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New I.R.S. Chief Wants More Revenuers

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Well you have to give him credit for sheer brass. The new head of the IRS, who was brought in to the agency to ‘restore trust’, sat before the Senate Finance committee recently and informed them that he wanted more money for the agency. Apparently Obamacare involves a whole host of new taxes, or, um, penalties. So, the forced transfer of money from people to the government in order to purchase government coverage has the odd quality of being a different thing depending on who the administration is arguing with. For the general public, during campaign and TV appearances with, for example, George Stephanopolous, the payments are penalties, because if they were taxes, then the program would be a violation of solemn campaign vows that there would be no tax hikes on the middle class. But since the US Constitution does not give the federal government the power to impose a penalty on all citizens, the money has to be characterized as a tax in order to get through the courts. And, of course, it’s the IRS which is shaking the trees looking for new money to hire new Obamacare monetary extraction officers, and so the façade that these are not taxes has fallen away entirely.

Neil Cavuto had me as a guest on his eponymous television show to discuss the new IRS chief’s request for additional revenuers. Here’s the transcript:

Neil Cavuto: “”Koskinen… John Koskinen.” Okay, not quite, “Bond… James Bond,” but the new guy at the IRS apparently wants to make just as big an impression. Word is that Mr. Koskinen’s push to get the deserve it, and [that] with all the IRS abuses he shouldn’t get it. Jerry Bowyer, big critic of government overreach, says he shouldn’t ever get it, ever ever ever ever! Jerry joins us right now. Jerry, why not?”

Jerry Bowyer: “Well, I think you said it: because it’s government overreach. By the way, I like that James Bond angle.”

Neil: “Thank you. I worked on that for minutes…”

Jerry: “Minutes at a time. I think the senate finance committee was shaken but not quite stirred by his arguments.”

Neil: “Touché. You are so smart and quick, it’s like scary, but go ahead.”

Jerry: “I don’t mean to scare you. The first thing that popped into my mind when I saw this story was one of the complaints that was made in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 against the King of England. We said, “He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance,” and we were talking about revenue agents then as well. So, what we’re seeing is – I mean, we’ve talked about this over the years — there’s this steady transfer of power from the people to the government; from the state to the federal government; and from the entire federal government to the executive branch. Creating tens of thousands of revenue agents would be yet another step in that wrong direction.”

Neil: “Well, you know, there’s always wisdom in what you say. I always give benefit of the doubt to those who seem to be making, at face value, ridiculously asinine pitches. So then I try to get in there and think, “What would make you think you deserve more money when you’ve been harassing conservative groups and screwing things up left and right? And then I hear [that] you’re going to have to take over a lot of this health care law thing and I’m not a fan that you take it over.” But their budget hasn’t adequately reflected those added responsibilities, so he says. I say maybe you shouldn’t have those added responsibilities. Republicans say we’ve got to dial it back a little bit and talk about these added responsibilities, but nobody’s going to give you another dime until that’s addressed. What do you say?”

Jerry: “I say that’s right. If I’m trying to, in the spirit of bipartisanship, put myself in Koskinen’s place and say, “Does he have a point?” Yeah, he does. If the government has given him enormous new areas of the economy to regulate — if now every man, woman, and child is required to pay the penalty if they don’t buy healthcare under Obamacare — then yeah, there is a lot more managing of our lives and I guess that takes more enforcement. And that’s how tyranny always works: you give away a goodie but the goodie is based on taxes taken from someone else. So, the bigger the state gets the more enforcement mechanism; the more cops; the more guys with checklists who are looking into your lives. I think the answer is to sort of pull back the size of government and then you don’t need all those enforcement officers. But yeah, if they’re going to enforce something as big as Obamacare (which is a massive tax hike), then yeah, they’re going to need a lot more tax collectors.”

Neil: “And by the way, if you are going to be pitching for more money and you are going to take over these other responsibilities — like I said, healthcare — then you have to have a proven successful record at doing other things that were under your purview, and the track record there is dicey. I know he’s just stepping [in] and I know he’s a new guy, but I would say look to the old guy, because that wasn’t working there and it’s not going to work for you.”

Jerry: “And it was a culture problem. You look at his old job, Freddie Mac: he didn’t exactly cover himself with glory in turning around – I know he came in after the housing bubble but that’s still under water, so I don’t think you’ve got a good track record with organization and I don’t think you’ve got a good track record with the guy. I think that’s two strikes.”

Neil: “It would be like me going over to a Jack Lalanne’s fitness center and taking over. Who’s going to take me seriously? But that’s just me.”

Jerry: “You know, I always root for James Bond but in this case I’m rooting for Dr. No in Congress. No, no, no.”

Neil: “There you go. Jerry Bowyer, always a pleasure, my friend. Love having you on. Happy New Year.”

Jerry: “Thank you, my friend.”


Mr. Bowyer is the author of "The Free Market Capitalists Survival Guide," published by HarperCollins, and a Forbes contributor.

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