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EDITORIAL: Left turn at the IRS
Evidence mounts that the tax agency practices politics
Question of the Day
Don’t confuse us with the facts. The congressional Democrats insist that left-wing groups suffered just as much IRS abuse as Tea Party groups did, but this attempt to deflect blame for the political corruption at the tax agency away from the Obama administration is hard work.
Rep. Sander M. Levin, Michigan Democrat, complained to J. Russell George, the Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, that his finding that the IRS targeted conservatives was unfair to the not-so-conservative. He said the report was “fundamentally flawed” and Mr. George’s conduct “failed to meet the necessary test of objectivity and forthrightness.” The inspector general neglected to mention that liberal groups suffered at the hands of the IRS, too.
Mr. Levin has a point, up to a point. Terms such as “progressive” were indeed on a “Be on the Lookout” list provided to IRS agents to give them guidance as to which applicants for tax-exempt status should be subjected to further screening. But on that very same day Mr. George sent a letter remedying his oversight, explaining that tax-status applications of six left-wing groups were delayed, too, while 292 conservative groups were targeted. (Somebody at the IRS apparently forgot to abuse Whigs, Vegetarians and Bull Moose Republicans.)
We wouldn’t attempt to plumb Rep. Levin’s motives, but he could be trying to give cover to the IRS by showing how the agency was “fair and balanced” in its oppression of the politically incorrect and inconvenient. His little brother, Sen. Carl Levin, had been writing to IRS officials urging them to crack down on Tea Party groups. He specifically implored Lois Lerner, the IRS official who invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid telling Congress about her role in targeting the Ohio Liberty Coalition, Combat Veterans for Congress and Secure America Now. Coincidence or not, those are all conservative organizations.
The Internal Revenue Service, which is notoriously difficult to persuade if it’s a taxpayer arguing about his taxes, listened eagerly to the arguments to punish the conservatives. In an analysis posted on his legal blog Witnesseth, Pepperdine University law professor Robert Anderson found that 95 percent of the IRS lawyers who made political donations during the 2012 presidential race gave their money to President Obama. This, too, must have been a coincidence.
The IRS misconduct was an abuse of the public trust, which is wrong regardless of the political labels involved. Instead of trying to explain away the indefensible conduct, Democrats could work with their Republican colleagues to ensure those who have done wrong are held to account. Some day the villains might be Republicans.
The Washington Times
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- EDITORIAL: A man for 2016
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