The IRS scandal has claimed its first scalp. Steve Miller, the acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, has resigned at the request of the Treasury secretary, President Obama announced in a late-afternoon statement to the media. The agency was found to have inappropriately targeted conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status. “Americans are right to be angry about it,” Obama said of the misconduct. “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior ... given the power that [the IRS] has and the reach that it has in all of our lives.” Obama also said he’d cooperate with Congress during its oversight review.
"I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS," Obama said at the White House. "Given the power that it has, and the reach that it has in all of our lives. And as I said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you're from, the fact of the matter is that the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity."
Obama also said that his administration will implement new procedures to ensure the same kind of misconduct does not occur again, inviting lawmakers to assist in the effort.
"I've directed Secretary Lew to ensure the IRS begins implementing the [Inspector General's] recommendations right away," Obama said. "Third, we will work with congress as it performs its oversight role."
An internal Treasury Department report found that ineffective management at the agency allowed employees to inappropriately single out conservative non-profit groups for additional reviews during in the run up to the 2012 election, focusing on such key words as “Tea Party,” ”Patriots” or “9/12 Project” in their applications.
The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year.
The IRS did not respond to requests Monday following up about that release, and whether it had determined how the applications were sent to ProPublica.
In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved—meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We made sixof those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)
On Friday, Lois Lerner, the head of the division on tax-exempt organizations, apologized to Tea Party and other conservative groups because the IRS' Cincinnati office had unfairly targeted them. Tea Party groups had complained in early 2012 that they were being sent overly intrusive questionnaires in response to their applications.
That scrutiny appears to have gone beyond Tea Party groups to applicants saying they wanted to educate the public to "make America a better place to live" or that criticized how the country was being run, according to a draft audit cited by many outlets. The full audit, by the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration, will reportedly be released this week. (ProPublica was not contacted by the inspector general's office.) (UPDATE May 14: The audit has been released.)
Before the 2012 election, ProPublica devoted months to showing how dozens of social-welfare nonprofits had misled the IRS about their political activity on their applications and tax returns. Social-welfare nonprofits are allowed to spend money to influence elections, as long as their primary purpose is improving social welfare. Unlike super PACs and regular political action committees, they do not have to identify their donors.
In 2012, nonprofits that didn't have to report their donors poured an unprecedented $322 million into the election. Much of that money — 84 percent — came from conservative groups.
As part of its reporting, ProPublica regularly requested applications from the IRS's Cincinnati office, which is responsible for reviewing applications from nonprofits.
Social welfare nonprofits are not required to apply to the IRS to operate. Many politically active new conservative groups apply anyway. Getting IRS approval can help with donations and help insulate groups from further scrutiny. Many politically active new liberal nonprofits have not applied.
Applications become public only after the IRS approves a group's tax-exempt status.
For years, Progressives have been fighting to break up the big banks that crashed our economy. And now, they've gotten an unlikely ally in that fight -- The Tea Party. Apparently there are some members in the GOP who actually believe that the too big to fail banks need to be broken apart -- but not for the same reason progressives believe. Mike Papantonio discusses the evolving attitudes of the Tea Party with investigative journalist David Dayen.
Intellectuals on the right are coming around to the idea that our biggest financial institutions could use a little regulation.
Members of the Federal Reserve don’t usually make the rounds at partisan gatherings. But amid the tri-cornered hats and “#StandWithRand” buttons of last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)—the largest annual gathering of conservatives in the country—was Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank. In a Saturday morning speech, Fisher quoted Revolutionary War hero Patrick Henry, who once said that while “Different men often see the same subject in different lights,” such quibbling had to be set aside in a time of “awful moment to this country.”
Fisher described the current time as an era of economic injustice in which the nation’s largest banks threaten our financial stability and act with immunity. He said that the Dodd-Frank financial reform law did not go nearly far enough to fix the problem, and that mega-banks still profited from being “Too Big to Fail.” His solutions included a proposal to limit the total assets held by the biggest financial institutions, keeping them at a size that would make them “small enough to save.” And he called on citizens of all political stripes to join him in this cause. “The American people will be grateful to whoever liberates them from a recurrence of taxpayer bailouts,” Fisher concluded. It was an indication of just how bipartisan the support for breaking up the big banks has become.
It may be surprising that conservatives—whose party just ran a private-equity tycoon for president—would be clamoring for Wall Street banks to be cut down to size. But over the last few years, conservative intellectuals—from economists and central bankers to think-tankers and high-profile pundits—have come to the conclusion that the largest institutions remain Too Big to Fail and that, in ways big and small, receive unfair financial advantages over their smaller rivals. Read on...
"Jolted by the re-election of President Barack Obama, the defeat of congressional tea party icon Allen West and the cracking of Republican anti-tax orthodoxy during the recent federal budget showdown, the tea party movement is trying to rebrand and repackage itself in South Florida."
"The South Florida Tea Party — the group that helped Marco Rubio launch his Senate bid and that hosted Donald Trump during his last flirtation with a presidential run — is shedding the words “tea party” as it undergoes a name change."
'“We felt for branding reasons that we wanted to differentiate ourselves from certain organizations that have the name ‘tea party’ and we can’t control,” said Everett Wilkinson, leader of the organization that will now be called the National Liberty Federation."
"Views of the Tea Party movement are at their lowest point ever, with voters for the first time evenly divided when asked to match the views of the average Tea Party member against those of the average member of Congress. Only eight percent (8%) now say they are members of the Tea Party, down from a high of 24% in April 2010 just after passage of the national health care law."
The organization formerly known as the "Tea Party" can change its name to whatever it wants, when the same old hate-filled, racist zealots show up...that "party" will be over, too.
In this episode of Talk to Al Jazeera, Noam Chomsky sits down with Rosiland Jordan to talk about the two main tracks of his life: research and political activism. Chomsky emphasizes "The more privilege you have, the more opportunity you have. The more opportunity you have, the more responsibility you have."
Discussing US politics, he attributes the growing popularity of the Tea Party movement, and the fanatical opposition to President Barack Obama in some quarters, to what he calls the country's "pathological paranoia".
"It’s something that exists in the country. It’s a very frightened country, always has been," he says.
At the same time, Chomsky sees Obama himself as a man without a "moral centre".
"If you look at his policies I think that’s what they reveal. I mean there’s some nice rhetoric here and there but when you look at the actual policies … the drone assassination campaign is a perfectly good example, I mean it’s just a global assassination campaign."
On Israel's continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank, Chomsky says "there was no effort" by Obama to even try and curb it.
"[Obama's] telling Netanyahu and the other Israeli leaders: I’ll tap you on the wrist but go ahead and do what you like .... So in fact, Obama is actually the first president who hasn’t really imposed restrictions on Israel."
Chomsky is also critical of "neoliberal programmes" that he blames for the global financial crisis:
"The New Deal regulations were in place and there were no financial crisis, none .... Starting in the 1970s it changed pretty radically. There were decisions made - not laws of nature - to reconstruct the economy."
And decades later, these decisions have resulted in a situation which "really is a catastrophe," he says.
Chomsky believes that "Nothing’s ever gone too far. Anything can be reversed; these are human decisions.The more privilege you have, the more opportunity you have. The more opportunity you have, the more responsibility you have."
Burn Wall Street is a large scale, outdoor art installation that is sprouting powerful conversations countrywide. By bringing individuals from the Occupy and Tea Party movements together, this project asks participants to put their political identities aside in order to talk about common principles and goals for financial reform.
Forged from the financial unrest and injustice that has incensed the American public, Burn Wall Street’s core intention is built on participation, one of the Ten Principles of Burning Man. The art project is being prefabricated in Reno, Nevada, following an initial phase that began in Oakland, California.
Oakland-based artist Otto Von Danger, a performance artist who gained notoriety for blowing up a city facade at the festival two years ago, spent two months and an estimated $100,000 constructing the massive Wall Street model, which consisted of five interactive buildings and a replica of Zuccotti Park, SF Weekly reports.
Burn Wall Street was installed as an honorarium art piece at Burning Man 2012 in the Black Rock Desert, and was sponsored by Veterans for Peace, a 501c3 non-profit.
Thom Hartmann explains the simple reason why citizens in Libya and Egypt are rioting - people don't riot when times are good, they only riot when they're pushed. Wednesday evening's "Lone Liberal Rumble" panel discusses day three of the Chicago teachers strike, Romney's latest lie/flip-flop and whether we're headed for another credit downgrade thanks to the Tea Party. In the "Daily Take" Thom looks at how privatizing our country's prisons are not only costing taxpayers more money, but are drastically increasing the number of people incarcerated.
Paul Ryan is the mastermind behind the extreme GOP budget plan. It's a plan Mitt Romney endorses.
But what does that budget mean for America? The GOP budget plan hurts seniors, it hurts middle-class families, and it hurts students. All to pay for tax cuts for those at the top..
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan: back to the failed top-down policies that crashed our economy.
Paul Ryan’s top-down budget plan is a sham
Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney both support trillions in budget-busting tax cuts for millionaires that will result in tax hikes on the middle class and deep cuts in education and other investments we need to grow. Ryan’s extreme budget plan, which Mitt Romney has embraced, would make deep spending cuts now to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy, which would weaken the recovery and cost the economy jobs.
According to Harvard economist Jeffrey Liebman, based on Mitt Romney’s own projections on the impact of deep spending cuts on the economy, Paul Ryan’s budget plan could cost the U.S. more than 1 million jobs.
Paul Ryan’s plan would raise taxes on the middle class and cut taxes for the wealthy
Ryan’s extreme budget plan would benefit the wealthy while raising taxes on middle-class families, slowing our economic recovery and hurting seniors and the middle class.
Deep tax giveaways for the wealthy:
Paul Ryan’s extreme budget includes a tax “reform” plan that would make the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, and give millionaires an additional tax cut worth over $250,000 a year. Paying for these tax cuts for the most fortunate families would require higher taxes on the middle class, gutting investments in our future, and ending Medicare as we know it.
Raise taxes on the middle class:
Just like Mitt Romney’s tax plan, middle-class families could pay thousands of dollars more a year in taxes to help fund tax cuts for millionaires. Ryan would cut or eliminate middle-class tax deductions like mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and health premiums.
Paul Ryan’s plan would gut middle-class investments
To pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest, Paul Ryan would gut investments critical to middle-class security.
This includes cutting Pell Grant scholarships for nearly 10 million students, cutting clean energy investments by 19%, and slowing scientific and medical research by eliminating tens of thousands of grants.
Paul Ryan’s plan would end Medicare as we know it
Paul Ryan’s extreme budget would end Medicare as we know it, turning it into a voucher program which would increase seniors’ health costs by $6,350 a year. Ryan has also proposed a plan that would have privatized Social Security, subjecting seniors’ retirement security to the whims of the stock market.
Paul Ryan is severely conservative
Like Mitt Romney, Ryan’s severely conservative positions are out of touch with most Americans’ values. He would take us backward on women’s health and equal rights.
Paul Ryan would take us backward on women’s health:
Ryan cosponsored a bill that could ban in-vitro fertilization, as well as many common forms of birth control, including the pill. It could also ban all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. He supported letting states prosecute women who have abortions and doctors who perform them.
Paul Ryan would take us backward on equal rights:
Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps women fight for equal pay for equal work. He voted against repealing the discriminatory policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and supports writing discrimination into the Constitution by amending it to ban gay marriage.
If this isn't enough information on Paul Ryan, and what Romney & Ryan would mean for America, let me sum it up briefly:
Note: No senior citizens were harmed in the making of this video.
B Media Collective, a community-based video art collective, presents "Occupation Nation," an hourlong montage of remixed shorts that explore the philosophical roots of Occupy Movement. As zombie banksters threaten to consume all that's left of our spectacular society, B Media's fifth video variety show showcases the mycelia network of Occupy Wall Street. Deeply rooted in historical and international precedents that have the potential to turn toxic assets and discarded derivatives into new communities, this shared vision and collective decision-making empowers us all.
The film calls on us to remember the Oaxacan teacher strikes and the Bonus Army, and it explores this new technological global revolution by riffing on the work of video ninjas everywhere. Darryl Mitchell and David Graeber's dialectics break down the bricks of Wall Street, PeeWee Herman interviews Emma Goldman about the black bloc, Mr. Bean gets peppersprayed, and Obama is mic-checked in his Disney World as the police protect the smart ALEC's running the show.
Frontline: The nation’s largest banks are “a perversion of capitalism” and “a clear and present danger to the U.S. economy.” The Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation passed in the wake of the crisis “may actually perpetuate an already dangerous trend of increasing banking industry concentration.”
These arguments come not from an Occupy Wall Street activist, not from a Tea Party member, but from a scathing report released last week by one of the nation’s top banking regulators, the Federal Reserve Board of Dallas. In a column for ProPublica and The New York Times, reporter Jesse Eisenger described the report as “a radical indictment of the nation’s financial system.”
FRONTLINE sat down on Saturday with the Dallas Fed CEO and president, former banker Richard W. Fisher, to talk about the report and its core argument about “too big to fail” institutions. According to their calculation, the five biggest commercial banks — JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp — hold 52 percent of all U.S. deposits, which means the “too big to fail” problem is with us now more than ever.
Dodd-Frank proposes to solve this problem by giving the government “resolution authority” to dismantle a big bank, but Fisher suggests a better solution is to not allow banks to get so big.
Fisher argues that now is an ideal time to solve this problem. Regulators feared that aggressive steps to end the “too big to fail” problem during the crisis would further destabilize an already delicate system. But now that the financial system is healthier, and the normal lending and borrowing that keeps the system liquid has been restored, the risks have lessened.