I.R.S. Scandals Leave Agency Reeling

There really isn’t a whole lot of meat on the bones of the big IRS TEA Party tempest that everyone is up in arms about, as far as I can tell.

But thank goodness nobody cares what I think about it. The Fox News demographic is engaging in their usual well-choreographed outrage (their liberal counterparts, with very few exceptions, are conspicuously talking about something else). That much is predictable. But apparently things got bad enough that Obama had to knit his brow in public and put on his angry face. The Attorney General launched a criminal probe of the IRS personnel responsible, and Obama demanded the resignation of the current acting IRS chief (who wasn’t in charge when the controversial IRS policy was in force, and who apparently is getting canned for mostly symbolic reasons, or perhaps because he wasn’t proactively forthcoming about what he knew about the scandal).

Imagine the overworked, underpaid (or at least salary-frozen) IRS workforce — facing several furlough days this year — now knowing that trying to take creative shortcuts at work might lead to criminal charges if they step on the wrong toes — without a leader at the helm (Obama hasn’t yet nominated a replacement for the old IRS commissioner, who left office seven months ago, and the acting chief just got the scapegoat treatment) — being asked to be the bureaucratic force behind the complex, confusing, and controversial health industry overhaul that’s just beginning to come into force (without being given enough resources to do the job, thanks to a hostile Congress).

Expect more meltdowns and bureaucratic snafus. Each one of which will lead to more outrage directed at the IRS, more Congressional reluctance to give the agency the money it needs, further declines in employee morale at the service, and increasing inefficiency of tax collection.