I watched the IRS hearing conducted by the House Committee on Ways and Means. The witness before the committee was the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service John Koskinen. I was appalled.
The IRS was engaged from 2010 through 2012 in a plan to harass conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. IRS employees held meetings with the Federal Election Commission, the Justice Department and the FBI in order to “piece together” a criminal charge.
IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman was in the White House for meetings on 157 days during that time. It is likely the White House was involved.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Lois Lerner was the point person at the IRS on the effort and has twice pled the Fifth Amendment, refusing to testify before Congress. The Ways and Means Committee had been asking for certain documents for two years. Koskinen was flippant and rude. He mocked the committee.
When he testified in March he promised the committee that he would be able to deliver all of the requested emails from Lois Lerner. In fact, he knew in February that some of them had been lost in a hard drive “crash” and the drive had been disposed of.
While he had informed the White House of the lost emails six weeks ago, he saw nothing wrong in waiting until last week to tell the committee that the emails they had been interested in for two years may not be recoverable.
As has been the case in the Fast and Furious and Benghazi scandals, the Democrats united to defend the contemptuous behavior of a government bureaucrat. They ridiculed Republican questions and declared the proceedings a political witch-hunt. The White House Press Secretary dismissed it in the same way.
In reality, this is a very serious matter.
Photo Credit: AP
One of the constitutionally mandated responsibilities of the Congress is oversight. If there is a concentrated effort to use the confidential personal information of taxpayers to achieve political aims the facts need to be understood. The people involved need to be fired. That requires going through evidence, which includes emails. The fact that emails have been destroyed raises the question as to whom they are protecting.
Lerner has decided to hide behind the constitutional protections against self-incrimination. Absent any corroborating testimony she will disappear on her government retirement. If all of the documents that tie others to the scheme were destroyed the administration will likely be cleared too.
I do not believe that Lerner - a midlevel bureaucrat at the IRS - directed the activities of the IRS, the Federal Election Commission, the FBI and the Department of Justice. Since the Commissioner of the IRS at that time was visiting the White House nearly every week, one has to believe that the White House was right in the middle of it.
The IRS is the most intimidating agency in government. A letter or phone call from them changes your life. They have more personal information on us than we are willing to tell our children. They have now shown that they are willing to use that information for partisan political activity.
They illegally gave the list of contributors to the National Organization for Marriage to the Human Rights Campaign, which disclosed to the media that Mitt Romney was a contributor.
They have audited contributors to Romney. They have audited the personal and business returns of Americans who had the temerity to request a tax-exempt status for civic organizations that they were forming.
This is an outrageous affront to a free society by a thoroughly corrupt institution. In the middle of the multiple investigations the IRS awarded its employees $89 million in bonuses. It is just silly to think that they will fix the problems on their own. It’s time for bold action.
We survived and prospered as a nation from 1789 to 1913 with no IRS. We funded our government needs with excise taxes, property taxes and tariffs.
The 16th Amendment to the constitution authorizes the collection of taxes on income which enables the IRS. It is time for it to be repealed.
The U.S. House should attach to every bill they pass a provision that would mandate on every ballot in November a question: “Should the 16th Amendment be repealed and the IRS abolished?”
Let Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) strip it out in the Senate and tell you that the voters cannot be trusted on such weighty issues.
Put the language on every spending bill necessary to keep the government from shutting down. Let President Obama veto the bills and shut the government down because you cannot be trusted to make these choices.
There are many good proposals for raising the necessary money to fund the government. I am for the FairTax. Others support that Value Added Tax, tariffs and even a gross receipts tax. They can all be collected by the states without an IRS.
We can have that debate while the repeal is going through the constitutional process, but let us not lose sight of the primary goal.
The IRS is an irredeemably corrupted organization and it is time for it to go away.
John Linder served in Congress for 18 years from Georgia. He and his wife, Lynne, have retired to a farm in Northeast Mississippi. He can be contacted at: email@example.com
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