Tea Party groups are organizing a national rally to protest the IRS’s invasive tactics against conservative organizations. An interactive map of where the meetings will be held is here.
This has been great publicity for the Tea Party movement. It is likely to grow.
Here is why this is important. Bureaucracies fear three things, and only three things: (1) widespread negative publicity, which threatens (2) political interference from above and outside the bureaucracy, which could lead to (3) budget cuts.
Budget cuts are the main threat. This rarely happens. But investigations by Congress are a threat, because Congress may impose an auditing board to review the organization. This transfers authority outside channels. This undermines the autonomy of senior administrators.
If well attended, the protests will alert Congressmen to potential problems in the next election. This is not a major threat, due to gerrymandered districts, but they are always alert to problems that could get out of hand.
The easiest response of a politician is a full investigation, which means a controlled investigation for incumbents and a media circus for the minority party.
Because of Obama’s trifecta — the IRS, the phone logs, and Benghazi — the individual scandals cannot be contained. They reinforce each other.
Will the protests change the behavior of the IRS? Only indirectly, by way of Congress. The IRS’s Cincinnati office, which hands out the authorization papers, will play turtle for several years. Word will come down: “no more strong arming.”
Default mode for bureaucrats is to avoid controversy by showing no initiative. The Cincinnati office showed initiative. That will not happen again.
Three words will now take over: by the book. It is a fat book.