Inside the Beltway: ‘Terrifying governmental monster’

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There’s a positive byproduct of the disgraces at a certain federal agency that has seized the imaginations of many in recent days.

“It’s the burgeoning IRS scandal that’s put tax reform back on the agenda,” says Michael Walsh, a New York Post columnist. “The century-old ‘progressive’ desire to punish the rich and redistribute income has grown into a terrifying governmental monster against which there is almost no redress — one that robs the American people of their income and, in the process, their liberties.”

Among lawmakers in agreement with Mr. Walsh: Republican Reps. Tom Price of Georgia, Dave Camp of Michigan, Tim Griffin of Arkansas and Peter J. Roskam of Illinois, who cuts to the chase: “You can’t reform the IRS without reforming the tax code,” he says.

The historically minded Mr. Walsh, meanwhile, traces tax ills to the passage of the 16th Amendment, which scuttled constitutional requirements that taxes be apportioned among the states, shifting the burden onto individuals. Congress fiddled with tax brackets, federal spending increased, more money was needed and voila, the monster was born. IRS ultimately assumed powers that would be “unconstitutional in any other sphere,” Mr. Walsh says.

“The only way to turn things around is drastic simplification of the tax code — the cleanest version of which is the flat tax,” Mr. Walsh suggests, adding, “The political health of our nation demands an equitable sharing of the burden; everyone should pay something.”

FOR THE LEXICON

“The China Dream.”

And so reads the official new slogan of China’s President Xi Jinping, who says the phrase signifies the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” It has been promoted since March by state media and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, among other official bureaus. Analysts have wrestled with the implications, and pondered parallels to the proverbial “American Dream” — along with a book that has been a best-seller in the nation since it was published in 2010: “China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post-America Era,” by retired People’s Liberation Army officer Liu Mingfu.

HOLDING THE LINE

One player in particular was missing when the Super Bowl champs Baltimore Ravens arrived this week at the White House to meet with President Obama.

“I wasn’t there. I would say that I have great respect for the office of the presidency but about five or six weeks ago, our president made a comment in a speech and he said, ‘God bless Planned Parenthood,’” said Matt Birk, who retired as the team’s center in February, during an interview with KFAN-FM in Minneapolis.

“Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year. I am Catholic, I am active in the pro-life movement, and I just felt like I couldn’t deal with that. I couldn’t endorse that in any way,” the athlete observed.

FREEDOM THROUGH DONUTS

Friday is National Donut Day, likely to prompt behaviors not condoned by the food police, nanny-minded bureaucrats or New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, however, suggests all Americans eat not one but two donuts to celebrate — “one for themselves, and one for their liberty,” the nonprofit says. Fie on those alarmist warnings from the White House and elsewhere.

“It’s sweet revenge to eat sweets in protest of government attempts to stop us from living as we see fit,” declares Michelle Minton, the organization’s consumer policy analyst.

“This shouldn’t get us in trouble with the IRS. But you never know,” adds Sam Kazman, the group’s general counsel.

GEEZER ALERT

New York City mayoral hopeful Anthony D. Weiner and his rivals better make themselves appealing to the older folks in town. Motivated geezers are likely to decide the big race in that town. People older than 50 are expected to account for more than half of all voters in the upcoming primary and general elections, a historic pattern.

A painstaking AARP analysis of exit polls and census data reveals that 51 percent of the votes during the last mayoral election came from those older than 50. During the 2010 midterms, though the 50-plus population only comprised 42 percent of New York voters, they still accounted for 54 percent of the electorate.

“Issues important to the biggest voting demographic in New York City elections this year aren’t the ones we are hearing the candidates address on the campaign trail,” points out Beth Finkel, who is the AARP’s director in the Empire State.

GEEZ, GSA

Indeed, we know the IRS recently spent $49 million in an effort to party hearty and raise employee morale, prompting some observers to recall that the General Services Administration once spent $820,000 on a Las Vegas conference. Employees at the federal agency also received $30 million in unreported bonuses in 2012.

But wait. An internal audit released by GSA’s inspector general finds the agency’s federal acquisition service “improperly intervened” in the award of $900 million in contracts for information technology services to Oracle America, Carahsoft Technology and Deloitte Consulting. See the report here: gsaig.gov, under “What’s new.”

The environment at the agency “appears rife with cronyism, mismanagement, and intimidation,” says Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonpartisan watchdog. “The report is yet another indication of an agency out of control. It is becoming clear that the inmates are running the asylum at GSA.”

POLL DU JOUR

68 percent of Americans say IRS targeting of conservative groups was done for “political reasons;” 19 percent said the scrutiny was the “right policy” under the U.S. tax code.

60 percent are closely following news of the IRS story.

44 percent say members of the “Obama administration” were involved in the extra scrutiny.

40 percent say IRS officials acted on their own.

31 percent say the IRS scrutiny of conservatives is illegal, 29 percent say it is unethical.

26 percent say the IRS did nothing wrong.

Source: A New York Times/CBS News poll of 1,022 U.S. adults.

Tip line always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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