The IRS has come under fire recently for allegations that it targeted Tea Party groups for audits and special attention. An unidentified agent in the IRS office in Cincinnati told congressional investigators that the office was told to search for Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status. Following on the heels of that allegation, is a new charge of excessive spending. The Treasury Department’s inspector general released the preliminary report on conference spending this weekend. The report states the IRS spent about $50 million to hold at least 220 conferences for employees from 2010 to 2012.
None of that is good news for the IRS, but something else that has not made national headlines is even worse.
Kerri Steele, a young mother in Frisco, Texas, who lost her husband to cancer late in December, was audited by the IRS. She was still dealing with her own grief and that of her three young children when she got the letter from the IRS saying they were auditing medical expenses for 2010 and 2011. Kerri was given 30 days to assemble the required documentation, which was no easy task for someone who was emotionally battered, so she asked for an extension. She was told that was impossible and she had to comply or face huge fines.
Steve Blow, columnist for the Dallas Morning News, checked into this situation, and a spokesperson for the IRS referred him to a section of the code that states that examiners don't have the authority to grant delays. Of course not. Low level employees anywhere don't have that authority, but somebody does. And instead of stonewalling a request, wouldn't common decency dictate that the examiner seek out that higher authority? Well, as Steve put it, "I don't think that's covered in the manual."
So, early this morning I get a phone call from someone at the National Republican Headquarters wanting to talk to me about something to do with "Like Ronald Reagan." No doubt in response to the recent comments by Bob Dole that the national party needs to hang a "closed for repairs" sign on the office doors until it comes up with a few positive ideas. Dole also said that today's ideologically rigid GOP probably wouldn't find a place for him, Ronald Reagan and other GOP legends who placed governing ahead of grandstanding.
I'm guessing the call this morning was to tell me who in the party is like Ronald Reagan, as that was the opening gambit, "Like Ronald Reagan." Since I hung up right after that, the recorded voice did not get a chance to tell me who or what was like the former president. Not that I'm disappointed.
I take issue with that call on two counts. First, instead of trying to "spin" out of current problems within the political party, why not do something constructive and beneficial to the people. Overhauling the IRS might be a good place to start.
Secondly, if you want to win favor with the great unwashed masses, phone calls before business hours is not the way to go. Most people respond to phone calls late at night or early morning with a bit of panic. Has something happened to a friend or family member? So we answer with heart pounding just a bit, only to hear a recorded voice try to sell us something.