Senate Democrats Propose Increase To IRS Funding
July 24, 2013 by Sam Rolley
It’s almost as if Senate Democrats are giving the Internal Revenue Service an attaboy for its recently revealed targeting of certain groups for increased tax scrutiny and subsequent denial of wrongdoing, as well as for holding lavish conferences and events on the taxpayer dime.
On Tuesday, Democrats in the upper chamber introduced a proposal that would allocate $12.07 billion in funding for the agency from the Financial Services subcommittee bill, which would increase the IRS operating budget by $276.5 million.
Subcommittee Chairman Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said the funding increase in the bill is accompanied by language that would force the IRS to improve its management in light of recent scandals. The lawmaker said arguments that the agency should face budget cuts are “counterproductive” because they could lead to personnel cuts and lost tax revenue.
But Senate Republicans are unhappy with the proposal to increase the IRS budget, preferring a cut like the 24 percent budget reduction proposed by House Republicans.
Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) recorded a “no” vote against the Senate proposal, telling The Hill, “Count the IRS among the winners in the bill despite the political targeting that appalled all of us and eroded the public’s trust.”
Just last month, the disturbing extent of wasteful spending by IRS officials was reported in a scathing inspector general report detailing spending conferences organized for its employees. The report found that between 2010 and 2012.
Some of the conference costs included:
- $17,000 to hire an artist to paint pictures of Michael Jordan and Bono.
- $50,000 to produce videos that included a Star Trek parody.
- Hotel rooms for IRS managers costing $1,500 to $3,500 a night.
- $135,350 for 15 speakers at an Anaheim, Calif., conference.
Following those revelation, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) delivered an impassioned rebuke of the IRS waste during a House Oversight Committee hearing attended by IRS official Faris Fink, who was responsible for the conference.
“The money that was spent on that–That’s my money! That’s the lady who got the early bus this morning. That’s her money,” he said. “The one who makes $35,000, her. The gentleman up the street from my who makes 45, hauling trash. That’s their money! So, it was wasted.”