Unlike in most disputes, I’m actually more sympathetic to the union argument here. The employees of the IRS have a stringent set of rules that they must follow or lose their jobs. If they forget to report even a few hundred dollars of income on their return or file late, they’ll also be filing for unemployment. Under those conditions, one can understand the demoralizing impact of reporting to a Treasury Secretary who didn’t bother to pay his taxes for years (via QandO):
The Treasury secretary, who oversees the IRS, didn’t pay all his taxes. Neither did five other top nominees for the Obama administration, or their spouses.
Now, as Wednesday’s tax deadline looms, some Americans are wondering why they should comply with the arcane requirements of the Internal Revenue Service when top administration officials failed to do the same. Even some IRS employees are upset at what they see as a double standard. …
“Our members are upset and angry,” said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, referring to concern bubbling up within the IRS over unusually strict rules that can cost agents their jobs if they make a mistake.
In some cases, IRS employees have lost jobs for simply filing a late return or failing to report a few hundred dollars of interest income.
I didn’t realize at the time Geithner got confirmed that these rules existed for IRS employees. That makes the appointment and confirmation of Tim Geithner even more hypocritical that it originally was. How can Barack Obama and his supporters insist on tax compliance from the populace and such strict standards for tax collectors while appointing tax scofflaws to high government positions?
While I sympathize with the IRS employees union here, I don’t support their solution. Instead of just demanding that our government hold its appointees to the same exacting standards as IRS employees, they want to loosen restrictions on the employees instead to match the bad example Barack Obama set for them, and that the Senate endorsed. I’d say the Senate has a duty to ensure that Obama’s political appointees meet the higher standards expected of the people who have to answer to the appointees, especially in the bureaucracy that actually handles tax collection. Obviously, we can’t rely on this administration to have those kinds of standards on their own.