Sometimes stories that receive a lot of hype when they first break are under-reported once all the facts are in. The IRS story seems to fit into that category ...
Since January, 2009, Republican extremists in Congress have put the people's business on hold while concentrating almost exclusively upon a variety of "investigations" designed to "bring down" the current president. Since 2011, most of these efforts have been overblown "fishing expeditions" conducted by "witchfinder-general" Darrell Issa (R-California) whose bombastic tactics and use of unproven innuendo remind one of Joe McCarthy and the HUAC (House UnAmerican Activities Committee) of the 1950s.
Thus far, all these attempts have turned out to be costly, and often embarrassing, failures. When all the "evidence" is in, there seems to be no evidence of Oval Office wrongdoing!
The IRS business seems to be no exception! No one doubts that the nation's tax laws are both murky and unfair. If IRS officials in Cincinnati (prompted we now know by a Bush-era appointee who, by his own admission, is a "conservative Republican") targeted certain tea-party groups that applied for a 501(c)4 designation, while overlooking groups on the left, they were out-of-line and should certainly be held accountable.
But there's more to the story! Until last week, Chairman Issa steadfastly refused to release complete transcripts of the House Oversight Committee IRS Hearings, but another member of that same committee, Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), released the complete documents on-his-own. They reveal (as an earlier report from the Inspector General's office indicated) that these activities were not connected with either the White House or the Obama campaign people. It has also been revealed that all of the so-called "tea-party organizations in question were eventually awarded 501(c)4 designations, but at least two "progressive" groups were turned down.
The original tax law enacted by Congress in 1913 specified that, in order to receive the 501(c) designation, a group should be "exclusively" non-political and based upon charity or "social-welfare." For some unknown reason, the IRS changed the word "exclusively" to "primarily" in 1959, thus enabling some blatantly political groups (i.e. the old "John Birch Society" and today's "Astroturf" tea party groups) to masquerade as "educational" or "informational" entities, and thus (unlike labor union PACs and other political organizations) avoid being taxed. If the "9-12 Project" (a group founded in 2010 by pundit/huckster Glenn Beck) is a "social-welfare" group, Rush Limbaugh is "Mother Teresa"!
While those on the right whine about "big government scandals," they don't seem to mind cheating that benefits their own interests. Some of these suddenly "righteous" folks once supported Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover snooping on and auditing the NAACP in the 1960s. Others enthusiastically embraced Bush/Cheney "Patriot Act" snooping abuses in 2003, and attempts to block minority voting-rights and women's reproductive rights in 2012/13.
By attempting to pass their own sins off onto President Obama, these extremists have elevated hypocrisy to the level of art - and bad art at that!
Fred O'Neill lives in Marietta.