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View Diary: Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: The Village, the tempests, the teapots (99 comments)

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  •  Mike Tomasky (26+ / 0-)
    The president demonstrated that he understood this point with respect to the IRS situation—to Republicans, the most toothsome of the three problems the White House is now trying to manage. Firing the acting IRS commissioner within days was the kind of move Obama hasn’t made often enough while in office. He knows very well how potentially dangerous this issue is for him, but whatever the motivation, good for him for moving so fast and striking an assertive posture.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/...

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Thu May 16, 2013 at 04:36:17 AM PDT

    •  more... (14+ / 0-)
      The Republicans are going to do what they’re going to do. On these matters in particular, they’re Pavlovian cavemen. The way to beat them is not to forestall or worry about who scored points today. It’s to make a case to the broader public through actions—and timely actions, not actions taken only after great delay so it looks as if they were forced on you—that you are in charge and trying to run an honest shop. Hemming and hawing is the true aid and comfort.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Thu May 16, 2013 at 04:45:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bad judgement on the part of some IRS people on (12+ / 0-)

        how to do a job they are supposed to do. The real scandal is as Dionne mentions:

        But the other scandal — as The Post’s Ezra Klein and Ruth Marcus and MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell have all suggested — is that any groups involved in partisan electioneering are being granted standing as “social welfare” organizations, allowing them to hide the identity of their donors. A bad mistake could compound the IRS’s timidity on the 501(c)(4) issue.
        There are a lot of rotten eggs, in it for anything but healthy discussion and sometimes just plain scamming, hiding in those tax exempt bushes.

        A letter from tax lawyer Nancy Ortmeyer Kuhn to the Washington Post, published this morning, has its points (my emphasis):

        The real problem is that oversight of exempt organizations should not be handled by the IRS. The issues are too politically sensitive to be dealt with by a tax collector. After all, there is no intent to collect taxes from exempt organizations, so the goals of this office are at odds with the goals of the agency.

        One hopes that this bungled attempt at oversight of politically active exempt organizations, coupled with the IRS’s abandonment of oversight of politically active churches, will finally spur needed reform. Someone should objectively make certain that tax-favored status is not abused.

        Indeed. A more judicious process outside the collection agency might solve a number of problems—including one in which a massive numbers of churches engage in very highly partisan politics.

        The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

        by pelagicray on Thu May 16, 2013 at 05:06:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  yes. ...but... (12+ / 0-)

          http://www.bloomberg.com/...

          “Social welfare” is a term of art that doesn’t mean exactly what it sounds like. To qualify, a group must have the aim of producing benefits that accrue to the community as a whole, not just its members. “Benefit” and “community” are construed broadly; organizations do not have to demonstrate that the policies they promote are good or that they benefit everyone.
          You can see this in the IRS regulations governing 501(c)(4) groups. These groups may engage in unlimited lobbying related to their social welfare missions. The IRS offers these specific examples of acceptable activity: “promotion of legislation on animal rights,” “advocacy of anti-abortion legislation,” “legalization of currently illegal activity” and “advocacy of changes in the tax law.”
          The groups can also engage in electioneering, even endorsing candidates. Here’s the IRS: “An exempt IRC 501(c)(4) organization may intervene in political campaigns as long as its primary activity is the promotion of social welfare.”

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Thu May 16, 2013 at 05:08:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wow. Why bothering even writing (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tb mare, PsychoSavannah

            such a flabby, diffuse, hole-ridden "regulation"?

            The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

            by psnyder on Thu May 16, 2013 at 06:06:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Anyone familiar with the regulations, from the (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PsychoSavannah, thomask, psnyder

              writing (by committee) to implementation (sometimes by the reading challenged) and as those subject to them daily as are government employees know part of the reason for "flabby, diffuse, hole-ridden" regulations is to make holes through which driving certain trucks is possible. This particularly applies to the stuff Congress passes from which regulations flow. It was always something of a pleasure to have a nice, well written, clear regulation with which to deal.

              One of my worst examples was a Joint Travel Regulation under which a clearly subordinate clause was moved to preeminent enforcement even though it failed on its face to meet the governing clause. Pointing that out was as effective as commanding the tides to recede and a plain English reading was denied in about the same manner a possible, probable in my opinion, dependent clause of the Second Amendment is used by the NRA because that is how they like to see things. "Clause ridden" barely covers most and selective "clauseing" is pretty common.

              Life, particularly for federal workers, would be much simplified by clarity in regulation writing, but then in a job once screwed up (Congress usually with the driving law) anything done to try to improve it generally screws things up even more.

              Have some fun, take a look at the FARSITE, for a random example Subpart 23.2 -- Energy and Water Efficiency and Renewable Energy and try to connect all the dots.

              The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

              by pelagicray on Thu May 16, 2013 at 06:30:54 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  another great idea from NYT (11+ / 0-)

          make donors public, obviating a lot of the problem of what an organization is for.

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Thu May 16, 2013 at 05:35:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Who Do You Suggest "Objectively Handle Oversight" (0+ / 0-)

          of tax exempt status of organizations? Congress? They will be bought off by lobbyists. Another government regulatory agency? Again, regulators can be bought off by lobbyists - just look at the so-called "bank regulators" at the SEC and how they are in bed with the financial industry. Instead of regulating them, they nod and wink at their illegal activities, and give them a slap on the wrist fine if they find any wrong doing. Hiring an outside third party government contractor? That is privatization (which the Republicans would love), but it is also ripe for being used as a political football (as in withholding funding, etc.). I disagree with your assessment - the IRS is the perfect agency to handle the decision of which groups should be granted tax exempt status and which should not. The IRS just needs to stop being so damned timid about stopping abuses of tax exempt status, and start enforcing the law. FYI, IRS funding has been cut by Republicans, which is probably one of the reasons why they have abandoned oversight of certain things - please be aware that the right wing has declared an ideological war on certain government agencies, and they are being deliberately targeted/defunded by the right wing .

    •  Trudy Rubin's column (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Greg Dworkin

      I feel that Trudy Rubin's column from today's Philadelphia Inquirer deserves a mention in the Abbreviated Pundit Roundup.  Here's an excerpt:

      Yes, Virginia, there is a Benghazi scandal.

      The scandal is that Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) and some Republican colleagues are dishonoring the memory of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans by making a political circus out of their deaths.

      As chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa is ready to manipulate the pain and anger of relatives and colleagues of the victims, but shows little interest in making U.S. diplomats safer. The hearing he held last week ignored the real issues raised by Benghazi in favor of promoting conspiracy theories about "talking points" that administration officials used after the tragedy.

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