Using The IRS To Manipulate Americans Isn't Anything New


“Taxes have morphed from a societal obligation into moral code,” writes David Harsanyi for Reason. “And our convoluted tax structure reflects this mindset, allowing politicians to favor trade and offer populist giveaways to solidify political power. Any simplification or flattening of that code would strip Washington of its most effective tool.”

That’s a good point. There is a lot of very justified outrage over revelations that the IRS has been targeting conservative groups, but using the tax code for political manipulation isn’t anything new. The political class uses the tax code to do everything from promoting green energy to promoting the sales of hybrid vehicles.

The IRS sandbagging filings for conservative groups, even as liberal groups were put on the fast track, might be more blatantly political than tax code favoritism in the auto or energy industries, but it’s the same concept.

It’s all different treatment for different people in order to achieve a political goal. It’s manipulation, and it’s wrong whether it’s done in the open or in secret.

What’s worse, starting next year the IRS will have power to force us to buy things. The enforcer of the Obamacare insurance mandate will be the IRS, which will require Americans to divulge details about their health insurance coverage.

This is evidence that government has grown too vast. “Laws were most numerous when the commonwealth was most corrupt,” wrote Tacitus in his Annals. But you don’t have to take my, or Tacitus’, word for it.

“Apparently some folks down in the bureaucracy — you know we have a large government — took it upon themselves to shorthand these applications for tax-exempt status in a way that was, as I said, idiotic, and also dangerous because of the political implications,” said former Obam adviser David Axelrod. “Part of being president is there’s so much underneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast.”

Perhaps, then, government ought to be a bit less vast.

This is a point Republicans need to understand. It’s all well and good to score political points against President Obama right now, but this is bigger than Obama. This is a perfect example for the public about the virtues of limited government. Big government can’t be anything but decadent, and prone to corruption and abuse.

Smaller government has less to sell influence to sell to those who would purchase it, less power to abuse and fewer resources to waste.