Obama's Tax Joke No Laughing Matter

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: May 18, 2009 8:45 AM

During Obama's Arizona State University commencement speech last Wednesday, he joked that he was remiss to predict the victors of the NCAA brackets, and that the flak he got from ASU President Michael Crowe and the Board of Regents about it would result in their learning "all about being audited by the IRS."

Making the joke was more than a little uncouth, says Glen Reynolds at the Wall Street Journal.

Surely he's aware that other presidents, most notably Richard Nixon, have abused the power of the Internal Revenue Service to harass their political opponents.

...Our income-tax system is based on voluntary compliance and honest reporting by citizens. It couldn't possibly function if most people decided to cheat. Sure, the system is backed up by the dreaded IRS audit. But the threat is, while not exactly hollow, limited: The IRS can't audit more than a tiny fraction of taxpayers. If Americans started acting like Italians, who famously see tax evasion as a national pastime, the system would collapse.