La. Congressman John Fleming Wants To “Audit The IRS”
With the IRS admitting to targeting conservative, TEA Party and religious groups for audits, and now the subsequent stepping down of acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Steven Miller (to be replaced by Daniel Werfel, who is currently serving as the Controller of the Office of Management and Budget), Minden Congressman Dr. John Fleming (R) says it's now time to audit the IRS. Congressman Fleming joined Brandon Comeaux and Bernadette Lee (filling in for Nathan Pike) on "Your Afternoon Drive Home" to give a better idea of what this bill seeks to do, what he believes is going on with the federal government and if he feels that he has bipartisan support for his measure.
Congressman Fleming filed a bill Wednesday calling for a Congressional audit of the IRS and "that we immediately halt audits that are going on at the IRS because there is no reason for us to allow the IRS to continue to abuse the American people." His "Audit the IRS" legislation calls for a 180-day suspension while Congress gets answers to the misconduct. "We don't know what other people are being damaged or hurt inappropriately and being targeted until we get this all resolved, until we have hearings and investigations," says Congressman Fleming. He also wants information and data to show "what exactly the IRS has been up to and who they are targeting for audits," calling for full disclosure from the agency.
Congressman Fleming also pointed out that Billy Graham was audited soon after he endorsed an opponent for President Obama. He says all of this happened while "liberal groups were allowed to have their applications to slip through without any problem at all, but conservative groups, many of them still are waiting to have their applications processed...that's certainly against the law...We didn't hear from the TEA Party quite as much in 2012 as we did in 2010, so how much of that was intimidation from the IRS and through other means. We're getting reports of intimidation through the EPA. I think that as we look at this we are going to be looking for signs that this is a systemic problem where the Executive branch has been deliberately intimidating citizens and citizen organizations for political purposes."
"What has been going on, obviously, is damaging and absurd. This is all very intrusive to Americans. Certainly, there's nothing worse than the strong arm of the IRS coming into your personal life; the power of the IRS to actually confiscate your money and your personal belongings," says Congressman Fleming.
Congressman Fleming talked about the role of President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder in all of this. “What’s especially stunning is that the President, the Attorney General, and the IRS are all suggesting that this was not a coordinated attack on conservative groups or individuals," says Congressman Fleming. "No one was in charge directing this effort. Instead, they claim this was just the misguided work of low-level employees. If that’s true, then our worst fears about the IRS may be true: countless IRS agents are going rogue and using their government-backed power to carry out personal and political vendettas. I'm not convinced that’s the case, and Congress needs to investigate to find out who authorized this policy...Either we had rogue employees but more likely we had a rogue branch of government that is the Executive Branch...I don't feel comfortable leaving it to the Treasury Department, or even Eric Holder in the DOJ, to do the investigating. I think there's too much closeness among them."
So, does this legislation have a chance of gaining bipartisan support and becoming a reality? Thursday, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans of looking to exploit the situation, even as they ignore the priorities of the American people. Will Democrats join with Republicans in holding the IRS accountable?
"I think that there's going to be grudging support among Democrats. And that comes from their contituents. If their constituents demand that we put a stop to audits and that we get answers from the IRS, I think they will reluctantly go along," says Congressman Fleming.
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