Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 551

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal:  At Last, a Chance to Get to the Bottom of the IRS Mess, by Cleta Mitchell (Foley & Lardner, Washington, D.C.):

The day after Republicans won solid majorities in the House and Senate, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader-to-be Mitch McConnell outlined priorities for the newly elected Congress. High on the list is fundamental tax reform. In addition to overhauling the federal tax code, however, Congress should rein in the Internal Revenue Service.

Much has already been learned about the arrogance of the IRS from the House investigations of the agency’s targeting of conservatives. The revelations emerged despite strenuous efforts by Democrats in Washington and by the IRS itself to block inquiries and deny the existence of political targeting—targeting that the former head of the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit, Lois Lerner, eventually acknowledged and apologized for in May 2013.

Bringing the IRS to heel can start with re-energizing and expanding congressional investigations and holding accountable those responsible for the targeting and other abuses. To serve notice that the IRS’s thumbing of its nose at Congress by ignoring multiple congressional subpoenas will no longer be tolerated, the House GOP Steering Committee should elect Rep. Jim Jordan as the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (where current chairman Darrell Issa is term-limited). ...

Since 2012, House investigators have been subjected to an IRS rope-a-dope game by the refusal of the agency and various officials to respond to subpoenas or to answer questions fully and forthrightly. The House should now reissue the subpoenas that will expire at the end of this Congress and proceed to federal court to enforce all outstanding subpoenas previously issued to the IRS and its personnel during the course of the investigations.

More important, the House should ask the federal courts to enforce its May 2014 contempt resolution against Ms. Lerner for refusing to answer questions from Congress about her role in the targeting of conservatives. It is clear that the Obama Justice Department has willfully failed to file an enforcement proceeding in federal court. There also are strong separation-of-powers arguments against allowing the executive branch to unilaterally disregard congressional disciplinary actions taken against an executive-branch official like Ms. Lerner for refusing to testify before Congress.

Beyond all this, Republicans now have the opportunity to expand their inquiries into other areas of IRS misconduct. ... As Congress shines a light on these and other unacceptable IRS practices, public support for fundamental tax reform will only increase. The new Republican-controlled Congress will thus have a rare opportunity to overhaul a tax policy and a tax-collecting agency that both desperately need it.

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They should get rid of the IRS. They will never get the politics out of the IRS. They all hate it. They all cheat on their taxes. Switch to a Sales Tax.

Posted by: John | Nov 14, 2014 5:21:00 AM

Are you telling me people had a trust in the IRS and government prior to this scandal? Glad to know this was the tipping point. Where is the rollseyes emoticon TaxProf?

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 11, 2014 12:17:54 PM

What is damaging is when parties for political reasons attack a very good agency for no ultimate reason than trying to whip up the base of crazies (OK, Lois Lerner uses the term, but I think it is an accurate characterization). Bottom-line, in my judgement, the real dereliction of duty here is squarely on the GOP. I don't think Abraham Lincoln would be proud of his party in its totally false attacks on the IRS. Country first and if there are problems, fix them. I hope that will become the mantra of the new, now powerful, now responsible, Republican Party. I hope. Be part of the solution. I hope.

Posted by: Jack Townsend | Nov 11, 2014 12:00:52 PM

It has been four years and the actions of the Obama administration spanned several government agencies. There is little reason to believe that Democrats posing as federal employees will suddenly be cooperative or that they haven't already engaged in widespread destruction of evidence.

Posted by: wodun | Nov 11, 2014 11:28:29 AM

Well...I'm certainly looking forward to a new push in the investigation. What the IRS has done (apparently) is very damaging to the peoples' faith in government, and their open, cocky, confident cover-up (with the help of the MSM) surely calls for an in-depth investigation. Maybe at some point the MSM will have to take notice...but I'm not counting on it.

Posted by: VoteOutIncumbents | Nov 11, 2014 8:09:52 AM

It would be the patriot thing, Jack, but don't hold your breath.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Nov 11, 2014 7:38:36 AM

Now that the Republicans have considerably more stroke in governance and, therefore, considerably more responsibility, we can hope that, for the good of the country, they will act more responsibly.

Posted by: Jack Townsend | Nov 11, 2014 6:24:57 AM