Despite President Obama’s Optimism, No Quick Fix Likely For IRS

On Capitol Hill, Republicans make clear that they will not be rushed in their investigations

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Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement about the Internal Revenue Service in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 15, 2013.

As he announced the forced resignation of his top tax collector Wednesday, President Obama seemed to find a silver lining on the scandal engulfing the Internal Revenue Service. “The good news,” he said, “is it’s fixable.”

A day later, the White House seemed determined to continue radiating the same confidence. At midday, Obama appeared again before his press corps, saying variations of the word “fix” five more times in relation to the IRS mess. Hours later, the Treasury Department announced a replacement for the top job at the IRS, Danny Werfel, a well-respected technocrat who has worked for both Republican and Democratic administrations. And another senior IRS official, Joseph Grant, who recently oversaw the troubled unit that mishandled nonprofit applications, had announced his retirement.

But the prospect of a clean or quick resolution to the scandal seemed no closer, especially with a drip of more revelations expected in the coming days and weeks, and the uncertainty of a criminal investigation looming.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans made clear that they will not be rushed in their investigations, and that they intended to attempt to broaden the scandal in an effort to hamper the roll out of the 2010 healthcare reform law, called Obamacare, which will require substantive new oversight by the IRS. ABC News named Sarah Hall Ingram, a bureaucrat now charged with implementing Obamacare enforcement at the IRS, as the person in charge of the office that oversaw tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012, during the worst documented abuses.

“Now more than ever, we need to prevent the IRS from having any role in Americans’ health care,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a former chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in a statement. “After the events of last week, I cannot support giving the IRS any more responsibility or taxpayer dollars to implement a broken law.” He introduced a bill that would bar the IRS from enforcing any part of the new health insurance law, a symbolic measure that has little hope of passage.

On the other side of the Capitol, House Ways and Means Committee also finished preparations for the first of many public hearings on the IRS mishandling of applications by conservative nonprofits. Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, made it clear that he had no intention of pushing towards a quick resolution. “There are still far too many unanswered questions and until we know what truly happened, we cannot fully fix what is wrong,” Camp said. Friday’s hearings were expected to take testimony both from the Treasury Department’s Inspector General, who has investigated the misdeeds at the IRS, and the current acting director of the IRS, Steve Miller, who was forced to resign on Wednesday.

Miller’s replacement, Werfel, has served as the controller of the Office of Management and Budget, where he oversaw Obama Administration preparations for the implementation of the sequester. He also served as a civil service employee in the same office for President George W. Bush. “He is an immensely talented and dedicated public servant who has ably served presidents of both parties,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a statement. “Danny has a strong record of raising his hand for — and excelling at — tough management assignments.”

Those talents will be required in the coming months. Not only will Werfel be forced to push reforms for the massive agency, which has long been troubled and where improvements have been difficult to enact. But he will have to juggle ongoing criminal and congressional investigations, while working in an environment beset by conflicting political pressures. The President’s “good news” scenario may come to pass, but it is unlikely to occur anytime soon.

With reporting by Zeke Miller

57 comments
valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

OBAMA THE SLICK VASELINE JELLY......SIC'ED THE IRS ON THE TEA PARTY.....THE PATRIOTS.....THE REPUBLICANS AND THEIR ALLIES AND CONTRIBUTORS.......NOW APPEARS ON TV AND DOES HIS ACADEMY ACTING SCHTICK......AND PRETENDS TO PUNISH THE IRS FOR WHAT HE AND HIS CREW WANTED HIM TO DO.....HE EVEN PROMOTED THE IRS BRITCH AND GAVE HER A $100,000 BONUS !!!!!!!!!!!

OBAM IS ACTING LIKE A TYRANT......WHERE ARE THE BALLS OF THE AMERICAN CITIZENS?????? 

valentine, world historian, comedian...lol

reallife
reallife

It's fixable  hahaha  yes it is - we'll fix it in 2014

JamesLoughran
JamesLoughran

This is a total conservative scam. The "T" party got their tax breaks. They could have avoided all this by just calling themselves an exclusive social welfare organization and filed a simple 990 form at the end of the year, but they would have had to release the names of their donors, so they CHOSE to go the lengthy application route at a time when the I.R.S. had been cut (17%) and there was a tsunami of new applications because of Citizens United. The Koch brothers "T" party creation knew this and deliberately threw sand into the works to create a phony scandal so it would cover the Republicans lack of any significant legislation. The Koch brother's Heritage Foundation sent out a memo to the Republicans to " Do no legislation, focus entirely on scandal".  This whole thing is to do as little as possible and wait out the clock of Obama;'s term so he will look bad. We need jobs and recovery policies from Congress, these dirty tricks by Republicans is disgusting.

paulejb
paulejb

The founders were afraid of exactly this type of abuse of power by a usurping central government. If we fail to stop this now than we are betraying all those who have gone before us.

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction" Ronald Reagan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDouNtnR_IA

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

"This week, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough joined the chorus of those decrying the IRS for targeting Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny in applying for nonprofit status. “You can’t allow the government to tread on political speech,” Scarborough said. “The Internal Revenue Service — the taxman — to go after their political beliefs. … I can’t imagine much worse than this,” he added."

Except, of course, in 2003 when he wanted the IRS to "yank" the tax exempt status of the NAACP.

http://www.salon.com/2013/05/16/joe_scarborough_in_2003_yank_the_naacps_tax_exempt_status/

dunedweller
dunedweller

Not once in the piece does Scherer mention what a 501(c)4 is. The best thing that could come out of this "scandal!!" is for the real scandal to be revealed -- that the hard-working tax-paying citizens of this country are subsidizing the wealthy / corporations who spend millions of dollars every election cycle to saturate our airwaves with campaign sh*t. We the people are literally paying with our own taxes to be bombarded daily with the misleading lying BS coming from both sides.

MichaelStephenson1
MichaelStephenson1

As bad as this flurry of stammering malfeasance looks, it's going to get worse.  Do yourselves a favor and go ahead and assume Obama, Holder, Hillary et al are lying if they're mouths are producing noise. They're might be some exceptions  but your emotion health will be well-served by expecting the worst.

Things are going to get brutal.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

I'm still curious who was fired in 04 when they were threatening to take away existing tax exempt status from Churches that had sermons against the Iraq war? Seems to me threatening to take away existing tax exempt status from a church to silence a political opponent is quite a bit worse than asking for extra documentation to justify why a political slush fund deserves Tax Exempt status.

arrestforcefeeders
arrestforcefeeders

immediatly fire: irs workers who: against the rules of the irs, discriminated agianst people based on their political status and asked unnessicary questions in applications, witnessed misconduct and dispite being able to didnt report or fire misconductors, ordered/directed irs-workers to commit misconduct. charge misconductors a refund of wages from date of misconduct to date of fire. charge irs workers who agianst the rules of the irs, exsessivly delyed tax-exempt status, to refund all taxes paid that were sapose to be exempt.

make irs workers sign contracts that they will follow the rules and if they dont they will be fired and owe refund of wages and owe other appropriate refunds and charges.

its illegal for irs to collect taxes that are sapose to be exempt.

Its illegal to receive and keep tax$ to do a certain job, and then not do what you were paid to do- that’s fraud and theft.

put irs and gov under 24-7live public video survailence, unless gov has good reason for certian info to be kept secret, not all conduct needs to be secret and should be supervised by public. permit people un-paid by gov to do rountine random suprize inspections on the irs.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

“There are still far too many unanswered questions and until we know what truly happened, we cannot fully fix what is wrong,”

Oh bullpuckey. They used bad criteria -"conservative" keywords - for attempting to screen a flood of requests for tax-except status. They just need to establish new criteria from scratch, hopefully looking at what these organizations plan to do, rather what they call themselves. It will just take a lot more staff and time. In other words, more government.

antonmarq
antonmarq

Can't think of a better way to get those animals in Congress, particularly the Elephants, to move.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

What actually seems to have happened is this: In 2010, a spate of conservative groups was applying for tax-exempt status. This designation is available to organizations whose main activity is not political, so most of the groups were running a kind of scam by asking for it. Low-level employees in a Cincinnati field office thought they could create a shortcut by watching out for red-flag political terms like “patriots” and “9/12” on the applications. The IRS inspector general has persuasively concluded that this was an instance of bureaucratic overzealousness meeting a vague standard, not politically motivated, and not criminal.

 http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_big_idea/2013/05/barack_obama_s_scandals_why_the_white_house_is_suddenly_beset_by_the_controversies.html

rogermac1983
rogermac1983

I really enjoy all this; Obama is acting like he is upset that some so-called rogue employees went after conservative. The acting that Obama performs is breathtaking and truly worthy of some type of reward. Whoever goes after any opposition for this administration is actually doing exactly what any good liberal is supposed to do; go to any lengths, legal or not, and use any resource to take the opposition out. If you notice, Obama or the Dems do not offer anything of any value to this country unless it enhances their own agenda. Never mind the perpetual underclass maintained by welfare, stolen by producers through wealth redistribution, by which the only true beneficiaries are the ruling class, union heads and those who donate massive amounts of money to the cause.
This guy taking the fall is just being a good liberal,that is all.

internetfavs
internetfavs

its getting harder and harder for Obama......

internetfavs.com

Vijay Banga
Vijay Banga

Corruption must go in one stroke or it continues. there are no two ways about it

BorisIII
BorisIII

The more obnoxious and angry the Tea Party gets, the more the rational people run away from the Republican party.  They just keep digging a deeper and deeper whole for themselves.

fitty_three
fitty_three

I don't see these idiot GOP locusts being nearly as concerned about the obstruction of voting rights.

Let me guess why:

1. voting rights only involves minorities, and Rush said the GOP don't need no dy-verse-itty.

2. the IRS fiasco represents money lost

Now, I'm going to take a wild guess here and say that money is more important than brown people to the GOP.

dassa0069
dassa0069

TIME FOR A NATIONAL SALES TAX OF 28%. ONLY NEED TO SET UP AN OFFICE IN NH; ALL OTHER STATES HAVE SALES TAX OFFICES THAT CAN COLLECT THE FEDERAL SALES TAX. BURN THE TAX CODE!

dassa0069
dassa0069

THE IRS DOES NOT HARASS THE MAJOR CORPORATIONS AND THEIR SPURIOUS TAX DODGES - THEY HAVE LAWYERS AND ACCOUNTANTS WHO WERE IRS EMPLOYEES IN A PRIOR LIFE. THEIR AVERAGE TAX RATE IS LESS THAN 5%. IS THAT WHAT YOU PAY?


Virgil Hicks
Virgil Hicks

Being optimistic doesn't justify corruption!

dassa0069
dassa0069

TAX THE CHURCHES!

TAX THE CHURCHES!

TAX THE CHURCHES!

Vh Hurtado
Vh Hurtado

What "quick fix"? Teabaggers don't do "social welfare"

Elaine N Lala
Elaine N Lala

When the IRS targeted liberas. Under George W. Bush, it went after the NAACP, Greenpeace and even a liberal church. Today's Right Wing Upset: Obama abusing Government power by daring to use an umbrella in the rain

helmetbreaker
helmetbreaker

And who was the head of the Cincinnati IRS office when all the illegal actions were taken?  She received a $103,000 bonus and is now head of the department that will refulate ObamaCare!  One of Obama's first priorities should be ging this lady the pink slip!  If this investigation(s) is thoroughly completed, there, quite likely, will be a murky path to the White House. This smells of Chicago Democrat politics!

barneydidit
barneydidit

@paulejb Too funny! The guy who circumvented the Constitution in order to pursue his own agenda with Iran-Contra, is the benchmark for Conservative's "freedom and liberty" rallying cry. 

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

@dunedweller This is the point that is being lost in all the ginned up outrage.

curt3rd
curt3rd

I like all your suggestions unfortunately Obama decided to let them resign with their retirement and give Sarah Hall Ingram a promotion to be the head of ObamaCare when she should be in jail.

reallife
reallife

oh honey, you must be exhausted - all day trying to cover for your messiah - it must feel like you're playing Whack a Mole -

I sure hope you're getting time and a half for all this overtime

and I hope you report all that extra money to the IRS 

LOL



 

reallife
reallife

he already got the Nobel prize - now he's going for the Oscar

manlyman
manlyman

Those who are here illegally do not have a right to vote in our elections. End of discussion. You smooch the ass of the dirtiest, most corrupt and offensive president in the history of our great nation filthy_flea. That makes you the same as him: dirty, corrupt and offensive. But you've been proving that for years.

arrestforcefeeders
arrestforcefeeders

only have a man made property value tax

everyone allowed to keep at least 3mil started at age 0 minus $23,000/y, plus deductions

full deductions for:

-all health care costs, health insurance costs, and health care saveings account(for testing for and treating physcial health problems and birth control)(health and education saveings accounts can be used interchangeably on eachother)

-education costs for learning how to make physcial survival needs(renewable energy, water purifiers, heating and cooling, shelter, soap, medical supplies and services for testing for and treating physcial health problems and birth control, ...)

-charity for giving to the poor for their physcial survival, $12/h+(higher depending on type of service)dudction for your service plus all resources you spent and gave. and $100/m deduction for being a registered organ donar.

-bussiness costs(labor, factory, manufactureing equipment) for makeing physcial survival products(as listed above), for bussinesses that: make there product 100% in usa, dont export jobs, can export products exsept not the same type of raw resource that is being imported, cant import products, can import jobs, no discrimination based on: age, citizenship status, immigration status, hsed/ged status, gender, race, who their parents are, ethnicity, color, appearance, sexual orientation, marital status, religion. no competition supression. no verbal threats to or attempting to sue, rob, or steal from others for copying/ videorecording/ photographing your product, or charge/collect penalty fee for confidentiality breach. safe working condititions. no pollutionno planned obsolence. products must be high quality, high efficiency, long lasting, safe as possible, as non-toxic as possible, made from as high % of recyled materials as possible, and recylable or biodigradable if possible. must pay at least minimum wage: non-labor intensive jobs 6.46/h, the more labor intensive, the higher the pay, intensist labor intensive jobs 8.10/h, the more risky the higher the pay. minimum wage must be at least living wage, varys based on location, raises based on inflation rate

-individual gets $7/h(for less needed jobs)-$12/h(for more needed jobs) for their labor for makeing and teaching other uncorocred willing individuals how to make physcial surivial products.

all deductions roll over. tax % not higher for poor than rich.

that would basically be the tax code, all the other tax preferences would be cancled.

MichaelStephenson1
MichaelStephenson1

@barneydidit @MichaelStephenson1 Just trying to help. The schadenfreude-loving part of me would actually prefer you clowns let the Democrat operatives get your hopes up. Obama's legacy is crashing and burning before your eyes. And it WILL get worse. Wait and see.

arrestforcefeeders
arrestforcefeeders

give me some examples of obstructing minority voteing?

if you are refering to the poor, young, and minority races not being able to vote because the qualifications are too strict(photo id, birth certificiate, age...) i agree that the qualifications shouldnt be as strict as they are.

fitty_three
fitty_three

Ouch.  Using capslock hurts the head.

gysgt213
gysgt213

@mantisdragon91 @helmetbreaker "When will we be holding hearings on treasonous GOP operatives?"

Well that will totally blow the impression of a coverup.  There is no fun it that.  Oh by the way its been over 8 months since the Benghazi attacks and congress has done nothing to improve embassy security.  But the press is still chasing and writing about the talking points and how they came to be. 



mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@MichaelStephenson1 @barneydidit It will get worse? For who the GOP. It seems the more you run around screaming scandal the more pathetic you look. Do your jobs and work with this administration to create jobs as opposed to rushing from scandal to scandal and holding 37 votes to repeal ObamaCare.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@gysgt213 @mantisdragon91 @helmetbreaker I'm curious if they will ever look into why a You Tube video sure to anger Muslims was created and uploaded to Muslim websites and chat rooms on 9/11 weeks before the election. Which party stood to benefit from creating a crisis in the Middle East?