One of the key components of the Tea Party ideology is the championing for smaller government. As the IRS scandal targeting the Tea Party, Conservatives, and pro-Israel Jews continues to fester, a cursory glance at the various figures involved in the wrongdoing have resorted to finger pointing and the blame game. According to the key players themselves, “Not Me” did it.
First, from the IG Report (emphasis mine):
“The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention. Ineffective management: 1) allowed inappropriate criteria to be developed and stay in place for more than 18 months, 2) resulted in substantial delays in processing certain applications, and 3) allowed unnecessary information requests to be issued.”
“During interviews with Determinations Unit specialists and managers, we could not specifically determine who had been involved in creating the criteria. EO [Exempt Organization] function officials later clarified that the expanded criteria were a compilation of various Determinations Unit specialists’ responses on how they were identifying Tea Party cases.”
Next,from the IRS officials: Shulman (former) and Miller (current)
Former IRS official, Doug Shulman, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee that he was “dismayed and saddened” when he learned about the IG report, and suggested that the IRS is burdened.
“Given the challenges the agency faces, it does its job in an admirable way the great majority of the time. Men and women of the IRS are hardworking, honest public servants. While the inspector general’s report did not indicate that there was any political motivation involved, the actions outlined in the report have justifiably led to questions about the fairness of the approach taken here. The effect has been bad for the agency and bad for the American taxpayer.”
Yet those same (nameless) hardworking, honest public servants are the ones that Shulman blames for the activity. He said, “I agree that this is an issue that when someone spotted it, they should have run up the chain, and they didn’t.”
Recent IRS head, Steven Miller, concurred during his testimony that, “I’m not going to disagree with your characterization at all of bad management here.”
So, where is the accountability within the levels of the IRS? Ultimately, the IRS falls under U.S. Department of the Treasury, which is part of the Executive Branch. But you wouldn’t know it talking to this Administration.
When the IRS scandal was erupting, Jay Carney and Obama both stated publicly (Jay on Friday, May 10, and Obama on Monday, May 13) that the IRS was an “independent agency.” This is patently untrue.
The Federalist Society reminds us that there are two types of agencies: One is an “independent agency” which is not part of an Executive Branch department (thinks Boards and Commissions). They are headed by a Cabinet Secretary and are “independent of presidential control, usually because the president’s power to dismiss the agency head or a member is limited.”
The other type of agency is the agency that the IRS falls under. It is headed by a Senate-confirmed Presidential appointee, and is directly part of the Department of Treasury (in the same way that Federal Bureau of Investigation is part of the Department of Justice). This particular IRS Commissioner Position was created in 1997, (26 USC 7803), and the confirmed appointee serves a five-year term.
Our President is counting on either ignorance from the general public, or else he does not understand how his own government operates. “Not Me” is in charge.
The President and those with whom he has surrounded himself with have not been leaders. They have abrogated the basic responsibilities of leadership by refusing to take ownership of the problem and deal with it. It is short on accountability and long on blame. Rich Lowry aptly noted this week that the corruption in our administration “is the distortion of our form of government by sidestepping democratic procedures and accountability and vesting authority in bureaucrats.”
The greatest irony in this debacle is that the Tea Party has been vindicated. Its concern about a government-too-big has proven to be unequivocally and terrifyingly true.
Cross posted at alanjoelny.com