"Loneliness is a degenerative disease."
Tucked into the massive spending bill Congress debated over the weekend was a provision that read as follows: " ... upon written request of the Chairman of the House or Senate Committee on Appropriations, the ... [IRS] shall allow agents designated by such Chairman access to Internal Revenue Service facilities and any tax returns or return information contained therein."
Stop here for a second: "agents designated by such chairman" means that a designate of the chair of Ways and Means (which means, it could be more or less anybody) could have access to any tax return he wanted to. Anyone's. And there's probably no conceptual limit on the number of "designates" the chairmen could name. Why, they could name their own special squads of moral supercops, to go out and scrutinize tax returns for moral culpability. But I digress....
In other words, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee could look at your tax returns - or the tax returns of his next opponent for re-election, or those of the next Democratic presidential nominee. This amendment was inserted at the request of Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.), chairman of the House Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee, whose last claim to fame was a failed attempt to slip in a 1997 amendment promoting prayer in all public schools.
The tax return-spying amendment was excised from the omnibus bill as soon as it was spotted. "Honest mistakes were made, but there's no conspiracy here," said Istook.
"Fairness" is irrelevant when God is on your side.
[thanks to American Samizdat]