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Remy inspires a taxman Playlist

July 25, 2014 Comments off

Remy has released another great music video. This time he takes on the coincidence involved in the multitude of IRS agents that had failed hard drives during the period of time Congress needs to review emails. Here is the video Remy released a few days ago:

Yeah… Concidental.

Speaking of coincidence. Back in 1973 President Nixon was taking some heat from the press for ‘accidentally’ deleting about eighteen and a half minutes of a tape audio recording from the White House. Coincidentally the 1967 hit protest song from Arlo Guthrie was about that long.

Now for this weeks playlist. This playlist has been inspired by the ‘taxman’.

The Beatles – Taxman

This classic song sums up the mentality of the taxman. “If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet”.

Cheap Trick – Taxman, Mr. Thief

Moving on to a little bit harder classic rock, but still focusing on the taxman, is Cheap Trick. “You work hard, you went hungry, Now the taxman is out to get you.”

The Replacements – Bastards of the Young

This song highlights how the Gen-Xers were little more than an income tax deduction. I believe that is even more true for the millennials. Leave it up to a progressive tax code to completely twist the reason for having kids. “income tax deduction, what a helluva function.”

Lucky Dube – Taxman 

OK, back to talking about the taxman. The great Reggae start Lucky Dube created this song asking what good the taxman is. “You take from the rich, take from the poor”.

The Kinks – Sunny Afternoon

Time to finish this playlist with one of my favorite groups. This song highlights the consequences of dealing with the taxman.

Categories: IRS Tags: ,

House Oversight Committee joins SCOTUS in diminishing the Fifth Amendment

June 28, 2013 1 comment

AP_Documents_BillofRightsThe House Oversight & Government Reform Committee just voted on a resolution to declare  Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights during her last IRS hearing appearance. The Committee voted 22-17 to pass the resolution. This was a bad decision.

This is a topic I have blogged about before. As an American taxpayer I am quite pissed-off at Ms Lerner. I feel she should have been immediately fired for refusing to answer questions from the House Oversight Committee. By refusing to answer their questions she has decided the American people have no right to know what she as a public servant knows. I defer to my previous words on the subject of her employment:

It is hard to comprehend how she still has her job. As a high-level manager she is accountable for her actions and for those that work in her division. By choosing not to take accountability she has proven herself unfit as a manager and should be excused from her job immediately.

Due to labor regulations Ms Lerner is on paid administrative leave. It is mind-boggling that Ms Lerner could keep her job after such an action.

However whether Ms Lerner should keep her employment is not the topic of today’s vote in the House Oversight Committee. Rather today’s vote is about whether Ms Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment protected rights by providing a statement under oath before pleading the 5th. I feel the same on this subject as I did a little over one month ago: Don’t trample on the 5th Amendment going after Lerner. There are other paths that can be taken.

Representative Lynch (D-MA) provided a short testimony before the vote this morning. His testimony was a direct attack upon the way Representative Issa (R-CA) has handled this resolution. Lynch agreed that the ability of Congress to call witnesses for testimony is important. However it is imperative that Congress recognize and respect the Fifth Amendment rights of witnesses. Lynch also attacked Issa for not allowing debate. Many (including myself) thought this mornings vote would be debated. Issa allowed very little time for discussion and acted quite condescendingly to those that did.

Then Representative Horsford (D-NV) was allowed to speak briefly. He best summed up the situation when stating that he was not sent to DC by his constituents to take away the rights of citizens. Any small-government constitutional Republican should agree with Rep Horsford’s statement.

Sadly Rep Issa  has taken an anti-liberty approach going after Ms Lerner. There are other ways of investigating the IRS scandal that don’t involve trampling constitutionally protected rights. By taking these actions Rep Issa has joined SCOTUS in further diminishing Constitutionally protected Fifth Amendment rights. The sad irony of this situation is not lost one me. Two weeks ago SCOTUS decided silence before pleading the Fifth could be used against a person; now the House Oversight Committee has decided speaking before pleading the Fifth waives that right. A couple of more actions like that and a very important constitutionally protected right will be gone forever.

Going forward I can only hope the court sides with Ms Lerner and agrees that she did not waive her Fifth Amendment protected rights. Previously Rep Meehan (R-PA) mentioned Ms Lerner has worked as an attorney in the Justice Department. As such she understands the legal system well and I give her a good chance of getting the House Oversight Committee’s resolution declared invalid. Its ironic, Rep Issa has left me in the position to cheer on a government bureaucrat I feel has acted immoral. If only Issa had taken a true constitutional Republican approach…

Don’t trample on the 5th Amendment going after Lerner

May 24, 2013 3 comments

AP_Documents_BillofRightsEarlier this week I followed the House Oversight Committee hearing regarding the IRS scandal.  Lois Lerner, the Director of the IRS’s Tax-Exempt Division, gave an opening statement before the Congressional Committee. Then she was excused after pleading the Fifth Amendment. As I stated yesterday, I believe Ms Lerner should be fired. However I am quite concerned that many are calling for her to be put back in the ‘hot seat’ because she ‘waived’ her Fifth Amendment rights.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa may have let her leave the hearing, but he plans to drag her back in. Here is the statement Issa provided to POLITICO:

“When I asked her her questions from the very beginning, I did so so she could assert her rights prior to any statement,” Issa told POLITICO. “She chose not to do so — so she waived.”

I would expect this to be a top priority for Issa when Congress returns in June. And I expect Issa to attack the Fifth Amendment at that time. The legality of this area is very murky. Here is an excerpt from Doug Mataconis’s article on the subject:

In the end, all that Lerner’s statement constitutes is a declaration of her own innocence. Given that, the Reiner Court’s holding that the Fifth Amendment privilege still applies to people who claim to be innocent strongly suggests that she did not waive her rights merely be making a statement in which she states that she is innocent.. Indeed, to the extent there is any doubt on this issue I would expect that a judge is going to err on the side of protecting her rights at this stage, especially given the fact that this is a Congressional hearing and not a Grand Jury proceeding or criminal trial and the fact that there is an ongoing FBI investigation of this matter of which Lerner is likely to be, at the very least, a person of interest. A finding that Lerner waived her rights in this Committee hearing would, potentially, prejudice her ability to assert those rights in a law enforcement interrogation.

There will be more to come on this I am sure, but I submit that the default rule of erring on the side of liberty is one that people examining the issue would do well to apply.

I hope the Congressional Committee will rule on the side of liberty as Mr Mataconis suggests. Just because it appears someone appears to have violated other US Citizens First Amendment rights does not excuse violating her Fifth Amendment rights. Even if the Fifth Amendment does not match this situation perfectly (because it technically isn’t a court) it would be unwise for Congress to deny her the right to keep silent when she may self-in-criminalize. Such precedence would show Congress has no respect for the rights of citizens when they are ‘inconvenient’.

I will end this post in the way I find most appropriate, by posting the text from the Fifth Amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation

 

PS. There are a couple more recent big stories in regards to Lerner. First she has refused to resign as asked, and second she apparently personally sent some of the letters to Tea Party groups being targeted.

Why does Lois Lerner still have her job?

May 23, 2013 2 comments

AP_Documents_BillofRightsYesterday I posted about the House Oversight Committee hearing regarding the IRS scandal. I posted my thoughts about the testimony from Douglas Shulman, who was the Commissioner of the IRS during the scandal period; Neal Wolin, the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury; and J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. One item I did not post about was the testimony from Lois Lerner, Director of the IRS’s Tax-Exempt Division. I decided to write separately about Ms Lerner since she provided testimony and then pleaded the 5th.

Before the hearing yesterday Lois provided a two and a half-minute testimony before the Committee. The testimony can be seen here on Politico. At the end of her testimony she was dismissed by Rep. Issa since she made it clear she would not be answering questions. Apparently her counsel had advised her pleading the fifth would be best in this situation. The Fifth Amendment is used to protect citizens from self-incriminating themselves. Here is the exact text of the Fifth Amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation

In my mind there are two important questions left after Ms Lerner chose to plead the fifth. First, can a person plead the fifth after providing testimony? Second, why does Ms Lerner still have her job after pleading the fifth?

For the first question I will defer to an excellent article over at United Liberty from Jason Pye. At the core of this issue is the fact Ms Lerner provided testimony (what she calls an opening statement) but then refused to allow cross-examination. Did Ms Lerner waive her right to pleading the fifth when she provided testimony? The Supreme Court in the past has ruled that the fifth cannot be utilized once testimony is given. It really comes down to the whether the opening statement is considered testimony. Mr Pye’s article explains this much better than I ever could.

Now, the second question I have no problems answering: Ms Lerner should be fired immediately. As the Director of the IRS’s Tax-Exempt Division she is in the employee of the American people. She must also answer to the oversight power provided to Congress. By choosing not to answer questions from the oversight committee she has proven herself to be an unfit employee. Pleading the fifth may protect her from testifying against herself in criminal matters; however it does not protect her job as a high-level manager working for the taxpayers. It is hard to comprehend how she still has her job. As a high-level manager she is accountable for her actions and for those that work in her division. By choosing not to take accountability she has proven herself unfit as a manger and should be excused from her job immediately.

Going forward this will be an interesting case to watch. Personally I think we will see Ms Lerner testify with immunity being provided. Once she is given immunity it is hard for Ms Lerner to publicly justify why she will not answer to Congress or the American people. But, as I said before, no matter what Ms Lerner should be fired and prevented from ever working on the taxpayer dime again.

Today’s House IRS Hearing had almost no answers

May 22, 2013 2 comments

1322756701Today the House Oversight Committee held a hearing for the IRS scandal. Testifying before the Committee were three individuals: Douglas Shulman, who was the Commissioner of the IRS during the scandal period; Neal Wolin, the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury; and J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

I watched four and a half hours of this hearing while live tweeting (about 125 tweets during that time-frame). In this hearing Mr. Wolin got the least amount of attention. He basically admitted he gets his info the same place as the President: from the press. In fact at one time he said the Department of Treasure has no involvement in IRS affairs because it would be seen as political influence from the administration if he did so. Most of those asking the questions basically ignored Wolin (which likely suited him fine).

Mr George got a lot more attention. Early on Mr. George annoyed me in the proceedings by saying the IRS had the rights to target Americans based upon politics, although he didn’t really state if that was good or bad. But to make it worse he thought all the IRS should be held accountable for was lack of training. He appeared to hold the opinion that mistakes made were all training related. There was an interesting section where Representative Meehan was getting quite mad that Mr. George was avoiding his questions. Rep. Meehan said to Mr. George: “no you can’t get back to me, he just whispered in your ear, what did he say!” This was just after Mr. George was speaking with his ‘counsel’. At one point during his testimony Mr. George did refuse to comment because “I don’t want to go to jail.” I expect to see this taken out of context many times going forth as it had to do with what info he can/can’t speak to and not what he was trying to hide.

Summarizing Mr. Shulman’s testimony can be done with a few words: incompetent, clueless, and liar. All three of these words were either used or alluded to throughout the hearing, and Mr. Shulman did nothing to change those characterizations. Early on Mr. Shulman refused to answer if it was OK for the IRS to lie to Congress. It all went down-hill from that point. An interesting point to note is that more than one Representative had to ask Mr. Shulman if he understood he was under oath. Also worth mentioning is the fact that Mr. Shulman apparently gets so many letters from Congress and meetings with the President that he can’t remember any of them. Finally the final kicker to show how worthless Mr. Shulman was/is as management: he would not accept responsibility for anything that happened under his time as management, but does acknowledge it happened. Hopefully this guy never gets a job on the taxpayer’s dime ever again in his lifetime!

Another thing worth mentioning in this proceeding was the behavior of some (not all) of the Democrat Representatives. Many of the Dem Reps kept hounding upon the fact that Citizens United is the root cause of this IRS scandal. I guess the theory goes like this: “it’s OK if the IRS broke the law and trampled on First Amendment rights of American citizens because it was caused by a Supreme Court decision I disagree with”. Representative Grisham was particularly bad on this Citizens United misdirect. She honestly didn’t seem to care if the IRS did anything illegal. In fact she was saying any of these organizations should be forced to reveal the donor list despite what the current law says.

I have many more notes. However I am so disgusted with the pure amount of “I know nothing” that came out of the hearing that I’ll end my post here. This hearing also confirmed what I’ve believed for quite some time: the IRS has too much power.

The power of the government must be reduced, not just the size

May 20, 2013 1 comment

mindaslab_MultimeterOver at Reason there is a good article from Peter Suderman titled “The IRS Targeted Conservatives Because It Could“. The whole article is worth reading. However I want to highlight a very important point Peter makes:

But I think that critiques that focus on the government’s size miss an important factor. This isn’t just a problem of bigness or smallness. It’s a problem of power.

When public servants have the power to make life difficult for narrowly defined groups of people—their political enemies, or disfavored causes, or people on the wrong side of a national discussion—they’ll end up using, and abusing, that power. It’s all but inevitable, whatever the reason. Sometimes they’ll do it because they’re out to punish their foes. Sometimes because they honestly believe it’s the fairest and most reasonable way to do their jobs. Sometimes because they’re mean and petty people. Sometimes because they think they’re making the nation a better place for all. Sometimes because they’re instructed to do so from on high. Sometimes because they’re not given enough instruction. Sometimes because they’re just plain incompetent.

It’s not that the reasons don’t matter at all. They do. But in some ways the particular reasons miss the larger point. Power will find a reason. It always does.

This is an important concept for anyone that thinks the government has gotten too large. It is the power used by government officials that stifle social and economic freedoms. There is no direct correlation between the size of the government and the amount of coercive power that same government uses upon its citizens.  For example, if half of all government employees were removed from the taxpayer payroll tomorrow that would not mean the coercive power of the government had been reduced by half. Actually the opposite may be true. The coercive power of each government official or employ would have actually increased because there are fewer entities to share that power with.

Going forward those fighting for ‘small government’ must keep in mind that power must be reduced along with the size of government. In regards to the IRS scandal this lesson is very important. Freedom activists should now be fighting to reduce the overall power of the IRS, and not simply trying to ‘hold someone accountable’. Without power being removed from the IRS these same scandals will continue to happen time and time again.

The IRS targeted Tea Party groups! But it was not politically motivated???

May 10, 2013 Comments off

PrinterKiller_Cup_of_TeaAP posted a story titled “IRS apologizes for targeting conservative groups” earlier this morning. It appears last year when many liberty-focused non-profit groups said they were being unfairly targeted by the IRS it wasn’t paranoia as the left-leaning media and bloggers claimed. Rather it was a decision made and carried out by IRS agents.

AP has the following quote from Lois Lerner, the person in charge of the division that overseas tax-exempt groups:

Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias. After her talk, she told The AP that no high level IRS officials knew about the practice.

Really? It’s almost astonishing this claim would be made: “not motivated by political bias”. Groups that are openly opposed to big government and over-taxation happen to be directly targeted by the government’s tax enforcement wing. And Lerner has the cojones to say it was “not motivated by political bias”! Among the organizations singled out were any with the words “tea party” or “patriot” on their tax-free status application. So IRS agents targeting “tea party” was “not motivated by political bias”?

Going forward I’m sure there will be an investigation. Since the government will be doing its own investigation I don’t think they will find anything of use.

But, a full investigation is not required to start actions that will prevent this in the future. A good place to start would be to fire the agents in Cincinnati who (according to the IRS) initiated this attack upon Tea Party groups. Since this is supposedly the work of a small group of workers in the Cincinnati office the IRS has knowledge of who is responsible. Fire them. There is no excuse for such behavior.

The IRS has taken other steps to prevent this in the future:

“Mistakes were made initially, but they were in no way due to any political or partisan rationale,” the IRS said in a statement. “We fixed the situation last year and have made significant progress in moving the centralized cases through our system.

Ahh, so the IRS isn’t actually saying what steps were taken to fix this. We are just supposed to trust them to fix it.

But at least the IRS apologized. Right?

“The IRS would like to apologize for that,” she added.

Hmm. “The IRS would like to apologize for that”. That sounded more like a “my bad” type of apology rather than a “we are taking this serious” type of apology.

Reason has posted some of the letters received by Tea Party groups last year. It will be interesting to see how the mainstream media decides to cover (or avoid) this story.

Categories: IRS, Taxes Tags: ,
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