Friday, June 7, 2013

The IRS is a Dangerous Problem for the President

President Obama has prided himself on a first term with few unforced errors.  The leaks were limited and the scandals seldom above the fold. Fast and furious, the guns and border security controversy never grabbed the attention of the general public.

But, the latest round of scandals is wearing down the White House and making Bill Clinton’s “I need to go back to work for the American people” defense less effective. It’s also directly damaging the President’s credibility. And, the IRS targeting scandal has the potential to do the most damage.

The IRS is the most pervasive agency of the government, and many of citizens’ encounters are irritating or downright hostile (56% hate or dislike doing their taxes, Pew 2013). A host of new polls show the believability that the President knew nothing about the IRS targeting is receding and the sense the administration is competent to run the government has declined.

Beyond the facts of the scandal is America’s deep-seated concern about government and especially federal power.
  • Gallup just reported 54% of the public believes the “federal government today has too much power.” Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to believe that (76% to 32%). (May 27, 2013)
  • Pew reported earlier in the year that trust in the federal government was low (26% government in Washington do the right thing “always” or “most of the time” and 73% only trust government “some of the time” or “never trust government”) (volunteered) and a majority of the public believe their personal rights and freedoms were threatened (53%). (January 31, 2013
The new disclosures concerning the domestic surveillance reinforce the issue’s likely volume and duration.

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