Share This Page

Senate panel vets noncontroversial IRS nominee

| Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, 8:06 p.m.

WASHINGTON — President Obama's choice to lead the Internal Revenue Service told a Senate panel on Tuesday that his mission is to make the IRS “the most effective, admired and well-run agency in government.”

John Koskinen, before the Senate Finance Committee for his confirmation hearing, acknowledged the challenges: accusations of political targeting of tax-exempt organizations, the implementation of new subsidies and penalties under the Affordable Care Act, and $1 billion in budget cuts.

His nomination appears to be noncontroversial. Koskinen has key support from Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., who called him a “turnaround artist,” and ranking Republican Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who lauded his credentials in the public and private sector. And a change in Senate rules last month means his nomination can't be filibustered.

The IRS has been without a permanent commissioner for more than a year, and Koskinen's nomination has been pending for 132 days, Baucus said.

“He's the right person to take on this challenge, and with the filing season approaching, the IRS needs a confirmed leader in place,” Baucus said.

Hatch said he had hoped Koskinen's nomination could wait until after the conclusion of congressional investigations into the targeting of political groups seeking tax-exempt status. Evidence released from those probes show that groups affiliated with the Tea Party movement — and also a smaller number of liberal groups — had their applications held up for more than two years and were subjected to extraordinary scrutiny.

Daniel Werfel has been acting IRS commissioner since May 15, the week after the IRS admitted it singled out organizations with the words “Tea Party” and “patriots” in their names.

Koskinen, 74, has a long résumé of leading government agencies through a wide array of management crises. He was chairman of Freddie Mac when the Obama administration took it over after the housing crisis, deputy mayor for the District of Columbia as it climbed out of financial mess, in charge of President Clinton's Y2K conversion efforts and worked at the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton-era government shutdowns. He even served as a junior staffer on President Lyndon Johnson's commission to investigate the 1967 race riots.

Koskinen promised to listen to front-line IRS employees, work with Congress and improve taxpayer services.

“Taxpayers need to be confident that they will be treated fairly, no matter the background or affiliations,” Koskinen said.

Tuesday's confirmation hearing was cut short by Senate votes on other nominees, and Republicans invoked a procedural rule to block the hearing from continuing into the afternoon. The hearing will reconvene Wednesday morning.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.