06.17.2013 1

IRS scandal unites Republicans, independents, and tea party

By Rick Manning

Unintended consequences have a way of coming back to bite you, and the IRS targeting of conservative groups and contributors has done just that to the agenda driven hard left in the Obama Administration.

Team Obama’s political game plan for 2013 was to drive a wedge between so-called tea party Republicans and the much despised Republicans In Name Only types, and it was working.

Karl Rove announced that he was going to work hard to ensure that those inconvenient tea party Republican primary voters would not mess up his plans to help more electable (read liberal) candidates.  Conservatives became more determined than ever that Rove and his ilk would not saddle them with nominees again after experiencing the “electable” twin presidential disasters of Romney and McCain.

A GOP civil war was brewing, and Democrats were just sitting back and laughing.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the 2014 Democrat victory celebration — Lois Lerner.

Lerner, the face of the IRS targeting of conservatives has united Republicans along with a majority of Independents in a determination to stop a government that would stifle political speech using the most intimidating weapon in their arsenal — the tax man.

Republicans, who have been abysmal at being able to express messages in short, easy to understand terms, suddenly have an issue that everyone gets.  No need to do a 200 slide PowerPoint to explain it, everyone instinctively knows that a political agenda driven IRS is unacceptable in a free society.  It tears at the notion that our nation has fair and free elections unmarred by Third World type government coercion.

Suddenly, rather than being the political pariahs that Team Obama intended, the tea party movement has been reinvigorated with a tough new face in True the Vote’s Catherine Engelbrecht, who personally is staring down and defeating the combined weight of the IRS, OSHA, and other government enforcers who have tried to intimidate her into silence.

Contrast Engelbrecht who refused to be bullied into victimhood by her government, to the IRS’ Lois Lerner.

Lerner, who has been designated to take the fall for the targeting, has attempted to play the role of hapless innocent who was just doing her job.

Her Fifth Amendment plea before a House Committee may be a fine legal maneuver, but the irony of her relying upon constitutional protections after the targeting and abusing citizen activists only serves to fuel the fire of disgust at the IRS’ actions.

Now, both conservative and less conservative Republicans have seen the enemy, and it is the face of an IRS bureaucrat pleading the Fifth after being involved in an attack on the fundamental principle of a politically neutral government.

The differences on how aggressive budget cuts should be remain.  The debate over a choice to vote for higher taxes will be engaged.  The argument over social policy difference will go on unabated.  But after the primary dust has settled, it will be much easier to pull various factions together around the common cause of electing a Congress that will hold those responsible for abusing the public trust accountable.

November 2014 is a long way away, but Obama’s plan to divide and conquer the opposition party lies in tatters, and it is the end justifies the means culture that he has propagated that is to blame.

Certainly not the outcome that Obama expected when he gave a verbal nod to the type of intimidation that the IRS engaged in when he excoriated the Supreme Court over the Citizen’s United election law decision in his now infamous 2010 State of the Union address.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for Americans for Limited Government 

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