The White House publicity machine has tried to turn the national conversation from the topics of the day to attempt to make our President relevant again. Obama, who has gained the new nickname Griffin (as in H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man), has all but disappeared since his failed attempt to change the national gun laws in the beginning of this year. To clear grass so high that Obama needs a weed whacker just to be seen, his team has attempted a typical Obama technique. In this case they are creating a new mantra to discredit legitimate concerns of American voters by calling the various missteps of his administration “phony scandals.” The IRS is one of those phony scandals.
One would think that any American with a brain would be concerned that the tax collecting agency of the United States was operating in an abusive manner. One would think everyone would view charges of abuse by the Internal Revenue Service as something of the highest magnitude of concern regarding governmental abuse that could happen at any time to any citizen. Almost all Americans lived in deep fear of receiving a letter from the IRS long before this scandal broke.
President Obama immediately came out to relieve the existing commissioner of the IRS from his duties (a man who had one month left at his position) and replaced him with a new guy who was given a month to do a top-to-bottom review of the IRS. This is an organization with 100,000 employees and hundreds of offices. Surely one month will be plenty of time for a comprehensive operational review. That month is now over so kids everything is fine and we can move forward assured there will be no more abuses by the most feared organization in America. By the way, nobody really did anything wrong and it is all a big misunderstanding.
Let’s focus on a couple of aspects of this. As someone who has worked with the IRS for 35 years, I have seen the transition of the organization. If there was discretion for the agents previously, that has disappeared over the years. You can tell in dealing with them that today the people at the lower rungs just execute and don’t really think very much. When you talk to agents that have been around for a while, they will tell you how the organization has changed and how they often have become nothing more than clerks. So when the world was told at the beginning of this scandal that it was a couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati who made these decisions, it was quite laughable.
One of those people from Cincinnati, who we were told was responsible for mishandling all those Tea Party non-profit applications, testified before Congress. One IRS employee was asked about the plausibility of the charge that it was centered in Cincinnati, that testimony goes as this: “It's impossible. As an agent we are controlled by many, many people. We have to submit many, many reports. So the chance of two agents being rogue and doing things like that could never happen.” When asked about the people in Washington pointing the finger at them, the Cincinnati employee stated: “I still hear people saying we were low-level employees, so we were lower than dirt, according to people in D.C. So, take it for what it is. They were basically throwing us underneath the bus.”
The second aspect of this is whether this was politically motivated. Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who is the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, would have you believe that this withholding of non-profit status from Tea Party or Patriots groups was mitigated by the withholding of similar status for groups with the word Progressive in their name. Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel stated in testimony that 100 percent of the Tea Party groups were processed as possible political cases while only 30 percent of the Progressive groups were treated as such. What Werfel does not state is what was the relative number of applications that were made or to what extent the Progressive groups were roughed up during the application cycle and how long they were delayed. Try and find one of these groups citing their long delays and you will come up empty. Try and find the same for the Tea Party groups and you will find a massive number that have been and still are being abused by the process. To state this was not politically motivated is just a bold-faced lie.
When Treasury Secretary Jack Lew recently made the Sunday talk show rounds, he had blank answers regarding the organization he oversees. When asked who was investigating this issue, he could not state who was doing the investigation. He stated that all the supervisors involved in the matter were relieved of their responsibilities, but he did not state any of them were disciplined or fired. Despite the fact that a high level IRS official (Carter Hull) testified he was ordered to send Tea Party applications to William Wilkins, a Obama political appointee, Lew stated no one has asked any questions of Wilkins about his involvement in the matter. Lew stated there is no evidence there was any political involvement, but if you don’t ask anyone the question you will never get the evidence.
This just addresses a few aspects of this matter. This does not even acknowledge the fact no one is digging into finding out which person(s) released information about one of these applications to an outside organization. That is a felony and the quest to track that has seemed to vanish. And now Congress has discovered other incidents of information potentially being distributed to entities outside the IRS improperly.
Mr. President, this is a real scandal and it scares any thinking American that they may be the next chosen for political or other reasons to be witch hunted by the IRS. The more you plead about how nothing is there, the more it becomes quite apparent you are involved in a cover up. So the best path is to come clean -- the American people deserve it.