Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) not only blamed the victims of the IRS’s targeting on Tuesday–he also implied the IRS would have been justified targeting conservative and Tea Party groups if the agency did so based on what the groups stood for instead of on the words in their names.
At a House Ways and Means hearing in which six leaders of organizations the IRS had targeted were testifying, McDermott said the “mistake here was the staff used the names of the organizatiions instead of the work they do.”
McDermott lashed out at the witnesses, saying “each of your groups are highly political” and said that Tea Party and conservative groups that were essentially asking for “a tax break” were trying to game the system and should have been scrutinized for submitting applications for tax-exempt status. He continued by saying taxpayers should know “which side you fall on” and whether groups were interested in finding voters who vote without IDs or doing things like promoting Communist views.
He called the hearings a “circus” and “political theatre” and accused Republicans for looking for a “conspiracy” that did not exist. He suggested the law should be rewritten to prevent groups that engage in political activity from getting tax-exempt status.
He also then went on a rant against George W. Bush and accused the Bush administration of targeting liberal groups “without any concern.”
An exasperated Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who was the next to question, told the witnesses, “so you’re to blame …I guess that’s the message.” Ryan noted that he asked ousted acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller whether the agency targeted groups that had names affiliated with progressive groups in their application, and Miller replied those groups were not targeted.