Daniel Doherty

Do Senate Democrats seriously not understand that this particular government agency targeted conservative and tea party groups for years? And that, starting in early 2010, there wasn’t a single conservative-leaning organization approved for tax-exempt status by the agency for 27 straight months?

Apparently not:

Senate Democrats on Tuesday proposed increasing the budget of the Internal Revenue Service and other financial agencies next year.

The IRS would get $12.07 billion in funding under the Financial Services subcommittee bill rep House Republicans, in contrast, have suggested cutting the IRS's budget by 24 percent.

Senate Republicans are not happy with the funding level proposed by Democrats, and subcommittee ranking member Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) took the rare step of recording a “no” vote against the bill

“Count the IRS among the winners in the bill despite the political targeting that appalled all of us and eroded the public’s trust,” Johanns said.

The IRS has been embroiled in controversy since May, when the administration admitted the agency had improperly handled requests for tax-exempt status by conservative and Tea Party groups.

Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), in his first markup in his new role, said the bill contains language to force the IRS to improve its management. He called the House cuts “counterproductive,” arguing they would lead to personnel cuts and result in lost tax revenue.

Lost tax revenue? Interestingly, a new Rasmussen poll out today actually shows that a supermajority of Americans think we should reduce government spending as a way to stimulate the economy. Surprise:

Most voters still see less government spending as good for the economy.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 62% of Likely U.S. Voters now think the government should cut spending in reaction to the nation’s economic problems. But that's down from 65% last month and the lowest level of support for reduced spending since last August. Still, voters aren't enthusiastic about more government spending: Just 23% think the government should spend more in response to the struggling economy. That's consistent with regular surveys for more than a year now. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure which is a better option. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

For the sake of argument let’s say that the IRS does require more taxpayer money to do its job effectively. But shouldn’t we at least get to the bottom of what happened before we start spending even more money on an agency that obviously targeted Americans? Isn’t that a reasonable request? After all, there’s something profoundly alarming about giving this agency a cushy pay raise when some of its employees engaged in illegal and unethical behavior. Their actions diminished the public’s view of government, and now we want to reward them for it? No, thank you. Personally, I’d much rather give my own money to any other government agency besides the IRS. Other government agencies will probably find a way to waste it, of course, but at least they won’t insult me -- or my intelligence -- in the process.

Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography