Obama’s big-government culture breeds scandals

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The following post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.

800px-Barack_Obama_in_the_Oval_Office,_April_2010The Obama administration has had a rough couple of weeks. CBS News headline: “Top Obama officials knew about IRS probe, says White House.” The Economist headline: “The administration seems to have trampled on press freedom.” Real Clear Politics headline: “Woodward: Obama Administration Did Not Tell the Truth About Benghazi.”

What do all of these headlines from one of President Obama’s worst weeks in office have in common? It is this: Big government, by its very nature, almost always becomes corrupt. This is because big government (in place of good government) is driven by two things: money and power, and both have a tendency to corrupt people … even good people. This is one reason Sutherland counts limited government as one of its core principles.

Take the IRS scandal, which stems from a recently released Treasury inspector general’s report that showed the IRS was improperly scrutinizing conservative and tea party groups applying for tax-exempt status.

The IRS activity is classic big government using its power and authority to target groups it feels are hostile to its ideology. Big government wants more government, meaning more power and money, and tea party groups want less government and more freedom. So big government discourages, interrogates, and targets tea party groups hoping to find inappropriate, if not illegal, activity so it can take action against these groups that it does not like. Sounds more like a move straight from Stalin’s communist Russia than America, doesn’t it?

Sutherland Institute’s own website has been searched by 100 local, state and federal groups since January 2011. Federal groups include the IRS, Homeland Security, the FBI and the Department of Justice. Who knows what these visits represent, but this recent news about the IRS targeting conservative groups certainly raises questions.

And then there’s the Justice Department’s wiretapping of more than 20 phone lines used by Associated Press journalists, along with the department’s intense tracking of the activity and whereabouts of Fox News correspondent James Rosen. The Justice Department tracked Rosen’s location using security badge access records, traced his phone calls and obtained a search warrant for his personal e-mails. Again, big government appears to be using its power, assets and authority to potentially stifle a key component of freedom: the ability of the press and its sources to communicate and share vital information. It appears that if big government doesn’t want certain freedom of communication to take place, it will wield its power to stop it.

And the last in this latest string of embarrassments for the Obama administration is the clashing statements on Benghazi, where four Americans were killed in an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya. Newly released emails indicate State Department officials worked to remove references to al-Qaida and to earlier warnings made by the intelligence community about security in the region, which contradicts statements made immediately after the attack about who was involved and what the motives were.

So once again, big government using its power to conceal, revise history, stonewall, obfuscate and prevent any damaging truth from coming to light.

And of course the million-dollar question: What was President Obama’s role in all of these scandals? The president says he learned about all of them through the news … a statement that, if true, raises a whole raft of questions about his competence as America’s chief executive.

But one thing we know he has done is relentlessly characterized his political opponents as unreasonable obstructionists who care nothing about average, struggling American men, women, and children, and who care only for the well-being of the rich. The president sent the message to every well-meaning (and less well-meaning) federal employee that those who disagree with him politically were ill-intentioned fiends, and who wouldn’t want to go after such bad people as that? President Obama, by his endless demagoguing and policies to expand government, created the big government political culture that breeds the kinds of scandals we’ve seen in the last week.

The reality is that if you give government power to do everything you can think for it to do, it will use that power to do whatever it wants to do.  Freedom will become secondary.  Individual liberties will be secondary.  Because as the government gains more power, everything it does will be about power.  Only by limiting government’s power and authority can we safeguard our freedoms as individuals, as families, and as communities.

For Sutherland Institute, I’m David Buer, sitting in for Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.

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