Close window  |  View original article

In Defense of the IRS

The IRS' behavior was logical and legally required - that's the problem.

By Petrarch  |  May 30, 2013

Now that the election is over and another four years of the Obama regime is assured, all of a sudden the pustulating scandals suppressed by his sycophants in the media for so long are finally forcing themselves into the public view.  It's understandable that a frustrated, frightened, leaderless Republican party will grab onto them like a drowning man to a life preserver, dreaming wild dreams of impeachment, shame, and ignominy for their titular enemy in the White House.

As usual, they are making a mistake.  First, there is not the slightest shred of evidence that Mr. Obama has committed any "high crimes and misdemeanors" in the course of any of these scandals.  Not sending the military to rescue our besieged ambassador in Benghazi is pusillanimous and un-American, but it is not a crime nor even a misdemeanor, merely a bone-headed blunder.  The multifarious scandals at the Department of Justice certainly call into question Mr. Obama's wisdom in appointing the odious Eric Holder to high office, but again, bad personnel decisions are not even close to grounds for impeachment.

News that the IRS abused it powers for partisan political ends, subjecting conservatives and conservative organizations to extra audits and endless delays while whisking liberals through their paperwork on a red carpet, sounds like something more.  Was not using the IRS to attack political enemies one of the impeachment charges laid against Richard Nixon?

Why yes, it was - but Richard Nixon, arch-conspirator and micromanager he, had the stupidity to directly order unsavory things to be done and to hear reports about them, while recording those meetings on tape.  The point is, there actually was an active conspiracy in which the President was personally involved, at least to some extent.

It beggars belief to suppose that Barack Obama summoned the head of the IRS to the Oval Office and said, "I need you to start auditing all these nasty Tea Partiers so I can get re-elected."  It's preposterous to imagine that he recorded himself doing so, or wrote down such an order on a memo.  It's unlikely that he ever even said anything to anyone from the IRS about it.

He had no need to call the IRS - his order to take down those evil conservatives was stated publicly and the media were happy to pass it on.  At his press conferences, he spoke over and over about the evils committed by wealthy persons who opposed him.  He exercised his own free-speech rights and the presidential bully pulpit, emphasis on "bully."

Without a truly astonishing discovery of secret tapes or documents, there is no impeachable crime, though it might still be interesting to look at the records of over 100 visits to the White House by IRS officials.

The reality is a far more serious problem.  Rather than continue to pointlessly bash their heads against a president who, after all, will be leaving office in a few years, the Republicans would be much better off attacking the real decades-old enemy, one whom most Americans already see as the enemy: the IRS,  the laws it enforces, and the unaccountable federal bureaucracy as a whole.

Perverse Laws = Perverse Outcomes

Nearly forgotten amidst the scandal is the fact that the IRS is not the Roman Empire's tax farm.  It does not simply have the authority to go out and shake down money wherever it can be found.  As unjust and tyrannical as IRS actions often are, they are supposed to have some sort of underlying legal basis and virtually always do.

Why did the IRS give extra scrutiny to conservative political organizations?  Because it was required to - not by a directive of President Obama or one of his cronies, but in fact by the law as passed by Congress!

The reason the Tea Party groups were filing with the IRS in the first place is because the law requires them to do so if they want donations to be tax-deductible.  However, not just anybody gets this privilege: our Congressmen in their infinite wisdom have decided that partisan political organizations aren't allowed to have tax-deductible charity status, but educational organizations are.

Obviously, saying "Vote for Joe Smith" is political partisanship.  Equally obviously, teaching children to read is educational.  But what about teaching people the history of the Constitution?  How about exposing government corruption, also known as journalism?  For that matter, what about performing and promoting academic research into the negative effect of a growing government on private-sector economic growth and job creation?

The problem is, our government has grown so large that virtually any discussion, education, or examination of it is automatically going to have a political effect, usually a partisan one.

What's more, the IRS had a point: as a rational human being, do you imagine that the "Tea Party Patriots" were intending to be a nonpartisan, unbiased group wanting to spread the pure, unfiltered light of education?  Of course not; we all know that they very much had a partisan political intent.  Any organization with "tea party" or "patriot" in its name had better have a political effect, or its donors are going to feel ripped off.

In short, Congress has given the IRS an impossible task: disallow groups that say "Vote for Sen. Joe Shmoe's opponent" but allow groups that restrict themselves to saying "Sen. Joe Schmoe is a crooked lying Communist!"  What sense does that make?

There's No Such Thing As A Nonpartisan Government Agency

"Fine," you say.  "So the IRS has to do an impossible job of doing something that is illogical, contradictory, and nonsensical.  Of course they did it incompetently - but why didn't they do it evenly, fouling up liberal organizations just as badly as conservative ones?  There's got to be a political bias motivation there!"

Indeed there is, but it isn't Mr. Obama giving orders from on high, for one simple reason: he doesn't have to.  As the New York Times put it:

Even if Obama didn’t personally sign off, people always sense by osmosis what leaders are thinking and go in that direction.

As we've written many times, the ranks of government civil-service employees are supposed to be nonpartisan, but in reality they are heavily leftist.  Government employees personally want big government: they want raises and promotions like we all do.  The bigger government gets, the more money they can spend in the office and at home.

What's more, conservatives flee from taking Uncle Sam's shilling - what Tea Party Patriot would happily spend his days at the IRS, shaking down hardworking taxpayers for even more?

People want jobs doing things they think are generally good and right.  The sort of people you find working for government are the sort of people who, despite all the evidence, sincerely think government should be doing everything, which means they vote Democrat and interpret their mandates toward helping liberals and trashing conservatives.

If you have a government inevitably full of partisan human beings, it is equally inevitable that they will behave in partisan, corrupt ways.  The only way to prevent this is to keep the government small enough that they can't.  All the laws in the world won't stop partisan government employees from pressing their hand on the scale - we already have all the laws in the world, and it's only made things progressively worse.

Is Enough Ever Going To Be Enough?

Which brings us to the lesson of the IRS scandal that Republicans ought to be hammering home every hour of every day, in every article and interview, on every talk-show appearance and radio show:

A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.

Alas, the quote comes from Gerald Ford, not the most memorable or successful of Republican presidents.  But he was spot on with this one.

On some level, the American people already know this: the IRS has been hated and feared for decades.  The only reason Americans put up with it is because they've generally believed that it is at least evenhandedly rough on everyone.

The current scandal proves this isn't so: the IRS is the very definition of an unaccountable, all-powerful, arbitrary and partisan tyranny that must be eradicated if there is to be any hope for freedom in the future.  The worst fears of the tinfoil-hat brigade have been proved correct - so are we going to do anything about it, or not?

It's time for the Stupid Party to round up a handful of long-unused brain cells and point out to America what's staring it in the face.  Thanks to the partisan stupidity of the hated IRS, all America has an opportunity to truly understand the deadly danger we are all in - if only Republicans will take the trouble to tell them.