant of up to $5,000 to working families.

“Illegal immigrants affected by the president’s edict will not only be eligible for those tax credits going forward, but three years retroactively,” York said. “So they’ll be able to collect quite a bit of money from the treasury.”

York explained that the IRS has issued taxpayer identification numbers to people who are in the U.S. illegally, but working, so that they can pay taxes.

Illegal immigrants who filed taxes that way over the past three years can now go back and amend those previous tax forms to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Unbelievable.

Rewarding Incompetence At Taxpayer’s Expense

On Wednesday, Fox News reported that the government has awarded a $4.5 million IT contract for its new ObamaCare tax program to CGI, the company responsible for the ObamaCare internet roll out. This is an IRS contract to provide “critical functions” and “management support” for its Obamacare tax program. Really? Wasn’t there anyone else?

The article reports:

Prior to terminating CGI’s contract, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress, “I am as frustrated and angry as anyone with the flawed launch of HealthCare.gov.” She called the CGI-designed website a “debacle.”

A joint Senate Finance and Judiciary Committee staff report in June 2014 found that Turning Point Global Solutions, hired by HHS to review CGI’s performance on Healthcare.gov, reported they found 21,000 lines of defective software code inserted by CGI.

Scott Amey, the general counsel for the non-profit Project on Government Oversight, which reviews government contracting, examined the IRS contract with CGI.

“CGI was the poster child for government failure,” he told The Daily Caller. “I am shocked that the IRS has turned around and is using them for Obamacare IT work.”

Who in the world is making these decisions, and why?

The article reports:

Curiously, CGI features its online health work in Helsinki, London, Alberta, Saskatchewan and for the New York State of Mental Health, but says nothing about its ruined rollout of Obamacare web sites.

In Canada, CGI’s parent company, Montreal-based CGI Group, was just as deficient.

Ontario health officials fired CGI after it failed to deliver a flagship provincial online health registry.

About 7 million Obamacare policyholders and about 20 million Americans who don’t have healthcare coverage will depend this year on the proper IRS processing of their 2014 income tax returns.

Improper processing of health information could cause some Americans to receive smaller tax refunds, or even pay more out-of-pocket for their government-issued healthcare policies.

Welcome to a government run by the Keystone Kops.

Adding To The Confusion Of ObamaCare

CNN posted an article today about how the subsidies paid to ObamaCare subscribers are going to impact their taxes. No one told them this was going to be taxable!

The article reports:

Obamacare enrollees who received subsidies to help pay for coverage will soon have to reconcile how much they actually earned in 2014 with how much they estimated when they applied many, many months ago.

This will likely lead to some very unhappy Americans. Those who underestimated their income either will receive smaller tax refunds or will owe the IRS money.

That’s because subsidies are actually tax credits and are based on annual income, but folks got their 2014 subsidy before knowing exactly what they’d make in 2014. So you’ll have to reconcile the two with the IRS during the upcoming tax filing season.

Filing taxes has never been any fun–ObamaCare just made it worse.

Subsidies were what kept the cost of ObamaCare down for subscribers:

We’re not talking chump change. Those who applied through the federal exchange received an average monthly subsidy of $264, according to the most recent figures reported by the Obama administration. They only had to pay $82 a month, on average, for coverage, Roughly 85% of total enrollees received help with insurance premiums. The administration last month said 2014 enrollment was 6.7 million.

Those who underestimated their earnings could owe thousands of dollars, though there is a $2,500 cap for those who remain eligible for subsidies. The threshold for eligibility is based on income – $45,900 for an individual and $94,200 for a family in 2014.

In June, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether or not subsidies can be given in states that did not create healthcare exchanges. If the ruling says no, we can expect total chaos in the healthcare sector of the economy while everyone regroups. Meanwhile, the taxman cometh!

The IRS Smoking Gun Will Be Released Tuesday Morning

The Daily Caller posted a story today stating that they have received an advance copy of a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that definitively proves malicious intent by the IRS to improperly block conservative groups that an IRS adviser deemed “icky.”

The article lists six findings from the report:

1. The IRS admitted that the front office was “spinning” about the targeting rumors as early as 2012, after IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman denied the tea party targeting to Congress.

2. Then-IRS commissioner Steven T. Miller almost broke down and told the truth about the tea party targeting at a July 2012 hearing, but Lerner’s sidekick Nikole Flax told him not to.

3. The IRS definitely treated tea party applications by a different standard than applications from other (c)(4) groups.

4. Lois Lerner expressed her frustration about having to potentially approve a lot of groups, and her colleagues in the agency assured her that she wouldn’t have to.

5. So the IRS reached out to outside advisers to help come up with ways to deny tax-exempt status to “icky” organizations.

6. A May 2011 email from a lawyer in the IRS chief counsel’s office made clear that the agency sought to use a new “gift tax” to target donors to nonprofit political groups.

Lying to Congress is perjury and I believe it carries a jail term. Unfortunately, the charges would have to be brought by the Justice Department, and I don’t see that happening. At any rate, this information needs to be shouted across the media, although my bet is that most of the  media won’t report it.

A New Twist On The Amnesty Story

Judicial Watch posted a story yesterday about the federal government uncovering a criminal ring of illegal immigrants that used stolen identities to defraud the U.S. government out of $7.2 million in tax refunds.

The article reports:

The mastermind of this sophisticated operation is a resourceful delinquent in Frankfurt, Delaware who runs a landscaping and cleaning business called “Las Tres Mujeres” (the three women in Spanish). Her name is Linda Avila and she’s admitted in federal court that she filed more than 1,700 fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) using stolen identities assigned to migrant workers—mostly from Mexico—living in the U.S. illegally.

Avila altered W-2 forms with white out to cover up the names, social security numbers and addresses then wrote in other names and addresses to create the fraudulent returns, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) announcement. Foreign dependents were often added to increase the refund amounts. The IRS then cut refund checks ranging from $4,000 to more than $7,000, according to the feds. Avila provided the illegal aliens fake identification documents so they could cash the IRS refund checks. The illegal alien migrant workers kept a small fee and gave most of the money to Avila.

When federal agents searched Avila’s home in Delaware they seized about 17 boxes of fraudulent tax records, according to the DOJ document outlining the case. Templates for fraudulent W-2 forms and identification documents were also found on her computer. The records included copies of approximately 1,754 tax returns filed between 2008 and 2014 for tax years 2004 through 2013. The total loss to the IRS based on the fraudulent returns is approximately $7.2 million, federal authorities estimate.

Back in July a federal grand jury in Norfolk Virginia indicted Avila on charges of conspiracy to make false claims, mail fraud and false claims against the United States. On November 17, the same week Obama issued a long-anticipated administrative amnesty, Avila finally pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy and mail fraud. She faces three decades in prison and remains free pending sentencing on February 17. The feds have not disclosed if her illegal immigrant partners in crime will be charged.

Let’s close the borders, change the immigration laws to let the people who have been waiting patiently in line come in, investigate the activities of the people who are here illegally, and decide which of the people who are here illegally will be an asset to America.

Funding Illegal Immigrants Through The Tax System

Yesterday the Daily Caller posted an article about Congressional efforts to agree on a tax deal. We are currently dealing with a lame-duck Congress that does not seem to be able to agree on anything. Hopefully, the new Congress will do better.

The article reports:

President Barack Obama quietly killed a draft tax-cut because the GOP leadership wouldn’t agree to his demand that valuable tax breaks be given to millions of illegal immigrants, according to a Politico article about the secret negotiations.

Just before Thanksgiving, “the deal fell apart just as it seemed to be coming together… [because] Republicans worried undocumented immigrants targeted by [Obama’s Nov. 21 amnesty] would begin claiming the credits,”

The tax bill (now dead) was supposed to extend the temporary tax breaks that Congress traditionally extends at the end of every year. Because of the possibility of extending tax breaks to illegal immigrants, the tax breaks were not extended, and all Americans will face increased taxes next year.

So what is this actually about? The Earned Income Tax Credit Program has been plagued by fraud for years. In May 2014, the Washington Examiner reported:

The Treasury Department has released its latest report on the fight against widespread fraud in the Earned Income Tax Credit program. The problem is, fraud is still winning. And there’s not even much of a fight.

“The Internal Revenue Service continues to make little progress in reducing improper payments of Earned Income Tax Credits,” a press release from Treasury’s inspector general for Tax Administration says. “The IRS estimates that 22 to 26 percent of EITC payments were issued improperly in Fiscal Year 2013. The dollar value of these improper payments was estimated to be between $13.3 billion and $15.6 billion.”

Now Congress is battling over whether or not to extend the Earned Income Tax Credit to illegal immigrants. What are they thinking?

The article at the Daily Caller reminds us that businesses support President Obama’s Immigration policy because it will drive down wages and increase their profits. This is the result of the policy of a President who complains about wage inequality.

The Daily Caller also reports:

Obama is offering work-permits, $2 trillion in taxpayer benefits and a quick route to citizenship to at least 4 million of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country. He is also trying to win business support for his plan by boosting the inflow of guest-workers sought by blue-chip companies.

This is not the way to build the American economy.

All Accounts Have Not Been Settled

Yesterday John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line about one aspect of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal that has not gotten as much publicity as some other aspects of the scandal.

The article reports:

The Obama Administration’s IRS scandal is multi-faceted. In addition to the persecution of conservative non-profits by Lois Lerner et al., the question has been percolating for some years whether Obama’s IRS has transferred confidential taxpayer information to Obama’s White House in violation of federal criminal laws. The issue first arose when Austin Goolsbee of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers told reporters that he had information about Koch Industries that could only have come, illegally, from confidential IRS files. When questions were asked, the administration immediately clammed up.

Years later, the judicial system may be poised to expose another layer of Obama corruption. A group called Cause of Action began a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of the Treasury, and for several years, your taxpayer dollars have funded the administration’s cover-up.

The cover-up is beginning to unravel. A federal court in Washington, D.C. has ordered the Treasury Department to respond to Cause of Action’s request for documents.

The article further reports:

The Treasury Department’s lawyers wrote Cause of Action’s counsel an email that reads in part:

My client wants to know if you would consent to a motion pushing back (in part) TIGTA’s response date by two weeks to December 15, 2014. The agency has located 2,500 potentially responsive documents and anticipates being able to finish processing 2,000 of these pages by the December 1 date. It needs the additional two weeks to deal with the last 500 pages to determine if they are responsive and make any necessary withholdings. We would therefore like to ask the court to permit the agency to issue a response (including production) on December 1 as to any documents it has completed processing by that date, and do the same as to the remaining documents by December 15.

I suspect a good part o the time the government has requested will be spent attempting to scrub the documents of anything incriminating, but even at that, it is a pretty safe bet that some very damaging information will be revealed.

The story concludes:

This particular story is farce, not tragedy. It will wend its absurd way through the court system for years to come, probably arriving at no conclusion until the scofflaw Obama administration is safely out of office. In the meantime, federal criminal laws governing the privacy of IRS data, like the criminal laws generally, are a source of hilarity among Democrats. Democrat cronies sip Scotch and light cigars–I hope not with $100 bills–laughing at the rest of us who work to pay the taxes that support them in the luxury to which they have happily become accustomed. I have always thought that the term “ruling class” was ridiculous as applied to the United States, but the Obama administration is causing me to re-think that view.

How many members of the Nixon administration ultimately went to jail? I think no more than five or ten. The Obama administration has violated criminal statutes with an abandon that Nixon and his minions never dreamed of. An accounting remains; I think there are a considerable number of Obama minions and cronies who should be behind bars.

If the Department of Justice ever returns to being a Department of Justice, I believe much what has happened to the IRS and the Justice Department under President Obama will be undone. If the damage is not undone, we will be in danger of losing our representative republic.

Protecting The Rights Of American Businesses

The problem with having a President and a cabinet that lack hands on business experience is that they lack hands on business experience. The quote “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.” is attributed to Thomas Jefferson although it is not found in any of his papers. Regardless of who said it, the quote is accurate.

In its Saturday/Sunday edition, the Wall Street Journal posted an editorial about the nomination of Loretta Lynch as U.S. Attorney General. Ms. Lynch is currently in charge of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. She has been busy there.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Evidently Ms. Lynch didn’t read that part of the Constitution, and unfortunately, she is not the only government official who did not read that part. As of late, prosecutors have been using civil forfeiture laws to confiscate private property and use the money gained to shore up state and municipal budgets. One example of this in Ms. Lynch’s district is the case of Jeffrey, Richard and Mitch Hirsch. In 2012 the federal government drained their bank account of $446,651.11. The bank account was used for deposits from Bi-County Distributors, a company the brothers have run for 27 years. The company stocks convenience stores in the region with candy and snack food.

The editorial explains:

According to the federal government, the brothers came under suspicion because of the frequent small deposits they made in the bank. Under federal law, banks are required to report cash deposits of more than $10,000 at a time to the Internal Revenue Service. Frequent deposits beneath the $10,000 threshold can also trigger federal scrutiny on suspicion the depositors are seeking to evade federal oversight for crimes like money laundering or drug trafficking.

The Hirsch brothers run a small business that deals in small amounts of cash, a fact that the government surely noticed, since they were never charged with a crime. But more than two years after the government grabbed the hundreds of thousands of dollars, none of it has been returned. According to the Institute for Justice, which is representing the family in a lawsuit, the government has also denied the Hirsches a prompt hearing on the forfeiture, putting it in violation of the 2000 Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act.

Ms. Lynch’s office brought in more than $113 million in civil actions between 2011 and 2013. Unfortunately, these cases have spread across the country. Between 2003 and 2011, annual payments from forfeiture went from $218 million to $450 million.

Many small businesses deposit small amounts of cash at various times of the day. Some do it out of fear of theft, others because that is the way their computer bookkeeping systems work, and others because that is how the timing of their office staff works. A small company I worked for at one point made one deposit a day, but since their computer program could only handle twelve checks on one deposit slip, it appeared to be multiple small deposits.

The editorial in the Wall Street Journal suggests that when Ms. Lunch gets her nomination hearing, someone should ask her about the Hirsches.

 

Using The Internal Revenue Service To Target Conservative Speech

We still don’t know exactly what went on with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the targeting of conservatives and conservative groups. I can tell you that after making a small donation to the Tea Party a few years ago, my husband and I were audited for the first time in 45 years (nothing in our taxes had changed). Well, evidently the targeting of conservatives was aided and abetted by some members of Congress.

Yesterday The Daily Caller reported that they had obtained copies of correspondence between Senator Jeanne Shaheen and the IRS showing a plan to harass conservative groups during the 2012 election.

The article reports:

“The IRS is aware of the current public interest in this issue,” IRS chief counsel William J. Wilkins, a White House visitor described by insiders as “The President’s Man at the IRS,” personally wrote in a hand-stamped memo to “Senator Shaheen” on official Department of the Treasury letterhead on April 25, 2012.

The memo, obtained by TheDC, briefed the Democratic senator about a coordinated IRS-Treasury Department plot to target political activity by nonprofit 501(c)(4) groups. The plot was operating out of Lois Lerner’s Tax Exempt Government Entities Division. 

 …Shaheen got the inside info from the IRS, making it clear she was the point person in a group composed of six close Democratic colleagues including Chuck Schumer and Al Franken, who joined with Shaheen in quietly writing a letter to then-IRS commissioner Doug Shulman expressing their concern about new nonprofit groups engaging in political activity in 2012.

The Democratic senators’ publicly available March 9, 2012 letter asked the IRS to “immediately change the administrative framework for enforcement of the tax code as it applies to groups designated as ‘social welfare’ organizations” by introducing a new “bright line test” for how much a tax-exempt group can invest in political activity and by setting a new rule that at least 51 percent of a group’s activity must non-political. The senators called for more elaborate disclosures about finances and “undertakings” in groups’ form 990 submissions and sought new rules about how much donors could write off as business expenses.

The problem here is that the new rules would be specifically aimed at conservative groups. There was no effort made to be even-handed about putting restrictions on liberal PAC’s, unions, or other groups on the left side of the aisle.

Unfortunately many Democrats do not endorse the concept of free speech when it does not conform to their ideas. The Democrat party has also shown that it is not above using the full weight of the government to stifle conservative speech. Using the government as a political weapon is not an idea that belongs in a representative republic.

What Happens Next?

On Thursday, CNS News reported the following:

U.S. District Judge Ronald White concluded Tuesday that the IRS rule altering the Obamacare law and providing billions in subsidies is “arbitrary, capricious and abuse of discretion“:

“The court holds that the IRS rule is arbitrary, capricious, and abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law, pursuant to 5 U.S.C.706(2)(A), in excess of summary jurisdiction, authority or limitation, or short of statutory right, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(C), or otherwise is an invalidation of the ACA [Affordable Care Act], and is hereby vacated. The court’s order of vacatur is stayed, however, pending resolution of any appeal from this order.”

The subsidies were a major part of ObamaCare. I am sure this case will be making its way up to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, there will be more uncertainty about ObamaCare, and people and businesses will be waiting to see what happens before wanting to spend any extra money they may currently have.

The article concludes:

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) also praised Judge White’s decision, saying that the Obama Administration is trying to fix a legally-dubious law using waivers and exemptions:

“Today’s decision is a reminder that the President’s broken promises of affordable, accessible health care are the result of broken policy. The Obama Administration has tried to make the law work with waivers and exemptions, but the courts continue to confront the legality of this legislation that was rushed through a Democrat-controlled Congress.”

“While it will undoubtedly take time for Oklahoma’s case to play out in the federal court system, I am confident in Attorney General Scott Pruitt and that our state’s argument will prevail.”

Tuesday’s decision is the latest in a wave of court losses for Obamacare.

Currently, over a hundred lawsuits have been filed against Obamacare – and Obamacare has lost 91% of the cases decided to-date, (71 losses out of 78 decisions), according to the latest tally by The Beckett Fund.

Stay tuned and get out the popcorn.

Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out

I am glad to see Eric Holder leave the Obama Administration. Although he is not the first Attorney General to have politicized the office, he certainly took that politicization to a new level. Unfortunately, his replacement will probably be more of the same.

The Daily Signal posted an article listing the various controversies surrounding Eric Holder during his time in office. They are listed in no particular order. This is my summary of the list:

1. Attempting to bring the 9/11 plotters to a civilian trial in New York City. Eventually he was forced to bow to public pressure and the trials were moved to Guantanamo.

2. Operation Fast and Furious.

3. Refusing to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) despite being charged as Attorney General to uphold the law of the land.

4. Eric Holder is the first Attorney General to be held in contempt of Congress for withholding documents relating to Fast and Furious.

5. Targeting journalists. The Department of Justice under Eric Holder seized a broad array of phone records of Associated Press journalists.

6. Operation Choke Point, originally established to stop consumer fraud is being used to target gun shops and pawn shops that sell guns.

7. Stonewalling in the investigation of the Internal Revenue Service‘s targeting of conservative groups.

8. Intervention in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

9. Blocking Inspectors General from accessing documents related to Congressional investigations.

The article concludes:

Often cited among Holder’s controversies are his targeting of journalists and federal whistleblowers. Last year, it was revealed that the Justice Department had labeled Fox News reporters James Rosen a “co-conspirator” in one leak investigation and had seized phone records of Associated Press reporters in another.

More than two dozen news organizations signed a letter of objection, prompting Holder to modify Justice Department policies. Additionally, Holder has refused to answer questions first posed by a U.S. senator in July 2013 regarding the unauthorized, remote intrusions of my computers.

Holder also leaves the Justice Department in the middle of its investigation into the IRS’ targeting of conservative and tea party groups. The Justice Department has faced conflict-of-interest allegations because at the same time it is supposed to be independently investigating the IRS, it is also defending the IRS in civil litigation. Holder has said that his agency is impartially investigating the IRS and that no politics are at play.

It became obvious that Eric Holder was not going to dispense justice in an even-handed manner when he dropped the voter intimidation charges against the New Black Panthers in Philadelphia. The video that went viral on Facebook clearly showed the Panthers intimidating voters, but the Holder Justice Department dismissed the charges. Eric Holder has also used the Justice Department to attack laws that would ensure less fraud in American elections. I am not sad to see him leave. My only regret is that he will be replaced by someone equally politically corrupt.

Looking Past The Obvious In The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)Scandal

It has become an accepted fact that under Lois Lerner the IRS targeted conservative groups. However, if you look at the IRS BOLO (be on the lookout order) relating to the targeting, there is another group of organizations that is targeted.

According to an article in yesterday’s Washington Post:

According to the inspector general’s report (pp. 30 & 38), this particular IRS targeting commenced on Jan. 25, 2012 — the beginning of the election year for President Obama’s second campaign. On that date: “the BOLO [‘be on the lookout’] criteria were again updated.” The revised criteria included “political action type organizations involved in … educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

The article points out that the BOLO is not “viewpoint-neutral.” It does not target groups obfuscating or denigrating the Constitution–only those educating Americans on what the Constitution says. Learning about the Constitution is seen as a danger to America. Wow! We’ve come a long way from our Founding Fathers, who believed that educating future generations on the Constitution was one of the things necessary to preserve our Republic.

The article further reports:

This is a new low for American government — targeting those who would teach others about its founding document. Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon went to great lengths to try to conceal the facts of his constitutional violations, but it never occurred to him to conceal the meaning of the Constitution itself, by targeting its teachers. Politicians have always been tempted to try to censor their political adversaries; but none has been so bold as to try to suppress constitutional education directly. Presidents have always sought to push against the constitutional limits of their power; but never have they targeted those who merely teach about such limits. In short, never before has the federal government singled out for special scrutiny those who would teach their fellow citizens about our magnificent Constitution. This is the new innovation of Obama’s IRS.

The article concludes:

Five years ago, Obama, our constitutional law professor-in-chief, presented his first, ringing Constitution Day proclamation: “To succeed, the democracy established in our Constitution requires the active participation of its citizenry. Each of us has a responsibility to learn about our Constitution and teach younger generations about its contents and history.” Quite so. Perhaps this year, Obama could explain why his IRS would target those who answered this call.

Teach your children well–your future and theirs depends on it.

President Nixon Would Be Green With Envy

On Friday the Associated Press posted an article stating that emails have been lost from five more Internal Revenue Service (IRS) workers who are being investigated in relation to the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups.

Today, Townhall.com posted the reaction of the lawyer who is representing those conservative groups.

Townhall.com quotes Attorney Mitchell’s reaction:

Attorney Cleta Mitchell, who is representing many tea party and conservative groups targeted by the IRS, isn’t impressed and not surprised about the latest round of “lost” emails.

“I have gotten to the point where this is like one of those infomercials where they say ‘wait, wait, there’s more!’ I mean just when you think you’ve heard it all, you find out more things about the IRS and frankly I think what Congressman Camp said is absolutely right that there is no way we are getting anywhere close to the truth about what happened and the DOJ has become, in my opinion has become complicit in trying to cover-up what’s been going on. I think we have to have a special prosecutor if we are ever going to get to the bottom of it,” Mitchell said in an interview with Fox News

Attorney Mitchell was recently interviewed on Fox News. You can watch the interview at the Townhall.com link above.

 

Why Has It Taken So Long For The Public To Learn This?

Fox News is reporting today that the IRS emails that Lois Lerner claimed to have lost may exist on back-up computers. Politico posted a story at the end of July that summarizes the timeline on this whole scandal.

Politico reports:

Backgrounder recap: It all started in May 2013, when ex-IRS tax-exempt chief Lois Lerner acknowledged the agency inappropriately used loaded key words like “tea party” to scrutinize applicants seeking tax breaks. A critical inspector general report followed, Lerner and others stepped down, and here we are, dozens of congressional hearings later.

Although the Justice Department, FBI and Treasury inspector general for tax administration are all probing the matter, it could be awhile before they issue final reports on how and why the ex-IRS official at the heart of the scandal lost two years’ worth of emails, the latest wrinkle in the controversy.

When the Ways and Means Committee began investigating the IRS scandal, they requested Lois Lerner’s emails. In June the Committee was told the emails were missing and that the IRS had been aware of that fact since February.

I hate to be cynical (although sometimes it is necessary), but do you think that the IRS and the Justice Department have had enough time to sanitize those emails and delete anything that might be incriminating? I strongly suspect that when the emails are released, there will be nothing even remotely problematic for the IRS. The emails will be strangely innocent.

Were it not for the efforts of Judicial Watch using the Freedom of Information Act, the IRS and Justice Department would not even have to take the time to clean up the emails. At least Judicial Watch is forcing the IRS to spend some time covering their tracks.

Are They Following Any Rules?

Today’s Daily Caller is reporting that because they did not follow their own rules and policies, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has put American taxpayers at risk of fraud and identity theft.

The article reports:

If one needs further evidence that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has veered out of control, look no further than last week’s Treasury Inspector General’s report that found serial failures on the part of the agency to conduct basic background checks on contractors used to handle sensitive taxpayer information. In just one instance, a computer disk with 1.4 million American names, addresses and even Social Security numbers was handled by contractors without background checks, putting taxpayers at unnecessary risk for fraud and identity theft.

What makes this even more outlandish is that this is not just a breach of common sense; it is a violation of IRS policy.

It seems that the IRS is lax about following their own regulations in a number of areas.

The article further reports:

Furthermore, other investigations have brought to light accounts of money wasted by the IRS on lavish agency conferences while the rest of the country struggled in a deep financial recession. Spoof training videos were produced by the IRS while other government agencies were furloughing employees. And to top it off, from 2011-2012 alone, more than $1 million in bonuses were paid to IRS employees who were delinquent on their own federal taxes!

…The IRS is out of control, and if Commissioner Koskinen wants to return some faith to the agency he leads, he can start by holding his people responsible for the IRS’s outrageous behavior.

Will the Obama Administration hold the IRS accountable for its behavior? If not, it is time to consider an alternate tax policy that would abolish the IRS.

Different Laws For Different Groups

PJ Media posted an article today about the latest attack on religious free speech.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF)recently released a press release that included the following:

FFRF filed suit against the IRS shortly after the presidential election in 2012, based on the agency’s reported enforcement moratorium, as evidenced by open and notorious politicking by churches. Pulpit Freedom Sunday, in fact, has become an annual occasion for churches to violate the law with impunity. The IRS, meanwhile, admittedly was not enforcing the restrictions against churches. A prior lawsuit in 2009 required the IRS to designate an appropriate high-ranking official to initiate church tax examinations, but it had apparently failed to do so. 

The IRS has now resolved the signature authority issue necessary to initiate church examinations. The IRS also has adopted procedures for reviewing, evaluating and determining whether to initiate church investigations. While the IRS retains “prosecutorial” discretion with regard to any individual case, the IRS no longer has a blanket policy or practice of non-enforcement of political activity restrictions as to churches. 

In addition to FFRF’s lawsuit, IRS enforcement procedures with respect to political activity by tax-exempt organizations have been the subject of intense scrutiny by Congress. As a result, the IRS is reviewing and implementing safeguards to ensure evenhanded enforcement across the board with respect to all tax exempt organizations. 

Until that process is completed, the IRS has suspended all examinations of tax-exempt organizations for alleged political activities. The current suspension, however, is not limited to church tax inquiries. 

The article at PJ Media points out:

Democrats routinely campaign from the very pulpit of majority black churches. It happens every single election cycle. Pastors in those churches regularly push parishioners to support the Democratic Party, to support specific government social policy, and even specific candidates for office.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has not sued to get the IRS to investigate any of that. Its targets are churches that align with the more conservative Pulpit Freedom Sunday movement. That tells us what the foundation and the IRS will really be investigating.

The IRS will be monitoring churches to listen for pastors supporting the right to life, the sanctity and traditional definition of marriage, traditional values in general, perhaps even patriotism. Those are the churches, based on the angle that the foundation lawsuit takes, that will potentially find themselves under IRS investigation.

It appears that there will be one set of rules for conservative churches and one set of rules for liberal churches. What happened to equal justice under the law? Why do only liberal churches have First Amendment rights?

FFRF filed suit against the IRS shortly after the presidential election in 2012, based on the agency’s reported enforcement moratorium, as evidenced by open and notorious politicking by churches. Pulpit Freedom Sunday, in fact, has become an annual occasion for churches to violate the law with impunity. The IRS, meanwhile, admittedly was not enforcing the restrictions against churches. A prior lawsuit in 2009 required the IRS to designate an appropriate high-ranking official to initiate church tax examinations, but it had apparently failed to do so. 

The IRS has now resolved the signature authority issue necessary to initiate church examinations. The IRS also has adopted procedures for reviewing, evaluating and determining whether to initiate church investigations. While the IRS retains “prosecutorial” discretion with regard to any individual case, the IRS no longer has a blanket policy or practice of non-enforcement of political activity restrictions as to churches. 

In addition to FFRF’s lawsuit, IRS enforcement procedures with respect to political activity by tax-exempt organizations have been the subject of intense scrutiny by Congress. As a result, the IRS is reviewing and implementing safeguards to ensure evenhanded enforcement across the board with respect to all tax exempt organizations. 

Until that process is completed, the IRS has suspended all examinations of tax-exempt organizations for alleged political activities. The current suspension, however, is not limited to church tax inquiries. 

– See more at: http://ffrf.org/news/news-releases/item/20968-ffrf-irs-settle-suit-over-church-politicking#sthash.rEhbLVZy.dpuf

FFRF filed suit against the IRS shortly after the presidential election in 2012, based on the agency’s reported enforcement moratorium, as evidenced by open and notorious politicking by churches. Pulpit Freedom Sunday, in fact, has become an annual occasion for churches to violate the law with impunity. The IRS, meanwhile, admittedly was not enforcing the restrictions against churches. A prior lawsuit in 2009 required the IRS to designate an appropriate high-ranking official to initiate church tax examinations, but it had apparently failed to do so. 

The IRS has now resolved the signature authority issue necessary to initiate church examinations. The IRS also has adopted procedures for reviewing, evaluating and determining whether to initiate church investigations. While the IRS retains “prosecutorial” discretion with regard to any individual case, the IRS no longer has a blanket policy or practice of non-enforcement of political activity restrictions as to churches. 

In addition to FFRF’s lawsuit, IRS enforcement procedures with respect to political activity by tax-exempt organizations have been the subject of intense scrutiny by Congress. As a result, the IRS is reviewing and implementing safeguards to ensure evenhanded enforcement across the board with respect to all tax exempt organizations. 

Until that process is completed, the IRS has suspended all examinations of tax-exempt organizations for alleged political activities. The current suspension, however, is not limited to church tax inquiries. 

– See more at: http://ffrf.org/news/news-releases/item/20968-ffrf-irs-settle-suit-over-church-politicking#sthash.rEhbLVZy.dpuf

The Internal Revenue Service And ObamaCare

Yesterday Kim Strassel posted an article at the Wall Street Journal entitled “The ObamaCareIRS Nexus.” It is subscriber content, but if you google the title, you can read the entire article.

The article details the role of the IRS in the implementation of ObamaCare and the questionable steps the agency has taken in that implementation.

The article reports:

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Halbig that the administration had illegally provided ObamaCare subsidies in 36 insurance exchanges run by the federal government. Yet it wasn’t the “administration” as a whole that issued the lawless subsidy gift. It was the administration acting through its new, favorite enforcer: the IRS.

And it was entirely political. Democrats needed those subsidies. The party had assumed that dangling subsidies before the states would induce them to set up exchanges. When dozens instead refused, the White House was faced with the prospect that citizens in 36 states—two-thirds of the country—would be exposed to the full cost of ObamaCare’s overpriced insurance. The backlash would have been horrific, potentially forcing Democrats to reopen the law, or even costing President Obama re-election.

The White House viewed it as imperative, therefore, that IRS bureaucrats ignore the law’s text and come up with a politically helpful rule. The evidence shows that career officials at the IRS did indeed do as Treasury Department and Health and Human Services Department officials told them. This, despite the fact that the IRS is supposed to be insulated from political meddling.

It gets worse. The article tells us that in late summer of 2010, after ObamaCare was signed into law, the IRS assembled a working group—made up of career IRS and Treasury employees—to develop regulations around ObamaCare subsidies. The early group followed the text of the law and declared that subsidies were for exchanges established by the States.

The article explains what happened next:

Yet in March 2011, Emily McMahon, the acting assistant secretary for tax policy at the Treasury Department (a political hire), saw a news article that noted a growing legal focus on the meaning of that text. She forwarded it to the working group, which in turn decided to elevate the issue—according to Congress’s report—to “senior IRS and Treasury officials.” The office of the IRS chief counsel—one of two positions appointed by the president—drafted a memo telling the group that it should read the text to mean that everyone, in every exchange, got subsidies. At some point between March 10 and March 15, 2011, the reference to “Exchanges established by the State” disappeared from the draft rule.

…To summarize: The IRS (famed for nitpicking and prosecuting the tax law), chose to authorize hundreds of billions of illegal subsidies without having performed a smidgen of legal due diligence, and did so at the direction of political taskmasters. The agency’s actions provided aid and comfort to elected Democrats, even as it disenfranchised millions of Americans who voted in their states to reject state-run exchanges. And Treasury knows how ugly this looks, which is why it initially stonewalled Congress in its investigation—at first refusing to give documents to investigators, and redacting large portions of the information.

Congratulations. We have become a banana republic. The law is what the political party in power says it is. The IRS is an organization to be used to silence and suppress political opposition. The use of the IRS for political purposes was the second article in the Articles of Impeachment against Richard Nixon.

A Federal Appeals Court Rules On Subsidies

NBC News is reporting today that a Federal Appeals Court in Washington, D. C., has ruled that  that the Patient Protection and  Affordable Care Act, (ObamaCare), as written, only allows insurance subsidies in states that have set up their own exchanges. This ruling invalidated an Internal Revenue Service regulation that allowed subsidies in all 50 states. Thirty-six states did not set up the exchanges required by ObamaCare, so the federal government set up exchanges in those states. The court ruled that the federal government may not pay subsidies for insurance plans in those states.

The article reports:

Today’s decision reaffirms that the administration cannot rewrite the health law that was passed and it stops the Internal Revenue Service from doing the same,” said Andrew Kloster of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “The statute is clear in the Affordable Care Act that the subsidies are to be directed only to states that elected to set up insurance exchanges.”

This is actually the problem with the law–it has been rewritten as we go along. Mandates have been postponed, the stay-in-your-home provision for the elderly has been dropped altogether, and exemptions have been handed out left and right. It will be interesting to see if another Executive Order promptly makes its appearance.

One of the effects of ObamaCare (intended or otherwise) is the redistribution of wealth–it takes affordable healthcare away from those who already had insurance–some rates have gone up as much as $7,000 or $8,000 per year for people not eligible for subsidies, and provides subsidies for people with lower incomes (without demanding income verification). In one state, people whose incomes were well above the poverty level were eligible for subsidies, but one wonders if those subsidies will decrease after ObamaCare is fully operational.

It will be interesting to see if this decision stands–it will wind up in the Supreme Court.