Thursday, December 18, 2014
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Inside Washington

What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.

“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.

Tyranny And Taxation

Inside WashingtonThe White House and IRS political targeting

By Jim Ray

Long before there was any such thing as a personal income tax, John Marshall, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, warned that “the power to tax involves the power to destroy.” That was in 1819, and since then more than a few Americans have been destroyed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The modern income tax system was created in 1913. Your grandparents or great grandparents were probably infuriated to learn of the burdensome requirement to complete a new form called the 1040, which consisted of four pages and required a tax of one percent on net income. Only the extraordinarily wealthy paid more—the tax rate topped out at seven percent for those who earned more than $500,000, the equivalent of about $12 million in 2014 dollars. Since then, of course, taxes have become a more substantial drain on American workers. But what’s worse is that various occupants of the White House have used the IRS to bully their adversaries. President Obama, it now appears, is among the offenders.

Earlier this year Cause of Action, a nonpartisan legal advocacy group, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department’s Inspector General alleging that the IRS illegally shipped thousands of confidential tax documents to the White House, a clear violation of privacy laws. This lawsuit is closely tied to the now infamous scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS.

President Obama has said the attack on his political adversaries by the IRS was the result of some “bone-headed decisions” by confused, low level bureaucrats, but that he and his administration had nothing to do with it. There is “not even a smidgen of corruption,” the President claimed in an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly last February.

But, in a remarkable admission prompted by the Cause of Action lawsuit, the Treasury Department admitted it knew of almost 2,500 “potentially responsive” documents involving confidential taxpayer information which had been inappropriately furnished to the White House.

A judge promptly ordered the Treasury Department to provide copies of these documents to the plaintiffs. From here the course was obvious. An examination of the documents would likely be very telling as to whether the Obama Administration was violating the privacy rights of Americans and targeting opponents for IRS abuse.

But then, things took a weird and decidedly lawyerly turn. When the deadline arrived for divulging the documents, the IRS refused, claiming it cannot comply with the judge’s order because to do so would be against the law. In other words, the IRS appears to have ignored the privacy rights of individuals by providing documents illegally to the White House, but now is saying that it can’t reveal what was sent because to do so would cause the agency to violate privacy rights … again?

This is difficult logic to embrace for the average person. A rough analogy might be a serial killer who murders his victim and then declines to move the body on the basis that he’s not a licensed undertaker.

The IRS may not have killed anyone, but many of its targets have surely been left thinking they were better off dead—and often the attacks have been orchestrated from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Franklin D. Roosevelt used the IRS to intimidate newspaper publishers who criticized his New Deal. John F. Kennedy directed the agency to create an “Ideological Organizations Audit Project” which targeted conservative groups, and Richard Nixon furnished the IRS with his enemies list.

Accordingly, President Obama cannot be said to be the first president to use the IRS as a hammer—if indeed he has—but Americans should expect better and demand that he be the last. In one of his first memos to federal agencies upon being elected, President Obama pledged this: “We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”

But the IRS, now hiding behind a law it has itself blatantly ignored, exemplifies tyranny more than it does transparency. And its “power to destroy” looms larger than ever.

As you lift up your nation and her leaders today, pray that truth and righteousness may prevail in Washington. Few citizens enjoy being taxed, but they should be confident the system is fair and is not used as a persecutory tool … and the future of America depends upon it. “Public trust,” after all, is a biblical standard. “By justice a king builds up the land,” says Proverbs 29:4, “but he who exacts gifts tears it down.”

Jim Ray is a writer, fundraiser and consultant. He and his wife Stacey have two children and reside in Nashville, TN.



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