The back-to-back Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions are more than just must-see TV for political wonks. They also are two extra weeks that Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen doesn't have to worry about possible impeachment.
When the Senate and House decamped from D.C. on July 15, the scheduling change added two extra weeks to Congress' annual official August vacation. Sorry, I mean Congress' annual district work session.
It also pushed until September the latest effort, this time by the House Freedom Caucus (HFC), to push Koskinen out of office.
Immediate action sought: Two of that conservative group's members, Reps. Reps. John Fleming (R-La.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) earlier this month introduced H.R. 828 calling, yet again, for Koskinen's impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors.
And they wanted an immediate vote on the measure by the full House. The sponsors offered the privileged resolution. As the name indicates, such measures get special attention and many may interrupt the regular order of business, being called up on the floor whenever another matter is not already pending. Privileged resolutions allow the House to give precedence to what are deemed important matters without the chamber losing its power to decide by majority vote measure it chooses.
"Congress has held countless congressional hearings on the impeachable offenses of Koskinen -- but there have been zero consequences for his behavior. It is time for him to be impeached and removed," Huelskamp said in a statement explaining why the HFC sought immediate House action against the commissioner. "No one should be above the law in America, especially the head of an agency that has harassed and threatened so many Americans. These folks work for us. They should not lie to us, destroy evidence in investigations, or hide it from us."
Fleming's own statement echoed his cosponsor's sentiment.
"Americans are sick and tired of the lack of accountability after clear malfeasance by government officials," said Fleming in his statement. "In this case the IRS commissioner presided over the erasing of 24,000 of Lois Lerner's emails after they had been subpoenaed by Congress. He deliberately kept Congress and the American people in the dark, making materially false statements under oath. Koskinen needs to be held accountable and in this case that means impeachment. We can no longer wait."
But wait they are.
GOP fractures in Koskinen fight: House and Senate leadership have shown little inclination to take up the Koskinen impeachment. And the top GOP House members' reaction to H.R. 828 indicates they still are ambivalent about the action.
House Republican leadership determined the resolution was not privileged and plans to send it to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration in September when Congress returns post-Labor Day from its summer break.
H.R. 494, articles of impeachment introduced by House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), already has been the focus of two Judiciary Committee hearings.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee also has approved H.Res. 737 censuring Koskinen.
GOP Party Platform support: However, the official 2016 Republican Party Platform revealed this week at the national convention in Cleveland does come down firmly on the side of Koskinen's impeachment.
The section entitled "Internal Revenue Service" says:
"Many good civil servants work at the IRS, but the agency itself is toxic. Its leadership employs known tax delinquents, rehires workers previously fired for misconduct, spends user fees without congressional oversight, and awards bonuses for customer service that would put any private company out of business. Worst of all, the IRS has become an ideological attack dog for the worst elements of today’s Democratic Party. It systematically targets conservative, pro-life, and libertarian organizations, harassing them with repeated audits and denying their tax exempt status. Its commissioner has lied to Congress, hidden evidence, and stonewalled investigations. He should be impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted by the Senate."
That section also goes on to call for tax reform that would produce a tax so simple that it makes the IRS obsolete so it can be abolished, as well as for changes that would allow "America's churches, pastors, and religious leaders … and all nonprofit organizations" -- we're talking popular 501(c)(3) groups here -- to take public political positions and retain their tax-exempt status.
Cruz's platform wins: Those last two positions were advocated by, among others, former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Cruz lost a bitter fight for the GOP nomination to Donald Trump, but will speak tonight at the convention. And, as I noted last this week at my other tax blog, he did at least come up as a big winner as far as many of his Party's official stances on tax matters.
Also over at Bankrate Taxes Blog this week, I looked at how Trump's tax plan meshes with traditional Republican tax policies. It's pretty close on the big issues, but his original plan adds greatly to the federal deficit.
Trump and outside economic advisors are expected to soon release a revised, and less costly, tax plan.
I usually post my additional tax thoughts over at Bankrate on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then highlight those posts here at the ol' blog the following weekend. But I front-loaded my added tax insights to coincide with the GOP convention.
That means we now can just sit back and enjoy, or not depending on your political leaning, what the show in Cleveland has for us in its last two days.