Tales from the Trail

Maine governor draws ire with new IRS “Gestapo” comments

July 13, 2012

Maine’s Republican governor ignited a fresh firestorm on Thursday when, for the second time in a week, he compared the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo, Nazi Germany’s murderous secret police.

Democrats suggested that Governor Paul LePage, a Tea Party favorite elected in 2010, was unfit to hold office.

LePage had already been called out by Democrats, Jewish groups and others in the northeast U.S. state for linking the federal tax agency and the Gestapo in his weekly radio address on Saturday.

At that point LePage termed the IRS “the new Gestapo” in comments opposing national healthcare reforms upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last month.

After the remarks were picked up by national media, LePage said in a statement that he had not intended to insult anyone. “Clearly, what has happened is that the use of the word Gestapo has clouded my message,” he said.

But in Vermont on Thursday at a fundraising event, LePage expanded on his earlier analogy in an interview with Seven Days, a Burlington weekly newspaper and website.

“What I am trying to say is the Holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity and, frankly, I would never want to see that repeated. Maybe the IRS is not quite as bad – yet,” LePage said.

Asked if the IRS was headed in that direction, LePage responded, “They’re headed in that direction.”

Asked if he knew what Adolf Hitler’s secret police did during World War Two, including the imprisonment and murder of millions of Jews, LePage said, “Yeah, they killed a lot of people.” Asked whether the IRS “was headed in the direction of killing a lot of people,” LePage answered: “Yeah.”

LePage added he was referring to the rationing of healthcare that he said occurs in Canada, which has a publicly funded national health system.

In a statement, Ben Grant, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, questioned LePage’s fitness to hold office.

“We are governed by a person far more suited to anonymously calling talk radio programs than representing 1.3 million hard-working people,” Grant said.

The National Jewish Democratic Council denounced LePage’s latest comments as unacceptable.

IRS workers this week also demanded an apology, terming LePage’s initial comments extreme and potentially dangerous.

“Irresponsible rhetoric and mischaracterizations of federal employees can also lead to violent attacks on these workers,” Colleen Kelley, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a letter sent to LePage on Tuesday.

In attacking the healthcare law, Republicans have seized on the Supreme Court’s ruling that a fee to be charged to those who refuse to buy healthcare insurance was allowed under Congress’s taxing powers. Republicans have said that the ruling meant the fee was therefore a tax.

Editing by Eric Walsh

Comments
13 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

The IRS is a bunch of thugs hiding behind a corrupt government.

Posted by sjtom | Report as abusive
 

The national media strikes again! Instead of focusing on the word, they should try to digest the message. The IRS certainly does intimidate and threaten regular citizens, in many cases for minor infractions of the tax law. Isn’t this Gestapo tactics? What else would you call this? Let’s get off this politically-correct leftist train-wreck and leave free speech alone.

Posted by ponder | Report as abusive
 

In my experience (both Business and Personal), the IRS handled themselves without emotion. Yes they are intimidating, but since they do not care about personalities and ONLY about recovering money, then sure they are feared like the grim reaper. But come on – gestapo? I’ve been distressed every time I got a notice from them, but as long as people have some sort of audit trail to back themselves up, then they have nothing to fear. People take performing their responsibilities with tax paying, tax documentation with a grain of salt – and in that case, they INVITE the IRS to come visiting. When businesses and people quit being cavalier about their responsibilities, then any communication with the IRS will stop being a fearful experience. IMHO

Posted by Seibelmurphy | Report as abusive
 

The simple fact is that Jews were a minority of the victims of the Nazi State during its existence. While it had prejudices for sure, it killed with alacrity, vigor and enthusiasm. The horrors of that era are not the property of the Jews but of humanity at large.

The comment had to do with reducing people to numbers and a non-human status in the eyes of the Government. After that kind of thinking, the horrors become less horrible in the minds of the perpetrators. Every single victim of the Nazi State should bring sadness to every single one of us.

Posted by usagadfly | Report as abusive
 

The mere fact that there is so much uproar regarding the IRS being labeled as the “Gestapo” should raise some eyebrows among many.

In all reality here, they are an omnipotent threat to any citizen. Even the smallest tax mess-up can result in seized property and/or arrest. Don’t think for a second that these guys have answer to your local police department, or even county / parish police for that matter.

If they’re nothing like the Gestapo, then what is all the fuss about?

Posted by Wolfgang985 | Report as abusive
 

the politically correct left are insane… marxist / fascism is obamas religion..say it

Posted by TexTide | Report as abusive
 

There are a LOT of right wing idiots posting here…wonder what you’re gonna do when President Obama is re-elected…should be fun to observe ;-))))))

Posted by datstratham | Report as abusive
 

Since when did it become popular to defend the bigots and the minority who embrace extremist views?
When did we learn to fear the civil servants who in theory are just that- servants who are civil?
When did we start fearing success?
The truth is this, folks- taxes suck big time…
But taxes don’t get burned by men with flame throwers or flushed down a 20 ft wide toilet that sees operations at all hours…
No! Taxes are (in theory) payment for services rendered… By us and for us through those we elected…
Hate the priorities, hate the politicians, but seriously, hating the IRS is like hating the firemen for puttIng out fires! It doesn’t make sense, and frankly, paying taxes is the patriotic thing to do…
Even if you can hide your $$ in the Caymans, should you?
Because what really bothers people isn’t paying taxes, it’s rather paying taxes when the Joneses aren’t paying their share

Posted by Faithful.Cynic | Report as abusive
 

Would it be more appropriate (and PC) to compare them to the KGB then?

Posted by texan5555 | Report as abusive
 

What happened to freedom of speech? Listen to the message and stop trying to disguise what most other Americans are thinking! Vote RON PAUL!

Posted by Dano43 | Report as abusive
 

Governor LePage, being a public servant, has his salary paid out of taxes. If the IRS is the Gestapo, then who does that make him?

Posted by Ian_Kemmish | Report as abusive
 

Is his salary paid by the federal government which is what the IRS reports to not the state level? Your analogy does not work

Posted by texan5555 | Report as abusive
 

So if I live in Maine, and choose not to pay my state taxes, what will happen to me, Governor LePage? Your state henchmen won’t bother me?

Posted by Calvin2k | Report as abusive
 

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