Paul L. Caron

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 738

IRS Logo 2Brookings Institution, Lois Lerner Shows the GOP Why It Should Invest in Government:

Republicans in Congress have held up Lois Lerner as the embodiment of everything they despise about government. As a member of the agency that administers the tax side of “tax and spend liberalism” GOP legislators have accused Lerner of politicizing IRS inquiries in order to target conservative political groups. Claims of partisan behavior followed by an array of missing emails made political waves that the GOP hoped would drown its most disliked federal agency in a sea of scandal.

But, a funny thing happened on the way to the political theater: congressional Republicans showed why it is important to spend money and invest in government. In fact, while the IRS scandal put the Treasury Department at the center of congressional criticism, it is another division of Treasury that has swooped in to save the day, and the GOP owes it a debt of gratitude. The foil in this political drama is a little known institution: the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or TIGTA. ...

As the IRS scandal and the investigation around Lois Lerner’s behavior intensified, congressional efforts were ultimately stymied by an IRS claim that thousands of Lerner’s emails had been lost—and were unrecoverable. The lost emails frustrated congressional investigators and led to charges of “cover up” and “corruption.” And frankly, those accusations were not misplaced. Any party investigating the actions of the other, faced with the same set of facts and circumstances would have cried foul just as loudly.

Imagine for a moment if an investigation into political targeting in the Bush administration (a la its mid-2000s GSA scandal) resulted in a claim that emails were lost, but that those emails contained nothing incriminating anyways. Would Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have simply responded, “phew, glad that’s resolved”? Absolutely not. Such claims would have simply intensified Democrats’ resolve to get to find the truth.

Back to present day: the Lerner emails were lost; congressional investigators could not find them. The IRS, charged with looking into the matter, could not find the emails either. Enter TIGTA. As the IRS’ watchdog, fighting against mismanagement, waste, fraud, and abuse, it began an investigation of its own. As part of its investigation, TIGTA found the “lost” emails—thousands of them—and turned them over to both IRS officials and Congress to aid in the Lerner investigation. These emails that the IRS believed would be vindicating and Congress thought would be the smoking gun in a political scandal were found. And all of that came as a result of the hard work of an inspector general charged with overseeing IRS.  ...

As unpalatable as the Lerner case is to congressional Republicans, they should be delighted by the actions of TIGTA and other OIGs across government who perform their jobs in a highly effective, cost-saving way. Rather than cutting budgets in these offices, Congress should consider boosting inspectors’ general budgets in an effort to make government work better. As we noted in our paper, not only can cutting budgets raise deficits, but often leads to government becoming more dysfunctional. If Congress is serious about stopping future scandals like the one surrounding IRS, the solution is not to exact punishment on budgets of the Treasury Department. The solution might be to give Treasury a raise.

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink


Just give the government more money and it will magically behave better? Is the author of this article on crack or flakka?

The author makes it sound like TIGTA discovered the IRS abuses on its own and swept in to save the day but the reality is that they didn't. They hand to be forced to investigate and their investigation was incomplete in many many ways.

The most important of which is that it did not look for other victims of the IRS beyond just groups. Individuals who are critics were targeted and so were donors. Where is the IG? Nowhere.

Perhaps the author of the linked piece should stick to doing drugs rather than trying to con us.

Seriously, just give the government more money? What an idiot.

Posted by: wodun | May 17, 2015 10:44:09 AM

What still shocks and amazes is the complete lack of interest by the MSM. I am old enough to remember the outcry when it was shown that Nixon attempted to use the IRS as a political arm of the administration. It was even a charge on his bill of impeachment. Strange isn't it...about whose ox is being gored. When the Democrats do something the GOP gets grilled for...the MSM just stays silent. The double standard is amazing.

Posted by: VoteOutIncumbents | May 17, 2015 8:34:52 AM