In the fight against bureaucracy, the taxpayer wins

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Apparently, members of the president’s own cabinet knew about the scandal for months, but kept it from him. President Obama claims he first found out about the scandal through the media. (Ordinarily I wouldn’t believe this, but now that we know that our attorney general approves wiretapping members of the media, it’s more conceivable.)

Determined to keep the scandal in the dark, Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS division that singled out conservative groups, chose to invoke her right to plead the Fifth Amendment while being questioned by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. She has since been placed on administrative leave.

What the IRS did is wrong, illegal and completely un-American. By not granting these organizations tax-exempt status in a timely matter, it prevented them from participating in last year’s election. Is that any way to run a supposedly transparent government? This administration is about as transparent as a blindfold.

Lastly, having seen and experienced firsthand the devastation of a natural disaster, my heart goes out to the victims of the Oklahoma tornado. Many thanks to my fellow Long Islanders who have reached out to the victims of the disaster.

After Hurricane Sandy, I called out members of Congress, including many of my former colleagues, who voted against federal disaster relief for the Northeast. One such member was Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Now Coburn is saying he believes that any aid given to his state following the deadly storms should be offset by spending cuts.

I understand his concerns about the deficit, and they are real, but these are extraordinary circumstances, and sometimes you just have to give a little. The posturing is part of the game, and Coburn played the game well when it came to Sandy aid for the Northeast, but this is his own state.

I urge him to take a page from our New York and Northeast elected officials who have been so helpful in our rebuilding efforts.

Al D’Amato, a former U.S. senator from New York, is the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a public policy and business development firm. Comments about this column?

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