The Tax Man Bloweth

I wanted out, but they always drag me back in.

On Friday afternoon, what began in hopes of being an innocuous story dump as the White House Press corps started mixing their first drinks quickly turned into the unraveling of a scandal that will assuredly dog the Obama administration into the 2014 midterms. The Internal Revenue Service, in performing their exemplary duties of taking from Peter to pay Paul, decided to start also keeping tabs on tax-exempt Conservative groups. Because that’s not terrifying.

First off, the administration’s reaction of blaming the Cincinnati branch’s base-level employees is clearly, as we have seen with Benghazi, a smoke screen to protect higher-ups. We saw this same blame with the large scale release of arrested illegal immigrants when the administration tried to create a monster out of the sequester. But what is new is how confidently they threw those Cincinnati employees under the bus when evidence to the contrary has so quickly come out, and already by Monday was it clear that this was an active strategy being employed against these groups.

Secondly, the targeting was not solely on Tea Party groups, as both the administration and the IRS have claimed, but instead indiscriminately focusing on politically right-leaning groups of all sorts. Again, the claim was made so confidently that it nearly sounded as if the administration had consulted the IRS before it spoke. The targets went so far as groups which questioned how the country was being led. (If this was done under George W. Bush, the question of impeachment would be when, not if.) The type of information the agency demanded, to be informed of all volunteers in these organizations, to name donors, is simply beyond the scope of anything the IRS should or could be involved in. Therefore it must go deeper.

However, this is the truly exasperating part. We all know what the IRS is, we all know how intentionally inaccessible the agency has become. (Don’t believe me? Try calling their help line, talk to a human being, and then resume reading when you’re done in four days). The IRS has created a mystique of an all-knowing nature, that you need to fill that 1040 out to the T in order to keep the ever-watchful eye of Sauron off of you. And you know how intimidating the IRS can be if even one item is out of order. A constant stream of letters, opaque language filled with reference codes, and demands for immediate action. 

But the IRS in my mind was previously at least a neutral beast. The beatnik in central park reciting Thoreau and the mountain man prepper in the hills of South Carolina living Thoreau could both come together to agree that the agency was horrifying, intransparent and heavy-handed those G-men could be. But now, the agency is taking sides. Maybe it reads the writing on the wall, maybe it realizes that those meddling small governmenters would only lead to a reduction in the power of the agency. But I think it has gotten a taste what is to come: the implementation of Obamacare, the revenue collection end of which it will undertake. The expansion of power must simply be intoxicating to the IRS, so who can blame them for taking sides? 

And that is the future towards which we’re haphazardly hurtling. In a matter of months the IRS will assume responsibility in funding the largest expansion of government since Henry the Eighth made the Church of England. And those are the people, the scary IRS agents with a grudge against conservatives, who will decide how much healthcare you get. Better not join any groups.

As for the true involvement of the administration, I am sure it is minimal. Al Capone never needed to point out a rat to an underling and say “Now kill that guy, please.” In a time when Conservative has become a by-word for ignorant homophobic racist, when the Vice President likened Tea Party members to terrorists, when the President is allowed to decide what he previously said on Benghazi and when, it should be no surprise when an apolitical government agency has taken sides in quelling the opposition. Unfortunately, we live in a culture of fear and intimidation for thoughts and opinions, and those agents in the IRS had no doubts on how exactly to curry favor with the ruling class. 

His Grossness is back. Tell your neighbors, tell your friends, but for the love of God don’t tell the IRS.