IRS

A Bad Week for Obama, a Worse Week for Statism

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C-SPAN

Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller is testifying before the House as part of an investigation into the IRS targeting Tea Party groups. If you're not watching C-SPAN right now, you're missing a savage flogging. Here's a sample statement, from Rep. Roskam (R-Ill.) to Miller: "I find it ironic that you're arguing today, 'The IRS is not corrupt, we're just incompetent'."

As with Benghazi and the DOJ's seizure of the AP's phone records, the right's response to the IRS scandal has been to call for resignations, firings, and–at least a few times–impeachment. Where does that get you? Miller is resigning at the behest of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and the IRS is implementing the recommendations of the Treasury Inspector General. After all that–which is pretty much all House Republicans are asking for–the IRS will still be an insanely powerful government agency and in the business of policing speech. 

Writing at Real Clear Politics, Ben Domenech argues that Republicans who think about these events through a partisan lens, rather than an ideological one, and who attribute these "scandals" to individuals, rather than to bureaucracy, are missing an opportunity to challenge statism:   

Marco Rubio's remarks the other day illustrate the right and the wrong way to talk about these scandals. Decrying Chicago politics and a fractured Washington, the failure of hope and change, is fine and good. But there's a limit to it, and if done poorly, the attacks imply that the problem here isn't the statism, it's the guy at the head of it. In other words, that if Obama was really the ethically clean reform-minded progressive technocrat he styled himself as when running for office, things would be just fine. In effect, this partisan morality play approach allows the Democratic Party an escape route which they shouldn't have: just firing a bunch of lower level people.

Here's the hard thing Republicans have to do if they don't want this crisis to go to waste: they have to ignore their id, the temptation of the sugar high of partisan point-scoring. They must willfully set aside Obama's presence in the fray, leaving the short term personalized attacks on the table, and go after the much bigger prize. Obama isn't running for office again. Liberalism is. Making this about him is a short term boost to the pleasure center of the conservative brain. Making this about the inherent falsehood of the progressive project will help conservatism win.

The progressive answer to this is more rules and regulators, more agencies and safeguards and accountability projects. Republicans should recognize this intervention for the ridiculousness it is – creating more federal entities to watch over federal entities – and focus their arguments instead on the only solution which will actually work: removing power from the federal government and returning it to the states or the people. The only way to ensure that government doesn't abuse a power is to make sure it doesn't have this power in the first place.

Or as Steven Greenhut writes in today's column, "Any sane person would conclude that all administrations and bureaucracies essentially are corrupt given that they thrive on the exertion of power of other people."

From Reason.tv: West Wing Weak: Your Guide to Obama's Scandal-Filled Week

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  1. “Any sane person would conclude that all administrations and bureaucracies essentially are corrupt given that they thrive on the exertion of power of other people.”

    over? upon?

    1. Maybe.

      “…they thrive on the excretion of other people.”

        1. Yummm!

          /Two girls, one cup

  2. Oh, statism wasn’t hurt much at all. Most Americans just tune out the scandals as business as usual. The conservatives just think they need to put their own guys in charge. The liberals just see it as a trumped up attack for political gain.

    1. ^Yes, this.

      Flip the headline. Statism will continue to roll on after all this.

    2. Statism is like, Scarlette O’Hara, shall never be hungry again.

  3. Well, we need Senator Paul’s office to introduce a bill requiring the IRS to presumptively approve all 501(c)(4) applications (the way you can automatically get a Federal Tax ID number).

    If a US Attorney thinks that a 501(c)(4) has violated the rules governing those bodies, let them present their evidence of that to a grand jury and get an indictment. The IRS shouldn’t be adjudicating or investigating the issue at all.

    1. Sort of a ‘shall issue’ model as opposed to a ‘may issue’.

      I like it.

    2. Better to get rid of all tax exemptions, deductions, credits, etc. Anything else leads directly to this sort of abuse.

  4. They’re not “missing a chance to challenge statism.” They’re statists. That’s like saying Tom Brady has missed a lot of chances to beat New England.

    1. It’s sad in the AFC East that New York has to look at Buffalo and see a team with a brighter future at quarterback.

      1. Maybe if Rex Ryan didn’t have a creepy man-crush on Mark Sanchez this wouldn’t be a problem.

        1. Sanchez have attractive feet or something?

          1. Pointy elbows.

        2. Weird to defend Mark Sanchez, but for his first 3 years, I actually thought, no matter had sloppy as hell he looked, that he would be their man for at least a decade. I mean, he stats tracked very well with what Eli Manning was doing in his first 3 years in the league.

          Sanchez’s recent decline is more attributable to Rex Ryan’s reluctance to draft any talent on the offensive side of the ball, while, at the same time, switching from offensive scheme Sanchez was used to under Schottenheimer.

          1. Eli Manning’s first three years: 8049 yards, 54 TDs, 44 INTs, ~54% completion

            Mark Sanchez’s first three years: 9209 yards, 55 TDs, 51 INTs, ~55% completion

            Now, I think it’s obvious that Sanchez will never be as good as Eli has become, but for some odd reason people were giving the Jets’ QB too much blame for failing to get to the playoffs in 2011, when it was more of a team failure.

          2. Sanchez’s recent decline is more attributable to Rex Ryan’s reluctance to draft any talent on the offensive side of the ball, while, at the same time, switching from offensive scheme Sanchez was used to under Schottenheimer.

            He got Carr’ed. The greatest skills Sanchez had in his first two seasons was pocket feel and escapability; he was like a tiny Roethlisberger. Once Woody retired and Wayne Hunter took over at RT the Jets couldn’t stop any pass rush; after a season’s worth of beatings he lost his nerve and now dives to the ground or rushes a throw as soon as any pressure starts to come in.

            The problem on offense wasn’t talent, it’s development. They drafted plenty of offense after the 1st round but nobody ever really amounted anything and that’s on the offensive staff. Schotty deserved his firing, if Sanchez can’t compensate into a system that Matt Moore and Chad Henne had no problems with then that’s on him.

            1. Well, if Geno’s much bigger arm doesn’t win some games, then the Jets are just going to have to wait another 40 years for a franchise QB.

              1. I fully expect that to be the outcome. Jets fans aren’t allowed to have nice things; even our brand new, way too expensive stadium sucks.

              2. Hey, Ken O’Brien wasn’t that bad. Obviously Marino would have been a better pick, but the Jets got a decade’s worth of good QB play out of him.

        3. The ship has sailed on Sanchez; best case scenario for him is Mornhinweg turns him into a successful checkdown artist a la Alex Smith and he gets $7m per year from the Browns for the next 3 years. The Jets are totally in on Geno Smith; the brass is leaking glowing reviews of him weekly. If Garrard’s knee hadn’t buckled Sanchez was looking at getting cut.

  5. I only heard a quick quote on the news on this morning, but I could have sworn that Miller said that the scrutiny placed on conservative groups was “not politically motivated”.

    Did anyone else here that or was I just mistaken?

    he couldn’t really have said that, right?

    1. Why not? If you are a leftard, you beleive you are right and your cause is just in all matters. Those who disagree or oppose you are clearly in the wrong and there is nothing politically motivated about crushing those who espouse lies in favor of those who espouse truth.

    2. Yes, Mr. Buttplug referenced that in another thread. He seemed to think it settled the matter.

    3. It wasn’t politically motivated. It was strictly personal. They didn’t like anyone criticized taxation or how it was handled in any way.

  6. Here’s the hard thing Republicans have to do if they don’t want this crisis to go to waste…

    Here’s some mask slipping from TEAM RED this time.

    1. Yeah, I saw that too. So now they’re using the language of TEAM BLUE, and the tactics of TEAM BLUE. How are they different again?

      1. The only difference I can see is that TEAM BLUE is better at it.

        1. The only difference I can see is that TEAM BLUE is better at it.

          And if we’re going to have crooks running things, we want the ones who are better at corruption. /sarc

      2. One is RED one is BLUE, duh!

  7. The progressive answer to this is more rules and regulators, more agencies and safeguards and accountability projects.

    In other words, government agencies have every incentive to be incompetent and corrupt, because they will be rewarded with more power and more funding.

    1. Well, yeah. I mean, their intentions were good. They just didn’t have enough funding or power.

      1. The “IRS is underfunded” meme is already being pushed on lefty blogs. They didn’t need Journolist to come up with that one.

        1. If we didn’t have so many idiotic rules and regulations trying to micromanage every industry, business, and individual to enforce, they wouldn’t be underfunded.

  8. Unless there’s been a wholesale repeal of legislation and regulation, or tens of thousands of government employees have been fired and forced to find productive work, it’s been a good day for statism.

  9. Oh yeah, topical OT:

    NPR did a fairly long report about the AP records siezure and the DOJ’s prosecution of whistleblowers.

    However, about 3/4 into the report, NPR made a rather forceful point that in the end, none of this is really Obama’s fault, it’s essentially the policies and daily machinations of unelected career bureaucrats.

    I’m thinking back to the Bush years, and I’m trying to remember a time when someone in the MSM made sure to let the reader or listener know that something wasn’t really the Bush administration’s fault, so much as it was unelected career bureaucrats… anyone? Anyone?

    To me, I’m just glad someone is standing up for the Obama administration, and clearing up these little complex bits of democracy so we know that just because he’s commander-in-chief, doesn’t mean he’s in charge.

    1. Compare today with just three months ago:

      dateline Feb 18, 2013:

      The federal government once considered whistle-blowers a nuisance or worse. But over the past few years, that attitude has slowly started to change. More agencies have been reaching out for tips about fraud and abuse in and outside the government, even if digging through the stacks of complaints can present a challenge.

      Think back to those movies in the 1970s ? movies filled with heroic figures who risked it all to expose unsafe factories and police corruption, like New York cop Frank Serpico exposing his less-than-clean colleagues.
      […]
      The federal government says it’s trying to do something about that. Last November, President Obama signed a whistle-blower protection enhancements law after a 13-year campaign by good government groups. The law makes clear that federal employees can challenge policy decisions without losing their jobs. It also directs agencies to choose a point person, or an ombudsman, to help whistle-blowers understand their rights and to protect them from retaliation.

      http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsal…..le-blowers

      1. Reads like a lure to give a false sense of comfort in any government employee (like the staff of NPR, for instance) who might want to buck the system.

        1. It does, doesn’t it?

          The article has a soothing tone to it. Like everything is…better. Whistleblowers can relax. Come out, whistleblowers! Come out! It’s ok now, the bad people are gone!

        2. Kind of like the “let a thousand flowers bloom” policy in Maoist China. “comrades, the party wants to hear your criticisms so that we can fix them and grow stronger as a nation.”

    2. The basic mainstream media rules are:

      1) Something good happens when a Democrat is President = to his glory.

      2) Something bad happens when a Democrat is President = not his fault.

      3) Something good happens when a Republican is President = coincidence.

      4) Something bad happens when a Republican is President = entirely his responsibility.

  10. (The Republicans ) “…focus their arguments instead on the only solution which will actually work: removing power from the federal government and returning it to the states or the people. ”

    Never. Gonna. Happen.

    They cant wait to get their hands on the reins.

    1. They cant wait to get their hands on the reins.

      True, but the Republican consituency is generally less friendly toward power grabs than the Democratic constuency. Plus, you have a left leaning media who is a much better watchdog of Republicans than of Democrats (even if they have to make it up).

  11. It is a bad week for Obama. If defending Obama requires liberals to admit that the federal government is unmanagable and ineffective, then Obama is going under the bus. Faith in government uber alles. Liberals will do their best to pin this on people below Obama. For example, the hack who was pictured on Drudge is probably toast. But if it goes high enough, liberals will do what is necessary and blame the whole thing on Obama. It will be just another case of not having the right people in charge.

    1. You forget that liberals are adept at doublethink.

      So on the one hand they’ll blame the bad things on government being “unmanagable and ineffective,” yet the solution will be even more government.

      These are the same people who say that the corporations control the government, and the only way to bring power back to the people is to give more power to the government so it can control the corporations that control it.

      These people are immune to logic and reason.

      1. Sarc,

        That was a pretty good pretzel logic illustration…you been peeking in at Balloon Juice or something?

      2. q: How do you write liberals so well?

        A: I think of a normal person and I take away reason and accountability.

        1. I am a little less harsh. I just think they operate on faulty premises. They’re like medieval doctors: the patient is weak, it must be bad blood, so bring in the leeches. The patient weakens further? Quick, more leeches!

          1. Faulty premises still implies some sort of logic, and logic requires thinking. Except that they don’t think. They emote.

            I know. I used to be the same way. I knew what I felt, and no apologist for the rich was going to change it, dammit!
            Then I learned to think instead of feel, and I became a libertarian.

        2. +1 Jack

    2. then Obama is going under the bus.

      No he’s not.

      The only thing Obama ever gets admonished for by liberals is that Obama isn’t saying what he really means, he’s not communicating the message clearly, or the Republicans made him do it.

      There is literally no limit to the defense of Obama from the progressive camp.

      If we could harness Obama Sycophant Syndrome, we could power the entire world forever.

      But if it goes high enough, liberals will do what is necessary and blame the whole thing on Obama

      Read my post above. Even when doing a report on the DOJ, NPR was careful to compartmentalize the DOJs actions as separate from the Obama administration.

      Tell me a time when the MSM did anything like that when Bush was in office? Tell me a time when the press was very careful to make sure the listener knew that the actions of a particular agency were separate and independent of the Bush administration?

      1. The only thing Obama ever gets admonished for by liberals is that Obama isn’t saying what he really means, he’s not communicating the message clearly,

        If we could hear the Obama in their heads, we’d understand.

      2. The only thing Obama ever gets admonished for by liberals is that Obama isn’t saying what he really means, he’s not communicating the message clearly, or the Republicans made him do it.

        This is like how some parents treat their children, who can do no wrong. Their kid could be a serial killer and eat the still beating hearts of their victim and they would rationalize that he really just needs to be understood or that ‘society made him do it’.

        What sad is how many people absolutely *need* to believe they’re guy is really a saint and any negative things are the result of persecution by shadowy bad guys.

    3. I dont know John. The devotion to this guy is so cultish that I am not sure they can do that. They may end up drinking the koolaid first. I can only imagine the personal internal strife they are trying to deal with now.

      The messiah, is admitting that government is too large and incompetent for him to control. What a conundrum!

      1. Well, if it’s koolaid they want…

        1. The problem is they want US to drink the Koolaid. We’ve refused thus far, but if we don’t volunteer for it, it’ll become mandatory– like all of Obama’s ideas.

    4. I’m pretty damn sympathetic to John’s comments, but that said, here’s a solution that I’d like to hear comments about: The idea of ending all taxes on businesses, and financing government entirely from individual income taxes, is probably an anathema to most Americans. But consider these points:
      1. Where but from their customers, you and me, does a business get money to pay their taxes? You’re paying those taxes with each purchase, but they’re hidden from you. Wouldn’t “transparency” dictate that you see when you pay the cost of government?
      2. We decry “crony capitalism. Why? Does it give some enterprises a preference over their competition, in exchange for favors from campaign contributions to outright bribes to law makers? If you think all businesses should be on an equal footing, how else would you accomplish such a condition? If you’d like to get corporate money out of elections, how better than to eliminate incentives to buy those lawgivers?
      3. Health care for employees gives some tax subsidized health care at the expense of others. If there was no tax to avoid, we would put all workers on the same level playing field.
      4. Having the lowest possible taxes on businesses would make the product of American labor competitive in the world market while preserving higher take-home wages.

  12. … a worse week for statism.

    I already posted this in the morning links, but I’ll just leave it here as well…

    Big-Government Liberalism Is Not to Blame for These Scandals

    1. Isn’t it amazing how otherwise bright people can write things like that? “If only Republicans had gone along with campaign finance reform, this wouldn’t have happened!”

      1. “Benghazi was caused by insufficient government reach.”

        In MacGillis’ world the government simply has to be everywhere, so it might as well be everywhere in force.

  13. The answer is obvious. A government that is so vast and inept needs more government oversight.

    /most people

    1. Yes. Since state government is corrupt, we need the federal government to oversee it. Since the federal government is corrupt, we need some supranational government to oversee it. Since the supranational government would be corrupt, we’ll need an alien invasion and our new alien overlords to oversee it.

      1. I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords, and remind them that as a trusted IRS auditor I can be useful in identifying political dissidents to be rounded up and forced to work in the underground sugar caves.

  14. Alt text: Please do not punch this face the way it deserves to be punched.

    1. “If I smile like this will you go easy on me? Who am I kidding? Of course you’ll go easy on me.”

  15. The idea of ending all taxes on businesses, and financing government entirely from individual income taxes, is probably an anathema to most Americans. But consider these points:
    1. Where but from their customers, you and me, does a business get money to pay their taxes? You’re paying those taxes with each purchase, but they’re hidden from you. Wouldn’t “transparency” dictate that you see when you pay the cost of government?
    2. We decry “crony capitalism. Why? Does it give some enterprises a preference over their competition, in exchange for favors from campaign contributions to outright bribes to law makers?

    If you think all businesses should be on an equal footing, how else would you accomplish such a condition? If you’d like to get corporate money out of elections, how better than to eliminate incentives to buy those lawgivers?
    3. Health care for employees gives some tax subsidized health care at the expense of others. If there was no tax to avoid. Again, put all workers on the same level playing field.
    4. Having the lowest possible taxes on businesses would make the product of American labor competitive in the world market while preserving higher take-home wages.
    What better way to trim the power of the IRS? Complete rewrite of the tax laws? Yep, I’m all for that and more (include reform of all transfer payments too). But for now, isn’t this the best and quickest way to cure the excess discretion given to the IRS?

    1. Oh, but you don’t understand! If you cut taxes on businesses, then that just means more profits for the rich! Those businessmen and corporations care only for profits! Taxing businesses is a matter of fairness! It’s how you take profits from the greedy rich and give a little back to the people who actually did the work! Dyslexics of the world… UNTIE!

  16. the IRS will still be an insanely powerful government agency and in the business of policing speech.

    Huh? You guys are really drama queening these days. I guess you think the IRS should be giving out tax-free status like foreign-sugar-containing candy?

    1. Yes.

      Exactly that.

      If a group of taxpayers assert that they have formed a nonprofit enterprise, their mere assertion should be sufficient to gain the designation.

      If evidence is later uncovered that the organization has engaged in conduct forbidden to a 501(c)(4), bring an enforcement action then. The whole problem here is that the IRS was attempting to perform precrime analysis.

  17. I’m sure Republicans will do everything in their power to screw this up again.

    1. They’re looking at Romney for 2016.

      1. I don’t think Romney was the screwup. I was not impressed with any of the other candidates either. I could only hope Romney wasn’t as much of a squish as he seemed to be. He always came across to me as someone who would say what he thought his audience wanted to hear, much like Obama. The main difference was that Obama was much better at it. Of course, there seemed to be a lot more people on the left (including most of the national media) who insisted on hearing what they wanted to here and ignoring the rest which made Obama’s job much easier.

  18. Just like you liberty-addicted wingnuts to use these unfortunate incidents to undermine Dear Leader. How can anyone in their right mind distrust the State? If you can’t trust an institution that was born in conquest and plunder,* had millions of armed enforcers, and claims the right to take as much of your money as it wants–and kill you if you resist–who can you trust?

    “Because the Stockholm Syndrome isn’t just for Swedes.”

    1. Forgot to add in the asterisked footnote, “Please see THE STATE, by Franz Oppenheimer.

    2. “How can anyone in their right mind distrust the State?”

      Didnt the king of shitweasels just give that speech at Arizona U?

  19. “: “I find it ironic that you’re arguing today, ‘The IRS is not corrupt, we’re just incompetent’.”

    Well, at least he is half right. Well above the curve for a bureaucrat testifying before Congress.

    1. They seem to think that the two are mutually exclusive. Not only are they corrupt, they can’t even do it properly.

      1. They are far from mutually exclusive, they are complimentary. Corruption means that efficiently carrying out their assigned mission is not a priority, instead the focus is on ulterior motives.

        And once you start diverging from the purpose that an institution was designed for, you become increasingly incompetent (for example – using Government to solve people’s problems, rather than focusing on their core competencies of breaking things and killing people).

  20. It’s rather obvious. The Republicans don’t want to defang the IRS, they want to able to turn it on the Democrats and the left when they get back into the White House.

    1. Yeah… those wacky, IRS/tax loving conservatives and their kooky schemes for domination….so ingenious is their plan, they got the current admin’s IRS to screw over their plans to create tax-free organizations all so though could win an election and use it against others.

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