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U.S. News and Commentary



Tuesday
Jun042013

Ryan to IRS witnesses at Ways and Means hearing: “You’re to blame” is the message 

Witnesses from conservative groups testified before the House Ways and Means committee on June 4 regarding IRS persecution. (Frame: C-SPAN)Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), an incredulous look on his face, changed his line of questioning midstream during the House Ways and Means Committee hearings on IRS targeting of conservative groups. Ryan said, “So you’re to blame, I guess, is the message here.”

Ryan’s remarks came in response to a statement by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) during the latest hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. McDermott, who repeatedly tried to interrupt Ryan’s rebuttal, chalked up IRS persecution of conservative groups as “a mistake.” He told witnesses, “None of your organizations were silenced.” McDermott took the position that if the groups hadn’t sought tax exempt status, all would have been well.

McDermott’s flawed rationalization is as worrisome as the jack booted behavior of IRS. Ethics aren’t his strong suit—McDermott was rebuked by the House Ethics Committee in 2006.

Anyone who watched the testimony of witnesses from a variety of groups had to realize the tyrannical actions of arguably the most powerful federal agency in the U.S.

One group was asked to pledge in a written letter that members would not picket at Planned Parenthood locations. Another group was asked for their donor list and names of volunteers and donors.

Karen Kenny, with the San Fernando Valley Patriots, said after dealing with IRS, “I absolutely felt betrayed.”

Democrats other than McDermott expressed concern about IRS policy, but at the same time, downplayed the concept of political targeting.  Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said it was a “disservice” to “apply a partisan lens” to the situation. Lewis mentioned the NAACP was targeted under the Bush administration in 2004. The IRS dropped the case.

However, the NAACP is not without controversy. In addition to currently protesting Republicans on a weekly basis in Raleigh, one group official in Mississippi, a member of the Tunica County executive committee, was convicted of ten counts of absentee ballot fraud.

The NAACP is a tax exempt organization.

Democrat Rep. Richard Neal (Mass.) raised a familiar meme for his party, blaming the Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, for causing IRS to be “flooded” with group applications for tax exempt status. Obama was very outspoken in criticizing the CU decision.

The most damaging accusation towards IRS came from a group that supports the traditional concept of marriage. The National Organization for Marriage claimed IRS leaked the group’s tax returns to their polar opposite—a group advocating for gay marriage. That group routinely calls NOM a “hate group,” but NOM has focused on the issue of traditional marriage rather than sexual identity. NOM’s position is the same held by orthodox Jews, most Muslims, many Christians and even conservative Democrats.

As a matter of fact, NOM’s current position is the same belief President Barack Obama claimed to hold ahead of his first presidential election.

It’s common for the left to label the opposition as a hate group.

Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel (N.Y.) injected some unintentional humor. Rangel, who has had serious tax problems like a number of top Democrats, said, “A telephone call from the IRS is a very, very uncomfortable feeling.”

The controversy may carry a benefit to taxpayers. The Tea Party Patriots asked IRS on their website:

“Will you institute the ‘Lerner Rule?’ Meaning, if a citizen is audited, he or she can simply take the Fifth and escape whatever he or she did without consequences?”

Related articles

Chairman John Camp (R-Mich.), opening statement for Ways and Means hearing on IRS (U.S. House)

Government officials to schmooze black preachers in hopes of boosting turnout (TUSR)

(Analysis by Kay B. Day/June 4, 2013)

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