Yesterday the scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service broke wide-open. Angry members of a key subcommittee (including half its Democrats!) took turns denouncing the agency and especially its leaders. But few of them got the true point. The IRS scandal should surprise no one. Least of all should it surprise any in Congress. For they, more than anyone else, created the monstrous tax code that needs a monstrous agency to enforce it.
The IRS scandal goes mainstream
Yesterday the Subcommittee on Oversight of the House Committee on Ways and Means heard from two hostile witnesses:
- Steven T. Miller, Acting Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
- J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
The day before yesterday, de facto President Barack H. Obama noisily announced he had fired Miller. Except that Miller always planned to leave the IRS on June 1. So he will retire a week earlier than he planned – and still get his government pension. Some sacking!
Miller began reasonably enough – or so he must have thought. He “apologized” for the “poor service” the IRS had offered, mainly to Tea Party and other conservative groups who applied for tax exemptions. (They applied as “social work” agencies under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. Such agencies may advocate for political causes, but not as their primary mission. Nor must such agencies show who gave them money, nor for what.)
The problem: for twenty-seven months, not one conservative group got its 501(c)(4) recognition. While dozens of liberal and progressive groups did get such recognition from the IRS.
So those who thought the Tea Party had died for lack of interest, or had sat out the elections, are mistaken. The IRS muzzled them. Nor did the IRS do the same for those who supported either Barack H. Obama personally, or the Marxian ideology he represents, supports, and would like to enact.
Subcommittee Chairman David Camp led the questioning with fighting words. Ranking Member Sander Levin was not much kinder. As the hearing went on, the words got more heated. Representative Mike Kelly summed up how all Americans feel about the taxman:
If you think it’s uncomfortable sitting over there [at the green table], then you ought to be a private [person] when the IRS is across from you, questioning [you].
Kelly did not accept the notion that “one or two low-level people” in the Cincinnati IRS Center “pushed the wrong buttons” when handling those applications. Then, talking more clearly than mot Members of Congress ever talk, he said:
They can do almost anything they want to anybody they want, any time they want. This is very chilling for the American people.
Now I know where you’re at, that you’re resigning, you’re walking away from it. But this is not going to go away. This is a Pandora’s box that’s been opened. And you’re not going to get the lid back on it.
And I don’t believe that the White House just found out about this in a news report, that the [de facto] President happened to grab a TV shot, or just read Mr. George’s report, and said, “You know what? Anybody ever heard this before? I’m just getting the first look at this…” Shouldn’t somebody be responsible?…
Where you’re sitting, you should be outraged. And you’re not. The American people should be outraged. And they are. And this committee – it has nothing to do with political parties. This has to do with highly targeted groups. This re-confirms everything the American public believes. This is a huge blow to the faith and trust the American people have in their government.
Is there any limit to the scope of where you folks can go? Is there anything at all, is there any question we can ask you, is there any question we should have asked? My goodness!
“How much money do you have in your wallet?”
“Whom do you get e-mails from?”
“Whose sign do you put up in your front yard?”
This is a tax question? And you don’t think that’s intimidating? It sure as h__l is intimidating!
And I don’t know that I got any answers from you today. And I don’t know that what Mr. George has done is great work. But you know what? There’s a heck of a lot more that has to come out on this. If anybody were to sit here today, and listen to what you had to say today…!
I am more concerned today than I was before, and…that you all can do just about anything you want to anybody. You can put anybody out of business that you want, any time you want to….You [tell us] you’re a horribly run organization? When you’re on the other side of the fence, you’re not given that excuse. When the IRS comes in, you’re not allowed to be shoddy, you’re not allowed to be run horribly, you’re not allowed to make mistakes, you’re not allowed to do one d____d thing that [is not] in compliance. If you do, you are held responsible right then.
I just think the American people have seen what is going on right now in their government. This is absolutely an over-reach, and this is an outrage to the people of America. I yield back.
And when he did, the committee room erupted in a loud, heartfelt standing ovation. Nine minutes later, the hearing adjourned. (Does God sometimes act as a Motion-picture Director?)
Electrical effects by God Himself! – Actor Christopher Reeve, as Clifford Anderson, in Ira Levin’s Deathtrap
Joel Pollak at Breitbart published this play-by-play synopsis of the hearing. One thing he caught: Rep. Paul Ryan asked pointedly,
How can we not conclude that you misled this committee?
He has reason to complain. The IRS scandal is about more than selective application of the law. The IRS leaders knew they had a problem in the summer of 2012. And by intention they kept that quiet until now. So Mr. Ryan can draw only one inference: an agency of the government euchred him out of his election as Vice-President of the United States.
For that and many other reasons, the House will look to link the IRS scandal to the White House. Chairman Camp hinted that this arrogant attitude pervades everything the White House does. And he might be correct. After all, a key figure in the IRS scandal about tax-exemption applications will run the division that administers the Minimal Coverage Mandate under Obamacare.
But the IRS scandal need go no further than the IRS itself to be outrageous – or dangerous to American liberty.
The IRS scandal and the tax code
Here is why. The country has an IRS, only because it has a tax code only a bureaucrat could love. No doubt the famous bureaucrats of the Byzantine Empire could have “gotten high” without their hallucinogenic alkaloids, if they had a tax code like this to administer.
Corrupt tax collectors have been a “feature” of government at least since Roman times, and probably far earlier. Jesus Christ, merely by asking a tax collector for a dinner invitation, shamed him into admitting to trumping up tax delinquencies to squeeze more money out of people.
Zacchaeus, at least until Jesus told him to climb down from a sycamore tree, would have been right at home in today’s IRS.
Now consider what the Tea Party wants. They want a far simpler tax code. A tax code that would let any person, or any firm, make out their taxes on a postcard. Here’s one way to do it:
- Tell us how much money you made.
- Tell us how much you spent to make Line 1.
- Subtract line 2 from line 1.
- Pay 23 percent of Line 3.
Americans for Fair Taxation want something simpler. They call it the FairTax. Here’s how it works: you keep your full paycheck. You get a “prebate” of the tax that might be due on a basket of goods you cannot do without. Then you pay a 23 percent tax on anything new that you buy. The income tax, and the payroll tax (typically 7.63 percent), go away.
Zounds! That would threaten the very heart and soul of the IRS. No wonder the IRS selectively applied the law to Tea Party and Patriot and Constitutional groups! To have people questioning why we have an income tax, and whether the States properly ratified Amendment XVI (some doubt exists), would never do. The late Commissioner Donald Alexander openly told another House committee that
the only way to keep the people in line, the only way to keep them honest and paying their taxes, is to make them afraid.
There’s your real IRS scandal. As Paul Strassels (All You Need to Know About the IRS) famously said,
The IRS is the only agency of the government that is at war with its own constituency.
That is as true today as it was at the time of Christ.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas “gets it.” He wants to abolish the IRS. He knows that the real IRS scandal is the tax code.
Of those in the Oversight Subcommittee, Charlie Rangel acted as if he “got it.” Or maybe he “protested too much.” After all, he had trouble paying his own taxes.
But until the people address the real IRS scandal, and abolish a tax code stuffed with special privileges (and special burdens), the IRS scandal will happen again.ARVE Error: need id and provider
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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