Paul L. Caron

Monday, September 30, 2013

The IRS Scandal, Day 144

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USA Today op-ed:  IRS Scandal Means Bad News for Obama, by Glenn Harlan Reynolds (Tennessee):

So last week, while most of the country was talking about football or fears of a government shutdown, Rasmussen released a poll that should worry everyone -- but especially incumbent Democrats in Congress. According to Rasmussen's survey, most Americans think the IRS broke the law by targeting Tea Party groups for harassment, but few expect it to be punished. Fifty-three percent think the IRS broke the law by targeting the Tea Party and other conservative groups like the voter-integrity outfit True The Vote; only 24% disagreed. But only 17% think it is even somewhat likely that anyone will be charged, while 74% think that criminal charges are unlikely.

So a majority of Americans think that government officials who exercise an important trust broke the law, but only a very small number think anything will be done to punish them.

There are a couple of lessons to draw from this. One is bad for the country in general, but the other is bad for congressional Democrats.

The lesson for the country is that trust in the government is very low. ...

Meanwhile, there's another bit of bad news buried in that poll, this time for Democrats. The bad news is that a majority of Americans thinks the IRS broke the law even though the news media have consistently downplayed the scandal. But as the scandal has dragged on for months, word has filtered out anyway. Come 2014, the government's damaged brand will reflect poorly on members of the president's party, regardless of media efforts to protect them. Beyond that, the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto has begun calling President Obama "President Asterisk," saying that IRS efforts to weaken his opposition in the run-up to the 2012 election devalue Obama's victory the way illegal steroid use devalues an athlete's record-book standing.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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