Delicious irony, perhaps: the tea party has been reinvigorated and reinvented following revelations that its groups’ nonprofit status had been singled out and investigated by the IRS. Though a critical news media has tried to purge the conservative, liberty-minded grass-roots movement from the public radar, the tea partyers still push back in huge numbers, and on their own terms. Rush Limbaugh now deems the tea party “fearless.”
There’s some policy evolution afoot which could affect the 2014 election. The tea-party cause once focused primarily on fiscal responsibility. Now it has shifted focus to invasive big government and found a more sympathetic audience. Tea party poll-approval numbers actually went up by 9 points last week, according to a CNN poll. Granted, only 37 percent of Americans give them a positive review, but a gain is a gain.
Action awaits, though. The Tea Party Patriots, the nimble umbrella organization that represents some 3,400 local groups, has organized “Rein in the IRS” protest rallies at the federal agency’s offices across the nation at high noon Tuesday. Public interest is so fervent that the Patriots’ website buckled under the attention as the membership heeded the call “for anyone and everyone to protest,” with tax reform as a side issue.
“Given the gross abuses of power that are continuing to unfold, it is time to rein in the IRS,” explains Jenny Beth Martin, the group’s national coordinator. “It is clear the IRS discriminated against citizens of this country and violated their basic constitutional rights, and we and other groups are reviewing all legal recourse. This systemic abuse of power is dangerous to all Americans, and the IRS must give a full account of what happened and who was responsible at the highest levels.”
Some observers insist that the tea party should endeavor to remain on message, now that it has the spotlight.
“I don’t want to see a single sign about Obama. I don’t want to see a single sign about Biden. Or vacations. Or anything other than the overreaching power of big government,” declares Redstate.com contributor and talk-radio host Dana Loesch. “No signs on anything other than this malicious and criminal behavior was perpetuated by a government too big to be held accountable.”
And from “Instapundit” columnist Glenn Reynolds for Pajamas Media:
“Keep an eye out for infiltrators,” he advises protesters.
NOW HEAR THIS
Where is the truth in the IRS and tea party matter? There’s a chance to witness the slow exposure of authentic information in this complex, emotionally charged situation. On Tuesday morning, C-SPAN airs a live hearing with the bulky title, “A Review of Criteria Used by the IRS to Identify 501(c)(4) Applications for Greater Scrutiny,” under the auspices of Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, plus J. Russell George, U.S. Treasury inspector general for tax administration, and Douglas Shulman, former IRS commissioner. That’s at 10 a.m.
Come Wednesday, the public affairs channel showcases “Targeting Americans for Their Political Beliefs,” this starring House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa. The California Republican will be joined by Neal S. Wolin, deputy secretary of the Treasury; the aforementioned Mr. George and Mr. Shulman; plus Lois Lerner, who directed the IRS office in charge of tax-exempt organizations and now leads the office overseeing implementation of President Obama’s health-care law.
A SPECIAL OPERATION
They’ve got their own way of doing things, even when it comes to raising money. A pocket knife carried by former SEAL Team 6 member “Mark Owen” during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden went for $35,400 during “The Silent Professional” online charity auction to aid special forces personnel in need. Mark Owen is the pseudonym of the former Navy SEAL who wrote “No Easy Day,” a memoir of the mission.
He carried the knife for eight years; it was crafted for him Ernest Emerson of Emerson Knives, who offered a letter of authenticity to the winning bidder. “‘Owen’ is the real guy and this is the real knife,” Mr. Emerson says.