Editorial: What else have they done to us?

May. 13, 2013 @ 02:58 PM

Death and taxes.

They’re the two sure things in life. We’ve heard it over and over.

And they go in step with life’s most consistent characteristic — it always changes.

No matter how much we have loathed the April 15 income tax deadline, the deduction after deduction from our paychecks, or anything else related to the IRS, there was always one thing living generations could relatively agree on. The IRS wasn’t partisan, and its heavy hand touched us all.

Yes, the most consistent thing about life is it changes. And last week the IRS changed for all of us.

We don’t yet know all the facts. We don’t yet know all the variables.

But these things we do know. On Friday, the IRS issued an apology for inappropriate targeting of conservative political groups. It said the actions were by low-level employees, with no high-level employees aware.

And already, a draft of the inspector general’s report obtained by The Associated Press and The Washington Post, and perhaps others, said senior IRS officials knew it was happening in 2011. In March 2012, then-IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman told Congress the agency was not targeting conservative groups.

As the mess sorts out, who knew what and when won’t be the most important aspect. It will help shape our view, but the view is already going to be jaded.

Our trust in the IRS has been broken. And that goes for those favoring conservative groups, and those favoring liberal groups.

After all, if it can be done to one, who knows what they’ve done to the other?

The IRS apology is merely a start. President Obama’s sharp rebuke and call for accountability sounds good. Our representatives in Congress sending out notices assuring us of their intent for full investigations and people to be held accountable also sound good.

Unfortunately, those sounds are coming from weak sources. We’ve heard their foot stomps before. Among the more recent of many, ask the people in Newtown, Conn., how it sounds and what it means.

American people are incredibly forgiving. But forgiveness and acceptance of apologies are not to be confused with trust.

Ours has been broken.