SALT LAKE CITY, June 29, 2013 — Whether the IRS should be able to target groups based solely on their ideological positions is now a party-line issue.
The House Oversight Committee decided along party lines yesterday that Lois Lerner’s previous opening statement to the committee nullified her Fifth Amendment waiver.
“Whereas, Ms. Lerner’s self-selected, and entirely voluntary, opening statement constituted a waiver of her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination because a witness may not testify voluntarily about a subject and then invoke the privilege against self-incrimination when questioned about the details,” read the resolution.
Democrat Stephen Lynch believes that Lerner’s right to decline testifying represents many American’s desire to give Congress the bird. Florida Republican John Mica had called Lerner the “poster child for thumbing her nose at Congress.”
Then Lynch defended the former Director of Exempt Organizations.
“Considering the fact that Congress’s favorability ratings are at about 6 percent, there’s probably a lot of American’s that would use a different finger with respect to Congress,” he said with a self-congratulatory tone.
Lynch earlier defended Lerner’s assertion of the Fifth Amendment as a constitutional right to thumb her nose at the government.
But Lynch misses an important point. Lerner is the government. Most Americans interact with their government through the various bureaucracies. They don’t personally hobnob with Congressmen. But they routinely file taxes, fill out forms, apply for registrations, and generally appease the seemingly all-powerful bureaucrats who can make their lives and livelihoods easy or impossible.
For many conservatives, Lerner made their lives impossible, so far as the tax status is concerned for the hundreds of tea party groups who claim to have been targeted. So while Lynch may think it’s a clever evasion of responsibility, he is colluding with precisely those elements of the government that the people so distrust.
But Democrats on the House Oversight Committee — Elijah Cummings, Stephen Lynch, et al. — believe that Lerner did nothing wrong.
So the party responsible for so much of the federal government is now completely on board with its abuse of power. President Obama went from being outraged on May 16, to being blithely satisfied with the responsiveness of IRS officials who are accused of committing crimes.
That satisfaction came just days after Lerner’s first appeared before the committee on May 22 — the same appearance at which she refused to answer any of the committee’s questions.
Ever since, Democrats on the committee have tried to declare the case closed. Outrage doesn’t last long, apparently. Now they say that Lerner doesn’t have to answer questions at all.
Of course Democrats have no interest in learning what Lerner and others knew about IRS targeting. New information can only undermine their position of expanding the federal bureaucracy.
So it is almost official. Abuse of power is now a Democratic position, and the party’s members of the House Oversight Committee will do their best to advance it.
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