3:45 PM EDT, June 20, 2013
While I enjoy the rants of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in his weekly column, at some point I must say, "Enough is enough, Bob." As a former IRS employee and now a tax journalist, I have been following the IRS "scandal" closely and must dispute most of what Ehrlich has to say in his June 16 column, "IRS scandal is worse than the others."
One, he said that there is "irrefutable evidence the Obama IRS targeted conservative groups for special investigation." What he didn't say was that the "Obama IRS" was led by George W. Bush's appointee, Commissioner Douglas Shulman, during the entire time of the "scandal." To date there is no evidence that anyone in the Obama White House had any involvement in the IRS review of tea party organizations that were seeking tax-exempt status.
Two, he neglects any mention of the underlying cause of the IRS's interest in tea party and similar groups of all political persuasions — the fact that blatantly political organizations were seeking exemption as social welfare organizations, which they clearly are not, even if the IRS has been browbeaten by Republicans into giving them undeserved exemption from tax. So now we are all indirectly supporting the tea party movement since our taxes must go up to pay for those who no longer have to pay taxes.
Three, he condemns the complexity of the tax code — all 73,954 pages of it. He does not mention that when he was in Congress, he and his buddy, Newt Gingrich, who was speaker of the House of Representatives, did nothing to reform the tax laws. Instead, I'm sure Bob raked in contributions from corporations and wealthy individuals who benefited from the complexity of the tax code and who were seeking even more tax loopholes to benefit their own special interests — adding to the complexity.
Four, he blasts the IRS for its conferences and amusing videos. He neglects to mention the outrageous amounts spent by corporations to put on conferences, which are indirectly paid for by the American taxpayer, since they are tax-deductible to the corporations. And what's wrong with a little levity at a tax conference? Has Bob ever sat through eight hours of tax law instruction? Who knew the IRS had a sense of humor? I thought the Star Trek spoof was great and a needed break during a boring conference.
Bob began his column by saying he did not like politicians who "hot dog" a made-up crisis. I think he needs to look in the mirror.
Paul Streckfus, Pasadena
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