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IRS scandals clobber trust in government

Government-watchers have long said that going after waste, fraud and abuse in government would make a negligible contribution to reducing a nearly $17 trillion national debt and is therefore not worth going after.

Given what they're hearing about the Internal Revenue Service, Americans are not going to believe that now. They are likely to insist that the government slash its spending before it cuts theirs.

It's not just that political operatives inside the IRS engaged in selective harassment of conservative Americans to suppress spending before an election.

Consider also:

* The IRS spent more than $50 million on more than 200 employee conferences from 2010 to 2012.

* About 2,600 IRS managers were included in a $4 million taxpaid get-together in Anaheim, Calif., in 2010.

The $60,000 video of IRS employees learning the "Cupid shuffle" line dance is enough to curl the national lip.

* Then there's the National Treasury Employees Union. Jeffrey Lord of The American Spectator calls it a "left-wing union," and says it represents 150,000 employees in 31 agencies, including the IRS.

The NTEU endorsed President Obama, and about 94 percent of its political contributions went to Democrats  in 2012 - $391,062 for Democrats running for House seats ($23,000 to Republicans); and $156,750 to Democratic Senate hopefuls ($1,000 to Republicans).

* The IRS issued more than $11 billion in faulty refunds through the Earned Income Tax Credit last year, the inspector general reported.

* The IRS paid $1.1 million for almost 14,000 aircards and 745 Blackberries that weren't used for at least three straight months.

* The IRS overpaid more than $13 billion in low-income tax credits.

* The agency's video production unit is reported to cost $4 million a year.

* The Wall Street Journal reported in February 2012 that the IRS was offering as much as $15 million for public relations help.

The IRS Oversight Board, in its report to Congress on 2012 said that "Further budget cuts could potentially erode the agency's ability to collect revenue to fund essential government programs."

The board chairman said further economies could have "serious repercussions for our nation, the economy, and the integrity of our tax system."

What integrity?


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