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Missing the point: The IRS scandal and state power

May 21. 2013 4:49PM

At least U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is not among the increasing number of left-wingers using quotation marks when describing the IRS scandal — as in, the IRS “scandal.” She does believe that the IRS behavior was unacceptable and should be investigated. That she couches this conclusion in numerous caveats shows how problematic this scandal is for people who advocate handing ever more power to the state.

In a column published in The Bedford Journal last week, Shea-Porter lamented that the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups “should concern and unite Republicans and Democrats in Washington, because something like this can shake citizens’ faith in government institutions and undermine confidence that there is fair and equal treatment for all.”

How interesting. Shea-Porter’s concern is not that this behavior raises questions about the ability of huge, powerful government bureaucracies to perform their duties in a disinterested manner, but that it might cause Americans to become less trustful of government. Without broad public trust in the state, the left’s big-government agenda — her agenda — collapses.

She went on to write: “The Internal Revenue Service is an independent organization, with only two political appointments in the whole organization.” Of what is the IRS independent? Politics? Obviously not. It is not an “independent organization,” but part of the executive branch of government. As a huge government agency, it has its own interests to protect. One way it can protect them is to systematically weaken those who would seek to weaken it — such as Tea Party organizations. As we have seen, the bureaucracy already is far too large for Congress or the President to control.

Shea-Porter, however, believes the IRS does not have enough power. Obamacare, which she voted for and strongly supports, grants the IRS enormous new powers. It tasks the taxman with determining which Americans are required to purchase health insurance and which are not. Given the current IRS scandal, this is clearly problematic. But not to Shea-Porter. She believes the impossible: that government can be trusted with vast regulatory powers as long as the bureaucracy is not subject to direct political control. The IRS scandal proved that wrong, but she refuses to see it.

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