But for politicians, particularly Republicans, the day is just another reason to bash their venerable punching bag, the IRS. In fact, the House spent most of Wednesday debating legislation, seven bills in all, that would “rein in” the wild agency. It was, as is so often the case on Capitol Hill, performance art.
“This is a signal we want to send to Americans on tax day,” said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) “That we’re not going to take this anymore and we’re going to reassert our rights.”
There was a “Taxpayers Bill of Rights,” which basically tells Americans they deserve better treatment from the IRS. Another, which the Loop wrote about, ensures that IRS employees don’t use personal e-mail for official work. And of course — two years after launching the first investigation into the IRS political targeting of 501(c)(4) organizations — there’s a bill to make such targeting a fireable offense.
These will pass overwhelmingly. No one needs a headline: “Rep. So-and-So votes against taxpayer rights.” And with the IRS so unpopular, beating it up is generally good politics.
So with the anti-IRS pile-on in full swing, we were also treated to former Bush administration defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s annual letter to the IRS with his tax returns, lamenting that the code is so complicated he can’t ensure they are accurate, “which is a sad commentary on governance in our nation’s capital,” he wrote.
(Non sequitur: Our colleague Karen Tumulty spotted Rumsfeld walking a few blocks from the White House on Wednesday. A man recognized him, and began shouting, “You got us into Iraq,” but Rumsfeld ignored him. Gotta wonder if this happens to him a lot.)
Here’s Rumsfeld’s IRS letter: