IRS Apologizes To Conservative Groups

IRS Apologizes To Conservative Groups

The Internal Revenue Service apologized to conservative groups for targeting them inappropriately.  Around the time of the 2012 election, the IRS flagged many conservative organizations to verify their tax status to see if they were an exempt organization.

English: Anonymous Says: "Help Revoke Tax...
English: Anonymous Says: “Help Revoke Tax Exempt Status” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Initially, it was thought that only groups with “patriot” or “tea party” in their names were targeted, but many other conservative groups were targeted by the IRS.  When the conservative organizations filed for tax-exempt status, they were singled out for additional reviews.

The attack was blamed on workers in an IRS office in Cincinnati, but now officials say the fault may be at a higher office.

During the 2012 presidential election, conservative groups began to complain about being harassed about their tax exempt status.  The IRS asked them several questions about their tax filing status, which delayed their tax exempt status.

The head of the IRS division in charge of assigning tax exempt status, Lois Lerner, claims that what happened was inappropriate.  She says there was a large number of organizations filing for tax exempt status after a hallmark 2010 Supreme Court decision.  The court decision allowed labor unions and corporations to raise and spend high amount of money, and they could register as a tax exempt if they were not political organizations.

No one knows if any White House officials knew about the IRS targeting conservative groups.  It also is not clear if the Treasury Department knew what was happening.

The White House is calling for a formal investigation.  Those found at fault will be disciplined as needed.  Lerner claims that she did not inform the White House what was happening.

Mitt Romney and The Debt Ceiling Deal

COLUMBUS GROVE, OH – AUGUST 25: Republican vice presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks to supporters on August 25, 2012 in Columbus Grove, Ohio. Ryan and presumptive Republican presidential nominee, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, are campaigning together leading up to the Republican National Convention beginning August 27 in Tampa, Florida. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

The Debt Ceiling Deal

On Sunday September 9th 2012, presidential nominee Mitt Romney denounced the debt ceiling deal that helped to avert an overwhelming government debt default in the US. This despite the fact that one of the deals supporters is his current running mate Paul Ryan.

Mitt Romney called the deal between the White House and the congressional Republicans “a mistake”. He went on to say that the deal would cut our defense budget badly.

Lawmakers agreed to the deal at the 11 hour back in August 2011. The agreement was for $1 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years. This followed by the promise to impose another 1.2 trillion to deficits. Paul Ryan backed last year’s deal while head of the House of Representatives Budget Committee.

Romney stated that he thought the deal was a mistake on the part of the White House, and a mistake on the part of the Republicans to go along with it.

Paul Ryan said on CBS recently that he supported the deal because they needed to find common ground with President Obama and the Democrats. But that Republicans had proposed ways of cutting back wasteful Washington spending.

Mitt Romney told NBC that the White House’s sequestration plan of $1.2 trillion would severely cut our defense budget. Unless automatic spending cuts are implemented by year’s end, beginning Jan 2nd $1.2 trillion over ten years would come out of our defense budgets, not affecting 2011 taxes.

Republicans Or Taxes: Which One Will Budge?

Will Republicans ever give us some breathing room on 2011 taxes?

The White House is desperately trying to persuade liberals that the debt ceiling deal is getting a horrible reputation under false pretenses.  This is quite understandable because there are always two sides to a coin, so to speak.  As a matter of fact, upon closer inspection of this deal, there may be some favorable attributes associated with it.

In general, there is a commission of twelve “Super Congress” members – a total of 3 from each respective chamber and party.  The liberals are addicted to criticizing their purpose to seal the $1.5 trillion second phase of cuts by Thanksgiving, which was bound to force some mandatory increases of revenue.  Even though the Bush tax cuts are now out of the picture, a bounty of corporate welfare programs, subsidies and other loopholes are currently available.  It’s definitely not easy to imagine a minimum of one Republican voting to keep corporate jet funding and then slash $500 billion from our country’s defense budget, despite the lack of offset revenues.  It all comes down to this question:  Are the Republicans more fearful of the joint chiefs or Grover Norquist?  If the Democrats were betting, then their money would be on the joint chiefs.

Let’s assume the debt ceiling deal is approved today:  in that case, the joint House/Senate committee has to recommend a brand new set of deficit reduction steps, which will provide the perfect venue for Democrats to seek after a more “balanced” approach.  This translates into revenue increases and spending cuts.  Because of the deal’s structure, if Congress refuses to accept its blueprint or the committee deadlocks, then automatic cuts will be triggered across the board – including a Defense spending reduction.  This will probably force the Pentagon-friendly Republicans to take demands for revenue adjustments from the Democrats a bit more seriously.

However, I wouldn’t fall for this just yet.  As usual, the primary conflict concerns the Tea Party, with its stubborn anti-anything-having-remotely-to-do-with-tax-increases orthodoxy.  This notion is shared by countless Republican House members, animating the GOP’s base, including its most influential commentators.  Speaker John Boehner had these members in mind while backing out of the major bargain discussions with President Obama.  This just goes to show that even the slightest revenue increases amidst substantial spending and entitlement cuts would prove unacceptable to the GOP conference.  These also happened to be the most difficult (or in some cases impossible) ones to win over as he pedaled his own second debt ceiling proposal last week.

In general, it’s important to remember that as far as these Republicans are concerned, defense spending isn’t nearly as sacred to them as it has been to GOP leaders, historically.  Last month for example, Mark Meckler, national leader of the Tea Party Patriots, said to Politico:

“Everything is on the table.  I have yet to hear anyone say, ‘We can’t tackle defense spending,’ or any other topic.
…Any tea partier who says something else lacks honor.”

In the same article, Georgia Representative Paul Broun, possibly the most influential Tea Party advocate of Congress, suggested he wouldn’t be opposed to defense cuts, arguing that the USA “cannot be a protector of the whole world.  We cannot do that any longer.  We don’t have the money to do it anyway.”  Incidentally, Republican Broun declined to vote with Boehner and the GOP regarding last week’s debt ceiling.  Therefore, it seems that Broun wouldn’t object to avoiding any type of tax increase if the price involved a cut in Pentagon spending.

I’m still not sure how prevalent Broun’s view is among his GOP supporters.  However, if a significant number of Republicans swing this way, it would be difficult to imagine the revenues changing under the deficit reduction committee.  If pushing for the acceptance of a tax increase plan, Boehner would still be alienating dozens of believers that already have a suspicious eye on him.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t Republicans who think that the Defense budget is a hefty matter.  Buck McKeon, California’s Armed Services Committee chairman, has been working all year to safeguard the military from any budget cuts.  But McKeon, who has been in the House for 2 decades, is not the one that Republican Boehner should be worried about:  it’s the Tea Party purists that require attention.

It’s also important to recall that another comparable commission was created under President Ronald Reagan during the Cold War with similar policies.  If Congress ignored it or the panel came to a deadlock, the Defense budget took a severe beating.  Yet, even back in those times when a strong national defense was most likely the focal point of settlement for all Republicans, both Reagan and the GOP decided to sign off on a more “balanced” plan, complete with Defense reductions.

If the Republicans gave in on Defense spending back then, it’s tough to imagine that they won’t do it again today, especially if the alternative is to pick a fight with the unwavering anti-tax Tea Party zealots.  Therefore, no matter what the White House says, I doubt that this new deficit reduction committee will accomplish what every other plan of action has failed to do thus far.  As far as increased revenues are concerned, the best bet lies towards the end of 2012, which marks the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.  Also, this depends upon whether or not the Democrats want to push a rate hike by doing nothing at all.

The Cheapest Place to Live in the U.S.

The United States of America is large in size and rich in diversity, so finding the cheapest place to live in the US may be easier said than done.

Perhaps you are a person who has always dreamed of living in the beautiful country side far away from loud and teeming cities: think Montana.

Maybe your dream is to buy a large, beautiful house on the cheap: think Detroit. A recent count of houses for sale found quality properties as low as $37,000.

How do you find that locality in which you wish to reside? The Internet is your best friend when determining what is important to you. There is most likely an answer online to speak to nearly every question.

Quality of life issues, such as unemployment, violent crime, median income and even more fundamentally important data are reported online. The price of a pint glass of beer: Texarkana, Arkansas, for example, charges $1.50. Allentown, Pennsylvania beats it at $1.25.

How do you make a living in your rural dream locality? Health professionals, for example, have an easy time relocating; other folks may have to use some imaginative and daring planning to find their niche.

Here again, the Internet is invaluable. Online work such as editing or blogging requires excellent grammar and imagination. Retail over the Internet can be highly successful should you recognize trends and present the right product.

If you have a green thumb, you could join a growing trend and raise organic herbs, micro sprouts, mushrooms and specialty greens for restaurants and the public.

The best places to live are a highly subjective matter depending on each person. It can be a scary proposition, leaving a familiar place you’ve grown weary of, and stepping into the vast unknown. It takes imagination and nerve, but should you succeed, you will have accomplished something wonderful and courageous indeed.