I thank the Chairman for holding today's hearing on the Internal Revenue Service.
I am pleased to have Acting Commissioner Werfel before us today. I look forward to discussing the positive changes Mr. Werfel has made as a result of the recommendations from his 30-day report.
From the outset, Democrats have been crystal clear on this issue. The IRS was very wrong to use inappropriate criteria to single out organizations by name rather than by actual activities when processing tax-exemption applications.
Mr. Werfel, we appreciate the swift actions you are taking to restore the public trust and to enhance the integrity of the IRS. We believe you are on the right path, and we value your efforts as we move forward.
Unfortunately, my friends on the other side of the aisle continue to frame this issue as a partisan one--as only affecting conservative groups. Time and time again the facts have shown that both Republican-leaning and Democratic-leaning groups were singled out during the application process.
In fact, the IRS Inspector General, appointed by former President Bush, testified many times under oath that he found no evidence of political motivation in the selection of tax-exemption applications. His office also found no evidence of political motivation after reviewing over 5,500 emails from IRS employees.
We know why we are here today--for Republicans to distract us from their lack of a positive legislative agenda to improve the economy, create jobs, and fund the government.
In fact, a report released by the IRS Inspector General yesterday stated that enforcement collections were down by five billion dollars (nine percent) in fiscal year 2012 because of budget cuts. The sequester is harming government operations. We need to be focusing on ending sequestration and creating livable wage jobs.
I urge each and every Member of this Committee to come together and join a bipartisan effort. We must help the IRS improve its service to the American people rather than continuing wrongly to cast partisan blame.
Mr. Werfel, I look forward to hearing your testimony.