Earlier this school year, my tenth grade son’s American literature teacher led a discussion on McCarthyism. The students studied Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, which was based on the Salem Witch Trials and was written as an allegory of McCarthyism.
Today, in light of the revelation that the IRS has been targeting and discriminating against conservative individuals and organizations, we are reminded of the McCarthy investigations. We are left wondering if President Obama’s IRS scandal will be thoroughly investigated and accurately reported by the media. For government to single out a sitting President’s political opponents with such blatant disregard for people’s right to free speech should send a chill down the spine of every American citizen.
As the leader of the Wausau Tea Party, dealing with the IRS has been confusing and intimidating. In retrospect, I question whether my frustrations were because of no past experience with non-profit organizations or because we were a Tea Party group. Although we are recognized by Wisconsin as a 501c4, after numerous phone calls to the IRS, I was told that we "do not have tax exempt status, but for income tax purposes, we are treated as a tax exempt organization" by the federal government. I do not understand this policy, but I was apprehensive about questioning the IRS.
As a citizen exercising my First Amendment right to free speech through the tea party movement, will my family be subjected to unfair scrutiny by the IRS? Will the privacy of our supporters be jeopardized? Am I now flagged by other governmental agencies or in the queue for an audit? Based on current events, I'm justifiably concerned. Regardless of political affiliation—we all should be.
Americans have always had a tempestuous relationship with the IRS. Prior to this scandal, receiving a phone call or letter in the mail from the IRS generated grave concern. Now that it’s been established President Obama’s IRS was deliberately targeting individuals because of their beliefs in less government, fiscal responsibility and economic freedom, the American public has received confirmation that we cannot trust our government and we should fear it.
Americans are frightened and angry. Similar to Joe McCarthy targeting his enemies, citizens now realize that indeed the United States government has an enemies list. However, unlike the accused communists in the 1950’s, these American citizens of today are not a threat to the United States. Alarmingly, the federal government perceives them as a threat to President Obama’s monopoly on our government.
We are learning that many American citizens were targeted by Obama’s IRS for their involvement in the tea party movement. This includes Marianne Chiffelle, an 83-year-old great-grandmother once held in a World War II internment camp. Catherine Engelbrecht, Texas small business owner and founder of True the Vote, worked with volunteers during the Wisconsin recall elections. Not only was Engelbrecht targeted and harassed by Obama’s IRS but by Obama’s FBI, Obama’s OSHA and Obama’s ATF for her peaceful political activity.
It appears that no one is safe from the wrath of this Administration. In what has been described as a "massive and unprecedented intrusion," the Associated Press discovered that the Obama Justice Department was secretly wire-tapping their news agency’s journalists for months.
We are now learning that Lois Lerner, who headed the IRS division that singled out conservative groups for additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns, will refuse to testify when she is called before the House Oversight Committee. What does Lerner have to hide?
Equally troubling is the fact that Sarah Hall Ingram, the IRS commissioner who once oversaw the division that processes tax-exempt organizations, now heads the IRS office responsible for overseeing the new tax laws in ObamaCare. How safe is our personal healthcare information with Obama’s IRS? Akin to those patriot organizations that were delayed and denied tax-exempt status, which Americans will be singled out and denied healthcare by Obama’s IRS? How can we trust Obama’s IRS to fairly implement healthcare when they have already admitted to targeting and harassing Americans based on their political ideology?
How many other agencies in Obama’s federal government are also singling out and discriminating against American citizens?
Americans are left with more questions and no satisfactory answers.
Meg Ellefson is a Rib Mountain mom who founded the Wausau Tea Party in 2009.