Monday, May 18, 2009

Glenn Reynolds: How dare Obama make a joke about the IRS!

One of the biggest cheerleaders for a President that illegally spied on Americans, locked people away without charges, set a record for presidential signing statements and, you know, tortured people to death -- actually has the balls to write this.

At his Arizona State University commencement speech last Wednesday, Mr. Obama noted that ASU had refused to grant him an honorary degree, citing his lack of experience, and the controversy this had caused. He then demonstrated ASU's point by remarking, "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."

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.

Indeed. It's perfectly fine for presidents to make jokes about weapons of mass destruction or starting World War III. But the IRS?! Is nothing sacred?

And what were all of those idiots in attendance at the ceremony thinking when they laughed and applauded approvingly (around 3:10-3:25 in the video)?

The notion that people who are audited are probably just "enemies of the regime," coupled with the idea that big shots get a pass -- that, as Leona Helmsley is reputed to have said, "taxes are for the little people" -- is a recipe for widespread tax evasion. That's how things work in Italy, and in many other countries around the world. But do we want things to work that way here?

My goodness, no. We would never, ever, want to even hint that big shots get a pass on taxes in America.

Only George W. Bush can do that.

"That's why you've got to be careful about this rhetoric, we're only going to tax the rich. You know who the--the rich in America happen to be the small business owners. That's what that means. Just remember, when you're talking about, oh, we're just going to run up the taxes on a certain number of people -- first of all, real rich people figure out how to dodge taxes. [Laughter.] And the small business owners end up paying a lot of the burden of this taxation."

As always, for Putz: IOKIYAR.

[cross-posted at FDL]

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