Dem: IRS 'could affect everything else'

The top Democratic tax writer in the House on Monday said heightened partisan tensions from the investigation into the IRS could slow down legislation, including the cornerstone of President Obama’s second-term agenda.

Speaking Monday on MSNBC, Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said the multiple inquiries into the conduct of IRS employees could undermine the push for immigration reform if the oversight effort becomes politicized.

"The difficulty of turning this into too much of a political effort will be, it will undermine other efforts like tax reform, like immigration action, like work on gun violence issues," said Levin, who is the ranking member on the tax writing House Ways and Means Committee.

"We've got a major task ahead of us, and we need to be sure with every step we do it the right way, and somehow in this very, very heightened political atmosphere, we need to be able to handle ourselves in a bipartisan way. If we don't, in this case, it could affect everything else."


The IRS revealed earlier this month that it had applied a higher level of scrutiny to Tea Party organizations applying for tax-exempt status. The scandal shifted some of the focus on Capitol Hill away from President Obama's push for immigration reform.

Committees in both chambers of Congress have vowed to investigate the agency’s actions, an effort that began in earnest last week when the House Ways and Means Committee grilled acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller.

Miller resigned from the IRS last week. Levin has called for Lois Lerner, who runs the IRS's department on tax organizations, to step down as well.

"My own judgment is that, based on the report from the inspector general, I think there's reason to believe that Mr. Miller should be released of his responsibilities as well as Ms. Lerner," Levin said last week.