Republicans Wasting $14 Million On IRS Non-Scandal Investigation. Food Stamps Still Being Cut.
Hey look! It’s another day, so let’s talk more about the IRS non-scandal, because apparently there is no end to the Republican appetite for self-embarrassment. As we all know, there has been absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing by the IRS in the whole kerfuffle over targeting Tea Party groups’ tax-exempt status. But you can’t put a price on liberty, and it’s not like Congress is wasting literally millions of taxpayer dollars on this fruitless witch hunt, right?
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen [released a letter] documenting the significant funds expended by the IRS in responding to Congressional inquiries to date, including $8 million in direct costs—such as salaries, benefits, and travel—and an additional $6 million to $8 million to add capacity to information technology systems to process materials to investigators.
For that kind of money, we would buy the finest muffins and bagels in all the land. And then we would gay marry every lawn gnome in America! Holy waste, fraud, and abuse, wonketeers! Let’s scandalsplore.
The IRS was responding to a request letter from Wonkette hero and Legislative Badass Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), who wanted to know how much money we are all shelling out so that the Republicans can spew lies all over the teevee.
Rather than doing the work of the IRS (you know, enforcing the tax code and whatever else they do), many employees have been spending lots and lots of time responding to Congressional inquiries. How much time?
The IRS letter, which was sent in response to a request from Levin and Cummings on February 7, 2014, stated that 255 IRS employees have spent 97,542 hours responding to congressional investigations to date.
Holy crap! What the hell has Congress been asking of them?
Through the course of the nine-month investigations, the IRS has produced more than 500,000 pages of documents and made available 35 former and current IRS employees for interviews. Treasury and IRS officials have testified on the topic at 15 congressional hearings.
So half a million pages of documentation, FIFTEEN HEARINGS, and dozens of officials testifying, all paid for by us, the taxpayers. This estimate does not include the time that Congresscritters and their staff spend getting ready for hearings or going over the hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. Plus, the IRS said that this is “a ‘conservative approach’ and does not take into account ‘ancillary support costs,’ such as indirect work by the offices of Legislative Affairs, Public Affairs, Human Capital, and the Executive Secretariat."
It’s not like the IRS has anything else to do. Except maybe this, per the New York Times:
Well, in addition to reviewing applications for tax-exempt status for non-profits, the [IRS] Exempt Organization Division investigates complaints against non-profits. These complaints include formal charges filed by watchdog organizations like Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center that political groups are inappropriately claiming to be, in I.R.S. terminology, 501(c)4 “social welfare organizations.”
But because of the investigations by Congress, this work has “ground to a halt.” So now shady groups are getting away with tax fraud because the IRS is too busy dealing with Republicans in Congress to actually do the job. But come on … what’s the real harm, anyway? Who is getting away with this stuff?
[M]any of the complaints that have been filed with the Exempt Organization Division by campaign finance-reform advocates have been filed against the multi-million dollar political organizations closely tied to Karl Rove and to David and Charles Koch.
And guess what? There is a three year statute of limitations for the IRS to take action against organizations for abusing their tax-exempt status. So if they can just wait it out a little longer, they will get away with it. Hahahahaha, suck it little people! Too bad you are too poor to afford a six-pack of Congressmen to do your bidding. Go cry into your six-pack of Milwaukee’s Best.
But it’s not like the GOP is going to try to keep this issue alive, because this is just getting ridiculous, right? Per The Hill:
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is hauling Lois Lerner back to Congress.
Issa told Lerner’s attorney in a Tuesday letter that he expected the retired IRS official to appear before his committee on March 5.
But wait! Lois Lerner pleaded The Fifth, and therefore should not have to testify, right? Well, did you know that Congress can overturn your Constitutional rights?
"Because the committee explicitly rejected her Fifth Amendment privilege claim, I expect her to provide answers when the hearing reconvenes on March 5," [Darrell] Issa wrote.
Well lookee there. Darrell Issa has determined that Lois Lerner does not have a Fifth Amendment right anymore. Too bad she can’t plead The Second, because no Republican would ever deny her that.
Follow DDM on Twitter (@Wonksplainer), where he will never deny you your Constitutional rights and will always fight for your right to party.