The new head of the IRS is going through a Punch and Judy show with Congress. He has to look tough. He has to make it look like he is doing something to change the culture at the IRS.
There is only one thing that can change the culture in any bureaucracy: cut its funding. Nothing else matters. Nothing else is a threat.
So, the guy says he will place two IRS bureaucrats — no names, sorry — on administrative leave. What is administrative leave? A paid vacation. They will receive their paychecks, but they will not report to work.
Oh, horror! Oh, woe!
Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany, a senior Republican on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, said he saw the discipline as a sign that Werfel could shake up the IRS. He was pleased that the IRS alerted GOP members of the committee about the move late Tuesday.
“He’s promised us to be forthright and free-flowing with information and keeping us informed about what he’s doing at the IRS to clean that up,” Boustany said. “The fact that he provided the information to us last night is … a good sign.”
Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Oversight committee, said Werfel is taking “aggressive action.”
“If you had some bad apples in the barrel, you have to remove them,” Cummings said.
This charade is what passes for political reform in Washington.
What did these “bad apples” do? Why they accepted $1,100 in free food and other unnamed perks at one of the IRS’s many weekend vacation retreats, which cost taxpayers $50 million.
You mean they are not getting their paid vacations for some egregious infringement of taxpayers’ rights? Of course not. They merely got caught retroactively with their hands in some cookie jars.
Yet there is good news. While there is no official word on who is getting the paid vacation, an unnamed source says one of them is the guy who oversees the enforcement of Obamacare. The program is already sinking fast. There is no computerized tracking. There are no guidelines. The monstrosity is supposed to be ready for prime time on January 1, 2014. It won’t be.
The probe goes on.
The congressional probe of the IRS shows no sign of slowing soon. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said the agency began responding to his panel’s requests for documents late Tuesday.
Camp said the agency has collected 64 million pages of documents in response to requests from lawmakers.
This is standard operating procedure in Washington. An agency that gets requests from Congress for documents conducts a “document dump.” It hands over 64 million pages. “When you’re finished going through these, we’ll give you another 64 million pages. Just let us know.”
The goal on both sides — Congress and the IRS — is to pretend that there is significant change coming. There isn’t.