Sunday, June 09, 2013

IRS actions compared to Watergate

These days, some want to dismiss charges of government abuse as conservative cynicism, but 40 years ago during Watergate, Dems made similar charges stick because there was criminal behavior in the federal government.  Although we don't yet know where the IRS activity in question began and who knew about it before the election, comparison to Watergate was inevitable.

In the early 1970s, the abuse targeted high level political enemies of President Nixon.  This time, it's hundreds of ordinary citizens who were targeted by the IRS.  Those individuals flagged by the service; just happened to disagree with the direction of our country.

Some Pols are trying to tamp down the significance of what could become a sad chapter in American politics.  Notably, George Will made this observation in the Washington Post (May 13, "In IRS Scandal, Echoes of Watergate"),
"Jay Carney, ... calls the IRS’s behavior “inappropriate.” No, using the salad fork for the entree is inappropriate. Using the Internal Revenue Service for political purposes is a criminal offense."
We also witnessed the former IRS Commissioner, Steven Miller, characterize the agency actions by using the word "mistakes."  Borrowing Mr. Will's style, I'd say, no, a mistake is purchasing too much mulch.  Using the power of the IRS to suppress political dissent is a criminal offense.  People go to prison for less.

Ms. Lois Lerner, IRS director of tax-exempt organizations, took the Fifth before testifying but not before she exclaimed that she had done nothing wrong.  Even some Democrats like Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) are upset.  Ms. McCaskill said,
"We should not only fire the head of the IRS, which has occurred, but we’ve got to go down the line and find every single person who had anything to do with this and make sure that they are removed from the IRS and the word goes out that this is unacceptable." 
We also need to learn who at the highest level of government knew about this effort and when they knew it -- just as Howard Baker demanded to know in 1974 at the Watergate hearings.