Speeches and Floor Statements
Ryan demands answers from IRS and discusses the prospects for tax reform
On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Fox News
click to play video
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Paul Ryan: Why would we representing the taxpayers we represent, give you all this extra money, you are asking for if this is what the IRS is doing with hard-earned taxpayer dollars? We are seeing in two months waste, fraud, abuse and taxpayer targeting, and you are saying give us another billion dollars. Why should we do that?
Danny Werfel, Acting IRS Commissioner: If we underfund other critical priorities that we need to improve taxpayer service and improve enforcement on the tax code, then we're leaving dollars on the table for the American people because every dollar --
Paul Ryan: Just don't forget, you work for the American taxpayers, not the other way around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Greta Van Susteren: Nice to see you sir, big day to day at the hearing and the head of the IRS was at the House Ways and Means Committee, what’s the take away from it?
Paul Ryan: Well, a couple of things. Number one: We know that some progressive names or terms were used on the filter, but their applications were approved and not singled out to for the kind of harassment, intimidation, and delays that the IRS placed on the conservative groups. So we got to the bottom of that one. The other thing we learned is they don’t have answers to all of these questions and the other part was we have the IRS coming to Congress asking us for an additional billion dollars, about a 10% increase. They are asking us to give them money to hire an addition 4,500 people after we had just uncovered, in just about two months, all of this waste, all this fraud, and all this abuse.
Greta Van Susteren: How do you not know, if you’re the IRS, how it happened? It’s not that complicated. I’ve been to Washington. You can learn things pretty quickly if you want to. Secondly, how in the world do you come after all the stuff, all the targeting, all the parties, how do you have the guts to ask for a billion dollars more from the tax payers. So there are your two questions.
Paul Ryan: Look, the first question is a good question. How do they not know what happened and who was responsible and who asked for it. They won’t answer those questions. They claim they don’t know the answers to those questions. The point is we are going to get to the bottom of this. We are not going to accept those answers, it’s not good enough. That’s why our investigators are interviewing IRS employees up and down the food chain and we are getting emails and data and we are picking through this very carefully.
Second point, take a look at the $49 million they spent over two years on these conferences, parties, catering, and the videos. You know I just ran the quick numbers. A town in Wisconsin called Sturtevant, Wisconsin has a little less than 7,000 people with people working in factories and farm fields. These hard working families that work all year round to pay their taxes and it wasn’t even enough to pay for these conferences.
So what I try to impress on these people from the IRS is in a town where you talk about millions, billions, and trillions of dollars it’s actually hard-working taxpayer dollars. Around here they seem to think money grows on trees. They waste and spend with reckless abandon and they lose sight that this money comes from a person’s paycheck, it comes from a family that is struggling to put bread on the table, get vacations for their kids, get their family growing, then they are paying their taxes to the IRS and the IRS wastes it. I don’t think they think about that when they spend all this money.
Greta Van Susteren: I sometimes wonder if the media is sometimes complicit in that whole poisoned culture. Because the media refers to the waste of $50 million over a two year period, it’s only a two year period, they call that chump change. But I guess in the grand scheme of things we are talking about billions and trillions of dollars, it’s chump change but it really isn’t and the media is sort of dismissive about it.
Paul Ryan: I live in Rock County, Wisconsin. We have two towns, Janesville and Beloit, with about 160,000 people in that county. The increase in money they are asking for, our taxpayers, all the hard-working people in that county that I come from wouldn’t be enough to cover the increase in spending they are asking for. So that is basically saying—everybody in Rock County, Wisconsin, all 160,000—these working families to pay all their federal taxes so we can spend it on an increase for the IRS. What they are not looking at is the hard-working taxpayers who are actually paying this money and working for this money, and that is what we are trying to impress on these folks. And I have got to tell you, we are not going to give them this spending increase and we are not going to give them all of these additional IRS employees that they are asking for, especially they continue to waste all this money.
Greta Van Susteren: What I don’t understand, and all due respect to Congress, Congress has the job of oversight and we have these years and years and years of this unbelievable spending by these comps, I mean they are really parties. If you work here in town you know they are parties. Where’s the oversight been from Congress?
Paul Ryan: Well, to be quite frank, we have kept the budget quite flat over the past few years. We took over in Congress in 2010. When we took over Congress in 2010 we started bringing these budgets down and we started to cut spending. And you have to remember, Nancy Pelosi controlled Congress from 2008 to 2010 and they had bigger budgets so we started cutting their spending and started doing this oversight.
The reason we now know the things we do is because Congress, over the past two years, hasn’t been doing this oversight. The reason why you know about the IRS scandal is because Congress had the Inspector General do the study. The reason why we know about all this waste is because Congress did this oversight and uncovered this, but we had to get the majority in 2010 to start doing it and this is the result of two years of work we had already put into it.
Greta Van Susteren: One thing you can’t do about this, maybe I’m a little partial about this, but it has gotten so out of control, I think, because I think people knew they shouldn’t have been spending like this. You don’t need to have a Wolfgang Puck chef at an IRS conference. The records are replete with the way money was used and the targeting. You can’t tell me you can’t present evidence to a grand jury to see whether there are criminal violations. The choice is either the Attorney General of the United States or a special prosecutor so far I haven’t seen a huge appetite out of the Attorney General, maybe he has, but are you in favor of a special prosecutor, if so when?
Paul Ryan: Not yet, I think there might be a time for that. The reason why I say not yet is because I want Congress to do its job and its oversight. We owe our constituents, the hard-working taxpayer who pays these taxes that we are going to get to the bottom of this, that we are going to hold these people accountable for this, and we are going to bring some transparency and accountability to this agency and the rest of government. Then after we have completed this investigation, which we are just in the beginning of, and we come up with evidence of criminal wrong-doing, that to me is the time to then turn it over to the authorities and have a special prosecutor who can take it to the criminal stage. But I don’t want to preempt a Congressional investigation to get to the bottom of this so we can show our constituents and the people of this country just what happened so they can get some transparency. That to me would be premature to do now, because then you would sweep it off the table and you would have this prosecutor go off for a couple of years and we would never get to the bottom of it for a long time. We want to get to the bottom of it and we don’t want to delegate our constitutional authority we have to do oversight over the executive branch. Then, if and when we find criminal activity, we will hand it off to them.
Greta Van Susteren: One quick question: Give me a time table when is this going to happen that your done with this?
Paul Ryan: We think it will be months. We are still getting data and we still have lots of data to pour through. I mean gigabytes of information and of emails that our investigators are pouring through. So I don’t want to put a timetable on it because we haven’t gotten all of the evidence and data we are looking for.
Greta Van Susteren: Let me switch to a different question, tax reform. Senator Hatch and Senator Baucus are asking for bipartisan reform in Senate Finance Committee, bipartisan I want to underline that. They just sent out a letter today to their colleagues about their idea in tax reform, bipartisan tax reform. Which essentially, the way I understand it, which is going to scrap the code and told all their colleagues they have from now until the end of July to come up and justify any tax credits, deductions, or loophole or anything they want to put into the code. Is that something that is attractive to the House?
Paul Ryan: Yes.
Greta Van Susteren: So this could happen?
Paul Ryan: Yes. So we're going down the same process in the House ways and means committee. I serve on this committee as well. So we have bipartisan working groups on all areas of the tax code. And our operating assumption, we're starting with a blank white piece of paper and we have to justify through these bipartisan working groups what should go back into the tax code.
This does tie into the IRS issue. If you want the IRS to be this discriminatory, to be rife with this kind of waste, fraud, and abuse, you need a really complicated tax code. If you want to clean up the IRS, if you want to simplify this agency and make it work for us, the taxpayers again, you need to simplify the tax system. That's one of the great reasons why we need to do tax reform, in addition to creating jobs.
Greta Van Susteren: You talk about jobs, the IRS wants to create more jobs 4500 more jobs. I think that’s not what the party planners want.
Paul Ryan: We want private sector jobs.
Greta Van Susteren: Alright, what did the Commissioner tell you about why they need more jobs?
Paul Ryan: He did not. He did not justify it and he actually did acknowledge that they can cut spending.
Greta Van Susteren: How can you even ask for 4,500 more jobs if you don’t even have a reason? At least you would say why you need them.
Paul Ryan: That was basically my point. They don’t have a good justification for all this extra money they are asking for and all these extra people. If you can’t justify why you’re spending the taxpayers dollars now, how on earth can you justify for more.
Greta Van Susteren: What do you think about the two IRS employees taking the Fifth?
Paul Ryan: Well, I guess that’s their constitutional right. We’ll still get to the bottom of it, nonetheless.