John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Whipping Boy

Posted on May 16, 2013

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.”