The IRS gave itself two black eyes by admitting that it has bungled
processing the flood tide of applications for 501(c)(4) status in the
2010-2012 period. The bungling involved failing to treat all
applications with the same rigor and apparently giving Tea Party
affiliates a harder time than any other class of applicants.
is tragic, in part, because we need the IRS to police the abuse of the
tax code for secretive political purposes. And now the IRS is likely to
be gun shy just when we need them to be rigorous. The result is likely
to be a democratic process where more political actors are hidden —
where democracy itself has turned into a masquerade.
Throughout our respective political careers, we have seen the damaging
effects of partisan gridlock. Oftentimes when politicians engage in
fierce debate on a contentious issue, they fail to recognize that it is
ordinary citizens who suffer most from this counterproductive
But we are also aware of the momentous breakthroughs
made possible due to lawmakers’ willingness to come together and achieve
results on historically divisive issues. Whether it was the passage of
the Tax Reform Act of 1986 during Marty’s tenure on the Ways and Means
Committee or the enactment of the welfare reform law of 1996 while Tom
was serving in the House, we understand that it is possible to overcome
major challenges in a bipartisan fashion.
Democracy is a wonderful thing. Campaigning for national office in the 21st century? Not so much.
It isn’t just that officeholders spend less time governing and more time campaigning and fundraising. It’s also that we, the people, have less time to get on with our lives because of the constant campaigning we must navigate.
That the permanent campaign is bad for governing has been widely noted. But it also eats away at citizens’ time, demanding more than is needed for healthy civic engagement. Ignoring elections is an understandable, even rational response to all the campaigning; what if it becomes the rational response?
At a time when the American people are searching for a responsible federal budget outlining pro-growth policy initiatives that Congress could enact with bipartisan support, President Obama decided to go in a different direction. Ten weeks late, the president’s budget reflects his belief in a bigger government and a citizenry dependent on it.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the modern income tax, which was established through the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. Over the years, our tax code has become bloated with loopholes, regulations and exemptions and now contains almost four million words. According to the Laffer Center, it costs up to $431 billion a year simply to comply with and administer our complicated tax system. Now is the time for tax reform that makes the tax code simpler and fairer, and the majority of Americans agree.
It took no time for politicians to clamor for the Obama administration to treat Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bombings suspect, as an enemy combatant. The administration has properly dismissed those demands, charging Tsarnaev in federal court with using a weapon of mass destruction. But the fact that militarizing the treatment of terrorism suspects continues to masquerade as a legitimate policy option more than a decade after 9/11 is itself cause for concern.