Suppose you hate taxes. And government. You could try to pass bills that cut taxes, scale back government … in short, do the things the extreme right Freedom Caucus says they want. Or you might simply make it impossible for the government to collect taxes by maneuvering to cripple the agency in charge, which is the approach conservatives radicals have actually taken.
The House Judiciary Committee’s decision to hold hearings a week from today on whether to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is a victory for the chamber’s far-right caucus, still smarting over the agency’s treatment of conservative groups.
The agency’s treatment of conservative groups. Which turned out to be pretty much the agency’s treatment of every sort of group. It was just that so many groups emerged from the tea party chaos, and so many of them blatantly did not know the difference between what was acceptable in a tax-exempt organization and what was not, that a high number of them became regulatory road kill.
But conservatives have never believed they have to play by the rules, and this scandal-that-wasn’t serves as sufficient pretext to carry on the teahad.
Over five years, House Republicans have slashed the IRS budget, passed bills banning employee bonuses and prohibiting employees fired for misconduct from getting rehired. The GOP has vowed to simplify the tax code, pounced on agency management failures and assailed customer service failures caused by the budget cuts.
And last week, anti-IRS lawmakers convinced previously hesitant House leaders to start the unusual process of removing the tax collector from office.
Cut government till it bleeds, then complain about the bloodstains. It’s the Republican way.
Oh, but do mark this down as a historic moment. It’s the first time anyone has tried to impeach the head of a government agency since the Grant administration.
The two congressmen leading the charge for impeachment, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, had for months received little traction with Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), But things have shifted, at least partway.
Why would Paul Ryan suddenly give in to the most self-righteous right? Because it’s all he has left.
With much of the party signing on to be in the Trump wing of the Trumpublican Party, Ryan is left holding hands with a shrinking group of doubters, most of whom are exactly the jackasses who have given him such a hard time. Which is why John Boehner is so happy to campaign on the Trump side of the line, leaving Ryan all the joy of dealing with Jason Chaffetz, Jim Jordan, and their merry band of legislative terrorists.
The real purpose of trying to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is to give the extremists in the GOP a distraction to talk about when they climb on the stage at rallies between now and November. The chances that they would actually remove Koskinen, who is set to leave in 2017 in any case, are somewhere between extremely slim and laughable. But he provides a demon to rail against. And his name isn’t Donald.