The IRS Building in Washington, D.C.
Associated Press/Photo by Susan Walsh
The IRS Building in Washington, D.C.

When government abuses its power


What’s the old saying? It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you.

By now you’re probably aware that the IRS, the taxpayer-supported government agency charged with collecting chunks of our income and enforcing the Byzantine tax code, told its processors to scrutinize “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform/movement” applying for tax-exempt status.

This supposedly non-partisan entity believes that groups with a healthy distrust of a bloated and powerful central government and trying to preserve this great nation’s founding document and its people’s liberty deserve a higher level of scrutiny. That the IRS targeted conservative groups isn’t a surprise. That the IRS admitted to and apologized for targeting conservative groups is astounding. I agree with lawmakers that President Barack Obama should personally apologize for an abuse of power perpetrated by an agency under his administration.

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You may also be aware of this New York Times headline that Marvin Olasky referred to yesterday: “I.R.S. Focus on Conservatives Gives G.O.P. an Issue to Seize On”? The assertion is true. Conservatives will seize on this issue, as they should. But shouldn’t liberals, especially news organizations whose freedom of the press is protected by the same Constitution revered by the conservatives targeted by the IRS, seize on the issue as well? An excerpt:

“Since last year’s elections, Republicans in Congress have struggled for traction on their legislative efforts, torn between conservatives who drove the agenda after their 2010 landslide and new voices counseling a shift in course to reflect President Obama’s re-election and the loss of Republican seats in the House and the Senate.

“But the accusations of I.R.S. abuse are sure to fuel an effort that appears to be uniting dispirited Republicans and their conservative political base: investigating Mr. Obama and his administration. Republicans are pushing a portrayal of an administration overreaching its authority and punishing its enemies.”

The story is factual, but its framing betrays a pro-huge government, anti-conservative bias. The Times notes that Republicans “got little political traction” in criticizing the administration’s “Fast and Furious” fiasco and its handling of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. It mentions the Republican Party’s “near-daily” complaints about a near-tyrannical administration’s far-reaching and oppressive healthcare law, which, by the way, will be enforced by the IRS: “The I.R.S. disclosures present Republican critics a golden opportunity.”

Point: missed. I’m at least one conservative who doesn’t see this news as a golden opportunity. I’m more concerned about an agency charged with executing the law, financed by the fruits of our labor, targeting groups based on ideas. And not just any ideas—ideas that are central to the founding of a country that allows its people to criticize their government.

The government, run by sinners, will abuse the power God has appointed to it. Must we submit? In this case, rendering unto Caesar will not cause us to  sin; therefore, render we must continue to do.

La Shawn Barber
La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications


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