All the bloviating earlier this summer from Republicans about the putative IRS “scandal” seems to have been, as is usual with GOP scandal claims, lots of sound and fury about absolutely nothing. Steve Benen draws our attention to this video which was released by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee to make just that point:
… . This week, instead of doing real work, House GOP leaders are eager to hold “message” votes related to the IRS story, but as the video makes clear, there is no IRS story. Republicans raised specific questions, which have been answered. They raised specific allegations, which have been discredited.
Unfortunately, nobody got the word out to Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner (R-2) who has signed up to waste legislative time with one more of those message votes. Her task will be, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, to exploit whatever anti-IRS traction the constant scandal drumbeat may have created in order to create a new Obamacare attack meme:
Wagner intends to take to the House floor this week to promote legislation with the stated goal of preventing the IRS from enforcing the new health care law.
The newspaper account opens with Wagner’s breathless announcement that she got some 1,187 responses to a query about whether or not her constituents trusted government. She claims many of them were critical of the IRS, NSA and the Justice Department. Some she stated, even cited persecution by the IRS. (As an aside, as a resident of the 2nd district and a constituent, why wasn’t I queried on this topic? I don’t remember anything apart from a survey with blatantly biased multiple choice questions.)
To put Wagner’s numbers into perspective, 394,448 people voted in the 2nd district in 2012, which should put the kibosh on the idea that those scant 1,000 responses represent a groundswell. And off course, not all of the folks who responded were complaining about the IRS – folks who are worried by NSA surveillance might feel differently than the professional anti-tax clique in the district, folks like broadcaster Larry Connors who just couldn’t wait to get out there with his phony persecution claims. This evidence seems like slim pickings for justifying one more in the long line of “message votes” that, as the Post-Dispatch notes, “generate news releases but have no chance of reaching the president’s desk given opposition in the Democratic-run Senate.”
In the same article, the Post-Dispatch also observes that “an NBC-Wall Street Journal survey last month found that 42 percent of Americans have ‘very little’ or no confidence in the federal government, as high as any time in 20 years.” The same poll, however, found “disapproval of Congress hitting an all-time high.” Perhaps that could account for the vote of no-confidence in the federal government rather than all out fear of the bureaucracy? Bear in mind that while the President showed very slightly lower approval ratings and slightly higher disapproval ratings – 45% – a record 83% registered their disapproval of congress.
This is the same congress that has since 2010, thanks to the GOP dominated House and the unprecedented use of the filibuster in the Senate, managed to obstruct almost all meaningful efforts to govern, while indulging itself in constant ideological show-boating. You think maybe that strategy may be beginning to turn off everybody outside the minority that makes up the GOP’s most fervid, red-meat base?
Somebody who knows his way around, perhaps Senator Roy Blunt, ought to take Wagner aside and give her the word. Blunt, after all, in his haste to step back from a threatened government shutdown over defunding Obamacare, has demonstrated that he knows when too much is really too much. Maybe he could let Wagner know that it’s fine and good to go all out to make a name for yourself as a party aparatchik – but that wisdom is the better part of valor when it looks like there may be bigtime blowback from spouting misinformation to justify refusing to govern in an adult manner.