Commentary Magazine


Topic: Kevin Brady

Ryan to IRS Commissioner: “This is Unbelievable. … Nobody Believes You.”

In a hearing about the IRS targeting of conservative groups, Representative Paul Ryan–during his exchange with IRS Commission John Koskinen–leveled a devastating criticism of Koskinen, essentially accusing him of being a liar. Mr. Ryan runs through the layers of deception, and pattern of abuse, we’re seen from the IRS so far, which now includes the fantastic claim that it has lost ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s hard drive with emails relevant to the (illegal) audits of conservative groups. Lois Lerner’s crashed hard drive has been recycled, we’re now being told. (The Internal Revenue Service also revealed earlier this week that it can’t produce emails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.)

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In a hearing about the IRS targeting of conservative groups, Representative Paul Ryan–during his exchange with IRS Commission John Koskinen–leveled a devastating criticism of Koskinen, essentially accusing him of being a liar. Mr. Ryan runs through the layers of deception, and pattern of abuse, we’re seen from the IRS so far, which now includes the fantastic claim that it has lost ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s hard drive with emails relevant to the (illegal) audits of conservative groups. Lois Lerner’s crashed hard drive has been recycled, we’re now being told. (The Internal Revenue Service also revealed earlier this week that it can’t produce emails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.)

And here’s Ryan’s colleague, Kevin Brady, grilling Mr. Koskinen, saying this (h/t: HotAir.com):

Mr. Commissioner, why, at this point, why should anyone believe you? The IRS denied for two years targeting of Americans based on their political beliefs. That wasn’t the truth. They said it was a few rogue agents in Cincinnati. That wasn’t the truth. You said you were targeting liberal organizations. That wasn’t the truth. Then you assured us you would provide us all the emails in May and that wasn’t the truth. And today, you’re telling us out of thousands of IRS computers, the one that lost the emails was a person of interest in an ongoing congressional investigation. And that is not the truth either. This is the most corrupt and deceitful IRS in [American] history.

It’s fairly obvious, I think, that what has occurred is the destruction of evidence related to a congressional investigation about the abuse of power of one of the two most powerful agencies in government. Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal makes the case that “The IRS tea-party audit story isn’t Watergate; it’s worse than Watergate. The Watergate break-in was the professionals of the party in power going after the party professionals of the party out of power. The IRS scandal is the party in power going after the most average Americans imaginable.”

Whether it turns out to be worse than Watergate is impossible to know at this point. But it is bad enough. One question–not the only one, but an important one–is whether and how deep this scandal reaches into the rest of the Obama administration, including the Obama White House.

Inquiring minds want to know.

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Huffy, Aren’t They?

Congress is getting mad: “Growing discontent over the economy and frustration with efforts to speed its recovery boiled over Thursday on Capitol Hill in a wave of criticism and outright anger directed at the Obama administration.” The outrage is bipartisan — the Black Caucus, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and lots of Republicans. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is the target du jour:

“Conservatives agree that as point person, you failed. Liberals are growing in that consensus as well,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). “For the sake of our jobs, will you step down from your post?” Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-Tex.) took a different tack. “I don’t think that you should be fired,” he told Geithner. “I thought you should have never been hired.” Even Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a friend of the administration, suggested that Geithner had been inconsistent in addressing China’s practice of keeping its currency low against the dollar.

Why now? Maybe the poll numbers have spooked those in Congress. Maybe the unemployment numbers have frightened them. But they sense that the White House has no real game plan for economic recovery, the stimulus has been a bust, and the real possibility exists for either a double-dip recession or a long slog with low growth.

Part of this is the doing of the very same lawmakers who are now grousing. No one forced them to spend time on two job-killer bills — cap-and-trade and ObamaCare. Well, other than their own leadership. And they aren’t about to recognize the connection between anemic hiring and the raft of tax hikes, mandates, and fines they have in mind as part of health care.

But the outbursts are noteworthy for one reason: they suggest that those in the Congress know that their own fate is tied to the economy and that the sagging popularity of the president means he’ll be of little help (and maybe great harm) in 2010.

Congress is getting mad: “Growing discontent over the economy and frustration with efforts to speed its recovery boiled over Thursday on Capitol Hill in a wave of criticism and outright anger directed at the Obama administration.” The outrage is bipartisan — the Black Caucus, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and lots of Republicans. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is the target du jour:

“Conservatives agree that as point person, you failed. Liberals are growing in that consensus as well,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). “For the sake of our jobs, will you step down from your post?” Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-Tex.) took a different tack. “I don’t think that you should be fired,” he told Geithner. “I thought you should have never been hired.” Even Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a friend of the administration, suggested that Geithner had been inconsistent in addressing China’s practice of keeping its currency low against the dollar.

Why now? Maybe the poll numbers have spooked those in Congress. Maybe the unemployment numbers have frightened them. But they sense that the White House has no real game plan for economic recovery, the stimulus has been a bust, and the real possibility exists for either a double-dip recession or a long slog with low growth.

Part of this is the doing of the very same lawmakers who are now grousing. No one forced them to spend time on two job-killer bills — cap-and-trade and ObamaCare. Well, other than their own leadership. And they aren’t about to recognize the connection between anemic hiring and the raft of tax hikes, mandates, and fines they have in mind as part of health care.

But the outbursts are noteworthy for one reason: they suggest that those in the Congress know that their own fate is tied to the economy and that the sagging popularity of the president means he’ll be of little help (and maybe great harm) in 2010.

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