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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Cincinnati IRS Lawyer Speaks: We Are Democrats, But Nonpartisan Democrats.

Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds) comments: WHO JUST ACTED PARTISANLY

But here's the letter to Robert Anderson that is worth reading.
Professor Anderson,

As an attorney who works for the IRS, I read with interest your post in the Tax Prof blog concerning political contributions by federal government attorneys. You express the view that the fact that the vast majority of contributions by federal government attorneys are to Democrats reflects a "lack (of) political diversity necessary to represent the American people" and a "dysfunctional culture in federal agencies," that "should make everyone uneasy." Quite frankly, I believe your post reflects a political bias on your part, and your confusing cause and effect.

Let us consider the fact that the Republican Party in recent years has adopted as a mantra that government is bad, and government regulation is bad. Thus, attorneys who hold those views will probably not seek employment in government. Government service will attract people who believe government service is worthwhile, and view government regulation positively. Is it any wonder that government attorneys are far more likely to contribute to Democrats than Republicans?

Moreover, the Republican Party has promoted the idea that government employees are bad. Especially over the past 5 years, the Republican Party has waged a nonstop campaign against government employees at all levels of government, arguing that we are lazy, overpaid, etc., etc., etc. There has not been a pay raise for federal employees for 3 years, and if the Republicans have their way, there won't be for at least another 3. In my agency, we are facing hiring freezes and major cuts in the resources we need to do our job. (And we are the agency that brings in government revenue!) The Republican House is pushing for a 25% cut in the IRS budget, to punish us for various trumped up offenses. Why are you surprised that government attorneys have a hostile view of the Republican Party and its agenda?

On a personal level, I can say that I have worked with many of the same attorneys for the past [redacted] years. During that time, the political views of a number of my colleagues have shifted from the Republicans to the Democrats. It is because they are sick of the attacks by the Republican Party, and an utter lack of respect for the hard work that we do.

I would note that partisan politics never figures into the work we do. We are simply committed to enforcing the tax laws as best we can. And many of us, regardless of political persuasion, would agree that Don Korb, a Bush appointee, was one of the best Chief Counsels we have ever had.

So if there is a lack of political diversity among federal government attorneys, it can be attributed almost entirely to the Republican Party agenda. That agenda makes me, and other federal government attorneys, very uneasy.


Here is my response:

Professor Anderson,

I am afraid that I disagree that the letter by the IRS lawyer's letter “a thoughtful and impassioned response on the other side.” It may be impassioned but it creates Republican strawmen simply to knock them down.

To state as Government Lawyer states that “ …the Republican Party in recent years has adopted as a mantra that government is bad, and government regulation is bad” is simply false. The Republican party has taken the position that government has grown too big and too intrusive. It’s analogous to a doctor recommending that someone who is overweight should go on a diet; that’s not calling the overweight person bad, it’s diagnosing a problem and recommending a solution. It’s entirely possible that Government Lawyer believes that more government and more regulation is good … endlessly, but then I might be making the false accusation that he is making about Republicans.

He goes on to say that: “Moreover, the Republican Party has promoted the idea that government employees are bad.” Again that is a false and partisan generalization. Republicans probably have a problem with the number of government employees as a result of the increasing size of government. And they have found that some of these employees have engaged in unwise, wasteful and even criminal activities, but that is entirely different from branding all government employees as bad. I would venture to say that all Republicans know a number of government employees who are fine upstanding citizens.

Finally, he concludes that the Democrats in government are not letting their political orientation affect what they do. In that respect he’s simply the lawyer version of the average member of the media who tells us that they are Democrats because they are compassionate and Republicans are not. And that despite their partisan position they are fair and dispassionate.


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