It’s Not Just a Local IRS Scandal

by Jonah Goldberg

There’s an annoying spin on the IRS scandal that pops up all over the place. Nearly all of the accounts of the IRS’s policy of targeting conservative groups refer to the mistakes of ”a Cincinnati field office” (even on NRO). This makes it sound like it’s just one obscure branch out of many out there in the sticks that made an unfortunate mistake. Cincinnati IRS agents go rogue! 

But here’s the thing. Cincinnati is where the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division operates. In other words, when the IRS decides to single out certain groups, this is likely where that would happen. It’s like saying a NASA field office in Merritt Island, Fla., made the decision to launch a rocket. Merritt Island is where the Kennedy Space Center is located. 

It reminds me a little of the Washington Post reporter who dismissed the Gosnell case because it’s a “local crime story.” Well, since crime in the Platonic Realm of Ideas is remarkably rare, pretty much all crimes are committed in some actual physical location. Similarly, there’s no reason to keep saying a “Cincinnati field office” as if there are other field offices that could have decided to do this, but didn’t. How high up or widespread knowledge of this practice was remains to be determined. But the fact that the people responsible work in Cincinnati is worse than meaningless — it affirmatively helps the IRS minimize the scandal.

UPDATE: I see the folks at beat me to it.

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