May 14, 2013

While the IRS Tea Party Targeting 'Scandal' looks terrible on its face, the ones who look terrible are the IRS, as evidenced by the just-released Inspector General's report. When asked directly by reporters today whether the White House had any knowledge whatsoever of the IRS' activities with regard to approving 501(c)(4) organizations, Jay Carney answered with an unequivocal "No."

That doesn't stop Fox News from trying to link it up to Watergate and Richard Nixon. Lou Dobbs just came out and said it, while others have been only slightly less blatant.

Fox's Lou Dobbs and Megyn Kelly attacked President Obama as "Nixonian" and claimed that he revealed his "inner Nixon" over scrutiny that the IRS applied to tea party groups, despite the fact that the president labeled the IRS's actions "outrageous."

Obama addressed concerns at a press conference Monday over reports that the IRS applied extra scrutiny to tea party groups. He vowed to hold the agency "fully accountable" and called the alleged misdeeds "outrageous." Pointing to those comments, Kelly asked if Obama's condemnation was forceful enough, while Dobbs compared Obama with President Nixon, stating, "This is an agency with an enemies list. This is Nixonian. This is a president whose inner Nixon is being revealed."

I just did a review of the 990s I've collected over the years. For all the sound and fury, there is no question that the IRS was on the right track with regard to their scrutiny. We can argue about whether they targeted the right groups, and in fact, the IG's report specifically points out that they missed an entire group of political/advocacy organizations that deserved further scrutiny, but there is absolutely no question about the need for a closer look.

Congress could fix this if they weren't so addicted to Beltway hair-on-fire news cycles. All they have to do is bar tax-exempt organizations from any political activity relating to elections and election cycles. But no, instead they'd just as soon run around waving their arms in the air shouting "Scandal! Nixon! Investigation! Whitewater!" and so on, because they can and they can hope it stirs the masses enough to give Republicans cover for the 2014 midterms.

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