I’ve now watched the latest House Appropriations Subcommittee’s hearing on the IRS scandal. My instant reactions are reflected on my twitter feed. I have put some thought into what happened today at the hearing and my reactions are not groundbreaking.
Lois Lerner first let the cat out of the bag on about May 10, 2013. Today, June 3, 2013 the acting commissioner, whose been on the job since May 22, 2013, still can’t even state a single name when asked who was responsible. It doesn’t inspire confidence.
Also, a really pernicious problem. The President and all of his defenders kept claiming that a real scandal would have been if the President was somehow aware that there was an ongoing investigation by the Inspector General before the public knew. Let’s put aside whether he knew and whether there is any functional difference between his chief of staff’s knowledge and the President’s knowledge. It seems obvious to anybody paying attention that IRS employees can partake in wholesale ideological warfare for something like two years at least. There is a real difference between the administration being apprised of an investigation and stopping the behavior as opposed to being apprised of an investigation and improperly influencing the investigation.
If there aren’t serious and lasting consequences for their behavior then there will be a real risk of a loss of trust between the Government and the people. We must remember that our government is of, by, and for the people. When that government attacks those that it serves it violates a solemn trust.
What set us apart from every other country in the world when we were formed was the institutionalization of the idea that the government operates only with the consent of the governed. It was the institutionalization of the idea that the people retain certain rights that the government cannot violate. These actions go to the heart of that principle. It should really have us examine all of these laws that restrict the right of the freedom of speech. Many of our campaign finance laws should fail under this principle.