IRS As Political Hammer, Not the First Time, Nor the Last, Unless... - Granite Grok

IRS As Political Hammer, Not the First Time, Nor the Last, Unless…

Sometimes blogging is about creative commentary and piquing the other side while, hopefully, providing a different perspective. Other times, it’s just about spreading information. This is one of those times. I initially dressed this up with all sorts of semi-wittiness (heavy on the “semi”) reminiscent of a tired comic strip, but the length of the blog was inordinately long, so I trimmed it down, but if it’s still too long, I urge you to at least read the brief IRS history of abuse further below.

From Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) speaking of the IRS to the outgoing Acting IRS Commissioner (and previously the head of the department that targeted the conservatives when that targeting was going on) Steven Miller before the House Ways and Means Committee last week (emphasis mine), and I encourage you to see the whole thing here.

“I have a grandson who is afraid to get out of bed at night because he thinks there’s somebody under the bed that’s going to grab him, and I think most Americans feel that way about the IRS.”

“I mean, you get a letter from you folks, or a phone call. It’s with terror that you look at it. And now this kind of reconfirms that.”

You know what? They can do almost anything they want to anybody they want anytime they want. This is very chilling for the American people.”

Indeed, Rep. Kelly is right. The recent IRS scandal is bone chilling– targeted audits, delays, denials based on political and sometimes religious beliefs. Anyone with the misfortune to find their name dangling off the tip of an IRS auditor’s pen knows the true fear that accompanies an audit. The exhaustive search for compliance involves details nestled in documents dated several years old, many of which are tucked in file cabinets, are wadded receipt balls in a box, or online records in software with sketchy search capability. And they all need to be collected, collated, analyzed, and presented for “compliance”. The entire process may take months or years and can be iterative, requiring additional periodic spelunking into forgotten records.

The result of the audit isn’t as unsettling and unnerving as the process itself. The stress and constant wonder whether you’re finally through, that you finally forked over and submitted all the required records, and you can go back to your life without the bureaucratic interruption that hangs on your neck like a Mariner’s albatross, quelling any joy and mirth in your daily life. And with every submission, you hope you dotted and crossed accordingly and all is accurate. In short, it’s a kind of sanctioned legal harassment.

What makes the abuse even more infuriating is the insouciant and glib responses from IRS “professionals”. If you happened to catch the aforementioned Steven Miller or Douglas Schulman’s (former IRS commissioner during the interrogation) exchange with Representatives and Senators, you’d see what I mean. And I know why. They don’t give a ****. They’re like a yawning, quota-saturated salesman, too busy to field additional questions, unless they are trailed with, “I’ll take it,” but bright enough not to admit it as he quickly shuffles you out of the showroom so he can catch 18 holes. The usual “feel the need to take a shower” cliche doesn’t do it justice. To truly remove the unctuous, frothy slime one feels after spending even a minute listening to them requires more of a sand blaster acid wash to free the filth.

That’s the problem. There is no skin in the game. They are members of the administrative state, the untouchable sinecure bureaucratic club that applies the rules that they conjured up themselves (warning, this is how the gazillion Obamacare’s regulations were created), the rules that find you in compliance or non-compliance. They are not elected, not held accountable by the public, or even known by the public, in general, to exist. Yet, these snide, wretched creatures wield a tremendous power. Most are non-partisan. They’re bureaucrats. They simply seek what all bureaucrats seek: self-preservation. They don’t care if they’re serving the Obama administration, Bush administration, Clinton administration, etc. They’ll do as they’re told or as they’d like to please their boss.

The salient and little-exposed fact that is usually met with a paranoid riposte is that the IRS has a long history of being used as a political weapon. If you’re smirking, stop. It’s only a matter of time before you’re the target. It’s not one-sided. It’s bipartisan. Elected officials and private citizens both have been targets, with businesses destroyed and people’s lives ruined. IRS has been unleashed from the White House, Congress, and their surrogates. You just need to make it on an enemy’s list, and today, it doesn’t seem that hard.

With that, I’d like to references a brief history of the IRS. And as you read this, I ask that you think about a few questions as you read it: 1) Does a free society benefit from a department that can unleash such a living hell capriciously on its citizens? 2) If it does, is it truly free? 3) Is this department even necessary? and 4) Are you in favor of a solution if it includes dissolving the IRS? In my previous blog, I stated a definition of Rule of Law, do you agree with that definition, and should we do everything we can to restore it in this country?

The following is a list excerpted from “James Bovard: A Brief History of IRS Political Targeting” ( I implore you to read the whole thing) and my little conclusion at the end:

President Franklin Roosevelt used the IRS to “harass newspaper publishers who were opposed to the New Deal”, and go after “political rivals such as …Huey Long…father Coughlin, and prominent Republicans such as former Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon”

John F. Kennedy‘s IRS “… targeted right-leaning groups”, and he used it to “strong-arm companies into voluntary price controls”, and “Steel executives who defied the administration were singled out for audits”….A 1976 report by the Senate Select Committee on Government Intelligence on the Kennedy program noted: “By directing tax audits at individuals and groups solely because of their political beliefs, [and] established a precedent for … targeting ‘dissidents.’

Not to be outdone, Richard Nixon put in an impressive count.  “More than 10,000 individuals and groups were targeted because of their political activism or slant between 1969 and 1973… IRS was also given Nixon’s enemies list, …‘ to screw our political enemies.’”

Then Bill Clinton took office. After a White House and DNC report in 1995 entitled “Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce” that listed magazines, think tanks other critics of Clinton were hit by IRS audits, “More than 20 conservative organizations… and almost a dozen individual high-profile Clinton accusers, such as Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers…”

The Congress must have been envious. “…an Associated Press report in 1999 that “officials in the Democratic White House and members of both parties in Congress have prompted hundreds of audits of political opponents in the 1990s,”. Congress even included, “personal demands for audits… Audit requests from congressmen were marked “expedite” or “hot politically” and IRS officials were obliged to respond within 15 days. Permitting congressmen to secretly and effortlessly sic G-men on whomever they pleased epitomized official Washington’s contempt for average Americans and fair play. But because the abuse was bipartisan, there was little enthusiasm on Capitol Hill for an investigation.

Right, Left, Conservative, Libertarian, Liberal, Progressive etc, all have a right to speak and assemble freely in the arena of  ideas without government weighing in.  Its role doesn’t entail being in the debate, but doing what the people decide within the constraints of the Constitution.   The government is for the people, not the other way around.  Let’s solve this problem.  Let’s dissolve the IRS and any other department, agency or bureaucracy that attempts to change that.