Karma hits the IRS

posted at 12:01 pm on July 11, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

It’s payback time for the IRS, as Politico reported last night.  Until now, the agency has usually had little trouble in budget negotiations, as both parties need revenue collected (regardless of the tax policies favored by each), by an agency that had until recently appeared relatively apolitical.  After having its partisanship exposed, the IRS now finds that partisanship carries a big risk on Capitol Hill:

It’s payback time for the agency Congress loves to hate.

After two months of pummeling the IRS in the wake of the tea party targeting scandal, Republicans are trying to starve the agency of its funding and ensure $70 million in scheduled bonuses aren’t paid out while handing more money to the watchdog charged with keeping tabs on the tax collectors. …

Perhaps most importantly, a House subcommittee on Wednesday hit the IRS where it counts: in the wallet.

“Hopefully this will finally get their attention, because they haven’t been as forthcoming as we’d like them to be,” Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), a senior Ways and Means Committee member, told POLITICO.

The House Appropriations subcommittee with IRS jurisdiction cleared a spending measure gutting the tax-collecting agency’s budget next year by 24 percent in fiscal 2014. That $9 billion allocation is 30 percent less than President Barack Obama requested for the agency charged with rolling out his signature health care law.

Rep. Peter Roskam, the chief deputy whip in the House, called the appropriation a “reckoning for the IRS.”

Reckoning, yes … and perhaps a “behavior changer.” Our friend Patterico discovered an interesting quote from a central figure in the scandal about the strategy of dumping big questionnaires on tax-exempt applicants.  Lois Lerner told Business Week in November 2011 that they tended to intimidate applicants out of their claims, and Patterico noted the timing — as I also did in my column today for The Fiscal Times:

Lerner, interviewed at the time in regard to an investigation into not-for-profit colleges and universities, underscored the importance of aggressive interrogatories to discourage organizations from pursuing tax-exempt status. Business Week reported Lerner’s response: “Receiving a thick questionnaire from the IRS, she says, is a ‘behavior changer.’”

Frey notes the date of the quote with some interest. The targeting of conservative groups by the tax-exempt unit Lerner ran also used the “thick questionnaire” tactic, which Lerner brags is a form of intimidation.  An entertaining timeline of the IRS targeting scandal compiled by Freedom Works, which supports and trains Tea Party activists and groups, shows Lerner found out about the targeting by June 27, 2011 at the latest, and had initiated an audit of the office and its “be on the lookout” (BOLO) list used for the targeting.

That resulted in a broader BOLO being put into use, and five months later, Lerner is bragging about the “behavior changer” effect of IRS demands for extensive information. Targeting continued well into 2013, and most of the groups that applied for tax-exempt status dropped those requests, or never received approval.

What Congress needs to do is to provide even more significant “behavior changers” on the IRS to ensure that they are no longer in position to interfere with political speech through partisan action again:

They made themselves into a political target, and while the extensive cuts envisioned by the House GOP caucus may not entirely materialize, the agency is certainly going to be forced to make do with less at the end of this budget cycle.  Congress will continue to pursue the scandal with further hearings and perhaps even a special prosecutor to perform an independent probe into the politicization at the IRS.

Those kinds of interrogatories have already proven to be “behavior changers,” but hopefully the real behavior change will take place in Congress itself.  The scandal demonstrates the dangers of the complexity and enforcement of the current tax code and campaign finance regulation, both of which need reform badly in the direction of simplification and objectivity. Perhaps then the IRS can return to its status as a bloodless revenue-collecting agency, and the American taxpayers can be spared “behavior changers” from bonus-collecting bureaucrats with axes to grind.

It’s not enough to punish the guilty in this case.  We need to make sure that we keep agencies like the IRS from accumulating enough power to manipulate political speech and organization for their own purposes.  Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves right back in the same place.


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Abolish the IRS…

OmahaConservative on July 11, 2013 at 12:03 PM

So my taxes will be less?

/

Electrongod on July 11, 2013 at 12:06 PM

Abolishment should hit the IRS.

Jail time should hit the perpetrators of their tyranny.

Galt2009 on July 11, 2013 at 12:06 PM

The “fundamental transformation” of America by the traitors in government is both widespread and insidious. Perhaps if enough pressure can be brought to bear on the financial arm of this treasonous activity, we may begin to dismantle the communist push to destroy our country.

HomeoftheBrave on July 11, 2013 at 12:06 PM

I feel like the GOP is the skinny dipper in my pool, while Obama is robbing us blind.

But, I’m afraid we found the GOP floating face down afterward.

faraway on July 11, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Defund them entirely. It’s hard for them to intimidate and harass people if they no longer exist.

Doughboy on July 11, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Abolish the IRS and replace it with a national sales tax. No more forms, exemptions, audits, etc.

TKindred on July 11, 2013 at 12:09 PM

It’s a cynical ploy by the GOP to look tough, and do nothing.

faraway on July 11, 2013 at 12:09 PM

We need to make sure that we keep agencies like the IRS from accumulating enough power to manipulate political speech and organization for their own purposes.

Government should not have this much power. Abolish the 16th Amendment. Have a national sales tax of 5% on goods and services excluding food, clothing, primary residential real estate and medical care. Keep a tax low enough, and broad enough, with no exemptions for favored constituencies.

rbj on July 11, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Too little. Far too little.

If the Republicans were serious they would be trying to end the IRS.

But…the establishment Republicans aren’t all that upset that the IRS knocked down the tea party in 2012.

One would presume that if 2012 had played out as it would have without IRS interference that Boehner, for example, might have to deal with a majority of conservatives in the House, not just in his party…

18-1 on July 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Perfect time for eliminating the IRS tax reform

a capella on July 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM

People should go to prison over this but all we’ll get is some unconvincing sabre-rattling by the wheezing joke known as the GOP. When nobody’s paying attention the funds will quietly be restored.

To hell with all of them, including the GOP.

Cicero43 on July 11, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Get rid of the IRS. I want to see democrats trying to support the IRS.

Danielvito on July 11, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Pussies. Cut it 90%. Replace IRS with an app written by intuit.

Fogpig on July 11, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Would this not also have the very desirable effect of at least partially defunding ObimboCare, since the IRS is to be the enforcement agency through 16,000 new hires they will now not be able to afford?

PJ Emeritus on July 11, 2013 at 12:17 PM

I will settle for nothing less than that hag in an orange jumpsuit.

CurtZHP on July 11, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Nothing will be solved until the UNION is dissolved and deemed illegal – keep the union in place – and the IRS will always be a corrupt – and political machine.

jake-the-goose on July 11, 2013 at 12:19 PM

meh…we still have no idea where the orders to target conservatives came from and how high up it went, and no one has suffered any meaningful punishment…

blue13326 on July 11, 2013 at 12:19 PM

It’s the only way, Starve the Beast. That only works as long as Republicans with some sort of spine are in charge though. Once the Dems get the House back, all bets are off.

Johnnyreb on July 11, 2013 at 12:20 PM

24% cut? No. 100%.

Chris of Rights on July 11, 2013 at 12:20 PM

999

Bmore on July 11, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Get rid of the IRS. I want to see democrats trying to support the IRS.

Danielvito on July 11, 2013 at 12:14 PM

The IRS, like any State DMV office, is staffed mostly with minorities. Reducing staffing at the IRS would be racist.

BobMbx on July 11, 2013 at 12:22 PM

This is the good news story of the week.

MTF on July 11, 2013 at 12:22 PM

meh…we still have no idea where the orders to target conservatives came from and how high up it went, and no one has suffered any meaningful punishment…

blue13326 on July 11, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Corzine got off scott-free. Is there any doubt this won’t go anywhere?

BobMbx on July 11, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Abolish the IRS and replace it with a national sales tax. No more forms, exemptions, audits, etc.

TKindred on July 11, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Never going to happen. A National sales tax would hurt the rich way too much as they consume more than anyone else and would have to pay more than they do now.

Johnnyreb on July 11, 2013 at 12:24 PM

She is pure evil.

pat on July 11, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Abolish the IRS and replace it with a national sales tax. No more forms, exemptions, audits, etc.

TKindred on July 11, 2013 at 12:09 PM

+100. A national sales tax hits everyone equally from John Kerry and his multi-million dollar yacht to the guy on welfare buying the $300 Air Jordans. The loopholes are gone and illegal aliens who pay no taxes no longer receive thousands in earned child credits for kids in foreign countries that may not even be theirs.

bw222 on July 11, 2013 at 12:27 PM

How about taking that 4 Billion and process some of those backlogged Veterans disability claims.

dddave on July 11, 2013 at 12:27 PM

a couple of days ago I found myself going ’round and ’round with a couple of posters named ebrown and rvastar about Obamacare. I believe what they were talking about had to have been the “get a stake in the ground” concept of starting a program and expand it to infinity.

I believe I was pretty well excoriated for being a pollyanna for not seeing it and accepting it as the new reality based on the history of liberal dominance. Admitidly, coming on to me like Hades’s breath did not endear me to their rants.

Two days have brought new horizons. I’d like to declare peace with the folks that believe our destruction is inevitable. I haven’t accepted that yet and believe most of us haven’t either. Those guys did remind me of KingGold’s take during the primary saying those of us in red states can’t relate to conservatives in blue ones because we live in a bubble.

God bless Texas. May the bubble grow.

DanMan on July 11, 2013 at 12:29 PM

Hey trolls – you love the IRS – defend this beast!

22044 on July 11, 2013 at 12:30 PM

This administration is full of Lois Lerners, petty little dictators with spectacular hauteur.

vityas on July 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM

This woman is the type of person who should be held
up for the entire country to see the rancid
ABUSE OF POWER our Federal government engages in….

..time will tell IF Republicans in DC have any
intestinal fortitude to go after her…..

ToddPA on July 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Perhaps then the IRS can return to its status as a bloodless revenue-collecting agency

I question that. Really, I do.

Turtle317 on July 11, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Every single employee that participated in this travesty should be fired in the same way that Reagan fired the air traffic controllers for failing to do their jobs properly. From the head of the IRS to it’s lowliest minion. None should be allowed to get away with it.

HotAirian on July 11, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Reducing staffing at the IRS would be racist.

BobMbx on July 11, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Well, let them put out a cup outside a Metro station and let them line dance for tips.

Happy Nomad on July 11, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Most observers of DC “know” that the Senate just will not go along with any reduction in the IRS’ funding.
Well, the TP’ers in the House need to strap a stiff rod to the backs of the conference participants, and inform the Senate that it’s a 24% reduction, or NOTHING!

See if Schumer and his best-bud McGrahmnesty can sell that to the “other body”.

Another Drew on July 11, 2013 at 12:36 PM

The best behavioral modification tool available is a mass firing followed by prosecution. Hearts and minds will follow.

Philly on July 11, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Another Drew on July 11, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Their problem is, the Senate does not HAVE to “go along with it” as it is the HOUSE that controls the pursestrings – until a new Executive Directive is issued anyway.

PJ Emeritus on July 11, 2013 at 12:44 PM

30% Less? That’s a drop in the sinkhole!

Shy Guy on July 11, 2013 at 12:45 PM

On a broader scale, how come the GOP hasn’t done the same with other agencies like the EPA?

Political grandstanding, nothing more.

madmonkphotog on July 11, 2013 at 12:48 PM

I will settle for nothing less than that hag in an orange jumpsuit.

CurtZHP on July 11, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Man, oh man! I am with you 150%. This woman is a nightmare. The Cruella DeVille of the IRS!

I’m a federal employee. If I had to work for or with someone like her, I’d run screaming from the building. She gives us all a bad name.

NavyMustang on July 11, 2013 at 12:52 PM

If Karma really hit the IRS…..it would be gone.

That would be Karma.

On a broader scale, how come the GOP hasn’t done the same with other agencies like the EPA?

Political grandstanding, nothing more.

Yes, because too many in the GOP actually believe the fed ABC agencies serve a good purpose if managed properly, efficiently,honestly and ethically. But what we already know of government bureaucracies, we know that’ll never happen.

hawkeye54 on July 11, 2013 at 12:53 PM

The Leviathan that is the huge, ever-expanding Federal Government apparatus has become self-aware and is doing everything it can to ensure not only its survival, but its continued growth as well. These are frightening times indeed.

Logic on July 11, 2013 at 1:02 PM

It’s the only way, Starve the Beast. That only works as long as Republicans with some sort of spine are in charge though.

Johnnyreb on July 11, 2013 at 12:20 PM

When squid walk on stilts, I’ll believe the GOP has any sort of a spine, except to go after their own citizen base and Sarah Palin, lest their co-ruling applecart gets upset..

Don L on July 11, 2013 at 1:10 PM

The best behavioral modification tool available is a mass firing followed by prosecution. Hearts and minds will follow.

Philly on July 11, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Followed rapidly by a massive amount of Obama pardons?

Don L on July 11, 2013 at 1:12 PM

With scandals, criminal activity, and total lawlessness, it is time to starve this Obama criminal enterprise! The next debt ceiling and budget debates provides the opportunity to slash IRS, NSA, EPA, DOJ, State Dept,TSA, ObamaTax, and all other corrupt federal agencies!! This can be done now without an iota of ill will from American taxpayers of all parties!! People are FED-UP! Cut it to the bone!!

Marco on July 11, 2013 at 1:12 PM

They don’t need to be hit with Karma. They need to be hit with jail time. People in the IRS committed crimes. These people need to go to jail. Karma can come later.

NOMOBO on July 11, 2013 at 1:19 PM

orange man will find some way to give them a 24% increase instead of decrease. probably after a beer summit with pelosi and jug ears.

acyl72 on July 11, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Yes, because too many in the GOP actually believe the fed ABC agencies serve a good purpose if managed properly, efficiently,honestly and ethically. But what we already know of government bureaucracies, we know that’ll never happen.

hawkeye54 on July 11, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Not “never happen”, cannot happen. That is the nature of central government.

tngmv on July 11, 2013 at 1:23 PM

We need to make sure that we keep agencies like the IRS from accumulating enough power to manipulate political speech and organization for their own purposes. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves right back in the same place.

Yeah, the DoJ, EPA, FEMA, Center for Medicare and Medicaid, Homeland Security (Citizenship and Immigration Services) – there’s a joke!
Not to mention NPR, MSLSD, etc…

I think we’ve failed Ed.

America is one huge face palm. Luckily there’s Sharknado.

kirkill on July 11, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Smoke and bloody mirrors.

The threatened cut in the IRS appropriation assumes that we have a normal budget and appropriations process. We have not had a normal Constitutional budget for 5 going on 6 years. What the Liu2 kou3shui3 de5 biao3zi5 he2 hou2zi5 de5 ben4 er2zi5men5 that make up the Republican caucus will end up voting for is a Continuing Resolution that automatically gives every Executive Department across the board increases in funding as requested by the Democrats.

Every freaking time we have had the CR process, Boehner and his 40 or so minions end up voting against the majority of the Republican caucus and with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to give Obama everything he wants.

I might give this some credence if the Republicans were insisting on the normal order budget procedure. However, they are already working on the Continuing Resolution AND the automatic extension of the Debt Ceiling. Again.

Do not micturate on my head and tell me it is raining.

Subotai Bahadur on July 11, 2013 at 1:27 PM

15 seconds of asinine publicity on Fox

… then they’ll do what the Bushie-Hopeychangie collaborative bids them do.

kunegetikos on July 11, 2013 at 1:28 PM

But, I’m afraid we found the GOP floating face down afterward.

faraway on July 11, 2013 at 12:07 PM

And we (conservatives) are being investigated as the prime suspect.

I’m still wondering how the f* government goes about paying out bonuses? They certainly haven’t produced a profit (the IRS doesn’t even know where a bunch of its money went). How in the h* does anyone in that organization deserve a bonus? (Or, anywhere in govt, for that matter?)

Oh, and let’s not forget: abolish the IRS and repeal the 16th Amendment.

GWB on July 11, 2013 at 1:31 PM

They don’t need to be hit with Karma.

NOMOBO on July 11, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Unless Karma is their cellmate, maybe?

GWB on July 11, 2013 at 1:31 PM

The real ‘behavior changer’ would be to throw people like Lerner into Federal Prison.

Your behavior tends to change when it’s YOUR ass on the line.

GarandFan on July 11, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Followed rapidly by a massive amount of Obama pardons?

Don L on July 11, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Meh…pardons can’t restore people to jobs from which they’re fired.

We have 25 million people out of work. Surely an IRS-sized contingent of them would be willing to start a new career in the new, smaller, heavily constrained IRS…and do a much better job than the bloated, criminal workforce they have now.

James on July 11, 2013 at 1:37 PM

I’m still wondering how the f* government goes about paying out bonuses? They certainly haven’t produced a profit (the IRS doesn’t even know where a bunch of its money went). How in the h* does anyone in that organization deserve a bonus? (Or, anywhere in govt, for that matter?) – GWB on July 11, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Indeed. Everyone in Govt SHOULD have a pay cut commiserate with the amount of debt incurred. If anyone can actually CUT a budget, and save money, and reduce Govt, then I would vote to give them a raise for that effort.

Working in the private sector…that’s kinda how it works…

kirkill on July 11, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Prison sentences. Or stfu.

kunegetikos on July 11, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Unless Karma is their cellmate, maybe?

GWB on July 11, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Heh. Bubba Karma. In for life+30 for wonton homicides.

NOMOBO on July 11, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Wait a minute – why were these clowns even slated for a bonus in the first place when thousands of federal workers have been put on furlough?

RMCS_USN on July 11, 2013 at 2:00 PM

This administration is full of Lois Lerners, petty little dictators with spectacular hauteur.

vityas on July 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Have never seen it worded better. Description fits them to a tee.

Eviva on July 11, 2013 at 2:04 PM

This administration is full of Lois Lerners, petty little dictators with spectacular hauteur.

vityas on July 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Have never seen it worded better. Description fits them to a tee.

Eviva on July 11, 2013 at 2:04 PM

These government agencies tend to take on the characteristics of those at the top…that is the place to affect behavior change.

d1carter on July 11, 2013 at 2:07 PM

This woman is the type of person who whose head should be held underwater until air bubbles no longer come out from her nose
up for the entire country to see…..

ToddPA on July 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Sorry, but I couldn’t help but fix that for ya to reflect my first thought when I read the first line of your comment. :-)

UltimateBob on July 11, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Not “never happen”, cannot happen. That is the nature of central government.

tngmv on July 11, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Because that is the nature of central government, then, central government needs to be very small, tiny, minuscule……naturally.

hawkeye54 on July 11, 2013 at 2:54 PM

This administration is full of Lois Lerners, petty little dictators with spectacular hauteur.

vityas on July 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Have never seen it worded better. Description fits them to a tee.

Eviva on July 11, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Absolutely. They’ve been carefully selected for their positions based partly on that description as a key element of their resumes along with enthusiastically supporting and carrying out their part in the Leftist agenda.

hawkeye54 on July 11, 2013 at 2:57 PM

All unraveling for Ms. “I Did Nothing Wrong, But I Need The 5th Amendment, Oh, And Can I Get Me A Helping Of Immunity” Lerner. She really needs to be prosecuted, skip with the hearings which are being paced at dripping syrup speed.

hillsoftx on July 11, 2013 at 2:58 PM

“$70 million of scheduled bonuses”

Why are taxpayers paying BONUSES to any government employee?

Old Fritz on July 11, 2013 at 3:35 PM

I predict that in the end the IRS will get a budget increase of 2-3%. The RINO’s are grand-standing. Just wait and see.

Carnac on July 11, 2013 at 3:39 PM

It’s not enough to punish the guilty in this case.

Um, I agree, but I don’t recall reading about any punishments yet. Minor hand-slaps, maybe, but…

KS Rex on July 11, 2013 at 3:45 PM

It’s not enough to punish the guilty in this case. We need to make sure that we keep agencies like the IRS from accumulating enough power to manipulate political speech and organization for their own purposes. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves right back in the same place.

Excuse Ed, has this been accomplished now? How so?

Kjeil on July 11, 2013 at 4:18 PM

If you want to control a bureaucrat, put his defined-benefit retirement plan at risk, pensions and medical benefits alike.

njcommuter on July 11, 2013 at 4:43 PM

njcommuter on July 11, 2013 at 4:43 PM

start with a couple big dogs and watch the mid level 10-15 year people fall in line and fast

a few of these high IRS stonewallers are prime targets, hell I feel that way about these long term senators and reps that took vows to defend the constitution and won’t maintain our sovereignty

DanMan on July 11, 2013 at 5:51 PM

BLACK HEARTS, BLACK DEEDS!!

RdLake on July 11, 2013 at 9:08 PM

Karma hits the IRS

..is Karma a b!tch too?

KOOLAID2 on July 11, 2013 at 10:40 PM