IRS 101: Seven questions about the tea party scandal

The Internal Revenue Service is under the microscope now, as revelations have emerged that the agency wrongly targeted conservative groups seeking nonprofit status. Here’s an accounting of what has happened, along with the ramifications.

6. And for the GOP?

Not surprisingly, the party is hopping mad that the IRS appears to have targeted conservative groups, and Republicans have fanned out on the airwaves to express outrage at the administration.

Senator Collins called the singling out of conservative groups by the IRS “absolutely chilling,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota called it a “stunning abuse of power,” and former Alaska Gov. and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin (R) called it proof of the “corruption at the heart of big government.”

The scandal is reenergizing conservatives and giving them a golden opportunity to unite against a common foe, as the NYT suggests:

“[T]he accusations of I.R.S. abuse are sure to fuel an effort that appears to be uniting dispirited Republicans and their conservative political base: investigating Mr. Obama and his administration,” one story reads. “Republicans are pushing a portrayal of an administration overreaching its authority and punishing its enemies.”

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

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