Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 9, 2015

IRS, Obamacare Enter Farm Bill Debate


(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Finance Committee isn’t the only place in the Senate to watch for news about the ongoing controversy over selective review of conservative groups by the IRS.

Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking member Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, convened an oversight hearing Tuesday morning to review the IRS situation, one day after sending a lengthy letter seeking information and documents from outgoing acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller.

But, the Senate being the Senate, there’s also a good shot of seeing the IRS matter surface as part of the floor debate on the farm bill. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has already filed an amendment to block funding of the IRS for implementing the 2010 health care overhaul.

“I am deeply troubled that the IRS has been improperly targeting conservative groups. Public distrust in this agency is already at an all-time high, so providing the IRS with more power to enforce this flawed health care policy makes no sense,” Heller said in a statement. “For these reasons, I have offered the ‘IRS Accountability Act’ as an amendment to the Farm bill. Simply put, right now, we can’t trust the IRS to do its job.”

The Nevada Republican has the backing of several other GOP senators, including Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio floated his own IRS amendment during debate on the water resources bill that passed the Senate last week, but the chamber didn’t vote on his proposal.

A senior Democratic aide indicated on Monday that Democrats could respond to an amendment like Heller’s with a side-by-side amendment of their own on the IRS matter, no doubt aware of the public sentiment. As the Finance hearing got under way Tuesday, neither party offered kind words to the current and former IRS leaders in attendance.

“Americans expect the IRS to do its job without passion or prejudice. The IRS can’t pick one group for closer examination and give others a free pass, but that is apparently what they did. As Adlai Stevenson said, the success of our government depends on the good judgments of so many,” Baucus said in his opening statement. “It is clear that many at the IRS exercised poor judgment in this case. Today they’ll have to answer for it.”

Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.

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  1. mgmu

    May 21, 2013
    2:23 p.m.

    Backus – you called on the IRS to focus efforts on specific groups. Now that its finally in the light your story changes. You and the rest of DC dems couldn’t have cared less for the past year. Neither could have the media. The election must have been just that important to you, that the laws didn’t matter. Well screw you and all the dimwit dems who gave and are still giving them a free pass at tyranny.

  2. mgmu

    May 21, 2013
    2:23 p.m.

    Backus – you called on the IRS to focus efforts on specific groups. Now that its finally in the light your story changes. You and the rest of DC dems couldn’t have cared less for the past year. Neither could have the media. The election must have been just that important to you, that the laws didn’t matter. Well screw you and all the dimwit dems who gave and are still giving them a free pass at tyranny.

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    May 21, 2013
    7:32 p.m.

    Crop Insurance is one of the most destructive forces ever unleased against smaller family farmers by Congress as it creates extremely narrow margins of profitability. When farmers receive an investment guarantee from congress this enables aggressive farmers to forego budgeting for marketing and production risks and allows these farmers to bid land rent prices to very small levels of profitability. This is workable and beneficial for most large farms, and has proven to be fatal for most small farmers. This transfer of risk assumption from farmers to the federal government resulting in smaller per acre profitability margins is a major cause of the depopulation of rural America. The extreme difference in the fair market value of the federal crop insurance security blankets as well as the subsidy given per policy between large and small farmers is just another example of congress financially discriminating and creating an unlevel and unfair playing field between farmers of different sizes. How is a small or beginning farmer supposed to compete with an established farmer with a highly subsidized multimillion dollar revenue assurance policy? These policies not only routinely guarantee a farmers multimillion dollar investment, but routinely obsurdly even guarantee a per acre profit for the largest farmers. Even John Deere is marketing these in many cases no lose federal crop insurance policies to their mega farmer customers. Congress has given the largest farmers nearly bullet proof investment insurance that does not allow the small a chance to compete in the business.

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