There Must Be a Serious IRS Probe

President Barack Obama (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Writing at the Washington Post, Jamelle Bouie predicts that reaction to the Internal Revenue Service's reported targeting of conservative groups is more likely to result in a "scandal circus" than in a serious look at the 501(c)4 designation.

Already, there are calls for investigations, resignations, and new legislation. At Slate, David Weigel reports that Ohio Republican Mike Turner has crafted a proposal — called the Taxpayer Non-Discrimination and Protection Act of 2013 — which would make it a crime for IRS employees to "discriminate against an individual or group on the basis of their protected rights, and expressly clarifies that political speech and political expression are protected rights."

It should be said that the available evidence suggests this may have been less an effort to suppress dissent from conservatives, and more a clumsy attempt to deal with the larger number of 401(c)4 applications, and try to stem the broader tide of explicitly political groups that — nonetheless — are trying to claim tax exempt status. What's more, the Post notes that the process was ended soon after it was revealed to higher-ranking officials …

Everyone should want Congress to get to the bottom of why IRS employees decided to go this route in applying scrutiny. But given the rhetoric of Republicans, what's most likely to happen is yet another scandal circus, meant to generate a new round of conservative outrage at President Obama. That's too bad, because that will make it all but impossible for us to have the broader conservation that we need to have — over whether the 501(c)4 designation has been abused by political groups on both sides.


Read Jamelle Bouie's entire piece at the Washington Post.

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