In the past, I can’t say I’ve liked the IRS. Who does? My attitude has always been that they’re a nuisance, and a cause for mild anxiety. The tax laws are the tax laws, but the IRS was not responsible for them. They just administer them, and for the most part they seemed to do it competently as far as I was concerned, anyway.
Now I find that I regard them as not-so-secret agents of the Obama administration. This is not paranoia. As Ed Rogers wrote yesterday in the WaPo, it is fact:
Encouraged by the lack of a public backlash, an uninquisitive press, cover from the White House and an eager-to-please bureaucracy, the Democrats are boldly counting on the IRS to be their political and policy enforcer.This statement isn’t an overreach by the “vast right-wing conspiracy” or a phony crisis created by hecklers (like me) on the right — it goes back to the early stages of President Obama’s reelection campaign.
Rogers goes on to list some of the more egregious examples of what has occurred and how the administration has been emboldened by the fact that so far there have been no negative consequences to them for their actions. The hue and cry that was expected – and to a certain extent came at first, when some of the revelations about Tea Party harassment were revealed – has been muted and blunted. So now the excesses are being further and more openly institutionalized:
Last week, we learned President Obama unilaterally gave the IRS the mandate to monitor the thinking and attitude of any business that might be trying to circumvent the negative impacts of Obamacare, and punish them accordingly. And presumably the punishment isn’t limited to civil fines, but includes criminal perjury charges as well.
Anyway, the blatant use of the IRS as the Democrats’ cat’s paw has clearly taken root within individual Democratic campaigns. An article in The Hill quotes several vulnerable Senate Democrats — such as Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) — who are openly demanding the IRS increase their intimidation of organizations that may oppose them. Obviously, the Democrats expect more from their team members at the IRS in the months leading up to the 2014 elections.
In the comments section to Rogers’ post, I find a smattering of liberals arguing the old, disproven, “liberal groups were targeted too” approach to the subject. It demonstrates once again how the Big Lie works, and how in the case of the IRS scandal (no longer a scandal, apparently) it soothed the liberal troops, at least some of whom might have otherwise become alarmed by what had occurred.
I wonder, though, how much the IRS scandal has affected Obama’s and the Democrats’ ratings with the public. I can’t find any polls about the subject since last summer, but my guess is that it has had some part in the downturn. I certainly hope so; all Americans of any political stripe should be highly alarmed, although of course that isn’t happening. One of the most pernicious reasons is ignorance of history; some people say, “Oh, all administrations do this.”
No, they don’t; not like this in terms of extent and success. Nixon was excoriated for wanting to do it in the Nixon tapes, and the assumption has been that he did do it. But in fact for the most part he failed at it. Why? Because the heads of the IRS at the time would not cooperate (see this for a background discussion).
Here’s a very short history of the efforts of other presidents. You can see that, except for the Nixon example, it seems that most of the presidents who were involved with any small success in such undertakings were Democrats. That’s no accident because, as “Nixon henchman Jack Caulfield astutely complained,…the IRS was a ‘monstrous bureaucracy…dominated and controlled by Democrats.’”
So Nixon is convicted in the eyes of the public for what appears to have been largely thoughtcrime, whereas the Obama administration and its handmaidens such as Lois Lerner get off seemingly free (so far) for the actual crime. Obama’s much greater success compared to earlier efforts appears to be due to several factors: greater drive, boldness, and scope; public ignorance/apathy; the coverup attempts by much of the MSM; and the simpatico political persuasion of much of the IRS.