Sinister-looking Internal Revenue Service agents eavesdropping on a child praying at her bedside star in new Tea Party Patriots ad running in Ohio’s 8th District and throughout Montana in an effort to sway Speaker John Boehner and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus to reform the tax code.
“What’s she praying about?” sneers a bald-headed man wearing a headset and watching a video of a young girl in her pajamas who prays for God to “bless America.” The ad is entitled “Targeting Prayer,” and was paid for by the Tea Party’s political action committee.
The ad is also slated to run in Michigan’s 4th District, which is home to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp.
Baucus, D-Mont., and Camp, who is a Republican, are working to come up with tax reform legislation, but the effort could be sidelined at least for this year because of an already packed congressional calendar that includes immigration reform.
Rather than a full rewrite of the 75,000-page tax code, it’s far more likely that lawmakers agree on smaller changes, perhaps affecting corporate tax rates.
Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin said the ad is aimed at encouraging lawmakers to prioritize major tax reform, particularly in the wake of the recent scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups.
“It’s about making sure their constituents understand there is a problem, so the constituents can, within their districts or their state, put pressure on them to reform the IRS,” Martin told the Washington Examiner.
The ad draws heavily on the IRS practice of subjecting conservative groups to additional scrutiny. A female announcer opens the 30-second spot by declaring the agency, “has admitted to targeting Americans … for our political beliefs, even attacking our freedom of religion.”
It shows the scowling bald man looming behind a bank of video monitors that appear to be recording people. When he spots the girl praying, he orders someone to “turn it up,” so he can hear what she’s saying.
The IRS, of course, has no way to peer inside bedrooms, but the agency beginning in 2012 required some conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status to answer long and invasive lists of questions, some about religion. A number of religious groups claim they have been targeted by the IRS with audits and delays in receiving a tax-exempt status, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Christian Voices for Life.
Boehner has reserved the bill number H.R. 1 for tax reform, symbolizing his desire to get the legislation done this Congress, which lasts through 2014.
But neither he nor Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised a vote on major tax reform in 2013.