The new chief of the Internal Revenue Service, the feared federal agency now mired in scandal for its admitted targeting of conservatives and its lavish conferences, says he wants Americans to trust him.
But one member of Congress says he has a plan that would permanently resolve the conflict between an administrative agency that has confessed to abusing Americans and Americans who are tired of being abused: abolish the IRS.
Danny Werfel, the new IRS chief appointed by President Obama in an attempt to tamp down the growing congressional scrutiny and outrage, appeared before Congress today and acknowledged that people who used to trust his agency now don’t.
“My primary mission is to restore that trust,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had an altogether different resolution.
“I think we ought to abolish the IRS and instead move to a simple flat tax where the average American can fill out taxes on [a] postcard,” he told Fox News in a weekend interview.
“Put down how much you earn, put down a deduction for charitable contributions, home mortgage and how much you owe. It ought to be a simple one-page postcard, and take the agents, the bureaucracy out of Washington and limit the power of government.”
In Werfel’s appearance before Congress, witnesses accused the IRS of criminal activity beyond the apparently viewpoint-based discrimination endured by conservative groups under Obama’s administration.
John Eastman of the National Organization for Marriage said his group has evidence that the IRS released to its political opponents a copy of the group’s tax filing that included a list of donors.
“I would call the disclosure of our donor lists by the IRS a felony,” he charged.
At the same time, an audit of the IRS revealed that the beleaguered agency spent $50 million on employee retreats over two years, including $4.1 million on just one 2010 conference. That one spent $3.2 million of unused funds designated for hiring staff.
The conference took place as conservative organizations faced massive delays in their applications that the agency has blamed on insufficient staffing.
The conference’s expenses including $135,000 for outside speakers, including one speaker who created paintings on stage and was paid $17,000. Another speaker, for whom taxpayers paid $11,400, led sessions on happiness and positive psychology.
The agency also created a video that showed a dozen IRS employees doing the “Cupid Shuffle” dance on a stage, part of a project for which taxpayers footed a $60,000 bill.
Comedian Jay Leno also offered a solution to the problem of the IRS.
According to Newsbusters, he said, “President Obama says he’s renewing his efforts to close Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo Bay? How about closing the IRS? Why don’t we do that?”
He was met with “thunderous applause.”
“How about shipping the IRS to Guantanamo Bay? That’s what we, yes!. That’s how you do it,” Leno continued.
More thunderous applause.
In a related development, the Associated Press reported its investigation of secret emails used by Obama administration officials brought some surprises.
“The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses,” the news wire reported. That issue, also related to the secret political manipulations being developed by the Obama administration, came about because former EPA chief Lisa Jackson was shown to have a secret email labeled Richard Windsor.
The AP found that Obama’s political appointees are using the secret emails “to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages.”
And about that trust?
“It is going to be a difficult process,” Werfel admitted