Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

IRS Scandal Gets Closer To Obama 

"What did the president know and when did he know it?" That has been a central question of Washington scandals ever since Tennessee Senator Howard Baker asked it during the Watergate hearings. 

The evidence is now overwhelming that the IRS/Tea Party scandal was not the work of rogue agents in a remote field office. And as more evidence points toward White House involvement, Baker's famous question becomes more relevant.

We reported last week that Carter Hull, a top tax attorney at the IRS, testified that the agency's chief counsel was directly involved in targeting Tea Party groups for additional scrutiny and harassment. Peggy Noonan described Hull's testimony as a "bombshell" because "the chief counsel of the IRS is one of only two Obama political appointees in the entire agency." 

In May, Obama claimed that he learned about the IRS scandal when the rest of the country did. Responding to a question during a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama said, "I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this." 

But White House visitor logs cast some doubt on that assertion. Consider this timeline of events from the Daily Caller: 

  • "IRS chief counsel William Wilkinsů met with Obama in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on April 23, 2012. Wilkins' boss, then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, met with Obama on April 24, 2012, according to White House visitor logs. 

    "On April 25, 2012, Wilkins sent Hull and fellow Washington-based IRS official Lois Lerner 'additional comments on the draft guidance' for approving or denying tea party tax-exempt applications, according to the IRS' inspector general's report."

So let's get this straight: Lois Lerner, who is refusing to testify before Congress about her involvement in targeting conservative groups, received new marching orders within 48 hours of the chief counsel's (an Obama appointee) and IRS commissioner's meeting with Obama at the White House. Yet we're supposed to believe that is just a huge coincidence because Obama says he didn't know about the Tea Party scandal until a year later. 

It is possible that Wilkins, Shulman and Obama were only discussing the complexities of Obamacare. But the timing of Wilkins's additional guidance to Hull and Lerner suggests other items were likely on their agenda too. 

Speaking Of Obamacareů 

A recent survey found widespread skepticism and uncertainty about Obamacare. That's not unusual -- Obamacare was unpopular when it passed and it remains unpopular today. What makes this survey newsworthy is that it was a poll of doctors.

According to the results, just 11% of doctors believe Obamacare's state exchanges will be up and running on time. Nearly 90% of doctors do not believe their patients have been "adequately educated" about the exchanges. But don't ask your doctors for information -- they don't know either! Consider these findings: 

  • 56% of doctors were "not at all familiar" with how the new exchanges will affect their business. 
  • 67% did not know about new coverage terms for their patients. 
  • 71% did not know how the claims process in the exchange will work. 
  • 66% were "completely unfamiliar with what the contracted rates with payers in the exchanges will be."

And there's more bad news about Obamacare. Columnist John Fund writes that privacy advocates are increasingly worried about the unprecedented amounts of personal financial and health data that government bureaucrats and contracted "navigators" will be able to access in the coming months. 

Unbelievably, these so-called Obamacare "navigators," who will be canvassing neighborhoods signing up random individuals for Obamacare, may not be required to undergo criminal background checks. Not surprisingly, Fund writes that liberal politicians in certain states are pushing to get the Obamacare navigators involved in voter registration efforts too! 

Standing With Israel 

Christians United for Israel, founded by Pastor John Hagee, kicked off its annual Washington Summit today. I can assure you that the work of Christians United for Israel has never been more important! 

News broke over the weekend that the Obama Administration is once again pressuring Israel to shrink back to its indefensible 1967 borders. According to the Associated Press, "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to resume peace talks with Israel only after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave him a letter guaranteeing that the basis of the negotiations will be Israel's pre-1967 borders."

This afternoon I am leading a panel discussion on Iran's role in fomenting violence throughout the Middle East. This discussion is essential, as more than 130 members of the House (including 17 Republicans) signed on to a letter to President Obama last week urging him to "pursue the potential opportunity presented by Iran's recent presidential election." 

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton blasted the letter, saying it would "play into the hands of the Tehran regime, allowing it yet again to use negotiations to buy time to make progress on its nuclear weapons program." I agree.