Blumenauer: IRS Commissioner Impeachment is an Embarrassment, Beneath America’s Elected Officials
WASHINTON, DC – Today, on the House floor, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, condemned the threatened impeachment of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen as “beneath America’s elected officials.”
“If we are ever going to make [the IRS] better, more efficient, and fairer, it’s going to require a degree of cooperation, candor, and hard work,” Representative Blumenauer said. “The current spectacle of destroying the reputation of a distinguished public servant and accomplished businessman is going to make that task even harder.”
Click here to watch Representative Blumenauer’s remarks. A full transcript is included below.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To understand what’s wrong with American politics, especially the dysfunctional Republican House of Representatives, look no further than the spectacle surrounding the IRS and the impeachment of its commissioner.
“The Internal Revenue Service impacts 150 million American taxpayers every year, virtually every family and all legal businesses. This is how we finance essential services, from Social Security to medical research, our national defense, national parks, Veterans’ services, and so much more. Everything that matters to Americans depends on the ability to finance government efficiently and fairly.
“Look, Americans from the dawn of our Republic have chafed at paying taxes, continuing a tradition that dates back to biblical times. And, almost everybody says they hate the IRS, which is the cheapest, quickest applause line for any politician.
“Yet over the years, we have managed to collect money that allows us to win wars, struggle through depressions, and provide what used to be some of the finest public services on the face of the planet.
“Yes, the Internal Revenue Service administers a hopelessly complex, convoluted, and unfair tax code, because that’s what the American Congress has given them to work with. Congress created this mess, and then blames the people who tried to administer it.
“If we are ever to make it better, more efficient, and fairer, it’s going to require a degree of cooperation, candor, and hard work. The current spectacle of destroying the reputation of a distinguished public servant and accomplished businessman is going to make that task even harder.
“Make no mistake: The treatment of John Koskinen, with the possibility of being the first cabinet official impeached in nearly 140 years, is not just embarrassing for the people who are perpetrating it— it represents a threat to the ability to administer the IRS.
“John Koskinen came to this position after a lifetime of success in business, as a turnaround expert at the highest levels, as well as in public service, holding senior positions in both Republican and Democratic administrations. The Bush Administration turned to him to prevent the implosion of the housing finance giant Freddie Mac, and he spent three years guiding and rebuilding it.
“There is absolutely no evidence that he did anything wrong. The Republican Inspector General, a former Republican staff member, found nothing wrong. This impeachment action is going nowhere in the Senate.
“It’s got to be embarrassment to the Speaker, the Committee Chairmen, and to Republicans everywhere. It only serves to highlight ideological divisions, lack of respect for due process, and the exaggerated power of the Republican echo chamber of right wing talk radio.
“But, it does more than add to the disdain for the political process, it’s a cloud over public service. While people claim we don’t need the IRS, or that our tax filing can be reduced to a postcard and that we can generate all the money we need with reduced tax rates and more exemptions, it’s a fantasy that any responsible Republican businessperson or independent economist will verify.
“Going down this impeachment path will make it harder to recruit somebody for the hardest job in government and will only deepen the divides at a time when we need clear thinking and non-partisan cooperation to fix a broken IRS, establish the trust and hard work to make the mechanics of revenue collection work, and avoid the breakdown of the system.
“This is playing with fire and is beneath American elected officials. And tarnishing the stellar reputation of an outstanding citizen who is doing his country a favor by volunteering to take this thankless task is simply something that should not be tolerated.”