For many years now Republicans have been signalling that they have no ethics. Now the Republicans of the 118th Congress have made it official. On Tuesday House Republicans voted overwhelmingly to reintroduce term limits on members of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). The OCE’s mission is “to assist the House in upholding high standards of ethical conduct for its members, officers, and staff and, in so doing, to serve the American people.”
So what, you say? Well it turns out that the vote would in part force into early retirement three of the four Democrats on the panel. So yeah, now you get it.
Not only that, but as a further Machiavellian preemptive strike Republicans also rewrote the OCE’s rule book so as to defang much of the panel’s scope and power. That way any Republicans the OCE may be investigating for ethics violations (read: George Santos) will have a much tougher time getting anywhere.
As to the Democrats forced into retirement, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries can choose to hire replacements. But the process could take months, and in those months the OCE could open and close many cases. The GOP also voted for rules requiring that the OCE board approve the hiring of investigators within the first 30 days of a new Congress.
So in their road to “greater transparency,” as Kevin McCarthy promised, I suppose it could be argued that House Republicans are indeed making themselves very transparent. They want to put an end to oversight so the bad guys, i.e., themselves, can steal and cheat — and get away with it.
The same rationale applies to the Republican Congress’ goal to defund the IRS. The fewer agents the IRS has the harder it will be for them to pursue rich people for tax fraud. You see, rich people can afford to hire lawyers and the IRS currently lacks the resources to fight them in court. So, I guess the IRS is just going to have to settle for going after the little guys for tax fraud, who can’t afford to hire big lawyers.
Republicans crow that with fewer agents the big bad IRS has, the fewer little guys they can pick on. That’s the crap they feed the idiots who vote for them, anyway. But call me foolish, call me irresponsible, but it seems to me that if you don’t want the IRS to pick on you, just don’t cheat on your taxes.
But all this is just part of a Republican preemptive strike so they and their friends can get away with criminality and avoid being charged as criminals. It’s also why they want to “investigate” the “weaponization” of the FBI and the rest of the Department of Justice. They hope to create a chilling effect whereby the DOJ will also leave them alone so they can steal and cheat. And now you see how the big old GOP is bending over backward to protect the “little guy.”
There are eight million stories in the naked city of Republican corruption and malfeasance. This has been one of them. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.