The IRS flagged “tea party” and “patriot” groups for extra scrutiny in 2012, the AP and others are reporting. The agency acknowledged and apologized today for the practice, which amounted to political profiling of conservative groups during the last presidential campaign. It points to local office staff in Cincinnati as being responsible.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling on the White House to investigate, and tea party groups are claiming vindication for their earlier assertions of political favoritism at the IRS.
Two things here:
1) Although none of the 75 or so targeted groups had its tax-exempt status revoked, some did withdraw their application for 501c4 designation. If they did so in response to this admittedly undue level of IRS attention, then the damage is still done.
2) It’s quite possible – as its Bush-appointed chief asserts – that the IRS proper did nothing wrong, at least in an immediate sense. If culpability or complicity does reach into higher levels of the department, it may be more likely that officials ignored or avoided something that should have been investigated earlier.
In the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, speculation was rife as to the motives and identities of those responsible for the carnage. The modern media landscape, defined by non-stop coverage and a mass array of instant-ready outlets, became the backdrop for for a variety of commentary and conjecture.
Jonah Goldberg writes in National Review Online that some of those public voices were all too eager to (perhaps implicitly) ascribe blame to the political Right for the attacks. NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston reported early on that “the thinking” among (unnamed) officials was focused on anti-government or right-wing individuals, for example.
I haven’t listened to the full edition of “All Things Considered” for the morning of April 18, only an excerpt containing the material Goldberg quoted. It’s possible Ralston was merely reporting accurately what she was gleaning from sources connected to the investigation. Yet her choice to offer listeners this generic and unattributed type of information, and her delivery style in doing so, do seem to contrast with the circumspect, lamenting approach of NPR et al in handling information connecting Islam to terrorism.
Goldberg puts this readiness to point the finger in historical context, from Franklin Roosevelt labeling the Republican-led 1920s a time of fascism to Michael Bloomberg hypothesizing that the unsuccessful Times Square bombing attempt might’ve been upset about President Obama‘s new health care law.
The American Conservative has published an info-graphic map of conservative media. In case it’s copyrighted, I won’t post it directly but just click through to the link. It’s pretty good (which is not to say an endorsement of every outlet, etc.).
If you’ve ever graced these online confines, you’ll notice a few changes to the site. I am making several updates and additions, and the work in progress will be live on display.
- The design theme will basically remain the same, with a few tweaks. I like the clean look of WordPress’s “Pilcrow” theme, and will look to maintain some aesthetic consistency to the site even as it evolves.
- I’ve added a new section to the site, with the working title “Finance & Investing.” This is where I’ll delve into topics like the stock market and investment strategies and tactics (for educational purposes). It will also feature stories from the site’s main page relating to money and economics.
- The navigation menu is being customized and condensed. I think it will be a clearer, quicker guide to the new site.
- Connectivity functions are being expanded, including an easier way to sign up for email updates, and a new Twitter feed by yours truly. (I know, welcome to the 21st Century, right?)
- All links are being reviewed for relevance and freshness. New links in almost all likelihood will be added – so if you have nominations, please feel free to email me or post them as a comment!
I look forward to expanding the site’s reach and usability along with its quantity and quality of content. Stay tuned.
Charles Krauthammer advocates real compromise when it comes to avoiding the fiscal cliff, saying Republicans should concede to tax increases only as accompanied by cuts to discretionary and entitlement spending along with tax code reform. In his weekly Washington Post column, Krauthammer writes that Speaker Boehner and his House Republican majority shouldn’t deal as if they come to the table without a card to play. They’ll take a hit, but President Obama will suffer lasting damage to his legacy if the American economy gets hit with across-the-board tax hikes in January.
There’s been a scuffle within the GOP family about the best way to proceed here. The reality is that we have a massive and growing national debt that must be addressed. The fiscal cliff does just that – but so suddenly and substantially that it seems untenable. The better way is with a deal that steadily reduces debt but also promotes prosperity and growth.
Real cuts to discretionary spending is probably the easiest place to start politically, and the need for them should be self-evident. Some of the fiscal cliff cuts are actually a decent place to start, but a new deal could contain a smaller package of cuts and one that no longer requires the military to take on the largest proportional share of spending reductions.
Entitlement reform will be incredibly difficult to agree (especially in such a short period of time) but really it must be included – even if it is a modest, incremental change, such as the gradual raising of the age of social security eligibility, say, by one or two years over the next decade. Something that will at least begin to change the liability curve over time and prevent these programs from not only consuming an ever-greater share of the budget annually but eventually drowning us in red ink entirely. We have got to start somewhere.
In exchange for these cuts, Republicans should go along with the removal of certain exemptions from the tax code. Everything should be looked at. All things being equal, you avoid popular programs like the home mortgage interest deduction to the degree possible. You also bring to the table cuts to corporate welfare; most obviously cases like Solyndra, where economically dubious pet projects are being promoted, but handouts for other business interests as well. Scaling back exemptions and subsidies not only relieves deficits but also flattens the tax code, which should be a perennial goal for the Republican Party.
All of that is easier said than done of course, but it could be a good road map for the next month as lawmakers try to avoid walking us off this cliff we have created for ourselves.
Howard Rich of Americans for Limited Government takes to the pages of Investors Business Daily to discuss the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, now that the election results means it is here to stay. Along with the mandate on individuals to carry health insurance or be fined, Obamacare also requires employers to provide coverage to employees working thirty hours or more per week.
“Not only will this mandate prevent job growth among small businesses, it will also result in fewer hours and less income for workers at larger companies. These are people struggling to make ends meet on limited income — people who cannot afford to lose these hours.”
Rich notes that Darden Restaurants, which employs 185,000 nationwide in popular chains like Olive Garden, announced last month it was reducing many employees’ schedules to twenty-eight hours a week. Kroger, a grocer with 350,000 employees, is making a similar move and will restrict part-time personnel to twenty-eight hours.
“In other words ObamaCare’s “employer mandate” will wind up hurting the very people Obama claims to be fighting for — reducing their take-home pay at a time when loose monetary policy is already whittling away at the value of every dollar they earn.”
The other possibility here – one that will be harder to detect and report – is that some employers will simply follow the law by providing insurance, but offsetting the cost through lower or stagnant wages. Or prices will simply rise, etc.
There simply is no such thing as a free lunch.
Governor Mitt Romney‘s concession speech, in text and video at the New York Times.
President Barack Obama‘s victory speech, also via the NYT.