By John Feehery
According to Wikipedia:
“A whipping boy was a young boy who was assigned to a young prince and was punished when the prince misbehaved or fell behind in his schooling. Whipping boys were established in the English court during the monarchies of the 15th century and 16th centuries. They were created because of the idea of the divine right of kings, which stated that kings were appointed by God, and implied that no one but the king was worthy of punishing the king’s son. Since the king was rarely around to punish his son when necessary, tutors to the young prince found it extremely difficult to enforce rules or learning.”
As you all know, I have been reading the Game of Thrones series of books, and somewhere in volume 6 (or volume 5) there is a pretty graphic scene where the young king Tommen has a whipping boy who gets beat up pretty good.
That reminded me of the concept of the whipping boy, which seems to have been used to great effect by the Obama Administration in this whole IRS scandal.
Steven Miller has been fired for being the Acting Commissioner of the IRS. As he himself pointed out in his exit press release, he was going to be leaving in a couple of weeks anyway, so the President seemingly flogged him with all of the damage administered by a wet noodle.
The President huffed and puffed last night when he claimed outrage at the abuses administered by the tax collecting agency. And by making Mr. Miller his whipping boy, the President at the very least showed that he was capable of doing something, no matter how painless to the former government employee.
The left has been trying to make the case that the real culprit is not the IRS or the White House, but instead the Supreme Court. After all, they were the ones that insisted that the First Amendment meant something and that citizens ought to have the right to petition their government or try to change their government through the electoral process unimpeded.
How dare conservative groups band together, organize like-minded citizens and form up in organizations that don’t pay taxes?
On the other hand, why should the IRS get involved in groups like the Tea Party? It seems to me that we have this all wrong. It is not that these groups should qualify for tax-exempt status. I don’t believe that they should be forced to apply at all.
If this is not a for-profit business, why do they need to file for a tax-payer identification number? Why does the IRS have any control over what these citizen groups do or don’t do?
We are all asking the wrong questions here. This is not about what the President knew and when he knew it. This all about why do we have a tax code that is so big, so unwieldy, so dangerous, so chock-full of exemptions and other provisions as to make the average taxpayer’s head completely spin around in circles?
If we had a vastly simpler tax code, we wouldn’t have the IRS asking probing questions like “what books to you read”, or “where did you get your money”? If we had a vastly simpler tax code, we wouldn’t have people who honestly make mistakes about how much they paid because they don’t understand the calculas needed to pay the right amount. In a vastly simpler tax code, you wouldn’t need so many IRS agents who have so much power to inflict so much damage on the lives of ordinary Americans.
Republicans should use this IRS scandal as an excuse to get tax reform. And the President should use tax reform as a way to move away from the scandal.
The President has a real crisis on his hands. And as his old Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel put it, “never let a crisis go to waste.”
By John Feehery
Twenty-nine years before the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., John Dean, then the White House counsel, sent a list of names to IRS Commissioner Johnnie Walters. On the list were names of enemies of the Nixon campaign that were to be investigated and audited and generally harassed by the tax-collecting agency.
That was among the revelations that came from the Watergate investigation, which eventually led to the resignation of President Nixon.
Some 40 years later, the Internal Revenue Service is once again in the news for targeting political enemies of the president. I would bet my bottom dollar that there is no evidence that the current president is involved directly in this latest scandal. President Obama is a sharp guy, and I doubt that he has the pathologies that drove Richard Nixon over the edge.
The scandal is not that Obama told the IRS commissioner to investigate the Tea Party because he wanted to win reelection. The scandal here is that relatively low-level bureaucrats can launch investigations on their own volition to harass citizens with whom they disagree politically. The scandal here is a government that is too big, has too much power and has lost the trust of the American people.
It was not a good week for Team Obama on the scandal front. The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee probed deeper into the attack on our Embassy personnel in Benghazi, Libya, and what it found were State Department employees who were flabbergasted at the assertion of United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice that the attack was caused by a video. No one mentions that one of the victims of that spin was the guy who produced the video. He was thrown in jail as if he had a hand in the planning of the attacks. But the video had nothing to do with the attack, and Rice appears to have lied about the linkage to further the administration’s political goals.
That’s the power of government these days. A government bureaucrat can throw you in jail to help promote a political agenda.
The government has a lot more power than it did in 1972, at the height of the Watergate shenanigans. Since 9/11, the security apparatus is much more intrusive. That can be both good and bad. The good comes when videos are compiled to capture the Boston bombers in three days. The bad comes when we give a bunch of bureaucrats the power to ruin lives at their own whim.
The government is going to become a much bigger power in the health industry, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The government already is a huge player in the world of healthcare, especially with Medicare and Medicaid. ObamaCare is going to make the government the pre-dominant player, and I bet you a lot of Americans who currently have healthcare are not going to like it very much. It is no fun when the decision of a federal bureaucrat makes your health insurance premiums go up 75 percent to 100 percent.
Since 1972, the government has spent an inordinate amount of money and other resources fighting a war on drugs. As a result, we have the highest incarceration rate in the world. More Americans are in prison than in any other country — more than in China, than Russia, than Europe. And we like to call ourselves the land of the free.
Some people want to give the government even more power. If it were up to New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Americans wouldn’t be able own guns, drink Big Gulps, buy cigarettes or eat a decent donut. The media desperately wants the Senate to pass a gun control bill. Some conservatives want the government to check the immigration status of every worker and use drones to patrol from the border to Disneyland in California.
But the more power we give the government, the more power we give government bureaucrats. And when you give more power to government bureaucrats, they do things like launch audits of perceived political enemies.
The real scandal is big government.