Sunday, June 16, 2013

House Republicans Using Fake IRS Scandal To Defund Affordable Care Act

...this is the beginning of a generational battle... "Repeal ObamaCare" is going to be the battle cry for Republicans for the next 20 years or longer ~ Thom Hartmann (dob 5/7/1951) an American radio host, author, entrepreneur, and progressive political commentator. His nationally syndicated radio show has 2.75 million listeners a week. From 2008 to 2011, Talkers Magazine rated Hartmann the most popular liberal talk show host in America... an excerpt from hour 2 of the 6/29/2012 broadcast of his radio program... the day after the SCOTUS decision upholding most of the ACA (8:08 to 9:47).

On 6/5/2012 I authored a commentary titled, "Tea Party Groups Allowed To Hide Donors Real IRS Scandal". In this commentary I explained that the IRS "targeting" Conservative groups was not an Obama Administration scandal, but a Republican scandal, as Republican groups were applying for 501c4 tax exempt status, getting it (none were denied), and then politicking when the law forbids it. 501c4 status is for groups engaged exclusively in social welfare. If they wanted to politick they SHOULD have applied for the 527 tax exempt status. Under both 501c4 and 527 designations your group will be exempt from taxes. The difference is that under 501c4 status your donors remain anonymous, while under 527 status donors must be disclosed.

Conclusion? The Tea Party groups that applied for 501c4 status LIED to get it. They politicked in violation of the law and SHOULD have received extra scrutiny (or been "targeted"). The REAL scandal was that they were ALL approved! The reason they wanted 501c4 status and not 527 status was so they could HIDE THEIR DONORS. Karl Rove did just that with his two groups: one a SuperPac and the other a 501c4 that accepted donations anonymously and then re-gifted the money to the SuperPAC. Because the SuperPAC couldn't accept donations without disclosing who they were from, but the LAUNDERED money from the 501c4? Those donors remained secret.

Today I'm going to fill you in on the SECOND way in which the IRS scandal is actually a Republican scandal. House Republicans are going to cut the IRS budget so the Affordable Care Act cannot be implemented... or it's going to make it a hell of a lot more difficult, at least.

Following are some experts from a 6/15/2013 Associated Press story by Stephen Ohlemacher titled, "IRS scandals threaten funding for health care law". My commentary will follow each excerpt...

Stephen Ohlemacher: Mounting scandals at the Internal Revenue Service are jeopardizing critical funding for the agency as it gears up to play a big role in President Barack Obama's health care law. Obama sought a significant budget increase for the IRS for next year, when the agency will start doling out subsidies to help people buy health insurance on state-based exchanges. Congressional Republicans, however, see management problems at the IRS as an opportunity to limit the agency's funding just as it is trying to put in place the massive new law.

My Response: The scandals are Republican in nature, as I just pointed out. But does the "Liberal Media" mention this? No. I had to do a specific Google search to pull up those stories when I was researching the article I mention above. The vast majority of people who read this AP story will automatically assume the "scandals" are the "targeting" of Conservative groups and denying/delaying their 501c4 status, which most readers will believe they should have been granted posthaste (even though they should have all been rejected). Also, the wasting of taxpayer money on lavish conferences and parody "training" videos (more on that later).

SO: Republicans have been fighting the health care law ever since Democrats enacted it in 2010 without a single GOP vote. Unable to repeal the law, some Republicans hope to starve it by refusing to fund its implementation. The IRS scandals are giving them a timely excuse.

Me: The last time the House Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act was 5/16/2013, and that was the 37th vote! The Washington Post says, "the vote was 229 to 195, with two Democrats joining Republicans in voting for repeal. The Democrats were Mike McIntyre NC and Jim Matheson Utah". Shame on these Democrats. And shame on the Republicans for wasting taxpayer money in a pointless exercise, as the repeal won't be taken up by the Senate, would be voted down there if it were, and would be vetoed by the president if it got to his desk. And there is also the fact that the Supreme Court ruled the ACA constitutional (with GWb-appointed chief justice Roberts among those in the majority).

SO: Last month, the IRS was rocked by revelations that agents had targeted tea party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when the groups applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections. A few weeks later, an Inspector General's report said that the agency had spent lavishly on employee conferences during the same time period. From 2010 through 2012, the IRS spent nearly $50 million on employee conferences. In 2010, the agency used money that had been budgeted to hire enforcement agents to instead help pay for one conference that cost $4.1 million, according to the watchdog's report.

Me: Note that the IRS was "rocked" by these particular revelations and NOT by revelations that ALL the Conservative groups that applied for the 501c4 status were approved when they shouldn't have been (because they were politicking), and that these groups are using the status to HIDE their donors. The "Liberal Media" is doing a bang-up job of covering that story, aren't they? Not.

As for the report from the Inspector General that said the IRS "spent lavishly on employee conferences", not so says US News & World Report. A 6/12/2012 article titled, "What Was so Lavish About the IRS Employee Conference?" says "tax experts and lawyers who have been professionally involved in reviews and in setting up conferences say evidence of wrongdoing is slim". One quoted expert says, "you want them to be conducting training conferences at a time like this...". Another expert says that a "$4 million outlay for a three-day national convention would not be out of line for a national conference for more than 2,600 senior managers".

The article goes on to give other examples of how the IRS spent less on conference related items than is typical in the private sector. Yes, those "Star Trek" and "Gilligan's Island" training videos were lame and embarrassing, but again, according to a tax lawyer cited in the article, "the IRS has a big training challenge, and you want to see them addressing it in a creative and out-of-the-box way". Although the videos were "dumb", the tax lawyer concludes that "you can't fault them for trying".

In any case, the IRS director during the time they spent "lavishly" on conferences was Doug Shulman, a Republican bush appointee. Shulman was director of the IRS from 3/24/2008 to 11/9/2012. It was also during this time period that Conservative Tea Party goups were "targeted". And, while it was not Shulman who directed the "targeting" of the Tea Party groups, it was another Republican IRS manager (in the Cincinnati office) who did so.

The individual, whose name has not been revealed, says "he and an underling set aside Tea Party and Patriot groups because the organizations appeared to pose a precedent that could affect future IRS filings". According to Rep. Elijah Cummings the IRS manager "is a conservative Republican working for the IRS". Cummings correctly concluded, "I think this interview and these statements go a long way toward showing that the White House was not involved in this".

The person who resigned, "acting" director Steven Miller, wasn't in charge at the time. By the way, Miller was only an acting director because Senate Republicans have refused to confirm anyone to fill the position permanently under Obama. Republican obstruction in not confirming an IRS director chosen by the President is another aspect of the scandal which is being completely ignored by the media.

SO: "For years Republicans in Congress have made repeated attempts to stop and slow down the Affordable Care Act. This is just the latest attempt to put up roadblocks to implementing the law", White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said.

Me: Exactly. If only Democrats would go on the offensive instead of saying saying things like... "based upon everything I've seen, the case is solved. And if it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on". No Rep. Cummings, the case is NOT solved! We need 501c4 reform so Conservative groups (any group really, but Conservative ones in particular) cannot abuse the designation and use it to hide donors and launder political donations.

SO: Democrats in Congress say they are growing tired of Republican attempts to repeal a law that has survived a review by the Supreme Court and whose main champion — Obama — won re-election last year. "The American people will see over the next six months the lengths the Republicans will go to destroy the implementation of the Affordable Care Act", said Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington state, a senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. "I'm sad about it, it's awful", McDermott added. "But sometimes in a democracy people have to learn the hard way, and the American public is going to learn".

Me: What the American public should learn is that they need to vote out as many of these obstructing Republicans as possible and return the House to Democratic hands. I am beyond tired with these Republican shenaggians, endless obstructing and fake scandals.

SWTD #168

5 comments:

  1. Hopefully some day you will meet with this valiant conservative warrior in a contest of hand to hand, no holds barred, public debate.

    Until then, I will have to disqualify Stephen for lying that the PPACA passed "without a single republican vote." How about Olympia Snowe?

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  2. I don't know if the author of the piece is a Conservative. I think he'd describe what he wrote as a "straight news" reporting of the facts. At issue is what the media and most of the public in general believes about the IRS scandal. The only place I've heard about the 501c4 abuse issue is on Lawrence O'Donnell's show. I haven't heard it discussed on any other Progressive news program I watch.

    Also, Olympia Snowe didn't vote for the ACA. She was someone the administration was courting, but in the end she voted no.

    From the Portland Press Herald (6/30/2012) The sole Republican still involved in the Senate Finance Committee’s attempts to craft a viable bill, Snowe spent countless hours working with Democrats and met repeatedly with President Obama. ... Snowe would later join all of her Republican colleagues to vote against the Affordable Care Act in the full Senate.

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  3. Randi Rhodes and Stephanie Miller have talked about the 501c4 abuse on the radio. Like you, I have not heard any about it on the TV.

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  4. I watch Stephanie Miller (on Current). Yes, they mention it on her show. Only in passing really. What I meant was that most progressive pundits are saying "no scandal here", when there *is* a scandal... a Republican one. It's like Rep Cumming who said the case was "solved". It isn't solved! What's going to end up happening (I fear) is that the end result of this investigating is going to be that they make it EASIER for politicking groups to abuse 501c4 status.

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