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Bachmann, Tea Party rally against IRS disclosures

Bachmann, Tea Party rally against IRS disclosures
REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, right, looks on as Rep. Michele Bachmann speaks at the Thursday morning press conference.

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Comments (42)

Just wondering...

"“What did she know, what did her campaign know, what did her counselors know, what did her political operatives know, when did they know it?” Bachmann said after the event. “We don’t have answers to any of those, we haven’t even scratched the surface, we haven’t even begun."

Actually, I think she just cut and pasted this from the Iowa Senate investigation.

Excuse me for being confused, but

1. Why is it presumed groups with names such as "Tea Party" were being selected for scrutiny due to their political beliefs (as Mr Henry says is "obvious")? If I'm at the IRS and I can't review all the applications, I'm going to look for signifiers denoting groups most likely not to qualify for 501(c) status as social welfare organizations. Certainly I'm going to look at "Franklin County Tea Party Patriots" before I'm going to look at "West End Food Shelf." This seems like an obvious point, but no one is making it.

2. Why would Obama want to weaken Tea Party groups ahead of the election? The best electoral weapon for the feckless Democrats has been a strong Tea Party and the unelectable Republican candidates it puts forward.

Well, because similar liberal groups got their approvals

That would be why no one else is making the point that seems obvious to you.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/05/14/irs-tea-party-pro...

"WASHINGTON -- In February 2010, the Champaign Tea Party in Illinois received approval of its tax-exempt status from the IRS in 90 days, no questions asked.

That was the month before the Internal Revenue Service started singling out Tea Party groups for special treatment. There wouldn't be another Tea Party application approved for 27 months.

In that time, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups, a USA TODAY review of IRS data shows."

Apparently, the President is angry about it, at least yesterday he said he was angry, "It's inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it," he said. "I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives."

Good point

Well, bad point really. The number of "conservative" groups applying tax-exempt status was more than 8 times higher than any liberal or progressive groups. Literally thousand of these groups sprang up after Obama's election....especially after Citizens United.

It was simply a way for billionaire Republican sugar daddies to try and buy elections and donate money without anyone knowing who they were. And being able to deduct these contributions on their taxes.

But none of these Tea Party-type groups was primarily involved in politics, because none of them were turned down? You gotta be kidding me!

Well, perhaps we will disagree on this one.

The MinnPost IRS Apologist Chorus is on one side of this issue, while I am on the other side with President Barack Obama. I didn’t see this one coming.

P.S.: To those deniers, This is about the IRS.

Oh, agree to disagree? How

Oh, agree to disagree? How noble, since you were making a completely unsubstantiated allegation that turned out to be totally wrong.

Then, call out your President

He and I are in agreement on this one.

Um, OK, I "call out" Mr Obama.

Whatever that means.

Obama is appropriately criticized for many things, on matters of both policy and politics. On politics, his regular tendency (like that of the Democratic party generally) in the event of a hurled "scandal" charge from the Republicans has been to immediately cower, apologize and throw someone under the bus, even before any investigation that invariably will reveal the scandal to have been fabricated or reasonably understood as something not at all the stuff of "scandal."

That he did so again here doesn't mean anything. I'm still waiting for someone to explain why it was improper for the IRS to use indicia of likely ineligibility as a means of oversight triage.

What it means is ...

... "to challenge someone in some way." That from the Urban Dictionary.

The fact that Lois Lerner is pleading the Fifth, and doesn't care to go before Congress to do so in person, is an indication to you that this IRS business is much to do about nothing?

"I'm still waiting for someone to explain ..." It may be a long wait, as pleading the Fifth invariably explains nothing.

Okay, whatever, I hereby call

Okay, whatever, I hereby call out President Obama. Signed, Chris. You can move the dead horse away from your computer desk now.

Obama doesn't run the IRS, his underlings do. He's making a public statement because he's the CEO of an organization of which the IRS is a component. This statement is designed to mollify people like you - it does not reflect intent of past policy decisions made by the IRS, and whether those decisions were appropriate or inappropriate.

Since I've obeyed the wishes of some guy and "called out" the president, will you finally address Tom's original comment? For review, he pointed out that you are wrong about the IRS giving preferential treatment to liberal groups. Your oft-repeated response about being on the "side" of president Obama is pretty meaningless, since 1) people who point out that you're incorrect aren't automatically Obama supporters, and 2) Obama supporters don't agree with everything he says.

Tom's Original Comment

By the paragraphs, for Chris

1) A USA Today review of IRS data revealed that for a period of 27 months no applications for conservative groups were approved. Meanwhile, liberal groups of a similar nature were approved. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/05/14/irs-tea-party-pro...
Tom makes an 8X for which he provides no source.

2) Meaningless conjecture and typical talking point spin; may have been cut and pasted.

3) "But none of these Tea Party-type groups was primarily involved in politics, because none of them were turned down?" This is a nonsensical statement, because all, not none, of Tea Party-type groups were turned down during a 27 month period.

Well, now we can say that we have addressed all of Tom's issues.

IRS "Scandal"

Surely the IRS' granting of these statuses should be investigated in depth FOR THE LAST 15 YEARS. At least that will ensure that the "scandal" is non-partisan.

Exactly

Ms. Bachmann may decry this "obvious" injustice to Tea Party groups, yet would champion targeted profiling in airports. You would think she would support such common sense review of organizations trying to qualify for social welfare organization status. Actually, when reviewing such applications, it makes sense to focus on those that would likely not qualify.

Investigation

Bachmann is hoping this will divert attention from her own campaign investigation.

Can someone explain to me

how a Tea Party group qualifies as tax exempt under the law in question? The law clearly states that groups that achieve this status must not have a mission that is "Primarily" political. Their primary mission must be for the public welfare.

Is there anyone who actually believes that tea party groups are not EXPLICITLY political? Seriously? Does anyone out there actually think these groups provide some sort of social services "for the public welfare"?

Do we really want it to be legal to tax-deduct all of one's political contributions?

So what exactly is the scandal here - the IRS was inundated with a bunch of opportunists trying to get around the law right after Citizens United passed. Those groups were primarily Tea Party because there was an organized effort to get all these groups going at that time. Some IRS employees said, huh, we should look into this, and asked them questions to determine whether they are primarily political groups.

And this is a scandal?

Not only is there nothing wrong with what the IRS did here, they didn't go far enough. All groups with a primarily political mission should be excluded under current law. Liberal or conservative. But right now, there's a gold rush in the tea party to get these tax deductions. It needs to stop.

No Scandal

Well said, Susan. I also fail to see the scandal of the IRS efficiently reviewing the groups most likely to misuse the 501(c) rules. The fact that one Tea Party group did not get a thorough review means nothing. The likelihood that a "social group" named after a political movement is politically motivated instead of socially motivated seems rather high to me. Was it targeted based on political leanings? I doubt it. From my experience, IRS employees are professional and take pride in doing a job well. If the organizations had been set up during a Republican administration I am sure the result would have been the same.

This is similar to the employee vs contractor question several years ago when the IRS audited barbershops and salons. Once you find an area of question, it is efficient to pursue the issue with similar organizations. The IRS did nothing different here. There is no bias against the Tea Party and more than there was a bias against barbers.

President Obama should not have apologized for the IRS doing their job.

I was concerned...

I was concerned about this issue as I was when they targeted the NAACP and a few churches during the Bush administration. However, now that Rep. Bachmann has spoken out I guess the issue is not as serious as I previously thought. I predict an announcement soon from her about Muslim Brotherhood involvement in the IRS.

PS: Why would they question the Tea Party? They're known for always telling the whole truth.

Pardon Me for Asking

But, just exactly where were all these "patriots" when other groups were being treated this way and worse by the Bush/Cheney administration after September 11, 2013 or when the IRS was scrutinizing a collection of liberal groups and individuals under "conservative" presidents?

We either have a constitutional democracy or we don't. If some of our "conservative" friends believe the rules can be freely abused without any problem in the case of people they don't like, while believing that they themselves deserve the most careful and complete constitutional protections,...

then that's not a constitutional democracy at all.

It's fascism (no matter how often those advocating such policies use the words, "liberty," "freedom," and "patriotism").

"We aren't interested in creating our own facts.”

Since when?

I noticed that too...

"Bachmann said: “... We aren’t interested in creating our own facts.” "

That's the funniest thing I've read all week!

Next move

This is all grandstanding by Bachmann to leverage her next job opportunity after she hopefully decides not to run for Congress again. She enjoys the limelight of DC and will probably end up making millions as a lobbyist.

By that logic. . .

why wouldn't any political party qualify as a 501 (c)(4) organization? So I form a corporation called "Democrats for Change" and apply for 501 (c)(4) status. Am I going to complain when the IRS scrutinizes the application to see how I'm affiliated with the Democratic party? So the IRS, having a sneaking suspicion that a group calling itself "Tea Party for Return to 1895" might be somehow an alter ego of the Republican party and that the real purpose might be really be political delays approval to investigate such suspicions. That's a political scandal? Of course, for the right wing, whining about how conservatives are constantly discriminated against is part of the mindset.

The lesson here, as it always is when dealing with complaints from the right about unfair treatment is that it's only OK to pack your administration full of partisan hacks if you are a Republican. If you are not and appoint a person who's actually trying to apply the law, look out!

It's only a matter of time before the right makes contributions to the Tea Party qualify for a tax credit.

So Many Patriotic Americans ...

So many patriotic Americans coming to the defense of the IRS; I’ve never before seen the likes of it. If you have never had a personal encounter with the IRS, someday you may. You will be afforded the opportunity to expend your money and time to prove yourself and defend your earnings. Pause to consider that your defense of the IRS may be your partisan slip showing. It may even be skirting your ankles.

The current federal government motto appears to be, “Build Government Distrust, One Gaffe at a Time”. That is no way a criticism for the President; he seems to be in complete disagreement with the MinnPost legion of IRS defenders. However, I do expect the President to design and implement the solutions.

The IRS, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Washington Examiner, provided information showing that Lois Lerner, Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, collected bonuses of $17,220 in 2010, $14,691 in 2011, and $10,620 in 2012. Are you OK with that? I recall she was the one that said, "I am bad at math".

I’d like a refund.

Unless

you're very rich or very crooked, the odds are less than one in one hundred in your getting audited. And if you do, it's probably because you did something like declaring 50% of your income to be offset by charitable deductions.
The IRS concentrates its resources (particularly since Republican cuts) on the most likely sources of major tax evasions or errors. They won't spend a hundred dollars of staff time looking for a fifty dollar error. And that's according the the known liberal propaganda organization H & R Block.

Actually, I am neither ...

Actually, I am neither "very rich or very crooked", perhaps I was chosen for audit due to my conservative commentary on MinnPost. I got to see an auditor go to a thrift store to check the price on the type of garment I donated to them. We are talking a issue of less than $20.

Ask around, you likely know people who have been audited.

My own experiences

with the IRS and the MN Dept of Revenue have all been very good.

They helped me with filing an amendment in a weird situation where the rules between state and federal didn't align. Over the phone and via email, I found them to be very professional and helpful.

And over 30+ yrs of filing, I've made errors where they automatically corrected them and altered my refund - once my refund was less than what I filed, and once they refunded me more than I thought I was due.

Every group is going to have some bad apples working amongst dedicated, earnest people just trying to a good job within their work assignments and regulations. Your own workplace likely has them too.

Quote: ‘We provided horrible customer service’

On yesterday's (5/17/13) NBC Nightly News, Ousted IRS chief Miller: ‘We provided horrible customer service’.

We both have anecdotal data. However, mine has been verified by the ousted chief of the IRS.

Not about the IRS.

This issue is not about the IRS. Nobody's defending the IRS It's about the President, who really has no business involving himself in an administrative matter. By publicly taking a position and sanctioning the IRS for doing its job, the President has unwisely given credence to the false howls of "politicization" from the right wing.

He will get no credit for whatever he does. Watch and see. The Tea Party Caucus in Congress, meaning the party in control, are already drawing up the Articles of Impeachment for the high crime and misdemeanor having gotten himself elected twice despite their best efforts to stop him.

I see your point, but I think

I see your point, but I think that Obama does have business there - it's a department under his purview as the chief executive of the federal government, right? I think Obama is covering himself and the party from a minor-to-nonexistent scandal amplified, as you said, by the loudest, most ignorant people.

The Tea Party hates the IRS, the average voter isn't a big fan either, and Obama wins no points by sticking up for them. Like a lot of executives (public and private) he's selling out his underlings when they make a mistake under his watch.

I'm with Mr. Kingstad

…both times. We have a true tempest in a teapot over the IRS doing what the IRS is supposed to be doing – examining the legitimacy of 501(c)(4) organizations that purport to be devoted to "social welfare." I look forward to a lengthy listing of Karl Rove's charitable endeavors.

In the meantime, as Mr. Kinstad suggests, it's not really about the IRS at all. That darn Obama somehow stole a pair of elections from righteous candidates backed by righteous Republicans, dragging us into the socialist hellhole we now inhabit. Why, if we're not careful, ordinary people may be able to get health care without going bankrupt while hospital shareholders are unable to purchase a new Jaguar or Mercedes! It's the ruination of the country and free enterprise all rolled into one!

And please, we should keep in mind who we're dealing with here. Michele Bachmann wouldn't recognize a fact if it hit her between the eyes. Like Mr. Rove, she creates her own reality, unlike the reality of normal humans, and it's in that rarified atmosphere that she operates. This is a woman whose lies and misstatements, just in the few years I've been in Minnesota, would fill a book. She remains an embarrassment to the state and the 6th District, and it's a little embarrassing that any of us pay any attention at all to what she says.

Devolvement into the Bogey Man Argument and Alternate Reality

Looking to blame a bogey man, whether it be Michele Bachmann, Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, or a host of the other usual suspects, avoids coming to grips with the truth. The IRS targeted conservative organizations and therefore conservatives. The President is not denying this fact nor is anyone at the IRS.

There are many organizations and even government agencies that deserve your admiration and support. But go ahead and have a bake sale in support the IRS. Give us all an update on how it goes.

Finding a bogey man

Apparently, you are under the belief that if you say "IRS! IRS!" enough it proves a point. No one likes to pay taxes, and our dislike is deflected onto the people responsible for collecting them. Suggesting that those of us who think the scandal is overblown are defending the bogey man misses the the point.

If we are looking for real scapegoats, it turns out the usual suspects can share some of the blame:

http://www.propublica.org/article/how-irs-nonprofit-division-got-so-dysf...

http://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/04/us/behind-irs-hearings-a-gop-plan-to-e...

A "bad" IRS fits in neatly with the right-wing agenda, doesn't it? Any argument can just devolve into "you're defending the IRS, and they stink!" What more do you need?

Understanding who the bogey man is

"Suggesting that those of us who think the scandal is overblown are defending the bogey man misses the the point."

Had you read my post, you would not have missed the point that the bogey man being invoked (not defended) by the commenters is Michele Bachmann, it is the Tea Party Caucus, it is Karl Rove (unclear on his connection here). It is not the IRS.

However, it is very refreshing to me for the NRA to be held blameless; it is rare that they get left out when blame is distributed.

Right

Only Congresswomen can do that.

Tried to stay focused on the issue

This thread is about the IRS. Regarding the veracity of statements, the President is accumulating an interesting array of issues of which he was "unaware".

Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS, AP, ...

What is it that he is paid to do?

What is it that he is paid to do?

Act as a lightning rod for lunatic conspiracy theorists with too much time and too few facts?

The federal government is a big entity, and no President can be expected to be aware of everything that goes on, or even merely everything the right-wing thinks important.

"Everything" or Something

No one has asked him to be aware of "everything", but being aware of something would be refreshing.

The President claims that he has become aware by watching the news on TV. Doesn't his staff have some responsibility to brief him of something?

I don't think that this IRS problem is strictly a right-wing concern. Perhaps you are one of those Americans that is totally down with the IRS targeting groups, at least until their sight picture includes you.

Awareness

The Benghazi situation was confusing as it was going on, so trying to sort out the competing intelligence reports was not easy. The President and his staff probably were kept in the dark about the IRS because of the policy that the IRS acts largely on its own, to avoid the appearance of political motivations.

And I am not afraid of the IRS, no matter how many times you invoke their name (do you say it in a spooky voice to yourself when you type it?). In the end, the whole thing will probably turn out to be poorly-guided midlevel bureaucrats, and their CYA stances. It is hard to see "special scrutiny given to someone who is asking for a tax exemption" as targeting on the level of, say, the Nixon White House ordering audits of taxpayers whom it disliked.

I don't like the idea of groups being targeted for ideological reasons, but I don't like the idea of groups that engage in electoral politics getting tax exemptions to which they are not entitled. Or are concerns that groups that call themselves "tea parties" intend to engage in electioneering just more IRS evildoing?

Political Motivations

The testimony on Benghazi dispelled the notion of competing intelligence reports, The subsequent competing intelligence spins were real.

Yes, the IRS likes to avoid the appearance of political motivations. It would be nice if they would be as concerned about avoiding actual political motivations.

In our last posts, we both invoked the name "IRS" twice, which hardly seems over the top to me, considering that this is a story about the IRS. When you type "IRS", does it conjure visions of unicorns and rainbows? I am not going to speculate about who did what; I am more interested in the findings of the investigation and hearings, which may be hampered by pleads of the Fifth.

But the corruption goes much deeper ...

As time goes on, the defenders of the IRS, the scandal deniers, grow increasingly quieter.

As USA Today reports, the IRS leaked a confidential portion of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) tax return to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The HRC published on their website a confidential list of NOM financial supporters. The HRC's goal was clearly to harass these donors and discourage them from giving money to a group they support.

The HRC's President was a co-chair of President Obama's reelection campaign. Merely a coincidence, I am sure.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/05/15/irs-commits-political-s...

impeachment

Which they will file as soon as they can fill in the blanks.