Government

The Real Victim Is the IRS?

Sob story: Conservative attacks on the agency have "greatly diminished" bureaucrats' oversight abilities.

Nate Jackson · Dec. 18, 2017

Did you know that conservative activists are politically targeting government to the point of making bureaucracy ineffective? That’s what The Washington Post alleges in a story that may as well have been written by infamous former IRS agent Lois Lerner. “Years of conservative attacks on the Internal Revenue Service have greatly diminished the ability of agency regulators to oversee political activity by charities and other nonprofits,” the Post tells us. Cue the world’s smallest violin.

The paper does go on to note the IRS’s Tea Party targeting, albeit with scare quotes: “It represents a success for conservatives who have long sought to scale back the IRS and shrink the federal government. They capitalized on revelations in 2013 that IRS officials focused inappropriately on tea party and other conservative groups based on their names and policy positions, rather than on their political activity, in assessing their applications for tax-exempt status. Among conservatives, the episode has come to be known as the ‘IRS targeting scandal.’”

The crux of the Post’s story is the reduction in funding for the IRS’s Exempt Organizations division from $102 million in 2011 to $82 million last year, all while the number of employees in that division shrank to 642 from 889. Fewer bureaucrats and less money means the agency is less able to monitor the activities of tax-exempt organizations. Some might call this a feature, not a bug.

Let’s not forget that the IRS still holds immense power to destroy people’s lives over a tax code so complex that even two knowledgeable bureaucrats may not come to the same conclusion about a single return. It’s also worth remembering that, far from this being a story about poor bureaucrats set upon by mean conservatives, the real story is that the IRS contributed to Barack Obama’s re-election victory in 2012 by keeping a vast number of conservative organizations on the sidelines during the campaign. While Lois Lerner may be claiming victim status with The Washington Post basically carrying water for her, it’s going to take a long time for our nation to recover from four additional years of Obama’s “fundamental transformation.” So spare us the sob story about lost IRS power.

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