Stop Trying to Impeach The Head of the IRS
House Republicans are wasting taxpayers’ money to hobble an agency they despise
John Koskinen agreed to take one of the worst jobs in America. Now he’s being punished for it. In 2013, President Obama asked Koskinen to take over at the IRS amid budgetary chaos and a simmering scandal. House Republicans, still angry about that scandal—and about the concept of taxation generally—are trying to impeach him.
Their case is weak. Start with the scandal. An inspector general report in 2013 found that IRS employees had been improperly scrutinizing conservative groups seeking taxexempt status. This was wrong, and blame was duly apportioned. The agency’s boss resigned, a top deputy retired, and the director of the offending unit was placed on leave and declared in contempt of Congress. The Department of Justice investigated and found no evidence of criminality.
Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has made a professional specialty of berating civil servants. He appears to view Koskinen, who, recall, joined the agency after the scandal, as obstructing further investigation.
Impeaching Koskinen—a punishment not invoked against an executive branch appointee since Ulysses S. Grant occupied the White House—probably isn’t the objective anyway. The point is to embarrass the IRS. And congressional Republicans have already done a fine job of that by slashing the agency’s budget while helping to vastly expand its responsibilities, with predictably frustrating results.
Taxpayers are the ones who ultimately suffer when Congress ignores more pressing business in favor of needlessly antagonizing the IRS. They’re also the ones footing the bill for 8,000-page reports and shambolic impeachment proceedings.