Published in the National Review Online May 15, 2013
“Four American patriots are dead; U.S. citizens are being deliberately targeted and harassed by their government; journalists are understandably concerned about an intrusive Justice Department investigation; and a cabinet secretary is strong-arming the health industry to “voluntarily” fund a partisan, highly unpopular policy. Is this America or China?”
The events that have unfolded over the past week are showing big government at its worst. First we learned more details about the Obama administration’s coordinated attempt to misrepresent the September 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, which claimed four American lives. Then a senior IRS official acknowledged that her agency had deliberately targeted conservative groups for harassment. Meanwhile, the administration was forced to admit that its top health regulator has been soliciting industry funds to help implement Obamacare. Finally, we discovered that the Justice Department has cast an extraordinarily wide net to capture the phone records of several journalists who work for the Associated Press.
All of these events highlight the Obama administration’s massive credibility gap. As someone who has spent a career in public service, I want government to work. As a conservative, I want government to be as small and efficient as possible. As an American, I cannot tolerate a government that actively deceives the people it is meant to serve, whether through negligence, incompetence, or malfeasance.
In 2011, my office began receiving complaints of unfair treatment by the IRS from various conservative groups in Texas — groups such as the King Street Patriots, True the Vote, the San Antonio Tea Party, and the Waco Tea Party. They cited excessive, unreasonable, and improper inquiries from the IRS and feared that they were being targeted for their political beliefs. I sent multiple letters to then–IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman expressing my concerns and asking for an investigation. He categorically denied that the IRS was targeting specific groups.
Two years later, we learned that he was wrong and the conservative groups were right: The IRS was systematically targeting people of a certain ideology — one that happens to be at odds with the current administration. Furthermore, we have learned that senior IRS officials were aware of these accusations as early as June 2011. That is outrageous, but sadly not surprising from an administration that has chosen time and again to deceive the American people.
Indeed, whether the issue is a terrorist attack in Libya, partisan abuses by IRS agents, a potentially illegal effort to shake down health-care providers, or a questionably broad investigation by the nation’s top law-enforcement agency, this self-styled “most transparent administration in history” has consistently put politics ahead of truth, justice, and the rule of law.
Perhaps even more alarming is the total lack of responsibility assumed by the president. Americans have caught their government in multiple lies, and President Obama’s response has been a symphony of obfuscation, misdirection, and denial. At every turn, the president and his deputies have chosen not to be straightforward with the American people, and as a result they have seriously undermined both their credibility and their trustworthiness.
To review: Four American patriots are dead; U.S. citizens are being deliberately targeted and harassed by their government; journalists are understandably concerned about an intrusive Justice Department investigation; and a cabinet secretary is strong-arming the health industry to “voluntarily” fund a partisan, highly unpopular policy. Is this America or China? Any one of these issues is a “scandal.” Together they reflect an administration that is deeply flawed and has lost the faith of the public it is sworn to protect.
Senator Cornyn serves on the Finance and Judiciary Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.
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