Attention to IRS law gaining steam in Congress (h/t Lawrence O’Donnell)

Updated
Rep. Lloyd Doggett during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, May 17, 2013.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, May 17, 2013.
Charles Dharapak/AP

Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat, scolded his Republican colleagues over their politicization of the so-called IRS scandal during a hearing held by the House Ways & Means Committee earlier Friday. While Doggett questioned J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General, he acknowledged that the recent targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service is unacceptable.

What happened here is outrageous and inexcusable and unless those of us who strongly disagree with the Tea Party on many issues defend it from any impairment and allow it to be as wrong as it wants to be, we impair our democracy.


Despite his condemnation of the IRS’ actions regarding the targeting of conservative groups applying for 501(c)4 status, Doggett did not believe that the current tax system was “rotten to the core” as some Republicans suggest. Echoing the argument msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell has been making about the IRS law, Congressman from Texas went after the statute itself–specifically, the IRS’ interpretation of the words “exclusively” and “primarily.”

I don’t believe there’s any lack of clarity in the statute here. The statute that is in effect, has been in effect for decades and it requires that before there is tax-exempt status, as Mr. Lawrence O’Donnell, as the Crew Group, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has pointed out in a petition, you are to be denied this status if you are not exclusively engaged in social welfare according to the statute, is that not correct? The statute is explicit. It uses the word “exclusively.” The regulation the IRS adopted 30 or 40 years ago uses different language…

I’m just asking for a clear reading of the statute. …It was only after a regulation adopted long ago, long before any of you were at the IRS, that changed exclusively to primarily, that there was any discretion for this section to be involved in this operation…


Over the course of his questioning, Doggett accused GOP lawmakers of using this scandal and the 501(c)4 tax exemption status as a way to pour more “secret money” into campaigns in an effort to stall Obamacare, which will be enforced by the IRS when it is fully implemented.

It is important that in addressing and fully correcting one wrong, we not commit and be involved in other wrongs, such as encouraging the proliferation of secret corporate money, not just the proliferation and pollution of our democracy by that money, but that it be tax-subsidized secret corporate money…

That we not permit those who have an agenda that is now been voted 37 times to try to undermine the full and effective implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act so that the health care crisis is ended for families across this country. That’s what’s at stake here, that’s what’s been discussed here.


Updated July 8, 2013 at 9:29pm ET

Attention to IRS law gaining steam in Congress (h/t Lawrence O’Donnell)

Updated