Democrats are on the offensive after discovering that Darrell Issa’s committee withheld vital information in order to perpetrate the IRS scandal that held the press captive over the 2013 summer until it fell apart when the full evidence was demanded and finally produced. For example, they’ve demanded a reconciliation of the costs of the IRS witch hunt. They’ve filed charges.
In remarks prepared for his opening statement, Ways and Means Committee ranking member Representative Sander Levin (D-MI) called Republicans out for their utter waste of government resources and taxpayer money. He noted, “150 IRS employees have worked 70,000 hours – time taken away from taxpayer services – to accommodate the ongoing requests for information from congressional investigators.”
Levin laid out the intricate time suck Republicans charged the taxpayers for, “More than 500,000 pages of IRS documents have been turned over to congressional committees. Five dozen interviews of current and former IRS employees have taken place. Lawmakers at fifteen congressional hearings have questioned IRS officials.”
The total man-hours for the IRS alone? “In all, more than 150 IRS employees have worked 70,000 hours – time taken away from taxpayer services – to accommodate the ongoing requests for information from congressional investigators.”
To what avail? “And yet, there’s been absolutely no evidence of any corruption unearthed. Not a single piece of evidence showing any political motivation. Nothing showing any involvement outside the IRS.” Oh, so nothing. That’s 70,000 public sector work hours that taxpayers paid for. 150 public sector workers (the same people Republicans are demonizing and accusing of not being worth any money).
Levin called out the deception behind the entire sham, “Had the Treasury Inspector General not left out vital information — producing a fundamentally flawed audit report – it may have dissuaded Republicans from immediately accusing the White House of keeping an “enemies list” and trying to turn the audit into a scandal that they are intent on keeping alive, no matter the facts.”
In detail, “For one, the IG failed to disclose that progressive and other liberal groups were singled out alongside tea party organizations and were among the 298 organizations that he reviewed in his audit.
What’s more, not until two months after the audit report was published did we learn that the IG had instructed his chief investigator to look into the possibility of political motivation by the IRS and that the investigator had concluded that it was confusion – not political motivation – that led IRS employees to single out organizations for further scrutiny.”
So, for this free ad for Republicans, the taxpayers have been charged for — and this is just in the IRS — 70,000 hours. This is not only a matter of what taxpayers paid for in order to get a partisan Republican commercial for the 2014 election, but also what the taxpayers didn’t get. Because when resources are diverted to a huge investigation like this, and remember this took up the spring and summer, they are taken from someplace else.
It’s been nine months of Republicans hiding the truth in order to perpetrate a sham so that they can make a commercial in order to fool the public into voting for them and not asking them about their policies. All the Republicans do is point fingers to distract people from the issues, like their pocketbooks and their access to healthcare.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.