Why the IRS Did What It Did–Maybe

In ‘Public Choice’ and the IRS Harassment Campaign, found in today’s Wall Street Journal Opinion Section, former WSJ Deputy Editorial Page Editor, George Melloan, raises a larger and, to my mind, more interesting question about the IRS debacle: ” Are the bureaucracies fighting their own war against the taxpayers independently of the political class? “

The thought occurs to Melloan “because one of the instructions at the IRS for examining tax-exempt status was to target groups critical of “big government.” Or in other words, groups critical of the IRS itself, with its expanded mandate under ObamaCare, and all of the other bureaucracies that comprise that vast conglomerate called federal government. Are the bureaucracies fighting their own war against the taxpayers independently of the political class?”

As Melloan notes, “That’s not a particularly far-fetched idea.”  He then lays out the “public choice” argument.

“‘Public choice’ arguments long ago made a compelling case that government employees are no different from anyone else. They work to further their own interests. Like employees in any industry, they have a financial and psychological stake in promoting the growth of their organization. Growth means more promotions, better pay and more personal power.”