Apr 21, 2016

With the IRS We Have a Choice: Good Government or Bad

Washington, D.C. – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke on the House floor against the IRS’s ineptitude and culture of corruption, calling for representatives to pass four bills to bring much-needed accountability to the nation’s tax-collecting agency.

Full remarks are below or watch online here.

“I thank the gentleman for yielding and [for] his work.

“Mr. Speaker, every year the American people pay their taxes, and every year to do that, they have to deal with an agency that is inept and increasingly unethical. 

“You can’t make this stuff up. The IRS failed to answer 8 million calls during tax season last year. Yet over a short five-year period, they handed out nearly 6 million dollars in bonuses to themselves. Just to make this clear, that means the IRS can’t take the taxpayers’ phone calls, but they sure as heck can take the taxpayers’ money for their bonuses. 

“Or how about this? The Inspector General found that nearly 1,600 IRS employees willfully avoided paying their own taxes over a 10-year period. Yet we trust these same people to collect taxes from their fellow citizens. How is it that the agency charged with collecting taxes employs people who don’t pay their own taxes, and that agency does nothing about it?

“Now, it doesn’t stop there. The IRS has a slush fund of money it collects from fees that it uses however it wants. No accountability. No transparency. Meanwhile, about 500 IRS employees have been fired for misconduct—everything from snooping on private taxpayer information—yet they’ve been hired back again.

“The IRS selectively targeted for sanctions taxpayers who donated to Romney, intimidated non-profit citizen groups, and sent out millions in potentially fraudulent tax refunds all in the past few years alone.

And you wonder why the American people don’t trust their government.

“Now, Mr. Chairman, I urge members to look at these bills on the floor. We’re not trying to make some partisan statement here. We just want our government to work for the people, and work well. But to do that we can’t leave the IRS the way it has been.

So we had bills yesterday on the floor by Congressman Jason Smith (MO-08) and David Rouzer (NC-07) that put an end to the slush funds and to make sure that people working at the IRS actually paid their taxes. And today we’re going to pass more bills by Kristi Noem (SD-AL) and Pat Meehan (PA-07) to stop the IRS from hiring people who can’t be trusted, and to fix the agency’s absolutely terrible customer service.

“These are good bills. They’re smart bills. And frankly, they’re bills that make you wonder how any reasonable person could ever vote against them. But you know, I forgot how irrational some people could be. Just a few days ago, the Obama Administration said they were against all four of these bills. Really? They’re against accountability? They’re against IRS employees paying their taxes? They want the IRS fail to answer the vast majority of customer service calls and they want to rehire bad employees?

“I couldn’t understand it, and frankly the Administration’s statement didn’t clear things up either. The Office of Management and Budget actually said this—and I quote—‘these bills would impose unnecessary constraints on the Internal Revenue Service’s… operations. 

“Now, let me get one thing out of the way. The Administration is worried about imposing constraints on the IRS, but it has no problem imposing constraints and regulations on small business, energy producers, manufacturers to the point that it’s driving them out of business. That shows you how backwards this Administration’s priorities are.

“The IRS targets conservative groups, fails at basic tasks, and employs people who don’t pay their own taxes. But the people who are trying to earn an honest living and power their homes and produce products right here in America, the Administration thinks they’re the problem. They think they need to be regulated? 

“Now that’s wrong. That’s not what our country stands for and it’s not this majority is going to stand for either. 

“But there is another principle here. The House is not trying to write some laws and impose some rules on the IRS just because. We are trying to restrain government because unaccountable and unelected bureaucrats have shown that they can’t be trusted with the power they have been given.

“When you say ‘IRS,’ I can assure you that the last words people think of are ‘honest,’ ‘fair,’ ‘transparent,’ or even ‘trustworthy.’ That’s not how our government should be, especially the arm of government entrusted with collecting our taxes. Because when people can’t trust their government is treating them fairly, they lose faith in politics. They become cynical. And it increases the division within our country.

“Now, good government shouldn’t be a one party issue. Now, I love the debates about or how small or how large government should be or how high or how low taxes should be. But we can and we should agree that government should do its job well without abusing the trust of the American people. That should never be a one-party argument.

“That’s what these bills are about. That’s what this debate is about. So the American people are watching, Mr. Chairman. And they want us to make our choice: Good government or bad? 

“I yield back.”