A scandal that rocked the Internal Revenue Service and the political right was frequently brushed aside by Democrats. The view of the Democratic Party and its aligned politicians was that it was a politically motivated attack that was overblown for partisan purposes. While they were right about it being politically motivated, it was only partisan in nature because the government under a Democratic administration made it that way.
The Justice Department predictably failed to do its job and advance justice under the Obama administration. Despite Lois Lerner and the IRS using tax law to attack political opponents, nothing was ever done. That has now changed under a new regime. The Trump Administration’s Justice Department has separated itself from its predecessor in another way by standing up for the victims of this systematic discrimination.
The Trump administration has agreed to pay $3.5 million to tea party groups for the mistreatment they received under the Obama administration, officially apologizing for the activity and stating the politically motivated attacks should never happen again.
Lerner’s legacy has changed from either a hero opposed to the activity or employee who was just oblivious, to a willful accomplice of the misuse of power.
The scandal revolving around the IRS exposed a greater problem regarding big government. The bigger the government, the larger the power that can be wielded. No matter what good intentions may surround the tax powers wielded by the feds, misuse is bound to happen. This is true of government power at every level.
The conversation should then shift to how to address the powers, what checks and balances can be put in place for the future, or even if we need these enormous tax schemes in the first place.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is absolutely right when he stated that there was no excuse for the conduct of the IRS and the hundreds of affected organizations deserve an apology. It’s only unfortunate that the Obama administration ignored this fact and placed political loyalty above integrity of the law.
The Justice Department also admitted that the IRS asked unnecessary questions and conducted illegal delays, while asking excessive questions relating to political beliefs and candidate questionnaires. It also admitted wrongdoing in asking for information pertaining to financial backers.
The Trump administration would be wise to use this as an opportunity to tackle the big government problem. While Sessions, Trump and other members of the administration have yet to give any serious indication they will do so, it is something that should definitely be considered.
Tax reform has been a hot button subject, but what about the organizations who enforce a large, excessive and ultimately out-of-control code? The IRS must face greater scrutiny and should face an evaluation of operations from top to bottom. Furthermore, there should be a philosophical assessment of the tax structure itself. These abuses of power may finally have been addressed, but the potential for abuse still exists for the future. It is the responsibility of the Trump administration, if they actually do care about abuses of power, to stand up for what is right here.