There were plenty of signs that Obama was a pretty typical leftist authoritarian. Everything we knew about his ideology before he was elected should have told us that he was in favor of big government, and opposed to private businesses and families. If there was a conflict between liberty and government overreach, then Obama could be counted on to come down on the side of big government.
Here’s a reminder from The Federalist about why we shouldn’t be surprised by what was revealed in the House Intelligence Committee memo.
Remember Frank VanderSloot? He was one of eight Mitt Romney donors that an Obama campaign website targeted in April 2012, listing each by name and condemning them for the crime of having donated to Obama’s opponent. The post described VanderSloot as a “wealthy individual” with a “less-then-reputable record.”
It didn’t stop with this public shaming of a private citizen. As the Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel later noted, the Obama campaign’s site was a clear signal to harass and intimidate Romney donors, which is exactly what happened:
Twelve days later, a man working for a political opposition-research firm called an Idaho courthouse for Mr. VanderSloot’s divorce records. In June, the IRS informed Mr. VanderSloot and his wife of an audit of two years of their taxes. In July, the Department of Labor informed him of an audit of the guest workers on his Idaho cattle ranch. In September, the IRS informed him of a second audit, of one of his businesses. Mr. VanderSloot, who had never been audited before, was subject to three in the four months after Mr. Obama teed him up for such scrutiny.
The last of these audits was only concluded in recent weeks. Not one resulted in a fine or penalty. But Mr. VanderSloot has been waiting more than 20 months for a sizable refund and estimates his legal bills are $80,000. That figure doesn’t account for what the president’s vilification has done to his business and reputation.
Using the IRS to target political enemies was nothing new for the Obama administration in 2012. In Obama’s January 2010 State of the Union address, he infamously disparaged the U.S. Supreme Court—to the justices’ faces—for its ruling in Citizens United. He claimed the ruling would “open the floodgates for special interests” to influence elections—by which he meant conservative groups. He returned to this theme again and again in subsequent speeches, warning that Citizens United would enable shadowy organizations, maybe even foreign-controlled corporations, to infiltrate our politics with “dark money.”
Obama’s message was clear: these conservative advocacy groups should be targeted. The IRS got the message, and from 2010 to 2013 it systematically targeted conservative nonprofits applying for tax-exempt status. If your group had “tea party” or “patriots” in its name, the IRS came after you. Hundreds of individuals and groups, mostly comprised of private citizens with moderate means, were subjected to exhaustive and expensive IRS audits. The feds demanded detailed donor and member information, reading lists, and in some cases the contents of prayers offered at meetings. The applications were held up for years.
Last October, the IRS signed a consent decree in federal court admitting that it targeted conservative groups. But of course nothing ever happened to those responsible. The IRS official at the heart of the targeting scandal, Lois Lerner, retired with a full pension and no disciplinary action was ever taken against any IRS employee. When the scandal broke in 2013, Obama feigned outrage, calling the agency’s behavior “outrageous” and assuring the public that the IRS should be “held fully accountable.”
But of course the IRS was simply responding to Obama’s openly expressed suggestion that these groups were suspicious and improperly engaged in campaigning. Obama didn’t have to issue a direct order to get the IRS to do his political dirty work, he just had to make himself clear.
And it wasn’t just the IRS persecuting conservative groups. The Obama administration also went after religious people – people of moral character and conscience.
The same sort of politicization and abuse of power unfolded throughout the executive branch under Obama. Consider the contraceptive mandate. The Affordable Care Act invested the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services with enormous power over the country’s health insurance markets, including the ability to define what sort of contraceptive coverage employers had to provide. Employers with strong religious objections to contraception and related abortifacients, like Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor (an order of Catholic nuns who care for the poor elderly), were effectively told by the Obama administration to shut up and violate their faith.
In both of those cases, Obama’s Justice Department went all the way to the Supreme Court to try to force those employers to comply with the dictates of the HHS secretary. That Obama’s Justice Department failed in both cases shouldn’t diminish the fact that both HHS and DOJ carried on a highly politicized campaign against religious conservatives who refused to go along with federal rules stemming from Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment.
On this blog, I wrote many times about the fascist activities of the Holder DOJ and then the Lynch DOJ, after his departure. Basically, the Obama administration thought that it was perfectly reasonable to weaponize the entire federal government – from IRS, to EPA, to HHS, and beyond – against their political opposition. Both the Republican party, and also private citizens, private businesses and private charities.