Tuesday, July 23, 2013

IRS: Sure, We're All Democrats and We Hate Republicans, But We Don't Let That Affect Our Decisions, Pinkie Swear!

Professor Anderson,

As an attorney who works for the IRS, I read with interest your post in the Tax Prof blog concerning political contributions by federal government attorneys. You express the view that the fact that the vast majority of contributions by federal government attorneys are to Democrats reflects a "lack (of) political diversity necessary to represent the American people" and a "dysfunctional culture in federal agencies," that "should make everyone uneasy." Quite frankly, I believe your post reflects a political bias on your part, and your confusing cause and effect.

Let us consider the fact that the Republican Party in recent years has adopted as a mantra that government is bad, and government regulation is bad. Thus, attorneys who hold those views will probably not seek employment in government. Government service will attract people who believe government service is worthwhile, and view government regulation positively. Is it any wonder that government attorneys are far more likely to contribute to Democrats than Republicans?

Moreover, the Republican Party has promoted the idea that government employees are bad. Especially over the past 5 years, the Republican Party has waged a nonstop campaign against government employees at all levels of government, arguing that we are lazy, overpaid, etc., etc., etc. There has not been a pay raise for federal employees for 3 years, and if the Republicans have their way, there won't be for at least another 3. In my agency, we are facing hiring freezes and major cuts in the resources we need to do our job. (And we are the agency that brings in government revenue!) The Republican House is pushing for a 25% cut in the IRS budget, to punish us for various trumped up offenses. Why are you surprised that government attorneys have a hostile view of the Republican Party and its agenda?

On a personal level, I can say that I have worked with many of the same attorneys for the past [redacted] years. During that time, the political views of a number of my colleagues have shifted from the Republicans to the Democrats. It is because they are sick of the attacks by the Republican Party, and an utter lack of respect for the hard work that we do.

I would note that partisan politics never figures into the work we do. We are simply committed to enforcing the tax laws as best we can. And many of us, regardless of political persuasion, would agree that Don Korb, a Bush appointee, was one of the best Chief Counsels we have ever had.

So if there is a lack of political diversity among federal government attorneys, it can be attributed almost entirely to the Republican Party agenda. That agenda makes me, and other federal government attorneys, very uneasy.

I repeat my plan.  Fire half the IRS staff and replace them with explicitly chosen republican operators, and give them free rein to act as they see fit.  Call it "Affirmative Action."

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