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Tea Time, Anyone?




Fee-fi-fo-fum, what a mess is the IRS.  Republicans say yes, Democrats say no, President Obama says sorry commissioner but guess what – you must go.  I started out like the classic English quatrain you remembered as a child – Jack and the Beanstalk, but all jokes aside this new debacle in Washington D.C., has the makings of a Hollywood film. To date, it’s been a rough month for the White House.

In case you’re just coming up for air. It’s been a scorching two week news cycle that included Ariel Castro – the Cleveland, Ohio man who kidnapped and repeatedly raped, beat and tortured three women over a ten year period; the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell for illegal abortion procedures; and, the Congressional inquiry on the Benghazi Libya attack that killed four including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens an injured ten others on September 11, 2012.

The scathing report documenting the rising number of sexual assaults in the military including two officers- one who worked with the Air Force’s assault prevention unit who was charged with sexual battery, the other a Army officer who headed the sexual harassment and prevention unit charged with abusive sexual contact and maltreatment of subordinates. Oh, and let’s not forget the Justice Department secret investigation of phone records of journalists from the Associated Press. The phone records were seized as part of a year-long investigation into the disclosure of classified information about a failed al-Qaeda plot.

The latest drama to dominate the news cycle comes from the Internal Revenue Service with love.  I like a good tea party – I play it often with my 6-year old daughter, but the Tea Party seems to have been in the cross hairs of the Internal Revenue Service – yep, the I.R.S.  Why?  Glad you asked.

The IRS is responsible for making determinations on organizations requesting tax-exempt status as defined by the tax code.  The Internal Revenue Service is accused of targeting groups with “Tea Party” or “patriot” as part if of their name with an aggressive line of questions and scrutiny that appears to focus more on the organizations’ donors, the personal business of directors and board members – even questions on what books they read.

Republicans assert President Obama may have been asleep at the wheel or the White House is engaged in some kind of sinister plot – to the level of Watergate to harass the political opposition and they want to know what Mr. Obama knew and when he knew it. Leading the charge, Congresswoman and former presidential candidate and Tea Party member Michele Bachmann from Minnesota.

It’s too early to say how deep the rabbit-hole is and if the White House helped dig it. However, one thing is for sure this political potato has invigorated the Tea Party establishment.

Just when I thought this was going to be a passing fade.  Let me admit upfront I’m a Republican and when the Tea Party’s ideals began to infiltrate the conservative discourse, my wish was for it to pull the party from the extreme right and more to the middle. That was purely wishful thinking because the party is just as confused and out of touch with issues affecting women, minorities, young voters, the middle class, (the 47 percent of us regular people) as it was during the election cycle.

What does all this have to do with the price of tea in China? The IRS is just another distraction Republicans are using to attempt to keep the White House off message and on the defensive.

This is where we all need to pay attention. The real battle is against the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare.  When the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare – with Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion which upheld the policy for an unexpected reason: Congress has the ability to regulate health care as part of its power to tax. Since the policy was administered through the IRS, the law was Constitutional.

According to CNBC, there are 47 provisions of the ACA the IRS is supposed to administer.  Attacks against Obamacare are not new. What is new is the leverage provided by this IRS scandal. It didn’t take long before the Obamacare opposition implied the IRS’ errors and failures in the administration of non-profit status means that it cannot be trusted to properly administer Obamacare.

Michele Bachmann presented the most extreme argument to that end, but she wasn’t alone in suggesting that there was a problem. On Monday’s Morning Joe, Newt Gingrich argued that the agency was fundamentally untrustworthy, asking, “Why would you trust the bureaucracy with your health if you can’t trust the bureaucracy with your politics?”

This is business as usual in Washington, D.C. and best that the Republicans don’t overreach or overplay their hand at this stage in the game. So far President Obama is weathering the conservative storm but the Tea Party would love nothing more than to issue a severe storm warning forecast with a high chance of rain, hail and hot wind on this president’s final term in office.


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