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David Axelrod: Bigger issues to face than IRS scandal

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Former White House senior adviser David Axelrod on Friday called the IRS’ inappropriate targeting of mainly conservative political advocacy groups applying for nonprofit status “stupid and disturbing,” but argued that there are far more pressing issues for the country to deal with.

“I think the behavior was something that needs to be corrected, but I don’t think that it was the political scandal that was [there],” Mr. Axelrod said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Mr. Axelrod said the real issue is whether the country is going to move forward or whether Congress is going to continue sitting on its hands.

Noting that President Obama has already replaced the top leadership at the tax agency, Mr. Axelrod added, “I think all these hearings searching for the smoking gun of a political scandal where the White House or someone in [a] high place ordered this — I think that is a phony deal. I don’t think that’s the real issue.”

“I think what happened was you had a bunch of bureaucrats who were shorthanded, there was a deluge of applications and in their minds finding shortcuts, using key words was a way to cut down the load,” he said.

He criticized a move by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and other congressional Republicans calling for the IRS to be abolished.

“I don’t think that’s going to solve the problem. I think we ought to address it — I don’t think there ought to be shortcuts on something this sensitive, but we ought to move on. … It’s a concern that has to be addressed, but there are much bigger issues facing this country, and we shouldn’t let that be a distraction as we try and deal with these other issues.”

“I don’t think the elite media have ignored the IRS story — I think that’s a preposterous assertion,” Mr. Axelrod said. “I think the vast majority of people in this country are far more concerned about their jobs, their kids, the future, than they are about nuances of this story.”

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