Robert Anderson

Professor of Law Pepperdine University School of Law

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Professor Anderson,

I am afraid that I disagree that the letter by the IRS lawyer's letter “a thoughtful and impassioned response on the other side.” It may be impassioned but it creates Republican strawmen simply to knock them down.

To state as Government Lawyer states that “ …the Republican Party in recent years has adopted as a mantra that government is bad, and government regulation is bad” is simply false. The Republican party has taken the position that government has grown too big and too intrusive. It’s analogous to a doctor recommending that someone who is overweight should go on a diet; that’s not calling the overweight person bad, it’s diagnosing a problem and recommending a solution. It’s entirely possible that Government Lawyer believes that more government and more regulation is good … endlessly, but then I might be making the same kind of false accusation that he is making about Republicans.

He goes on to say that: “Moreover, the Republican Party has promoted the idea that government employees are bad.” Again that is a false and partisan generalization. Republicans probably have a problem with the number of government employees as a result of the increasing size of government. And they have found that some of these employees have engaged in unwise, wasteful and even criminal activities, but that is entirely different from branding all government employees as bad. I would venture to say that all Republicans know a number of government employees who are fine upstanding citizens.

Finally, he concludes that the Democrats in government are not letting their political orientation affect what they do. In that respect he’s simply the lawyer version of the average member of the media who tells us that they are Democrats because they are compassionate and Republicans are not. And that despite their partisan position they are fair and dispassionate.


About "a nonstop campaign against government employees at all levels of government, arguing that we are lazy, overpaid, etc., etc., etc."

The issue for many American voters, regardless of political affiliation, is that federal and state employees appear to be inadequately accountable for their errors and abuses.

A suggestion for reversing that perception: federal employees should give up their protection from being fired. No more job banks, no more under-performing employees whom supervisors cannot terminate and demote, no more shuffling off problem employees to some make work position. Make the changes, and make them extremely difficult to revisit. As a carrot, offer substantial pay raises for over-performing federal workers.

Is cutting the IRS budget by 25% a stupid way to create accountability? Yes, group punishment is stupid, but at least that tactic and freezing pay raises both register as pain.

If your correspondent has better ideas, then by all means, please share them with the rest of us.

Actually, it is TOO MANY government employees that leads only to bad outcomes. Any overstaffed entity will inevitably stray from its mission and core competency, which is by definition problematic. There is also the unsustainable cost of productive citizens paying for administrative costs. Governement employees will have difficulty grasping the first point because they view their initiative as self-justifying. They can't grasp the second point because they call tax receipts "revenue" as if they are selling a product. Too many government employees, agencies and regulations only inhibit commerce.

"Let us consider the fact that the Republican Party in recent years has adopted as a mantra that government is bad, and government regulation is bad."

This statement alone makes me question where this government attorney and his co-workers receive their information. This sounds like something one would hear on MSNBC opinion shows. To blame the Republican Party for everything under the son is absolutely nonsensical and disingenuous. This government attorney seems too comfortable with Congress passing 1,000+ page laws and federal agencies producing 10,000+ pages of regulations.

Finally, what is the government attorney's opinion on the President acting unilaterally, without Congressional or Constitutional authority (i.e. the Dream Act, one year delay of employer mandated Obamacare implementation, etc.)?

The Republican party may have "promoted the idea that government employees are bad", but IRS lawyers proved it beyond any shadow of doubt.

Lets accept the premise of the lawyer's missive: That there is an incompatible loop of mutual disdain between government agents and the Republican party, leading to a complete disconnect between the two. Since this has obviously led to improper results in the administration of government agencies, we can also surmise that this loop is, in general, a bad thing. We should then ask how to resolve said loop and on which group the onus is to pursue such a resolution.

It would seem to me that responsibility lies entirely on the shoulders of the group that has the ability to wield the power of the most powerful entity on the planet, the United States Federal Government. That group is most emphatically *not* the Republican Party.

"Let us consider the fact that the Republican Party in recent years has adopted as a mantra that government is bad, and government regulation is bad."

I note that Government Lawyer seems to have no problem with the Democrat party demonizing the private business sector nor with its assault on personal liberties. His apprehension seems to be entirely concentrated on his own personal well-being which makes him a rather selfish citizen. I've noted that very attitude often among government and union workers as well as members of the AARP and other self-seeking interest groups whose sole pursuit blinds them to the higher aim of liberty and justice for ALL.

I merely want to point out that the responses to this letter so far are basically:

(1) The letter writer is incorrect, Republicans are actually nice people, no matter how we may come across to the people we treat as political enemies.

(2) Since we can't punish the wrongdoers in federal service, let's punish everybody with massive budget cuts that will cause massive layoffs, regardless of how these cuts might affect the mission of government.

(3) There are too many government employees, obviously.

(4) The letter writer is incorrect, so his/her perceptions must not come from the reality of being a federal employee, but from MSNBC.

(5) I know you are, but what am I.

(6) If Republicans hate you and attack your livelihood and sense of personal respect, it is your job to make them like you.

(7) Democrats demonize people also!

I apparently live on a different planet from your usual readers, a planet in which the budget-cutting policies of Republicans have real and detrimental effects on real people -- such as those people who dedicate their lives to public service, those people who work as contractors for the federal government, and those who need to depend on public support during difficult transitions in their lives.

Political attitudes and career choices are not random. If Republicans want to work as attorneys in federal service, they are welcome to do so. Though it will be difficult to hire them during a time of budget cuts.

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