“I promise you that we hold everybody up and down the line accountable,” President Barack Obama told Bill O’Reilly of Fox News during last Sunday’s Super Bowl interview . . . and with a straight face.
When studies show one in 20 food stamp transactions to be fraudulent; when the GAO finds $120 million a year spent paying federal workers who are deceased; when, well, “name your own favorite absurdly wasteful government program here”; how does the word “accountable” pass through the president’s lips without a respondent clap of thunder followed by the sizzle and pop of a lightning bolt?
Yet, Obama claims — no, promises! — that this omnipresent accountability reaches absolutely “everybody” in the federal government. Up and down the line.
President O was responding specifically to O’Reilly’s charge that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the official responsible for the disastrous Obamacare rollout, has faced no consequences whatsoever.
She’s hardly alone. Only by replacing the word “everybody” with the phrase “virtually no one” would Mr. Obama’s statement be made accurate.
With most of the major media seemingly uninterested in any news story, much less scandal, which might cast the Great and Wonderful Obama Administration in a negative light, not only has the plethora of un-Affordable Care Act mistakes gone unpunished, much more serious, even criminal wrongdoing is being swept under the rug.
At ThisisCommonSense.com this week (and going on for many years now), I recounted the many different ways the IRS has flagrantly violated people’s most important and basic political rights — from blocking citizens from forming non-profit groups for communicating their ideas to harassing donors to “the other” candidate with multiple unwarranted audits to trashing privacy rights by handing personal tax information to one’s political opponents. No one in any of these IRS scandals has been disciplined, let go or in any meaningful way held to account.
To the national Super Bowl audience, President Obama pronounced there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS targeting of groups opposed to his political agenda, even while several investigations into alleged wrongdoing have not yet been completed and Lois Lerner, the Director of Exempt Organizations for the IRS, has refused to testify before Congress about the matter, citing her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
One Ohio Tea Party leader called his organization’s attempt to participate in public policy “a nightmare.”
Acting more like the NSA, the IRS had demanded of his group, “Give us a list of all your members. Tell us every politician that ever spoke to your group and what they spoke about. Give us a list of all the speakers you’ve ever had speak to your group. Give us a copy of every page of your webpage, in paper; print out every page of your Facebook page.”
After repeatedly denying that conservatives had been targeted, the IRS bizarrely disclosed its targeting of conservatives via a planted question at an obscure tax conference. Lerner confessed this behavior was “wrong . . . absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate,” adding, “That’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review.” Of course, while saying “that’s not how” the IRS works, she was, in actual point of fact, disclosing that is indeed precisely how the IRS has been working.
After refusing to testify about her role in the scandal, Ms. Lerner went on paid leave, until recently retiring to collect her $50,000 a year pension.
It is tragic to see the tyrannical use of government power to block and silence political opponents in places like Egypt or China. It is something more painful still to see it so plainly in the United States of America.
And then for it to be dubbed a non-scandal.
As it is, the list of scandalous non-scandals is long.
Few Americans have ever heard of Frank VanderSloot, a businessman whose contributions to the Mitt Romney for President campaign landed him on an Obama campaign “enemies list.” Just weeks after his name was published, for the apparent crime of contributing to issues or candidates in opposition to Obama and his agenda, VanderSloot found himself subjected to an IRS audit personally (for the first time) and then learned his company was being audited by the federal Department of Labor.
Regulatory coincidence, eh?
In 2010, Christine O’Donnell, then running for U.S. Senate in Delaware, had to fend off false accusations about tax liabilities on property she no longer owned — after her tax returns had been released to political opponents. No one broke into her home and stole a copy of the returns. Some IRS operative had divulged them — with the purpose being easy to guess.
Congressional committees looking into the Internal Revenue Service’s diverse assaults on persons with inconvenient political views have tossed O’Donnell’s case onto their slush pile. (Remember the illegal release of Joe the Plummer’s tax records in 2008?) But the IRS is not cooperating with these investigations. IRS says that openly naming perpetrators would violate Employee Confidentiality. (Which apparently bears a family resemblance to Diplomatic Immunity.)
Should a spurious inalienable right to Employee Confidentiality protect IRS personnel from being held accountable when they commit crimes?
Unless the Congress holds the IRS to account, as an Investor’s Business Daily editorial recently warned, we “will watch this monster feast on new victims in ever-more outrageous attacks on dissent.”
If our laws allow IRS to stonewall to protect the guilty, the laws should be changed. Such governmental targeting of us should be both illegal and punishable.
If no checks are established to regulate the IRS, then we should work to find better ways to finance the republic, and dis-establish the IRS.
February 9, 2014
This column first appeared on Townhall.com.