John Dickerson, writing in Slate (!), has perfectly encapsulated for me the outrage that virtually every American should feel about the current failure of the IRS to preserve records related to the Lois Lerner scandal:
Anyone who has ever kicked a trash can across a room after trying to get the Internal Revenue Service to explain a tax rule, or been through one of its exfoliating audits, gained a champion in Rep. Paul Ryan on Friday. At a Ways and Means Committee hearing investigating how the IRS lost thousands of emails sought by congressional investigators, the Wisconsin congressman lost it. He emptied his frustration and anger over IRS Commissioner John Koskinen like he was flushing a radiator.
It’s the IRS’ business to be in our business—so Ryan is giving them the business. It’s hard to think of a federal agency that is less forgiving about record keeping. If you are audited, the IRS wants you to move fast. Not only do you have to keep your records for years, as Ryan says, but the IRS wants you to move quick like a bunny. And the entire process has one subliminal message to it: “I don’t believe you.”
Democrats mocked the elaborate displays of outrage at the hearing—always a safe thing to do—but you don’t have to share Ryan’s view that the IRS is engaged in a cover-up of a scheme to target conservatives to recognize a more universal element to Ryan’s anger. The IRS expects all of us to maintain rigid compliance, spelunk-on-demand for every receipt, and is highly skeptical of what might be garden-variety mistakes until we prove otherwise. So if the congressional system of inquiry feels a little itchy, tight, and irrational, perhaps this will be a learning opportunity or a good topic for the next pricey conference.
Getting audited by the IRS is, to put it bluntly, a life-ruining experience. More to the point, there is virtually no such thing as a pleasant interaction with the IRS under any circumstance. Everyone hates the surly workers, the unpleasant attitudes, the inherent suspicion towards everything you have ever done or said. What sort of person would take the side of the giant, tax collecting, life ruining behemoth? Via Twitchy comes this insane video of Democrat Elijah Cummings on the verge of tears at the shameful, shameful treatment being given the IRS commissioner at Congressional hearings:
Keep in mind, the grilling given Koskinen is less substantial than the grilling given average taxpayers at any single one of the tens of thousands of audits the IRS conducts every year. And unlike the targets of those audits, Koskinen faces no possibility that he will be slapped with fines, penalties, or criminal sanctions - the prospect of unpleasant questions is literally all he faces. It is difficult to imagine a less sympathetic target or the tone deafness that could lead to an elected official being indignant at his treatment.
But ultimately, Elijah Cummings is just the only Democrat who's honest enough to be visibly passionate about the Democrats' most important goal and purpose: the collection of taxes from hard working Americans.