Sunday, June 9, 2013

Flashback to 2009: Obama joked about using the IRS to audit private citizens

Glenn Reynolds took Obama to task in a 2009 WSJ op-ed for comments he made at a commencement speech for Arizona State University.  In light of the on-going IRS scandal, his article is particularly salient.  First, Obama's "joke" about not receiving an honorary degree from ASU:
"I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets. . . . President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS."
And here's Reynolds's comments.  Note the prescient last sentence:
Just a joke about the power of the presidency. Made by Jay Leno it might have been funny. But as told by Mr. Obama, the actual president of the United States, it's hard to see the humor. Surely he's aware that other presidents, most notably Richard Nixon, have abused the power of the Internal Revenue Service to harass their political opponents. But that abuse generated a powerful backlash and with good reason. Should the IRS come to be seen as just a bunch of enforcers for whoever is in political power, the result would be an enormous loss of legitimacy for the tax system.  [Emphasis Marc Street]