Enough is enough

Farcical IRS scandal has gone on too long; Congress needs to get tough

We’ve had about enough of the Obama administration’s stonewalling of the investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s illegal targeting of taxpayers.

So has Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas.

He recently filed a resolution demanding the House use a little-exercised power to arrest ex-IRS official Lois Lerner, the tight-lipped central figure in the scandal in which partisan bureaucrats singled out “patriot” and “Tea Party” organizations for red-tape scrutiny.

Lerner has refused to cooperate and was held in contempt of Congress in May. Her arrest would be a rare use of congressional powers, and probably would be taken as an extreme measure.

But this is a situation that calls for extreme measures. Justice needs to be served, and it’s apparent that House Republicans are going to have to take a do-it-yourself approach.

It’s obvious Attorney General Eric Holder is not going to lift a finger – he’s already in contempt of Congress for withholding documents in the botched Fast and Furious gun operation.

“Asking the Justice Department to prosecute Lois Lerner for admittedly illegal activity is a joke. The Obama administration will not prosecute the Obama administration,” Stockman said. “How much longer will the House allow itself to be mocked?”

And it’s obvious the IRS is in full cover-up mode. Just last week it was revealed Lerner sent emails to an IRS IT official on April 9, 2013 – just days after a draft Treasury inspector general report revealed the massive conservative-targeting scheme. Her e-mail asked whether the IRS internal chat system was searchable.

She was worried about the chat system because “Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails – so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails.”

When the IT official replied that the IRS could have saved the conversations but chose not to, Lerner replied with one word: “Perfect.”

And then you have IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, whose contempt-soaked appearances before congressional committees have been absolutely insolent.

Whereas Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right, this Yale-trained lawyer has managed to say a lot without saying anything at all.

He’s slippery as soap, smug as a Mafia lawyer and patient as a pit viper – all qualities a combative witness wants to have when he is trying to stymie House Republicans’ attempts to get to the bottom of – or top of – the most foundation-shaking political scandal in a generation.

If the Obama administration’s goal is to see that this national disgrace goes no further than Lerner’s desk, then Koskinen is delivering service with a sardonic smile.

This is the man who, after taking a two-month pause, deadpanned to Congress that email records of Lerner and six other IRS employees connected to the scandal – records most likely to be smoking-gun evidence – were irretrievably lost in a hard-drive crash three years earlier.

When pressed on the my-dog-ate-it excuse, Koskinen had the nerve to tell U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the House Oversight Committee chairman: “If you have a magical way to (make the emails appear), I would be happy to hear about it.”

Can this guy possibly thumb his nose more arrogantly?

He doesn’t seem to care how smarmy he comes across to a public that his bureaucrats hold to strict records-retention standards and seem to consider guilty until proven innocent.

Arizona Republic columnist Doug MacEachern said Koskinen sounds like a man heading a bully agency that knows it is untouchable as long as its big brother – who has said there is not a “smidgen” of corruption at the agency – is in the White House.

“Koskinen effectively declared that, protected by the White House, the IRS can do as it wishes – withhold evidence, tell lies and, probably, continue its merry practice of coming down hard on conservative groups that dare promote limited government or say unkind things about President Obama.”

Koskinen is an adept deflector. But he could be a bumbling, bean-spilling fool and members of the mainstream media still would find a way to soft-pedal an abomination where the most formidable arm of the federal bureaucracy was used to harass, intimidate and silence American citizens it deemed politically dissident.

These totalitarian tactics are what organizations such as Amnesty International decry when they occur in Third-World banana republics. Yet too many members of the press remain blinded to arguably the most patently un-American political scandal of our time – because the victims of this tyranny are conservative.

It’s depressing to consider that four decades ago, the media threw all its energy into bringing down the Nixon administration for merely considering things the Obama administration is actually doing.

The most aggressive that today’s media get is showing up to watch Koskinen’s pithy theatrics. They sit passively and watch the hand-picked head of a Treasury Department agency politely tell the U.S. House of Representatives – and American taxpayers – to shove it.

And some wonder why the House has to take such extreme measures.

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