Right Hooks

Drain the IRS Swamp

It's time to put Commissioner John Koskinen out of a job.

Jordan Candler · Mar. 23, 2017

A lot of people are rightly wondering why Commissioner John Koskinen remains employed by the IRS. The House punted when it had a chance to fire Koskinen in December, which means it only has itself to blame that much-needed reform remains elusive. For years the IRS bucked, oppressed and ultimately tried to shutter conservative organizations that were applying for tax-exempt status. But it’s becoming increasingly evident that this practice is considered its modus operandi. No wonder nothing’s changed.

“Seven years after the targeting scandal began,” a new Cause of Action Institute report reveals, “the rule that enabled this inexcusable behavior still exists.” In fact, according to the institute, “Targeting was — and is — IRS policy, not a violation of it.” The report goes on to state, “The IRS has the authority to change its internal policy at any moment, which means it can remove the problematic rules at its discretion. Doing so would eliminate the agency procedure that enabled the targeting scandal. To date, the agency has not made the required changes to its rules.” Suffice to say, its pledge to temporarily stop the witch hunt is worth about as much as Barack Obama’s promise that ObamaCare won’t fund abortions or that you can keep your doctor.

The IRS chief has blatantly rejected common sense changes, including one that would put an end to this absurd targeting of conservative groups. Which is rather interesting considering that in September, Koskinen implored Congress, “I believe that impeachment would be improper, it would create disincentives for many good people who serve, and it would slow the pace of reform and progress at the IRS.” We’re not sure what “reform” he has in mind. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, CoA Institute president John J. Vecchione elaborates on how current protocols instruct employees “to flag for further review any application for tax-exempt status that might ‘attract media or Congressional attention,’” which he calls “a broad, vague and subjective command that career IRS employees are nevertheless required to follow.”

Concludes Vecchione: “The IRS can change its employee manual today. No new law is required. The simplest explanation for why the agency has not done so lies in the nature of bureaucracies — they refuse to relinquish power even after demonstrated abuse. The procedure for newsworthy applicants provides a convenient cover to shield improper partisan decision-making. When an agency refuses to relinquish power, the White House can step in.” Donald Trump has promised to drain the swamp. We can’t think of anything less controversial than finally putting Commissioner Koskinen out of a job. It’s time to end this madness.

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