Conservative Activist Says It's His Turn To Use the IRS as a Political Bludgeon

IRSU.S. GovernmentFresh off a year in which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) came under heavy fire for targeting non-profit Tea Party political organizations for extra scrutiny, Bill Wilson of Americans for Limited Government suggests that such politicized use of tax collectors is just swell—so long as they're unleashed on groups that get under his skin. Pointing to tax audits of environmental groups performed by the Canada Revenue Agency under that country's conservative government, Wilson calls for the U.S. to do the same south of the border once Republicans are back in control. And he makes no bones about the fact that this would be tit-for-tat retaliation for the last round of politicized thuggery by the IRS.

Writes Wilson at Investors Business Daily:

[T]he government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently entered a critical policy debate on the right side — directing the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to conduct audits of several radical environmental groups accused of conducting political activity in violation of their tax-exempt status.

Among the groups being audited? The David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, the Pembina Foundation, Tides Canada and West Coast Environmental Law.

The far left in Canada is apoplectic, but the real targets of this action are the radical American billionaires funneling money through faux Canadian front groups — hoping to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline by exploiting the country's Aboriginal population. ...

Liberal elitist foundations — Rockefeller, Pew, Ford, Heinz, etc. — have hidden for years behind a labyrinth of carved-out rules and special protections, unfair advantages enabling them to pump billions of dollars into a far left agenda while donors claimed untold amounts of tax deductions.

Meanwhile, an IRS bent on protecting Obama and vulnerable Democrats in advance of the 2012 elections has effectively silenced groups with the words "Constitution," "Tea Party" or "Liberty" in their titles. Does that sound like equal protection under the law? Of course not.

Canada has shown it has the courage to stand up to these wealthy eco-radicals. It must be the policy of the next U.S. administration to follow suit.

Same as it ever was. The Democrats got to use the IRS as a political bludgeon, so now it's Republicans' turn to do the same. And so the cycle continues. It's a long and grim cycle of abuse and retaliation, varying over the decades only in the choice of victims.

James Bovard has documented the long, bipartisan history of tax collectors as hit men. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, last spring, he detailed abuses of tax powers to punish opponents of the administration by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton.

“My father,” Elliott Roosevelt said of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “may have been the originator of the concept of employing the IRS as a weapon of political retribution.”

"In almost every administration since the IRS's inception the information and power of the tax agency have been mobilized for explicitly political purposes," noted David Burnham in A Law Unto Itself: Power, Politics and the IRS.

In a 1989 New York Times article, Burnham added, "The history of the I.R.S. is riddled with repeated instances of agents acting out of self-interest or pursuing their own ideological agenda, as well as examples of Presidents, White House staff and Cabinet officials pressuring the tax agency to take political actions."

Wilson would perpetuate this dangerous misuse of the vast powers of the federal tax agency, responding to the targeting of conservative groups not by stripping the IRS of its weaponized authority, but instead by taking hold of the grips and shifting aim.

Presumably, the next Democratic administration could be expected to swivel the IRS cross hairs around once again.

It's true that the IRS resists reform. So long as they get to abuse some targets of their own choosing, tax officials don't seem to mind performing hits for the White House and Congress. But when politicians occasionally try to rein-in the monster they've creatd, it's all too happy to turn on them. Writes Bovard:

The agency also has a long history of seeking to intimidate congressional critics: In 1925, Internal Revenue Commissioner David Blair personally delivered a demand for $10 million in back taxes to Michigan's Republican Sen. James Couzens —who had launched an investigation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue—as he stepped out of the Senate chamber. More recently, after Sen. Joe Montoya of New Mexico announced plans in 1972 to hold hearings on IRS abuses, the agency added his name to a list of tax protesters who were capable of violence against IRS agents.

Is this something that we want to continue? Instead of taking turns at using the IRS to torment political opponents, how about disarming the damned thing instead?

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  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    Looks like Bill W. has forgotten one of the traditions.

  • Wandering Texan||

    Its not corruption when WE do it!

  • WTF||

    "Hey, now that I've gone ahead and punched you in the face, let's call a truce before you retaliate."

  • ||

    Is this something that we want to continue?

    We aren't continuing shit, and yes, for the politicians, it is absolutely something they want to continue. When you have government, this is precisely what you get. Normal thuggery disguised as "the law".

  • UnCivilServant||

    That logo still looks like a vulture to me. Does anyone else see the resemblance?

  • From the Tundra||

    Yes, tearing away at the carcass of freedom.

    I prefer the logo for this IRS:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.R.S._Records

  • John||

    The Democrats got to use the IRS as a political bludgeon, so now it's Republicans' turn to do the same. And so the cycle continues. It's a long and grim cycle of abuse and retaliation, varying over the decades only in the choice of victims.

    For sure. But unless you can hold the people in this administration who abused the IRS responsible, what other option is there? The Democrats are doing this because they figure they have a hold on the White House and even if they don't the media will ensure a Republican never does this to them or holds any of them accountable for their misdeeds. So what is the downside for them doing it?

    It is a hell of a problem. If the Republicans retake the White House and do nothing, the Democrats come back and do even worse the next time they are in power. If the Republicans say this is wrong and go after the Democrats who did this, the media goes insane calling them mean spirited and just wanting to criminalize politics. Worse still, the Democrats are likely to use be able to spin the legitimate prosecution of Obama officials as political witch hunts that justify their criminal prosecution of Republicans, deserved or not, when they come into power. But if Republicans use the IRS like the Democrats do, it sets off the spiral of retaliation you rightly condemn.

    So I don't know what the fuck we are going to do about this.

  • sarcasmic||

    The only way to stop this from happening is to abolish the agency, and that's never going to happen.

  • John||

    That and or radically simplify the tax code and the election laws. Even if you got rid of the IRS, they could still use the Federal Election Commission to go after people in the name of election fairness and campaign contributions.

    There are so many levers of power, eliminating the IRS would help but only slow them down for a bit.

  • wareagle||

    if you simplified the tax code, you would reduce the single greatest source of power that congress has. So much of the code is breaks given to specific industries or groups in exchange for campaign cash. No elected official is going to cut off his own money machine.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    What will the CPAs do!?

  • UnCivilServant||

    The good ones will be able to find another place for their good attention to detail. The bad ones we are better off without.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    Maybe I like filling out tax forms all day long.

    But really, I hate myself for getting into this. I look forward to the day when I am financially secure enough to do something else.

  • sarcasmic||

    Find something to do that actually adds value to the economy?

  • sarcasmic||

    the + irs = theirs

  • WTF||

    "You didn't build that."

  • Paul.||

    But the real targets of this action are the radical American billionaires funneling money through faux Canadian front groups

    George Soros! SHRIKE BAIT!

  • Pseudonymous||

    I used to work for that guy. I like him a lot on a personal level.

    He's a brawler. And a great guy.

    We've all pointed out the flaws in his approach but let me give a half-hearted defense of my long-lost chum.

    If we're ever going to abolish the IRS, brilliant libertarian arguments won't be what topples the edifice.

    Rather, I would imagine, there would be a broad Left-Right "Coalition of the Screwed" who got royally and genuinely fucked by IRS until finally they grit their teeth and come together to work for the end of the beast. Marijuana legalization has been fun but moving beyond the IRS would be glorious.

  • Paul.||

    Rather, I would imagine, there would be a broad Left-Right "Coalition of the Screwed" who got royally and genuinely fucked by IRS until finally they grit their teeth and come together to work for the end of the beast.

    Unfortunately, from where I sit, broad left-right 'coalitions of the screwed' always manage to keep the offending agency in place, but with a new uber oversight agency above it. More government, but with better-er top men.

    Dept. of Homeland Security?

  • wareagle||

    that royal coalition you allude to already exists and it stands to be screwed by O-care. Yet, the IRS is not going to go anywhere and at least 500 members of Congress will twist themselves into knots explaining why.

  • Pseudonymous||

    Marijuana is getting legalized in large part to the efforts of one kid who got busted for growing a little pot in his dorm and is now, even at ~40y.o., a felon.

    Rob Kampia, take a bow.

    I don't know how you get social change without some people on your side who have some sort of unreasonable, slightly nuts, jihad-like fire-in-the-belly....

  • wareagle||

    marijuana is being incrementally legalized on a state by state basis with much of fedzilla dead set against it. The IRS is a federal agency and, as such, a taller hill to climb. And I doubt many on the left will eagerly join that hunting party since they tend to be driven by the notion of "fair share" and money belonging first to the govt anyway.

  • Paul.||

    Same as it ever was. The Democrats got to use the IRS as a political bludgeon, so now it's Republicans' turn to do the same. And so the cycle continues. It's a long and grim cycle of abuse and retaliation, varying over the decades only in the choice of victims.

    Isn't this the game of Capture The Flag that Mr. R. Clayton Dean so aptly described in the game that is the cycle of perpetual revolution in foreign countries?

  • Hugh Akston||

    I've always wondered why more people don't take an interest in the noble pursuit of politics.

  • Paul.||

    I see the problem as too many take an interest in it.

    In Paul.Ville, an election would be held, and everyone who showed up to run would be arrested.

  • WTF||

    Just make serving in the legislatures like jury duty. With no voire dire and no exclusions.

  • Paul.||

    That's a nice compromise.

  • Pseudonymous||

    I would gladly support this proposal in public if it could ever get a hearing.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I do sympathize with the sentiments of this article, but the Liberal Left does have a tendency to believe that their slimier tactics will never be used against them. It gets REAL tempting to give them the kick in the ghoolies they they are asking for. And I have to say, I strongly suspect that a great many PC activist orgs could not withstand much scrutiny.

    Me, I would call for a general audit of activist and charitable orgs as I would like to see the books on BOTH sides. Left AND RIGHT are far too prone to sloppy self-righteous "if we're doing it for Good, it must be OK" reasoning. And if the IRS regs are so detailed that no charity can comply with them, then having broad enforcement is probably the fastest way to get a swath of them repealed.

  • John||

    I think the Obama people understand that the Republicans are likely to do that. But they don't give a shit. They figure the Republicans going after the Liberal groups is a small price to pay to be able to go after the Republican groups.

    Many of the liberal groups are objecting to this too because they see how this plays out and that they are going to be sacrificed.

  • WTF||

    The only difference is that the media will actually go after the republicans, which will likely constrain their actions. I'm sure the democrats are counting on it.

  • wareagle||

    and that's exactly it. Same as happened with the expansion of droning, with the NSA, ad nauseum. When the Blues do it, it is necessary or normal. When the Reds do it, it is criminal.

  • Pseudonymous||

    It's time to start taxing churches. They'll bitch and moan about the 1st Amendment but that's an illegitimate interpretation and they know it.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    No, it is NOT time to start taxing Churches. Not because Churches are anything wonderful, but because we should not, ever, take a step back on taxation or regulation. The government plainly has no idea how to responsibly administer the income that it has. There is no excuse for allowing it more. This is the one part of legalizing marijuana (or any other illegal drug) that I have doubts about.

  • Raven Nation||

    Perhaps one way to tweak this would be for a new administration to order audits of all the IRS officials who were involved in the targeting of the Tea Party groups.

    And, if you wanted to get really nasty you could go further. I'm pretty sure that Schulberg (?sp?) lied to a Congressional Committee. Perhaps they could use that as grounds to get a search warrant for his house and look for any marginal infraction of any law.

    Not sure this would work, but maybe instilling fear in the bureaucrats themselves might have some results. As a side benefit, it might lead to less people wanting to work for the government.

  • ChrisO||

    At this point, the federal government is basically a giant vote-buying scheme. More of a crime family than a legitimate organization, and the IRS is their muscle. Taking out the muscle is useless if the dons are still in place. And since too many people are stupid enough to think of the feds as their personal ATM machine, it ain't going anywhere soon.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    At what point has any government been anything else? OK, I'll grant you small and short-lived exceptions. But Governments have always, always, ALWAYS been about buying off the mob and paying off the influential.

    Democracy is preferable to other forms of imposition only to the degree that it makes it possible for the little guy to be more of a nuisance that he would be under other schemes. I.E. more worth paying off.

    The only reason I am not an Anarchist is that I do not believe that it is a stable state. I believe that it's collapse into some form of strong-man-ism is inevitable.

  • Paul.||

    I do sympathize with the sentiments of this article, but the Liberal Left does have a tendency to believe that their slimier tactics will never be used against them. It gets REAL tempting to give them the kick in the ghoolies

    I was impressed once, way back in the 90s, when some left-leaning pundit was being interviewed on NPR about the subject of every Supreme Court nominee being hammered by the political opposition, and he sheepishly admitted "we started it" referring to Robert Bork.

  • Voros McCracken||

    When I was a kid, I got sucker punched in the back of the head. When I got up and turned around to go after him, he declared the fight "over" and didn't want to fight anymore.

    So yeah, it's just as well as nothing good was going to happen from a full brawl, but that doesn't make the behavior any less infuriating.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    The funny thing is that this was precisely what I've been warning my more progressive-leaning acquaintances of when they try to blow off the IRS's abuse of power. They never really seem to pay attention, though.

  • John||

    And even if it happens to them, they will just blame Republicans. They will never admit that Obama's abuses set the precedent for it. They will just claim that what Obama did was different.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Which is why it gets REALLY tempting to let some right Wing Ideologue run amok. The Left is infuriating that way. They never worry about it when it's their side, and then if anyone WHISPERS the possibility of a little payback they climb up on the nearest cross and start whinging.

    I am about half convinced that this is a lot of what was behind the Left's piling on any and all anti-terrorism counter-intelligence moves under Bush; a creeping fear that he would use 9/11 as an excuse to expose all the odds and sods in Leftwing Liberal Land who had been playing footsie with terrorist organizations. That form of Radical Chic was, and to some extent still is, widespread and somebody who could really get the public stirred up about it could decimate (for example) academia. And the Left would naturally be SURE that Bush would do just that, because it's just what they would do. That Bush might possibly have something more important to do than persecute his (twitty and moderately ineffectual) political enemies would never occur to them. After all they MUST be the most important people on EARTH!

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