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McConnell: IRS 'Thumbing Its Nose at the American People'

10:10 AM, Jun 21, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell will say today that the IRS is "thumbing its nose at the American people." He'll make those remarks this morning at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

"[I]n the midst of congressional hearings into their activities, unionized employees at the IRS are about to get $70 million in bonuses. The IRS union is thumbing its nose at the American people. It’s telling them in the clearest terms possible that it doesn’t care about this scandal, or how well government works, or how well it’s serving the public. All it cares about is helping union workers get theirs. It’s pure arrogance, and it reflects a sense of entitlement better suited to an aristocracy than to a nation of constitutional self-government," McConnell will say.

He'll also take credit for identifying the IRS problem long before the federal agency began to come clean about its activities.

"As for the IRS, my own concerns trace back to a phone call I got from a constituent early last year, who said he’d been subjected to excessive questioning and unreasonable deadlines from the IRS. When similar complaints followed, I sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Shulman asking for assurances that there wasn’t any political targeting going on. I said public confidence in the IRS depended on it. Six weeks later I got a lengthy response from the Deputy Commissioner, Steven Miller, in which he basically told me 'move along, nothing to see here.' Well, now we know that wasn’t the case. Now we know that the IRS was actually engaged in the targeted slow-walking of applications by conservatives, and others who were, get this, criticizing 'how the country [was] being run.' It overwhelmed them with questions and paperwork, and in some cases initiated audits on folks that had never been audited before," the top Republican in the Senate will say.

In one case, an IRS agent allegedly demanded that the board members of an Iowa pro-life group sign a declaration that they wouldn’t picket Planned Parenthood. Several pro-Israel groups have said that they were singled out by the IRS for audits after clashing with the administration over its policy on settlements. Then there’s the story of Catherine Engelbrecht. Catherine says that after applying for tax-exempt status for a voter-integrity group called True the Vote, she and her husband were visited by the FBI, the ATF, OSHA, and an affiliate of the EPA. When all was said and done, OSHA told the Engelbrecht’s they had to cough up $25,000 in fines. The EPA affiliate demanded they spend $42,000 on new sheds. And three years after applying for tax-exempt status, True the Vote is still awaiting approval. The list of stories like these goes on and on. And so now we have an administration that’s desperately trying to prove that nobody at the top was involved in any of this stuff, even as they hope that the media loses interest in this scandal and moves on. But we can’t move on. Because as serious as the IRS scandal is, what we’re dealing with here is larger than the actions of one agency or any group of employees. This administration has institutionalized the practice of pitting bureaucrats against the very people they’re supposed to be serving, and it needs to stop.

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