Debt & Taxes
Scandal-Scarred IRS Blew $50M on Meetings
Monday, June 3, 2013 - 11:45am
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The partying is clearly coming to an end at the Internal Revenue Service.
 
A new audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Taxing Administration shows that the scandal-ridden agency spent $50 million on conferences for employees during the last three years, another blow to an agency already reeling from recent revelations that it targeted Tea Party groups for review.
 
The report, to be released on Tuesday, says the IRS held more than 200 employee conferences between 2010 and 2012, including one 2012 meeting in Anaheim, CA, that cost taxpayers $4 million. The Associated Press reported that many attendees were given perks including baseball tickets and hotel suites on the taxpayers’ dime.
 
Two congressional hearings scheduled this week will probe deeper into the Tea Party scandal, while a third will press the agency on its excessive conference spending. -  Read more at The Hill

THIS WEEK’S IRS HEARINGS:   Two committee hearings this week will continue probing the IRS about targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. The agency will also be the subject of a House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform hearing to discuss its conference spending.
 
House Committee on Appropriations – oversight hearing on Monday, June 3, 3 p.m.

See the hearing advisory here

House Ways and Means Committee – Tuesday, June 4, 10 a.m.

See the hearing advisory here 

The House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform – Thursday, June 6, 9:30 a.m. 

See the advisory here

STUDENT LOANS SHOWDOWN RAMPS UP The Senate is expected to vote on two separate measures that would prevent the interest rates on subsidized Stafford student loans from automatically doubling on July 1. A senior Democratic aide told Roll Call that the chamber is likely to vote on two side-by-side proposals: the Senate Democrats’ bill to extend the current 3.4 percent fixed interest rate for two additional years, and the House-passed GOP bill to avert the rate hike by shifting to a market-based variable rate pegged to the 10-year Treasury note. Both measures are expected to fail to receive the 60-vote super majority threshold, setting up a showdown as the July 1 deadline approaches.  Read about the student loan debate here

GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME “Employment gains and increases in housing and consumer confidence suggested the recovery in the U.S. economy ... is gaining momentum,” Bloomberg's Liz Capo McCormick, Lu Wang, and Claudia Carpenter write. "Global bond markets posted their biggest monthly losses in nine years in May as the U.S. dollar rallied and stocks reached record highs amid speculation a strengthening U.S. economy will allow the Fed ... to reduce its monetary stimulus.” - Read more at Bloomberg

IMPROVING ECONOMY KILLS CHANCES FOR BIG BUDGET DEAL The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas, Janet Hook and Damian Paletta write that “the prospects for such a ‘grand bargain’… appear to have further diminished due to signs the government's fiscal health is improving. That has removed the pressure needed to force compromises.”

Without a deal, lawmakers are more likely to muddle through the next year without a budget deal or anything more than a piecemeal debt ceiling increase this fall. -  Read more at The Wall Street Journal  
 
 

Washington Correspondent Brianna Ehley, based in D.C., covers Congress, government agencies and spending issues, health care, and tax and economic policy for The Fiscal Times.