The Wrong Lessons From the IRS Tea Party Flap
Much of the media yesterday took away the wrong message from the revelations that IRS field staff were singling out Tea Party Section 501(c)(4) "social welfare" applicants for review. While the GOP will certainly use (as the NYT editorial board said today) the misapplication of government oversight as a political weapon for its base, that doesn't mean Democrats and the White House should be cowered into retreat on this issue.
The plain truth is that the IRS has an obligation to review timely all applicants for tax exempt treatment to guard against abuse of this special status. The IRS should be reviewing all applicants for Tax Code Section 501(c)(4) coverage, large and small, from all sides of the political spectrum. That means Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, and Barack Obama's associates all deserve scrutiny in their operation of these entities. Yet is that happening?
Nick Confessore of the NYT reports in today's paper that the real abuse in this story is that the large players get away without any scrutiny while the newer, smaller Tea Party applicants of recent years had the full weight of IRS attention applied to them. Why?
The correct response from our friends at MSNBC, the rest of the real media, Democratic members of Congress, and yes, Barack Obama should be an insistence that those accountable for a singular focus on smaller Tea Party players be removed, and that the IRS start immediately to apply a fuller focus on all current 501(c)(4) operators, leading up to the 2014 midterms. Make the GOP say "no" to that, and explain why Karl Rove, Corporate America, and the Koch Brothers deserve a free run at abusing the tax code and buying elections.
Anything less than that from Barack Obama, or any sign of retreat or caving from him without a forceful demand that all groups get this treatment will reflect capitulation by the White House.