**Posted by Phineas
You’d think, after admitting wrongdoing back in May and being thoroughly pilloried by the public since then, the IRS would have had the good sense to stop singling out groups based on political beliefs. You would also be wrong:
Republicans investigating the IRS targeting scandal said Wednesday that the agency continued to conduct secret surveillance on tea party groups even after approving them for tax-exempt status.
Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel said he shut down the monitoring program after he found out about it, and said he has halted all audits of tax-exempt organizations based on political activity as he tries to get a handle on the embattled agency.
In May, the IRS acknowledged subjecting conservative groups to intrusive scrutiny and delaying applications for far too long before approving them. Some applications are still awaiting approval after three years.
The newly revealed surveillance, however, applied to applications that had been approved, but where the IRS apparently wanted to determine whether the groups strayed too far into political activity to keep their tax-exempt status.
Mr. Werfel quibbled with calling the continued “surveillance” and said he didn’t see any evidence that groups on the list for scrutiny was improperly influenced by any IRS employees.
But he said the program was troubling enough that he shut it down two weeks ago.
This deserves one of those “Hitler in the bunker” Downfall videos of its own. I mean, what was going on, here? Did Boris Badenov, one of those hypothetical rogue agents in Cincinnati, twirl his Evil Mustache(tm) and laugh maniacally while receiving orders from Fearless Leader to carry on with Phase Two?
Whether this latest harrassment was born of arrogance or cluelessness –or both– it is yet another example of why the IRS needs to be seriously reduced in size and power, if not eliminated altogether, and why our tax code should be radically simplified and flattened so that one’s entire tax filing fits on a single postcard. The permanent bureaucracy as a class is fundamentally hostile to that large swath of Americans who prefer smaller, less intrusive government, which makes it the natural ally of those political factions that see the State as the solution to all problems and the ultimate arbiter of fairness.
And a mindbogglingly complicated tax code is a weapon in their hands to harry those they disapprove of, as we’ve seen time and again these last few months. The pols don’t even need to give explicit instructions to their allies in he bureaucracy; as ST reported, a “wink and a nod” is enough. The simpatico is that strong.
We don’t need to trim the federal government. We need to take a chainsaw to it.
via Bryan Preston
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)