Rep. Rose DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, wants to tax sugar by the teaspoon. She even introduced a bill, called the SWEET Act, last week.
But don’t worry, it’s for our own good, dontcha know.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced this week the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax (SWEET Act), which aims to institute a tax of one cent per teaspoon – 4.2 grams – of sugar, high fructose corn syrup or caloric sweetener.
Taxes should NEVER EVER be used to punish or reward behavior, EVER!
On Thursday the IRS released a slew of draft 2014 tax forms. The new draft Form 1040 shows a new surtax line has been created for the payment of the individual mandate surtax – see line 61 of the 1040:
President Obama has repeatedly denied that the surtax is in fact actually a tax. The most prominent example was a heated exchange on ABC’s This Week in Sept. 2009, when George Stephanopoulos confronted Obama with a dictionary:
STEPHANOPOULOS: I – I don’t think I’m making it up. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary: Tax – “a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.”
OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean what…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no, but…
OBAMA: …what you’re saying is…
STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.
OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I’m taking over every sector of the economy. You know that.
Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we’re going to have an individual mandate or not, but…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?
OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion. [Transcript]
It was always obvious that the penalty for not complying with Obamacare’s individual mandate was just another surtax:
* The surtax is collected by, and enforced by, the IRS.
* As shown by the newly released draft Form 1040, the surtax is paid as part of normal income tax filing by taxpayers.
* The individual mandate surtax was written into tax law itself by the Obamacare statute.
* Revenues derived from the individual mandate surtax have always been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as tax revenue.
Famously, Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out that the individual mandate surtax is in fact a tax. However, that does not compel conservatives to agree that Obamacare’s individual mandate is Constitutional. The same decision declared the individual mandate unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. Conservatives can accept that this surtax is a tax increase without accepting the constitutionality of the individual mandate.
The Obamacare individual mandate non-compliance surtax is one of at least seven Obamacare taxes that violate the President’s “firm pledge” not to raise any tax on any American making less than $250,000 per year. Thorough documentation of Obama’s promise can be found here.
Days after IRS officials said in a sworn statement that former top agency employee Lois G. Lerner’s computer memory had been wiped clean, the agency put out word to contractors Monday that it needs help to destroy at least another 3,200 hard drives.
The Internal Revenue Service solicitation for “media destruction” services reflects an otherwise routine job to protect sensitive taxpayer information, but it was made while the agency’s record destruction practices remain under a sharp congressional spotlight.
Congressional investigators of the IRS targeting of conservative groups have been hampered by the unexplained destruction of emails and other records of Ms. Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division and a central figure in the scandal.
The loss of Ms. Lerner’s hard drive also raised broader questions about why the tax agency never reported the missing records to the National Archives and Records Administration, as required by the Federal Records Act.
While those questions remained unresolved, IRS officials signaled plans to destroy tens of thousands of additional electronic records.
“After all media are destroyed, they must not be capable of any reuse or information retrieval,” IRS officials stated in the contract papers.
Frederick Hill, a spokesman for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is investigating the IRS scandal, said the committee has broad concerns about the agency’s record-retention practices.
Dan Epstein, executive director of the watchdog group Cause of Action, said rules require the archivist to sign off on the destruction of federal records.
“This solicitation, combined with the failure of the IRS to consult the Archivist about Louis Lerner’s hard drive, should put hesitation into any assumption that consultation with the Archivist is happening and prompt a thorough assessment of record retention at the IRS,” Mr. Epstein said Monday.
IRS officials did not respond to emails and phone calls about the solicitation, including whether the agency’s nonprofit division ever used the computers being destroyed.
Officials also declined to discuss how the IRS preserves records on computers targeted for destruction.
The agency estimates the need to destroy at least 65,464 magnetic tapes, 3,225 hard drives, 5,856 floppy disks and 708 reels, according to procurement records.
About 500,000 pieces of electronic data – including cassette tapes, reels, CDs, hard drives and USB media – have been collected since 2008, according to the IRS solicitation.
“Due to system changes, a significant amount of electronic portable media containing [personally identifiable information] and potentially sensitive but unclassified data such as taxpayer return information is being collected at IRS facilities and locked in secure storage areas awaiting destruction,” officials wrote in a statement of work attached to the solicitation.
The IRS disclosed last week that it relies on contractors to recycle computer equipment. The revelation was made in an affidavit filed in a federal lawsuit in Washington by True the Vote, a conservative group that says it has been scrutinized by the IRS.
Stephen Manning, IRS deputy chief information officer, said in federal court in Washington that officials tried but failed to retrieve Ms. Lerner’s records. He said the agency’s internal computer “help desk” received word on June 13, 2011, that the hard drive on Ms. Lerner’s laptop wasn’t working properly and subsequent efforts to preserve data “were unsuccessful.”
The computer has been wiped clean and recycled, he said, and officials have lost track of it because they don’t keep track of hard drives by serial number.
Ms. Lerner’s computer isn’t the only crash of a hard drive that congressional investigators have encountered in their attempt to reconstruct record trails.
Last week, Republican senators sent a letter to Archivist of the United States David Ferriero after receiving reports that an Environmental Protection Agency official’s hard drive had crashed just as congressional investigators began looking into questions about the EPA’s review of an Alaska mining project.
Investigators sought computer records of a former EPA official, Phillip North, who later fled the country. More than a year after his retirement, senators said, EPA officials belatedly told the National Archives and Records Administration that they failed to preserve Mr. North’s computer records.
“First the IRS, and now the EPA – these hard-drive crashes seem to be a growing epidemic throughout the administration,” Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, said in a statement. “This ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse is getting ridiculous.”
Just as the IRS tea party targeting scandal was erupting, Lois G. Lerner warned colleagues to “be cautious” about what information they put in emails because it could end up being turned over to Congress, according to an email message released Wednesday.
The 2013 email exchange between Ms. Lerner and fellow employees at the Internal Revenue Service also says that instant message conversations were probably never stored and weren’t checked during open-records requests – even though they also fell under the law requiring electronic records to be stored.
“I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails — so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails,” Ms. Lerner wrote in an April 9, 2013, message.
She went on to ask whether the instant message communications were stored automatically. When a tech staffer said no but the records could be stored if employees copied them, she replied, “Perfect.”
“Why did it take us this long to get these emails? We’ve been after this for six months,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who raised the emails with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen at a hearing Wednesday.
Mr. Jordan said the emails were part of a pattern of Ms. Lerner trying to hide her activities, following on the crash of her computer hard drive two years earlier, which erased thousands of messages.
Mr. Koskinen said he hadn’t seen the email before but questioned the connections Mr. Jordan was drawing.
“I don’t see anything in here where Lois Lerner says, ‘Wow, I got rid of my earlier emails and now I’ve got to check on it,’” the commissioner said.
Ms. Lerner’s email warning to colleagues to be careful about what they said in electronic communications issued less than two weeks after the IRS internal auditor shared a draft report with the agency accusing it of targeting tea party and other conservative groups.
A month after the email, Ms. Lerner would plant a question at a conference to reveal the scandal, just before the inspector general’s report was made public.
Ms. Lerner’s email was turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week, more than a year after lawmakers sought it as part of their investigation into the IRS targeting.
Republicans said the email shows Ms. Lerner was aware that Congress was investigating the agency and that she was preparing to intentionally hide agency discussions from lawmakers.
Ms. Lerner’s email record has become a major scandal in and of itself after the IRS revealed that her computer hard drive crashed in 2011, causing the agency to lose thousands of her messages.
The IRS tried to recover some of the messages by asking others on the email chain to dig through their mailboxes, but the agency acknowledged that some messages may be permanently lost.
Some Republicans have questioned whether the IRS took enough steps to try to recover the emails from the hard drive in 2011.
The head of the National Archives testified to Congress that the IRS likely broke federal records laws by not storing Ms. Lerner’s emails properly.
IRS policy was to print out emails that constituted official records, but it’s unclear whether that ever happened.
Mr. Koskinen testified to Congress that he believed Ms. Lerner had printed out some emails. But Ms. Lerner’s attorney, William W. Taylor III, told the Politico online magazine that she didn’t know she was required print out emails and therefore did not do so.
On Wednesday, Mr. Taylor released a statement saying that “is not entirely accurate” and blamed a “misunderstanding.”
“During her tenure as director of Exempt Organizations, she did print out some emails, although not every one of the thousands she sent and received,” Mr. Taylor said.
“The facts are that Ms. Lerner did not destroy any records subject to the Federal Records Act, she did not cause the computer assigned to her to fail, and she made every effort to recover the files on the computer,” the lawyer said.
The man has his head so far up his own ass he cannot think straight
I think Matthews has lost that loving feeling towards Obamunism.
An IRS official whose emails were “lost” visited the White House frequently during the agency’s targeting of conservatives and met with a top assistant to President Obama who exchanged confidential information on conservative groups with the IRS.
The IRS recently claimed that it lost emails from Nikole Flax, who served as chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller. Flax was one of seven IRS employees including ex-official Lois Lerner whose emails to and from White House officials and other Obama administration agencies were purportedly deleted and could not be handed over to congressional investigators.
Flax held personal meetings with a top assistant to President Obama and also colluded with Lerner to prosecute conservative activists.
Flax made 31 visits to the White House between July 12, 2010 and May 8, 2013, according to White House visitor logs. Flax’s visits started in the early days of the IRS targeting program and ended just two days before the IRS scandal broke on May 10, 2013.
Flax met twice in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew, on Oct. 5, 2012 and Jan. 15, 2013.
Who is Jeanne Lambrew?
As The Daily Caller reported, Lambrew exchanged confidential taxpayer information on conservative groups with IRS official Sarah Hall Ingram in 2012 as the White House tried to figure out how to deal with a lawsuit filed by a religious organization fighting Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. Lambrew also hosted 155 of Ingram’s 165 White House visits.
Lambrew, who started working for Obama as a health policy adviser to the then-senator’s 2008 presidential campaign, is identified as the most powerful official within the White House on Obamacare implementation.
Flax, who also met frequently at the White House with Obamacare architect Zeke Emanuel, also exchanged emails with Lerner that implicated Flax in the conservative targeting.
On May 8, 2013, the day that Flax made her last recorded White House visit, Lerner sent Flax an email asking for advice about a plan to coordinate with the Department of Justice to criminally prosecute conservative activists.
“I think we should do it,” Flax replied on May 9. “also need to include CI [Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to FEC [Federal Election Commision]. Does it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?”
The IRS’ loss of Flax’s emails drew unprecedented scorn from congressional investigators.
“Despite their attempt to bury the missing Lerner emails on page 15 of a 27 page letter that arrived late Friday, we now know documents from other central figures, like Nikole Flax, are missing,” House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Dave Camp and committee member Rep. Charles Boustany said in a statement. “The fact that Ms. Flax was a frequent visitor to the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building only raises more questions. Who was she visiting at the White House and what were they talking about? Was she updating the White House on the targeting or was she getting orders? These are answers we don’t yet have, because — surprise, surprise — a few computers crashed. Plot lines in Hollywood are more believable than what we are getting from this White House and the IRS.”
The IRS Conservative Targeting Scandal involved:
Hundreds of conservative groups were targeted
At least 5 pro-Israel groups
Groups that criticized Obama administration
At least two pro-life groups
An 83 year-old Nazi concentration camp survivor
A 180 year-old Baptist paper
A Texas voting-rights group
A Hollywood conservative group was targeted and harassed
Conservative activists and businesses
At least one conservative Hispanic group
IRS continued to target groups even after the scandal was exposed
10% of Tea Party donors were audited by the IRS
And… 100% of the 501(c)(4) Groups Audited by IRS Were Conservative
After a year of delays the Obama IRS says it lost Lois Lerner’s emails in a computer crash.
Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) issued the following statement regarding the Internal Revenue Service informing the Committee that they have lost Lois Lerner emails from a period of January 2009 – April 2011. Due to a supposed computer crash, the agency only has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame. The IRS claims it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.
“The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’s response to Congressional inquiries. There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.
“Just a short time ago, Commissioner Koskinen promised to produce all Lerner documents. It appears now that was an empty promise. Frankly, these are the critical years of the targeting of conservative groups that could explain who knew what when, and what, if any, coordination there was between agencies. Instead, because of this loss of documents, we are conveniently left to believe that Lois Lerner acted alone. This failure of the IRS requires the White House, which promised to get to the bottom of this, to do an Administration-wide search and production of any emails to or from Lois Lerner. The Administration has repeatedly referred us back to the IRS for production of materials. It is clear that is wholly insufficient when it comes to determining the full scope of the violation of taxpayer rights.”
This is unbelievable.
As news breaks that the IRS is claiming to have lost 2 years worht of Lois Lerner’s Emails to Outside Agencies Are Gone, Representative Jason Chaffetz took to Twitter to point out previous testimony in which it was claimed Lerner’s emails were archived.
A veteran IT professional tells TheBlaze that the IRS’ claim that the agency lost two years’ worth of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s emails is “simply not feasible.”
On Friday, members of Congress revealed that the IRS would not be able to hand over Lerner’s emails to and from other IRS employees from January 2009 to April 2011, possibly due to a “glitch” or “crash.” Lawmakers were seeking the emails as part of their investigation into the IRS targeting scandal.
Norman Cillo, an Army veteran who worked in intelligence and a former program manager at Microsoft, argued it is very difficult to lose emails for good and laid out six reasons why he believes Congress is “being lied to” about the Lerner emails:
1. I believe the government uses Microsoft Exchange for their email servers. They have built-in exchange mail database redundancy. So, unless they did not follow Microsofts recommendations they are telling a falsehood. You can see by the diagram below that if you have three servers in a DAG you have three copies of the database.
2. Every IT organization that I know of has hotswappable disk drives. Every server built since 2000 has them. Meaning that if a single disk goes bad it’s easy to replace.
3. ALL Servers use some form of RAID technology. The only way that data can be totally lost (Meaning difficult to bring back) is if more than a single disk goes before the first bad disk is replaced. In the diagram below you can see that its possible to lose a single disk and still keep the data.
4. If the server crashed (Hardware failure other than disks), then the disks that contain the DATA for the Exchange database is still available because the server hardware and disks are exchangeable. Meaning that if I have another server with the same hardware in it, I can put the disks in and everything should boot right up.
5. All email servers in a professional organization use TAPE backup. Meaning if all the above fails, you can restore the server using the TAPE backups.
6. If they are talking about her local PC, then it’s a simple matter of going to the servers which have the email and getting them from the servers. If the servers have removed the data you can still get them by using the backups of the servers to recover the emails.
However, Cillo, who has been working in IT for roughly 16 years and is currently a consultant for a tech company, said it’s possible the IRS is telling the truth if the federal agency is “totally mismanaged and has the worst IT department ever.”
Other than that, it’s just not “feasible,” he told TheBlaze. “If the IRS’ email server is in such a state that they only have one copy of data and the server crashes and it’s gone, I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
“I don’t know of any email administrator that doesn’t have at least three ways of getting that mail back,” he added. “It’s either on the disks or it’s on a TAPE backup someplace or in an archive server. There are at least three ways the government can get those emails.”
The Internal Revenue Service may have been caught violating federal tax law: In October 2010, the agency sent a database on 501(c)(4) social-welfare groups containing confidential taxpayer information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to documents obtained by a House panel.
The information was transmitted in advance of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s meeting the same month with Justice Department officials about the possibility of using campaign-finance laws to prosecute certain nonprofit groups. E-mails between Lerner and Richard Pilger, the director of the Justice Department’s election-crimes branch, obtained through a subpoena to Attorney General Eric Holder, show Lerner asking about the format in which the FBI preferred the data to be sent.
“This revelation that the IRS sent 1.1 million pages of nonprofit tax-return data – including confidential taxpayer information – to the FBI confirms suspicions that the IRS worked with the Justice Department to facilitate the potential investigation of nonprofit groups engaged in lawful political speech,” Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, and subcommittee chairman Jim Jordan wrote in a letter to IRS commissioner John Koskinen. The two lawmakers also raise questions about the timing of the meeting, just weeks before the 2010 midterm elections, when Republicans recaptured a majority in the House of Representatives.
The Justice Department never prosecuted social-welfare groups, and e-mails from IRS officials show their awareness that, as a result of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United case, which allowed unlimited amounts of money from nonprofit groups and labor unions to flow into the political process, the law did not favor a crackdown on anonymous donations to politically orientated nonprofits, which sprouted up on all sides in the wake of the ruling. “We don’t have the law to do something,” an IRS official responsible for tax-exempt organizations said in a September 2010 e-mail.
The documents were subpoenaed as a part of the Oversight Committee’s ongoing investigation into the IRS’ targeting of right-leaning groups, which took place against the backdrop of the Citizens United ruling. E-mails cited in a committee report released in March show that the decision caused a lot of angst for Lerner and her colleagues in the IRS’s Exempt Organizations division, and she noted in public remarks that the agency was under pressure to “fix the problem” created by the decision.
Though the Justice Department never took nonprofit groups to court, the committee has argued that Lerner attempted engaged in a politicized witch hunt against conservative groups by implementing a system where applications for tax exemption were inappropriately scrutinized and by jump-starting efforts to rewrite the rules by which 501(c)(4) social-welfare groups can qualify for tax exemption. Those rules prompted an outcry from groups on both sides of the political spectrum and the agency is currently rewriting them.
Issa and Jordan have requested from the IRS all documents relating to the transmittal of the database. “This revelation likely means that the IRS – including possibly Lois Lerner – violated federal tax law by transmitting this information to the Department of Justice in 2010,” they said.
On Monday the Center for Competitive Politics filed a complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics against nine U.S. senators: for interfering with IRS tax proceedings; for misusing official resources for campaign purposes; and for improper conduct that reflects poorly upon the Senate. Attempting to use the IRS to advance a partisan, electoral agenda is a fundamental assault on good government. We believe these elected officials have staged such an assault.
The complaint documents how the senators improperly interfered with IRS adjudications to further their party’s electoral prospects. They pressured the IRS to undertake income-tax investigations of specific organizations, to find that specific organizations were in violation of the law, to reach predetermined results pertaining to pending applications by individual organizations for nonprofit status, and to adopt specific regulatory interpretations and policies to further their campaign goals.
A year ago in May it became public knowledge that the IRS had improperly targeted conservative organizations. Republicans have since attempted to find a “smoking gun” directly linking the scandal to the White House. That likely does not exist, because that’s not the way these things are done. Meanwhile, their quest has helped enable the press to ignore obvious abuses of power emanating from the Senate.
After the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on Jan. 21, 2010, Democrats adopted a campaign strategy of attempting to squelch the speech of conservative groups. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) – named in our complaint – introduced the so-called Disclose Act, saying on Feb. 11 that it would make targeted speakers “think twice” before speaking out. “The deterrent effect should not be underestimated,” he added.
At campaign fundraisers in the summer of 2010, President Obama repeatedly denounced conservative organizations for “running millions of dollars of attack ads against Democratic candidates,” identifying Americans for Prosperity by name. On Aug. 27 the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee filed a complaint with the IRS against Americans for Prosperity.
Senate Democrats twice failed, on straight party-line votes, to end a filibuster of the Disclose Act. Mr. Obama told Democratic donors that they had “tried to fix” the problem but failed.
The attempt to silence opponents through legislation may be ugly, but such hardball politics are not a violation of Senate ethics rules. After failing to pass Disclose, however, the senators in our complaint began a pattern of improper conduct aimed at pressuring the IRS to harass and investigate their political opponents.
Senators may inquire about agency practices and operations. But they cross an ethical line when they interfere in pending tax exemption applications or pressure an agency to investigate or prosecute specific organizations.
Just days after the final defeat of the Disclose Act in October 2010, Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) – another senator in our complaint – wrote to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman on his official letterhead to demand that the IRS “quickly examine the tax status of Crossroads GPS,” a major conservative nonprofit.
Mr. Durbin accused Crossroads GPS of breaking the law. He later admitted to Chris Wallace on Fox News that he sought the investigation because “they were boastful about how much money they were going to raise and beat Democrats with.”
Pressure on the IRS increased after the 2010 midterm Republican landslide. Mr. Schumer stated in one speech, “It’s clear we’re not going to pass anything legislatively,” due to “Republican control” of the House. “But there are many things that can be done by the IRS… and we have to redouble our efforts. We have not worked hard enough on this.” In a letter to the IRS on March 12, 2012, Mr. Schumer urged the service to investigate various groups identified through reference to news articles.
Michigan Sen. Carl Levin wrote at least seven letters to the IRS, and demanded that it investigate specific nonprofits. The IRS’s failure to launch these investigations, he wrote in one, was “unacceptable.” Mr. Levin also sought confidential nonprofit tax return information from the IRS, even after being warned, repeatedly, by IRS Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement Steven T. Miller, that such information could not be legally divulged.
These are just a few examples of abuse of power for electoral gain. The other six senators named in the complaint are Michael Bennet (D., Colo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.), Al Franken (D., Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.) and Tom Udall (D., N.M.). Under the Senate Ethics Committee rules, when such a complaint is received – including by private individuals – “The Committee shall promptly commence a preliminary inquiry… of such duration and scope as is necessary” to find whether ethics rules were violated.
There is ample evidence that these efforts affected IRS policy, but the senators’ behavior is improper even if it did not. Senate rules require that the Ethics Committee take action. And we as citizens must make sure that the IRS is not abused by Democrats or Republicans for partisan electoral gain.
“They told us terrorism happens in Israel. Therefore, they had to look into our organization because they thought we might be funding terrorism. We’re a purely educational entity. We didn’t fund anybody. We barely funded ourselves.”
Remember: This is the same administration that wouldn’t call the Benghazi massacre a terrorist attack but accused a pro-Israel group of supporting terror.
Via On the Record:
This week a federal judge ruled in favor of Z-Street. The ruling will force the IRS to disclose procedures it used to target the pro-Israel group.
Jonathan Tobin at Commentary reported:
Interest in the Internal Revenue Service’s outrageous practice of subjecting politically conservative groups to discriminatory treatment has died down a bit since the revelations about this scandal first hit the news a year ago. But a court decision that was handed down earlier this week about a similar instance of potential government misconduct may shed more light on the way the Tea Party and other right-wing organizations were given the business by Lois Lerner and the rest of what appears to be a highly politicized bureaucracy at the heart of our tax collection system.
On Tuesday, Federal Judge Ketanje Brown Jackson issued the first substantive ruling in any suit that challenged the IRS’s pose of political neutrality under the Obama administration. The case concerns Z Street, a Philadelphia area-based pro-Israel organization that filed for tax-exempt status in December 2009 because of its role in educating the public about Israel and the Middle East conflict. The group’s founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus wrote in the Jewish Press this week about what followed:
On July 19, 2010, when counsel for Z STREET spoke with the IRS agent to whom the organization’s application had been assigned, that agent said that a determination on Z STREET’s application may be further delayed because the IRS gave “special scrutiny” to organizations connected to Israel and especially to those whose views “contradict those of the administration’s.”
Z Street subsequently sued the government and rightly argued that its constitutional rights had been violated because of the “viewpoint discrimination” that the IRS agent had openly displayed. Now after years of delays, Judge Jackson has ruled that by asserting that Z Street had no right to sue, the government had tried to “transform a lawsuit that clearly challenges the constitutionality of the process… into a dispute over tax liability.” She similarly dismissed the government’s claims of sovereign immunity.
What has this got to do with the Tea Party and its complaints? Plenty.
As the Wall Street Journal editorial page noted yesterday:
This ruling will force the IRS to open its books on the procedures it used and decisions it made reviewing Z Street’s tax-exempt application, procedures it has tried to keep shrouded. As the case proceeds, Z Street’s attorneys can seek depositions from many who have been part of the larger attempt to sit on similar applications by other conservative groups.
In other words, this case may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back of the IRS’s politically prejudicial policies. If an IRS agent can reject or stall a pro-Israel group’s application on the grounds that “these cases are being sent to a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies,” then no group, no matter what its political orientation or cause is safe from being subjected to a political litmus test designed by any administration of either political party.
Read the rest here.
The Internal Revenue Service ruled it will impose a tax penalty on employers of up to $36,500 per worker for dumping employees into the Obamacare exchanges.
The New York Times, which broke the story, reports:
When employers provide coverage, their contributions, averaging more than $5,000 a year per employee, are not counted as taxable income to workers. But the Internal Revenue Service said employers could not meet their obligations under the health care law by simply reimbursing employees for some or all of their premium costs.
The IRS ruling is an effort by the Obama administration to stop employers with 50 or more workers from doing what critics of the health law said they would do: pay a penalty for not providing insurance and dump workers into the unpopular Obamacare program.
With the Nov. 4 midterm elections looming, the Obama administration could not allow massive waves of employer cancellations before Democrats face an already angry electorate. So the IRS ruled it would slap any employer with a $100 tax penalty per day per worker that used tax-exempt health insurance monies to cut workers a lump check and dump them on the Obamacare exchanges.
The new IRS rule comes on the heels of the Obama administration’s announcement that it will bail out insurers which participate in the Obamacare program which lose cash. As the Times notes, “Administration officials hope the payments will stabilize premiums and prevent rate increases that could embarrass Democrats in this year’s midterm elections.”
Sen. Ted Cruz went after FBI Director James Comey, who promised a year ago that the IRS investigation would be a very high priority. Yet today, as Comey sits before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he won’t answer whether a single person has been interviewed or, really, much else about the investigation, hiding behind the fact that it’s an ‘ongoing investigation’.
What I like about this clip is the passion with which Cruz questions the FBI Director.
He also hits back at Leahy, the committee chair, when he’s basically told to accept the witness’ non-answer. Cruz pretty much tells Leahy that he can accept the FBI Director’s answer if he wants, and he understand the non-answer might be good enough for them because many Democrats don’t really care about getting answers in the IRS investigation. Leahy noted that his motives had nothing to do with it, but that the non-answer given by Comey was appropriate. Cruz fired back, to make his point, that when he sought to criminalize the targeting of anyone by the IRS based on their political views, Democrats on that committee voted it down.
Take Australia for example. That nation is slashing its expenditures on fighting
global warming climate change climate disruption
Australia’s conservative coalition is set to cut more than 90 percent of the funding related to global warming from their budget, from $5.75 billion this year to $500 million, over the next four years.
Environmentalists and leftist politicians in the country protested the move by conservative Liberal Party Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s governing coalition to slash funding for climate programs, arguing such funding for green energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions were necessary to stop global warming.
But Abbott’s government shot back, saying that the country needed to reduce the size of government and improve the economy.
“The coalition government acknowledges the role of renewable energy in Australia’s energy mix,” said Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane. “There is over $1 billion in funding for existing renewable projects to be completed over the coming years.”
“Given the tight fiscal environment as a result of [liberal] Labor’s legacy of debt and deficit, the government considers there is a very significant investment in renewable energy,” MacFarlane added.
Ah, reduce the size of government to spur economic growth he says? Hmmmm, maybe President Obama and fans of his idea of a carbon tax ought to LEARN from Australia
“The carbon tax is an act of economic vandalism,” Abbott said in March. “You can’t trust [Labor] anywhere near an economy.”
The carbon tax was imposed by former Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard in the summer of 2012, and quickly became unpopular as businesses and households began to bear the costs of higher power bills and higher inflation.
Well DUH! What kind of moron could not see that coming? Higher taxation does not help an economy. But what if those taxes were really going to help clean up the environment?
After just one year, the carbon tax increased taxes on 2.2 million Australians, according to Robson, and has done nothing to decrease the country’s carbon emissions, which aren’t predicted to fall below current levels until 2043.
AHA! See those taxes were going to slow down those evil carbon emissions in 30 years. THIRTY YEARS? Good Freaking Grief
Robson also found that a year after being enacted, the carbon tax caused electricity prices to rise 15 percent. The country’s unemployment rate shot up by 10 percent after the carbon tax was implemented.
“The carbon tax is bad for the economy and it doesn’t do any good for the environment,” Abbott told The Washington Post last year. “Despite a carbon tax of $37 a ton by 2020, Australia’s domestic emissions were going up, not down. The carbon tax was basically socialism masquerading as environmentalism, and that’s why it’s going to get abolished.
In other words, Green is the new Red folks
Could the IRS do anything to make itself more unpopular? Apparently, things are far from over with the agency’s targeting of conservative political groups.
Emails obtained by Judicial Watch and released yesterday indicate that the Obama administration lied when it tried to pin the scandal on IRS employees in an Ohio branch office. In fact, the Washington, D.C., office of the IRS was coordinating with the employees to hold up tea party groups’ applications for nonprofit status and subject them to extra scrutiny.
At the heart of the controversy is Lois Lerner, who was head of the division that approved nonprofit applications at the time.
“This latest revelation by Judicial Watch showing that the IRS targeting of conservative organizations was being run by its Washington office demonstrates that the House acted correctly when it held Lois Lerner in contempt,” said Heritage legal expert Hans von Spakovsky.
The House voted last week to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about the IRS scandal. But it’s up to Attorney General Eric Holder to take any action – the first step of which would be forcing her to testify – and that hasn’t happened.
Von Spakovsky said:
Lerner claimed that this problem originated in the Cincinnati office of the IRS, so it is pretty clear she was misleading the public and congressional investigators. The contempt citation needs to be enforced and if the Justice Department refuses to do so, it will be another example of unethical behavior by a law enforcement agency that has repeatedly failed to adhere to its duty to enforce the law on an objective, nonpartisan basis.
In other words, the odds aren’t great that Lerner will face real consequences.
But perhaps the worst news is that the Obama administration has been working behind the scenes to change the rules for political activism – permanently.
In a new paper, von Spakovsky details how the administration has proposed rules for the IRS that “appear to be an attempt to implement the ‘inappropriate criteria’ used by the IRS to target tea party and other conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status.”
Turning the IRS’s targeting of these organizations into actual rules, he explains, would:
* ignore Supreme Court precedents and the Internal Revenue Code;
* fail to provide clear guidance to citizens and organizations attempting to comply with the Code and accompanying regulations; and
* threaten to restrict or violate the First Amendment rights of Americans.
The IRS scandal has become a bipartisan concern, as evidenced by a number of Democrats voting to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress and voting to appoint a special counsel to investigate the scandal.
But the administration’s effort to rewrite the rules for political activity is an even more serious threat that must be stopped.