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Revelations that IRS civil servants used biased criteria to target conservative groups seeking tax exempt status is rightly drawing bipartisan outrage. President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Carl Levin (D-MI) voiced their strong support for probes of what Obama deemed the "outrageous" conduct of agency employees. Democrats are absolutely right to join their Republican colleagues like Susan Collins (R-ME) in warning that even the perception of partisan bias at the IRS "contributes to the profound distrust that the American people have in government."

But even if the scandal in question is ultimately limited to a few "bad apples" in the agency's Cincinnati field office, the impact on both the Internal Revenue Service and federal tax revenues could be severe. After all, the $600 million sequester is already causing furloughs at IRS, cutbacks which on top of previous budget reductions are already costing Uncle Sam billions of dollars in lost revenue a year. And with underreporting of income, tax evasion and outright cheating now short-changing the U.S. Treasury by up to $500 billion a year, another GOP crusade like the successful 1990s Republican war on the IRS would only make the U.S. national debt much, much worse.

In January 2012, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson warned Congress that "the combination of the IRS's expanding workload and declining resources" was resulting in "inadequate taxpayer service, erosion of taxpayer rights, and reduced tax compliance." As tax expert David Cay Johnston documented in "Honey, I Shrank the IRS" and "The Tax Police Budget Shrinks," the budget sequestration process which began in March is under-cutting the over-burdened agency's ability to collect what Americans—and especially businesses—owe their government. As Johnston explained last month:

This fiscal year, the IRS will spend 20 percent less per capita in real terms than it did in 2002, my analysis of the official data shows. Back then the Service cost $41.98 per American, but now it is down to $33.55.

Those figures are based on the Obama administration's published sequester amount estimates. This week the IRS said the reduction is $594.5 million instead of the White House figure of $973 million or the nearly identical figure implied by the across-the-board cut of 8.2 percent. If the smaller number, which the IRS did not explain despite my request, is correct then the real reduction since fiscal 2002 would be down $7.24 per capita, or 17 percent, rather than 20 percent. Either way this is bad.

Because "revenue" is the IRS's middle name, a smaller budget means less capacity to do the job, which in turn means less tax being collected than is due.

If this movie seems familiar, it's because you saw it two years ago. Keep reading below the fold for the full story.

The Obama Administration wanted to increase the IRS budget from $12.1 billion to $13.3 billion in fiscal 2012 and add 5,000 IRS agents. But the House GOP said no. In April 2011, Congressional Republicans extracted $600 million in cuts from the IRS in return for a spending deal with President Obama, reductions which at the time were forecast to cost the Treasury $4 billion in lost revenue. Yet, the annual report to Congress from the National Taxpayer Advocate showed, "IRS is not adequately funded to serve taxpayers or collect revenue." As the AP explained:

The Internal Revenue Service can't keep up with surging tax cheating and isn't sufficiently collecting revenue or helping confused taxpayers because Congress isn't giving it enough money to do its job, a government watchdog said Wednesday...

Congress cut the IRS budget to $11.8 billion this year. That is $300 million less than last year and $1.5 billion below the request by President Barack Obama, who argued that boosting the agency's spending would fatten tax collections and provide better service to taxpayers.

President Obama, of course, was right. As a stunned Ezra Klein of the Washington Post summed up the "GOP's penny-wise, pound-foolish spending cuts" that March:
"Converting dollar bills into $10 bills is an excellent way to pay off your credit card. Except, it seems, if you're a House Republican. [...]

As the Associated Press reported, "every dollar the Internal Revenue Service spends for audits, liens and seizing property from tax cheats brings in more than $10, a rate of return so good the Obama administration wants to boost the agency's budget." It's an easy way to reduce the deficit: You don't have to cut heating oil for the poor or Pell grants for students. You just have to make people pay what they owe."

Nevertheless, just nine months after Jonathan Cohn highlighted the Republicans' "pro-tax evasion, pro-deficits" position, National Taxpayer Advocate Olson confirmed the trend underway for years continues to worsen. "Inadequate funding," the agency website reported, "means the IRS cannot adequately pursue unpaid tax liabilities":
The report points out that the IRS functions as the "accounts receivable" department of the federal government, as it collects more than 90 percent of all federal revenue and therefore provides the funds that make almost all other federal spending possible. On a budget of $12.1 billion, the IRS collected $2.42 trillion in FY 2011. In other words, for every $1 that Congress appropriated for the IRS, the IRS collected about $200 in return. However, current federal budgeting rules do not take into account that a dollar appropriated for the IRS typically generates substantially more than a dollar in additional tax collections, leaving the agency substantially underfunded to do its job and limiting its ability to close the tax gap and thereby help reduce the federal budget deficit.

The report points out that the size of the tax gap raises important equity concerns, because compliant taxpayers end up carrying a disproportionate share of the tax burden. For 2001, the most recent year for which a complete tax gap estimate existed when the report was written, the IRS estimated it was unable to collect $290 billion in taxes. Since there were then 108 million households in the United States, the average household paid a "noncompliance surtax" of almost $2,700 to enable the federal government to raise the same revenue it would have collected if all taxpayers had reported their income and paid their taxes in full. "That is not a burden we should expect our nation's taxpayers to bear lightly," the report says. [Last week, the IRS released updated tax gap estimates. For 2006, the IRS estimated it was unable to collect $385 billion in taxes when there were 114 million households, producing an updated "noncompliance surtax" of nearly $3,400 per household.]

But with the taxpayer population now at 141.2 million, economist Benjamin Harris of the Brookings Institution estimated the gross tax gap could range from $410 billion to $500 billion. The implications for America's $3.7 trillion annual budget and $845 billion deficit are clear. "You could go a long way toward solving our budget mess by closing the tax gap," Harris said, "But the problem is, it's not easily closed."

Especially if, as Republicans insisted during the late 1990s, the government doesn't even try.

As the Los Angeles Times reported in 1998, "Americans are failing to pay $195 billion annually in taxes owed to the federal government, the highest estimate ever of the so-called tax gap." But that before the full force of the anti-IRS jihad led by Phil Gramm and his Republican allies was brought to bear.

As Johnston explained in his 2003 classic Perfectly Legal, the GOP during the Clinton administration waged an all-out war on the IRS, turning the priorities for auditing Americans upside-down. Then as now, GOP spinmeister Frank Luntz framed the issue for his Republican allies, "Which would you prefer: having your wallet or purse stolen or being audited by the IRS?" As Senator William Roth's Finance Committee held hearings in 1997 and 1998, Mississippi's Trent Lott and Alaska's Frank Murkowski decried the IRS' "Gestapo-like tactics." Don Nickles of Oklahoma raged, "The IRS is out of control!" Congress went on to pass and Bill Clinton signed the IRS Reform and Restructuring Act in 1998.

Even as then-IRS Director Charles Rossotti warned Congress about an epidemic of tax cheating, Senator Gramm in May 1998 denounced the agency. Peddling myths of jack-booted IRS agents tormenting American taxpayers, Gramm called on Rossotti to fire his 50 worst employees. Gramm concluded:

"I have no confidence in the Internal Revenue Service of this country. You do not have a good system. This agency has too much unchecked power."
As the New York Times recounted that spring, the plan to gut the IRS advocated by Phil Gramm and his allies was a popular political gambit, but almost certain to create incentives for tax evasion:
Mr. Gramm spoke at length of how he had ''no confidence'' in the I.R.S., remarks that were in sharp contrast to those of every other senator, who emphasized that the majority of I.R.S. workers were honest and most taxpayers law-abiding.

A variety of tax experts have said in recent weeks that attacks on the I.R.S., which polls show are a potent device to win votes and contributions for Republicans, give comfort to tax cheats and discourage honest taxpayers.

Which, of course, is exactly what happened.

Those reforms in essence gave wealthier Americans carte blanche to cheat and fundamentally undermined tax fairness in the United States. Within one year, property seizures for unpaid taxes dropped by 98%. Liens were sliced by three quarters and levies on bank accounts by two-thirds. Johnston describes (p. 134) the overnight shift of tax policing onto poorer Americans:

In 1999, for the first time, the poor were more likely than the rich to have their tax returns audited. The overall rate for people making less than $25,000 a year was 1.36%, compared with 1.15% of returns by those making $100,000 or more...Over the previous 11 years audit rates for the poor had increased by a third, while falling 90 percent for the top tier of Americans.

Making matters worse, a Bush administration unable to permanently repeal the estate tax instead sought to cripple enforcement by laying off IRS lawyers responsible for estate tax reviews. By 2006, the IRS reported that 85 percent of large taxable gifts it audited shortchanged the government. As the Times detailed at the time:

Over the last five years, officials at both the I.R.S. and the Treasury have told Congress that cheating among the highest-income Americans is a major and growing problem.
Six years ago, Congressional Democrats sought to plug at least some of the leak. As then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel put it, "The tax gap is the logical place to go." As the New York Times reported at the time:
House and Senate Democrats say the government could collect as much as $100 billion more a year by whittling the tax gap -- the unpaid taxes, mostly on unreported earnings, that the I.R.S. estimated was about $300 billion a year...

Mark W. Everson, the I.R.S. commissioner, has expressed far greater optimism. At a hearing of the Senate Budget Committee a year ago, he told lawmakers that the government could recover "between $50 billion and $100 billion without changing the dynamic between the I.R.S. and the people."

The Bush administration and its GOP allies blocked that effort, despite Emanuel's pleas that "When you have a number as high as $300 billion in unreported and uncollected income taxes, that puts a burden on everybody." Especially, it turns out, because Republicans believe that some people are more equal than others.

Mercifully, President Obama and Capitol Hill Democrats have taken steps to recapture some of the lost revenue and restore at least some fairness to the tax system. Better late than never, the IRS has finally reversed its decade-long bias for the wealthy. The agency is once again offering the carrot and stick of an amnesty program and prosecution for Americans hiding unreported offshore bank accounts. As the AP reported in December 2009, the IRS is now less likely to audit those earning below $200,000 a year. The result, Politico explained just last week, is a reversal of the approach under Republicans even as the total number of audits (1.5 million, or 1.1 percent) is largely unchanged:

In the 2011 fiscal year, 12.5 percent of those with income of $1 million and higher were audited by the IRS, up from 8.4 percent in 2010, according to the agency's enforcement and service results. From 2004 through 2009, the percentage of audits for this income group had hovered between 5 percent and 6.5 percent.

Meanwhile, just 1 percent of those with incomes of $200,000 or less were audited by the IRS last year, indicating no significant change from previous years.

"We base our audit decisions on tax issues, nothing else," IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge told the AP. "We don't play politics here."

If the IRS's own inspector general and Congressional investigators find they did, there should be hell to pay. But with Republicans like Newt Gingrich already denouncing the agency and its role in enforcing the Obamacare individual mandate, the GOP will play politics with the IRS budget regardless. And the certain result will be tens of billions in less revenue annually for Uncle Sam--and more debt for the United States.

Originally posted to Jon Perr on Mon May 13, 2013 at 06:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  An NPR story with the guy who broke it . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Stephen Ohlemacher .
    It sounds like the problem , isn't much of a real problem .

    Drop the name-calling MB 2/4/11 + Please try to use ratings properly! Kos 9/9/11 + Trusted Users have a responsibility to police the general tenor... Hunter 5/26/06

    by indycam on Mon May 13, 2013 at 07:32:40 PM PDT

  •  Excellent Diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PHScott, OooSillyMe

    I can't help but be struck by the fact that the single largest chunk of tax evasion by individuals occurs through underreporting income and and overstating expenses. That the Tea Party promotes a sense of entitlement that blinds the public to the fact that "sticking it to the Man" with tax evasion really sticks the men (and women) right next to you with the bill for your overinflated sense of self seems pretty obvious.  The Tea Party and their ilk treat tax evasion, and other anti-social behavior of this sort, as a valid political statement.  This alone is justification for applying extra scrutiny of these groups.  The threat is that this mentality sees nothing wrong with using the the special treatment offered non-profits, because they operate to the public benefit, as a mechanism behind which to shield income that incurs a private benefit to the operators of the organization.

    by ManfromMiddletown on Tue May 14, 2013 at 12:09:34 AM PDT

    •  The tax law as written in 1954 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      grants tax breaks for social agencies which are exclusively and not primarily focused on charitable actions. In 1959 the IRS interpreted this as a primary focus on charitable actions. Lawrence O'Donell in "The Last Word" on MSNBC discussed this in detail last night.

      Over the years this has been the subject of considerable debate, lawyers have turned it into a slippery slope until with Citizens United, the Koch Brothers, and Karl Rove pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into primarily political organizations, the intent of the legislation has been turned on its head.

      The IRS was actually acting properly in denying these tax breaks to any organization that was of a political nature.
      In the case of organizations with Tea Party or Patriot in their name it was not simply  judging the book by its cover but reading it all the way through over a period of nine months looking for any way in which it might qualify.

      The so called Liberal organizations were organizations that were contributing to their communities in terms of education, healthcare, and social programs such as meals on wheels or head start.

      Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

      by rktect on Thu May 16, 2013 at 04:00:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  wish I made enough money to cheat...... n/t (0+ / 0-)

    "You are what you write, not what you look like."

    by PHScott on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:12:23 AM PDT

  •  Lawrence O'Donnell (4+ / 0-)

    Tonight featured the language of the IRS that says only groups dedicated "exclusively" to "social welfare" should receive the special category.  They need to return to that concept and eliminate all groups with any political activity.

    •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Wikipedia provides the language from the tax law

      501(c)(3) exemptions apply to corporations, and any community chest, fund, cooperating association or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, to foster national or international amateur sports competition, to promote the arts, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.[8][9] There are also supporting organizations which are often referred to in shorthand form as "Friends of" organizations.[10][11][12][13][14]

      Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

      by rktect on Thu May 16, 2013 at 04:13:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bogus. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The right-wing whaaa babies win again.

    But then, of course they do. Ultra conservatives dominating the political landscape of a country always manage to get their way and always manage to drive a country into -- or keep it in -- third-world status.

    We are living and witnessing the decline of our nation. Our empire we'll manage to keep a while longer.

    Physics is bulls**t. Don't let them fool you. Fire IS magic.
    (Facts brought to you by the Party of the Future - the GOP)

    by Pescadero Bill on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:33:01 PM PDT

  •  My personal take on this "scandal" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Is that IRS punching is even easier and more fun for Obama to do than hippy punching.  I mean who DOESN'T pile on the IRS, given the chance?
    It occurse to me, however that this could be a smart way to smash the logjam of republican filibusters on department head confirmations.  Gin up everyone's outrage over the bad, evil, incompetence of acting heads of departments and loudly demand that the Senate start the confirmation process on all these positions...

  •  is this really a "scandal"? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love

    There is not a shred of evidence that this was politically motivated, and until a thorough investigation shows that, if I were Mr. Miller, I would refuse to resign. If you wish to further enable the other side, then by all means, jump to conclusions, as they, and apparently the President, have.

  •  Nope (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, tegrat, rktect, flynnieous, LillithMc

    According to the inspector general's report, 4% of applicants for 501(c)(4) determinations warrant scrutiny because the facts disclosed on their applications indicate a high risk that their political involvement prevents them from qualifying as a 501(c)(4) organization.

    82% of Tea Party, Patriot, and 9/12 groups disclosed facts that indicated a high risk of disqualification.

    Heightened scrutiny of those groups was fully justified.

    "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

    by Old Left Good Left on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:35:13 PM PDT

    •  finally, some science (0+ / 0-)

      unfortunately, all the "right" conclusions have already been jumped to....

    •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)
      According to the IRS Publication 557†, in the Organization Reference Chart section, the following is an exact list of 501(c) organization types and their corresponding descriptions.[1]

          501(c)(1) — Corporations Organized Under Act of Congress (including Federal Credit Unions)
          501(c)(2) — Title Holding Corporation for Exempt Organization[2]
          501(c)(3) — Religious, Educational, Charitable, Scientific, Literary, Testing for Public Safety, to Foster National or International Amateur Sports Competition, or Prevention of Cruelty to Children or Animals Organizations
          501(c)(4) — Civic Leagues, Social Welfare Organizations, and Local Associations of Employees
          501(c)(5) — Labor, Agricultural, and Horticultural Organizations
          501(c)(6) — Business Leagues, Chambers of Commerce, Real Estate Boards, etc.
          501(c)(7) — Social and Recreational Clubs
          501(c)(8) — Fraternal Beneficiary Societies and Associations
          501(c)(9) — Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Associations
          501(c)(10) — Domestic Fraternal Societies and Associations
          501(c)(11) — Teachers' Retirement Fund Associations
          501(c)(12) — Benevolent Life Insurance Associations, Mutual Ditch or Irrigation Companies, Mutual or Cooperative Telephone Companies, etc.
          501(c)(13) — Cemetery Companies
          501(c)(14) — State-Chartered Credit Unions, Mutual Reserve Funds
          501(c)(15) — Mutual Insurance Companies or Associations
          501(c)(16) — Cooperative Organizations to Finance Crop Operations
          501(c)(17) — Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Trusts
          501(c)(18) — Employee Funded Pension Trust (created before June 25, 1959)
          501(c)(19) — Post or Organization of Past or Present Members of the Armed Forces
          501(c)(20) — Group Legal Services Plan Organizations
          501(c)(21) — Black lung Benefit Trusts
          501(c)(22) — Withdrawal Liability Payment Fund
          501(c)(23) — Veterans Organization (created before 1880)
          501(c)(24) — Section 4049 ERISA Trusts
          501(c)(25) — Title Holding Corporations or Trusts with Multiple Parents
          501(c)(26) — State-Sponsored Organization Providing Health Coverage for High-Risk Individuals
          501(c)(27) — State-Sponsored Workers' Compensation Reinsurance Organization
          501(c)(28) — National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust
          501(c)(29) — Qualified Nonprofit Health Insurance Issuers (Created in section 1322(h)(1) of the Affordable Care Act)[3]

      † 501(c)(20) and 501(c)(24) organization types receive scant mention in IRS Publication 557 and are not included in its Organization Reference Chart.

      Political activities of any kind are an automatic disqualification for this tax break. The charge that Conservative groups were excluded but liberal groups approved is obviously because anything to do with healthcare, education, workers compensation, retirement, veterans organizations, supplemental unemployment benefits, employee funded pensions, Teachers Retirement Funds and the like are considered liberal by conservatives.

      Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

      by rktect on Thu May 16, 2013 at 04:08:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is not correct (0+ / 0-)

        501(c)(4)s may engage in electoral activity so long as that is not the primary activity of the group.

        "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

        by Old Left Good Left on Thu May 16, 2013 at 05:56:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thats not the way the 1954 law reads (0+ / 0-)

          The IRS acting on its own in 1959 without any congressional authority interpreted the explicit exclusion of all non charitable activities as allowing political activities as long as they weren't the primary activity, and then expanded that to places where it was the primary activity but was primarily charitable so for example the bipartisan "league of women voters" might inform its community of when elections were scheduled and encourage people to register to vote.

          Lawrence O''Donnell did a nice job of explaining this last night. Because the IRS has never defined what it means by primary activity conservative groups have pushed the boundary to where they now feel entitled to get tax breaks for primarily partisan political activities even when they are profitable and involve fundraising efforts in the billions of dollars.

          Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

          by rktect on Thu May 16, 2013 at 05:17:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I think this is a great diary, except (0+ / 0-)

    for the title and the opening paragraphs, which enable an interpretation of events that is completely unjustified, even if it is understandable given the limited ability of the public to grasp the realities of a governmental agency such as the IRS and its charge. You understand how severely underfunded this agency is, and the use of a crude tool for facilitating the performance of its duties in a very arguably justifiable way should hardly be characterized as a scandal - until we make it one.
    In any event, good job (and I hope I don't sound too passive/aggressive...)

  •  Bullshit. You don't know (0+ / 0-)

    that "IRS civil servants used biased criteria to target conservative groups seeking tax exempt status". Liberal organizations were also targeted using the same criteria.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:20:56 PM PDT

    •  agreed, but ... (0+ / 0-)

      the headline

      How the IRS scandal could cost Uncle Sam billions
      is still a strong prediction of what might very well happen.

      As I understand the news, the IRS Cincinnati 501(c)(4) effort hasn't yet resulted in rejection of any Tea Party application for tax-exemption, but it did result in at least one liberal group's rejection. And until they are rejected, applicants don't have to pay income tax. So the delay in processing applications is helping applicants, not the US government.

      The real problem of the "scandal" -- which it ain't -- is the psychological encouragement of cheaters, playing into the hands of libertarians & GOP sleazoids trying to stymie the federal government.

      The only way for Obama to deal with this is to show everyone that fairness is paramount. That means Acting Commissioner had to fall on his sword. Of course, the president SHOULD also demand Senate approval of a new IRS Commisioner and House approval of IRS budget, in the name of making tax collection a fair process, and going after the real cheaters described by Jon Perr.

  •  This Scandal Could Also Help The IRS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    too.  President Obama and democrats could say that the IRS needs more money to get well, to build a system where there is strong regulations and enough people to make sure this does not happen again.  He should ask for emergency funding right now.

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Thu May 16, 2013 at 03:40:11 AM PDT

  •  Won't happen (0+ / 0-)

    People (including President Obama) don't seem to get that the Republicans want to eliminate Social Security and Medicare to eliminate Corporate Taxes and Taxes on the 1% (Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Taxes).  The Rich also like stashing their money in Swiss and Cayman Accounts (see Mitt Romney) in order to cheat on their taxes and they want to dismantle the IRS to make sure thay don't get caught.

  •  We could go back to paying tax collectors a bounty (0+ / 0-)

    on their "take". That's the way it was done from ancient Rome right up to 1909.

    Many municipalities and school districts actually do pay their tax collectors a combination of salary and commission.

    We have a $6 billion debt-collection industry in this country. I'm sure it would be willing to step up and do it's part to help Uncle Sam solve this vexing revenue problem.

    Privatize the IRS!

    Even Jesus would approve.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Thu May 16, 2013 at 08:12:19 AM PDT

  •  I kid you not (0+ / 0-)

    The IRS primary database of taxpayer info and returns dates back to the JOHNSON administration. It was designed by Martin Marietta (your first choice for accounting software), features a green on black user interface that relies on aggressively abbreviated terms and lots of pure gibberish letter and number codes. There was at least one failed attempt to create a modern, fully relational, modular database, but that was in the '80s.

    Now IRS relies on a tangle of web based apps frankensteined onto that dumb terminal, 60s era database.

    And oh yes. The primary records for the db are on big spools of magnetic tape.

    This should provide some direct insight into the career, operational management of IRS, as well as Congress's reluctance to properly equip them.

    To My Colonoscopist

    I think that I shall never see
    so far up you as you up me.

    by shieldvulf on Thu May 16, 2013 at 08:55:33 AM PDT

  •  IRS Director (0+ / 0-)

    Position has been open for a long time.  The "acting" director resigned.  Maybe the GOP would get off their obstruction block and approve a Director of the many vacant agencies obstructed by the GOP.

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