What to Do with the Power of the IRS
In testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee Monday, we heard from Alexis de Toqueville's "little battalions" of social relationships, political pedagogy, and cultural argument -- i.e., the soul of American civic society. These are the ones who were abused by the IRS in being denied timely consideration of their applications for tax-exempt status to put them on a level playing field with the forces of the left. And shocking testimony it was, well worth watching on C-SPAN (www.c-span.org, then look for "Conservative Groups Testify on IRS Scrutiny").
In an essay three days ago in American Thinker, Herbert E. Meyer (who, as vice chairman for National Intelligence Estimates at the CIA, in the face of overwhelming conventional wisdom, including from the Agency itself, identified for William Casey and President Reagan that the Soviet Union, far from being a permanent presence on the world scene, was in fact decaying from inside and on the verge of collapse, thus providing the basis for Reagan's strategy to win the Cold War) suggested that there would never be a smoking gun in the IRS conspiracy because (a) it is not necessary and (b) that is not the way things work at the top. The leftists are all working from the same playbook.
Sander Levin, the ranking Democratic member of House Ways and Means, in what is doubtless his understanding of what went wrong, said in his opening statement, "The handling of these applications was gross mismanagement by the IRS Exempt Organization Division."
But it wasn't. It was a well-executed mission.
Remember the status of the Tea Party. It had sprung up spontaneously after Rick Santelli on CNBC struck a nerve by articulating the unfairness of the bailouts by the federal government. The Tea Party had no organization. It had no single leader or leadership structure. And yet it struck the 2010 elections like a tuna hitting a fishing line and returned control of the House to the Republicans.
So when the left in all its components -- and remember that there are no stronger advocates of high bureaucratic pay and big government than those who work for it -- looked out at the coming landscape for the 2012 election, what was the greatest threat? Another strike at the polls by the Tea Party, which at that time did not show up on conventional measurements of political activity and power.
The Tea Party and its confrères represented a real but unmeasurable threat not just to the Obama administration per se, but to the leftist project in general. It was a new, anti-leftist force that had to be brought under control.
What is the real attitude of the IRS to conservatives? Contempt. Which we saw from both Mr. Shulman and Mr. Miller, former and removed acting commissioners of the IRS, last week.
Question to Douglas Shulman, IRS commissioner for five years until late last year: "It appears you visited the White House 95 times [since increased] during your tenure as IRS Commissioner. What did you do on those visits?"
Mr. Shulman: "Participated in the Easter Egg Roll with my children."
But if we are not likely to get a smoking gun and if the IRS has a culture of contempt for conservatives, what can we expect to get from these hearings? A lot. Not least the vocabulary to deal with the crisis.
Targeting of conservative groups and suppressing of conservative participation in the public forum by the IRS...
...is not "a mistake."
...is not "a failure."
...is not "due to incompetence."
...is not "a breakdown."
Rather, it is a manifestation of the leftist project. A leftist storm has blown through the IRS, and we are seeing in the hearings the debris line left by that storm. But now that the IRS has been infested by the leftist project, cleaning up the debris is not enough.
If conservative cultural and political activity is to continue unmolested in this country, the IRS must be eliminated. It is too disdainful of American mores, and it is too powerful. Neither of those things will change with a new commissioner and whatever is the final disposition of Lois Lerner.
Of course, the nation must have a revenue collection agency. As a first cut, perhaps the new agency would have six regional and independent divisions. They would be located in offices around the country, and there would be no single IRS commissioner in Washington.
The six agency heads would report to Congress every six months on the activities of their agencies on penalty of perjury. There would be new offices of ombudsman for each regional agency. The ombudsmen would testify to Congress along with the agency heads every six months as to the number and type of complaints they had received and what had been the disposition of those complaints.
All salaries in the new six agencies would start at 10% below the equivalent levels in the current IRS. There would be no union in the six agencies, because the agencies must represent the interests of the country and that alone. Something like that.
The current IRS is sick and corrupt. This is what the Democrats, even the ones appalled by the activities just revealed, do not understand. They think this behavior is isolated. It isn't. It is the leftist project come to fruition, promoting unlimited power for government and brooking no opposition.
The limited government of enumerated powers created by the Founding Fathers and embedded in the Constitution is illegitimate in the eyes of the left. That is why this mission was not "a mistake."
We must act on this knowledge, or we will be complicit in the dispossession of our liberty. They say about power, "Use it or lose it." We must act while we still can.