Weaponizing the IRS, the EPA, and government agencies in general

The NYT reports on a two-year-and counting IRS examination of a conservative Hollywood group. The group seeks the same status as its much larger liberal counterpart, “People for the American Way”. No problem for the latter, naturally.

A Freedom of Information demand, meanwhile, has resulted in a trove of E-mails between the EPA and opponents of the Keystone pipeline showing what is described as “a cozy relationship” between the agency and environmental groups. I‘d call it more than that.

In a USA Today column yesterday entitled “Government Conspiracy Theories aren’t Crazy”, law professor Glenn Reynolds points out the danger of this politicization of our government agencies – here’s an excerpt:

At a tax symposium at Pepperdine Law School last week, former IRS chief counsel Donald Korb was asked, “On a scale of 1-10 … how damaging is the current IRS scandal?”

His answer: 9.5. Other tax experts on the panel called it “awful,” and said that it has done “tremendous damage.”

I think that’s right. And I think that the damage extends well beyond the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, I think that the government agency suffering the most damage isn’t the IRS, but the National Security Agency. Because the NSA, even more than the IRS, depends on public trust. And now that the IRS has been revealed to be a political weapon, it’s much harder for people to have faith in the NSA.

As I warned President Obama back in 2009 after he “joked” about having his enemies audited, the IRS depends on trust:

Should the IRS come to be seen as just a bunch of enforcers for whoever is in political power, the result would be an enormous loss of legitimacy for the tax system. Our income-tax system is based on voluntary compliance and honest reporting by citizens. It couldn’t possibly function if most people decided to cheat. Sure, the system is backed up by the dreaded IRS audit. But the threat is, while not exactly hollow, limited: The IRS can’t audit more than a tiny fraction of taxpayers. If Americans started acting like Italians, who famously see tax evasion as a national pastime, the system would collapse.

Since then, of course, the new “weaponized IRS” has, in fact, come to be seen as illegitimate by many more Americans. I suspect that, over time, this loss of moral legitimacy will cause many to base their tax strategies on what they think they can get away with, not on what they’re entitled to. And when they hear of someone being audited, many Americans will ask not “what did he do wrong?” but “who in government did he offend?”

This is particularly true since the Obama administration is currently changing IRS rules to muzzle Tea Partiers.



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23 responses to “Weaponizing the IRS, the EPA, and government agencies in general

  1. Publius

    This is a scandal that makes Watergate look like schoolboy prank. These government lifer liberal bastards should be prosecuted to the fullest. I can’t believe that few people care about this given the fact that just about everyone in this country at some point in their lives crosses paths with the IRS. People’s hairs are on fire over the NSA, but how is this different??? By degrees?? We need to apply some of that hot stove theory here!!!

    • Anonymous

      Won’t happen as long as Eric Holder is Attorney General.

      Holder is the Reinhard Heydrich of the Obama National Socialist government.

    • Libertarian Advocate

      This is a scandal that makes Watergate look like schoolboy prank.

      Publius, with the foregoing, you’ve proven yourself a master of understatement.

      I would admonish ALL senior staff at the IRS to reflect carefully upon the saying “What Goes Around, Comes Around.”

    • TheWizard

      I think quite a few of “us” are angry about it, but it seems nobody with any political or media power is.

  2. Deep on page B4, today’s NY Times has discovered that a) the most extensive study shows that RELATIVE economic mobility is not worsening, and b) ABSOLUTE mobility has resulted from economic growth.

    Point a) shows that the Democrats’ fundamental theme is spinach, and b) confirms that absolute mobility (being able to afford stuff) results from growth, not redistribution.


  3. Peg

    This is a scandal of major proportion. Yet, Christie purportedly being involved with the shutdown of a bridge is given dramatically more coverage than the Obama administration squelching our dearest freedoms to stay in power.

    Optimist that I am, contrasts such as this one sometimes make me wonder if America’s best days are truly gone forever (or – at least my life time!)

  4. NoGolfToday

    Based on Sound Beach Ave.
    Has just walked off two job sites in Riverside.
    Why you ask?
    Greed and an unethical business model.
    Both sites, one a remodel, the other a full blown soup to nuts riverside dream home are on hold.
    Word on the street, and (I mean both owners) are being asked to pay additional monies beyond the contractual agreement.
    For what reason? None
    Just a greedy prick.
    Nick Brunile, the boss @ York is making quite the name for himself.

    Hey CF, you must know the guy…apparently he lives not far from his 210 sound beach avenue office.
    Is this a first offense or common practice?

  5. Anonymous

    Gangster government.

    Obama has supplanted Rule of Law with Rule of Tyrant.

  6. AJ

    Do not be distracted by the Biebs.

  7. Anonymous Citizenette

    Cuomo has sicced the NYS Dept of Labor on James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, hq’ed in Westchester. While the country wails away about Christie and some misc petty accusations, this unstoppable tyrant is off the charts and theres nothing petty about him.

  8. Anonymous

    Now Eric Reinhard Heydrich Holder is going after Dinesh D’Souza, who made an anti-Obama film, for an alleged $20,000 campaign donation malfeasance.


    Anyone seen Jon Corzine? the Solyndra folks? Michelle’s friends at CGI Federal?

    Cuomo is going after James O’Keefe.

  9. Fred2

    Well as lots of people have pointed out there are laws on EVERYTHING, and most respectable law-abiding people probably commit upwards of 1/2 doz crimes a day.

    So if .gov takes an interest in you, you are a sitting duck in hunting season, and if you piss the wrong .gov branch off, the hunters have got 40mm radar controlled automatic cannon. You chance of giving them a quack and flash of tail feather without getting hit by pounds of -high velocity shot are ZERO , as makes no difference.

    I am astonished though that the powers that be have become so bold about their intentions.