"President Obama and Co. are in full deniability mode, noting that the IRS is an "independent" agency and that they knew nothing about its abuse," writes WSJ's Kimberly Strassel.
"The media and Congress are sleuthing for some hint that Mr. Obama picked up the phone and sicced the tax dogs on his enemies. But that's not how things work in post-Watergate Washington. Mr. Obama didn't need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he'd like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action..." [Read the full article for the president's many public statements that gave his acolytes their marching orders.]
The scandal at the IRS teaches a larger lesson for the overall operation of the administrative state. The best way to control the twin risks of discretion and delay is to strip administrative agencies of as much of their discretionary power as is humanly possible. Each area has its own twists, and some discretion on enforcement issues will always remain. But the larger goal should be clear: an efficient administrative state that does not incentivize discretionary bureaucratic delay. The time to start on major reform efforts is now. Here is one crisis that should not go to waste.
"Top Obama donor and billionaire [Judy] Faulkner is founder and CEO of Epic Systems, which will soon store almost half of all Americans' health information," writes Michelle Malkin. "If the crony odor and the potential for abuse that this 'epic' arrangement poses don't chill your bones, you ain't paying attention..."
"The IRS audited a conservative women's group in 2011, and ultimately found no wrong doing, in what appears to be another example of the scandal plaguing the tax agency," writes Matthew Boyle. "[Michelle] Easton founded the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute in 1993, and it had never received an audit [but] 2008 was a different year for the institute and for Easton."
"To comply with the seven massive document requests from the IRS, the Institute had to provide boxes and boxes, reams of documents (for example, copies of bank statements, broker statements, check registers, schedule of accounts payable, schedule of accounts receivable, credit card statements and on and on),” Easton said. “This took the greater part of 2011 and cost tens of thousands of dollars to comply with [and] decreased the time we could spend promoting conservative ideas. ... We were finally totally cleared by the IRS."
"We learned late last week that the IRS specifically targeted conservative groups for political purposes starting in 2011," writes Katie Pavlich, "but they aren't the only federal agency that has abused its power to do so. As a reminder, here's a compilation of just some of the ways conservatives, 'tea party groups', and 'patriots' have been targeted..."