So right on in today's DailyKos:
The media has gone into high boil over the actions of a handful of IRS employees in Cincinnati. The IRS is deliberately targeting political groups! They even admit it! Can impeachment be far behind?
Next step, tie this to Benghazi and any other fact-free psuedo-scandal close at hand. Step two, moan about the general incompetence and corruption of government. Step three, demand scalps — but not before there's time to spin out a good half dozen Sunday talk show seasons on Taxgazi, or Tax and Furious, or whatever brand the pundits decide has the most snap.
You know this one must be the real deal, because every news channel, newspaper, local anchor, radio nutjob, and water cooler wag is singing the same tune. Hell, even Jon Stewart is on step two.
There's just one minor problem: the exact purpose of the IRS office in question IS to look at political groups. Specifically, to weed out purely political groups that promote or oppose candidates from obtaining a tax status that's supposed to go to nonprofit educational organizations. The crime of the IRS agents in Cincinnati? They were doing their job.
But what about the specific targeting of Tea Party groups? Doesn't that show that this was all just a witch hunt against groups with right wing ideologies? Uh, no. It came up at exactly the time the office was getting flooded with a bunch of hastily prepared applications spewing from the Tea Party's messy birth. The edict went out expressly because the office was being flooded with a bunch of hastily prepared, clearly political, applications all using very similar terms. In fact, the entire group of IRS employees in question was created to address the influx of possibly political applications. If the office had suddenly received a hundred applications for exempt status all claiming to be from the Sierra Club, wouldn't you want them to pay a bit more attention? I would. What if those applications had all been from groups using Muslim Brotherhood in their titles? Would the same pundits still be on the air screaming about the IRS getting all political?
Behind all this are the staggering numbers. Out of thousands of applications, only a handful were rejected. You know what happens while a nonprofit organization is waiting to get this approval? They get to operate as a nonprofit organization. The harm caused by this action is exactly zero, and exactly no groups have sued the IRS in response to their rejection. They simply amended the application and tried again.
These are agents doing their job. They responded to an unusual influx of groups with political language in their applications all going after a designation that excludes groups that carry out many political actions.
The only scandal here is that this is being reported as if the IRS did something wrong in injecting itself into politics. The law requires that the IRS inject itself into politics. Don't like it? Change the law. Don't attack the people trying to enforce it.
Not only that, but those of us in the Land Trust community are getting such a laugh out of all this. Land trusts have been targeted for the past 5-6 years by the IRS undergoing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of audits. We even invite them to our annual Land Trust Conference, where the IRS holds seminars to bring us up to date on their progress, but it's all such a witchhunt since they are finding so little relative to what they're spending.
Something tells me the Tea Party groups won't be taking the same approach.