Have you ever had an open wound and get salt in it? I once had someone rub salt on an open wound in an attempt to help clean it out and to stop the bleeding. The salt stung worse than a hundred bee stings and it’s something I’ll never forget.
In the wake of all of the IRS scandal, I feel like they are now rubbing salt in the wounds they have inflicted on the American people.
The wounds opened up when it was revealed that the IRS had intentionally targeted tea party, patriotic, pro-life and other conservative groups that were applying for non-profit status. The wound kept opening up more and more as new reports of scandal and corruption emerged. First it was the groups applying for non-profit status that were targeted and then we learned that a number of conservative people and organizations were unfairly targeted for tax audits. Some of those targeted for audits were major GOP donors.
With the scandal wound still raw and bleeding, we learned that the IRS spent nearly $50 million on lavish conferences between 2010 and 2012. Taxpayer dollars went to pay for speakers, gifts, trinkets and event planners among other things.
As if rubbing salt on an already painful and open wound, we learn that the IRS is poised to pay out $70 million in employee bonuses. What makes this sting as bad as salt being rubbed into the wound is that a White House directive in April instructed the bonuses be cancelled due to sequestration cuts. Danny Werfel, former Controller of the Office of Management and Budget for President Obama was the White House official who wrote the directive to stop the IRS employee bonus payouts. Coincidentally, Werfel was recently made the acting IRS Commissioner by President Obama and even though he was the one to recommend the bonuses not be paid out, they appear to going out anyway under his leadership.
Sen Chuck Grassley (R-IA) reported that the IRS is prepared to pay out the employee bonuses per an agreement with the National Treasury Employees Union. Grassley commented:
“The IRS always claims to be short on resources, but it appears to have $70 million for union bonuses. And it appears to be making an extra effort to give the bonuses despite opportunities to renegotiate with the union and federal instruction to cease discretionary bonuses during sequestration."
Michelle Eldridge, spokeswoman for the IRS, says that they are trying to negotiate with the union on the bonuses, but at the same time she did not deny Grassley’s statement. She did say:
“[Office of Management and Budget] guidance directs that agencies should not pay discretionary monetary awards at this time, unless legally required. IRS is under a legal obligation to comply with its collective bargaining agreement, which specifies the terms by which awards are paid to bargaining-unit employees."
"In accordance with OMB guidance, the IRS is actively engaged with NTEU on these matters in recognition of our current budgetary constraints."
However, Grassley points out that the IRS had informed the union back in March that it was planning on reclaiming $75 million that had been designated for the employee bonuses. Instead of following through with the reclamation, the IRS renegotiated a new agreement that would allow for only $70 million in discretionary employee bonuses to be paid out. Grassley added:
"While the IRS may claim that these bonuses are legally required under the original bargaining unit agreement, that claim would allegedly be inaccurate. In fact, the original agreement allows for the re-appropriation of such award funding in the event of budgetary shortfall."
It appears that the IRS could stop from rubbing salt in to the wounds, but I don’t think they really want to stop. Big government thrives on controlling the people and inflicting pain on them whenever they can and the IRS is definitely part of that big government mentality as we’ve seen with all of the scandals.