REVISITING Paulsen Correspondence Corner: The IRS Scandal & Charter Schools Legislation

Erik Paulsen regularly issues a video Correspondence Corner in which he responds to constituent questions.
It is a great ploy — Congressman Paulsen determines what question is to be answered … thus, providing him an opportunity to portray himself as effectively responding to issues that he wishes to address as if they are the most critical issues that voters want addressed.
The MN Political Roundtable will be evaluating Congressman Paulsen’s responses and encouraging readers to offer their own assessments.

In this commentary, let’s revisit a June 7, 2013 Correspondence Corner during which Erik Paulsen answers a questions concerning the IRS “scandal” and Charter Schools … and it’s appropriate to revisit them.

Y’all remember the IRS “scandal” which was featured in many tweets from the Paulsen For Congress account as well as being a mainstay on Erik’s Blog (which has been dormant since February 2015) … with a central message “Congress will continue to investigate the IRS’s actions and get to the bottom of this so we can ensure no American is ever targeted again.”

Surely, now that the Obama Administration is history, congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration will “get to the bottom of this”.

Well, looks like the answer is found in September 28, 2017 report from the TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION and its “Review of Selected Criteria Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review”
Reference Number: 2017-10-054 featuring the response “we did not identify any documentation that confirms this assertion.”

the Treasury Department Inspector General for Tax Administration released the (presumably) final report on the scandal. Like a previous Inspector General report, it tried to soothe Republican feelings – the IRS really, really should’ve handled things differently — while utterly refuting Republican charges about what had transpired.

Contrary to the Republican story, the IRS never targeted conservatives. The IRS targeted politics, which was pretty much what it was supposed to do.

The story told by Republicans is so well known that it substitutes for fact. In the first years of the Obama administration, Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations rose up to defy the government. When the groups sought IRS approval for their designations as “social welfare” organizations under the tax code, the IRS targeted them with burdensome queries, harassing the groups while slow-walking reviews of their applications. In this telling, it was a political vendetta – carried out against conservatives by a government agency that many anti-government, anti-tax conservatives especially despised.

Republicans claimed the IRS served as an attack dog for the Obama White House. But inquiries by the House Ways and Means Committee, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and the Justice Department all failed to produce evidence of political interference.

In September, the Trump Justice Department reaffirmed the decision of the Obama Justice Department not to prosecute Lois Lerner, the IRS bureaucrat whom Republicans settled on as a criminal mastermind after they had failed to find an exploitable connection to Obama.

If you thought missed an update from Congressman Paulsen, well ya gotta keep looking … ’cause there does not appear to be any press release. While some Republicans have continued to push for the Justice Department to re-open a criminal investigation into Lois Lerner, Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated in September that his department would not do so. All the complaining resulted in a public apology for the IRS doing its job and House Republicans costing the taxpayers a ton of money and time.
Let us remember that in 2014 it was reported the IRS had spent at least $14 million in salaries, benefits, travel and additional costs in responding to congressional inquiries led by House Oversight Committee Chair — 255 agency employees have spent some 97,542 hours responding to nine months of inquiries and 15 congressional hearings. How much more in the ensuing years is unreported.

OK … so what Congressman Paulsen has cleverly done is trumpet a political dog whistle to TEA Partiers that he heard their concerns.
Yes, let’s give praise to Erik Paulsen … he is a master politician who uses the “PaulsenSpin” to appease the voters.

Now, onto the second subject of that Correspondence Corner — Congressman Paulsen’s support for charter schools and a story that you may have missed.

As reported by Associated Press warning of racial isolation.

Charter schools, which are funded publicly and run privately, enroll more than 2.7 million nationwide, a number that has tripled over the last decade. Meanwhile, as the number of non-charter schools holds steady in the U.S., charters account for nearly all the growth of schools where minorities face the most extreme racial isolation.

While 4 percent of traditional public schools are 99 percent minority, the figure is 17 percent for charters. In cities, where most charters are located, 25 percent of charters are over 99 percent nonwhite, compared to 10 percent for traditional schools.

Charter schools have been championed by the U.S. education secretary, Betsy DeVos, and as the sector continues to grow it will have to contend with the question of whether separate can be equal.

Surprised ?
Nah, this was anticipated as suggested in a 2011 MN Political Roundtable commentary.

What taxpayers have experienced is a Congress, with the strong support of Congressman Paulsen, funneling taxdollars to charter schools.
Yep, the Paulsen-mantra “Washington must do more with less” does not apply to charter schools … after all, there are plenty of his constituents that support charter schools … and he wants their votes.

Once again, Congressman Paulsen is not promoting the AP analysis … he is busy pumping up the GOP Tax Reform proposals … which have a couple of “education” features

Currently, the tax law provides for “529 plans” which are tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs –like tuition and room and board as well as fees, books, supplies, and equipment.

But under the GOP reform, the plans are being expanded.
Under the Senate bill, 529 savings plans could be used for public, private and religious elementary and secondary schools, as well as home school students.
Under the House bill, parents may set up 529 plans for unborn children. Additionally, up to $10,000 per year of plan funds could be used for private elementary and secondary school expenses.

Just something to think about.

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