Ron Paul: Fix IRS by shutting it ‘once and for all’

**FILE** Former Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, speaks during a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H., on Dec. 19, 2011, during his bid for the party's presidential nomination. (Associated Press)

Former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas called the recent IRS fiasco troubling — but writes that the only way Congress can protect the freedoms of Americans from a long pattern of suspected IRS abuse is to “shutter the doors” of the agency “once and for all.”

The longtime GOP congressman writes that IRS agents in the 1930s were essentially “hit squads” against opponents of the New Deal, and that allegations of IRS abuse spanned the administrations of Presidents KennedyNixonClinton and George W. Bush.

“The bipartisan tradition of using the IRS as a tool to harass political opponents suggests that the problem is deeper than just a few ‘rogue’ IRS agents — or even corruption within one, two, three or many administrations,” Dr. Paul writes in his weekly column, “Texas Straight Talk. “Instead, the problem [lies] in the extraordinary power the tax system grants the IRS.”

The libertarian and tea party hero goes on to argue that the power of the IRS can only be countered with a complete overhaul to the country’s tax system.

“The federal government will get along just fine without its immoral claim on the fruits of our labor, particularly if the elimination of federal income taxes are accompanied by serious reduction in all areas of spending, starting with the military spending beloved by so many who claim to be opponents of high taxes and big government,” he writes. “While it is important for Congress to investigate the most recent scandal and ensure all involved are held accountable, we cannot pretend that the problem is a few bad actors. The very purpose of the IRS is to transfer wealth from one group to another while violating our liberties in the process, thus the only way Congress can protect our freedoms is to repeal the income tax and shutter the doors of the IRS once and for all.”

 

 
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Federal Reserve goofs and releases minutes early

Oops. The Federal Reserve accidentally emailed the minutes from its March meeting to about 100 people a day early.

While no major news was expected to come from the minutes, they are nevertheless a key document that can move markets from time to time. Wall Street players often dig deep into the minutes for hints about when the central bank may pull back on its bond-buying policy or raise interest rates.

For that reason, the minutes are usually highly protected by the central bank and their release is supposed to be executed carefully.

A Fed spokesman told CNNMoney the mistake was “entirely accidental,” and it was a “human error,” not a technological one. The roughly 100 individuals on the list mostly included Congressional employees and employees of trade organizations. They received the minutes shortly after 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

After discovering the error this morning, the Federal Reserve decided to release the minutes to the broader public at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

At this point, it’s not clear whether any trading took placed based on the early release, but the Federal Reserve Board’s Inspector General will conduct an initial investigation of the error.

“We will be working with market regulators, the SEC and CFTC to insure they have the information they need to evaluate the incident,” a Fed spokesman said.

What the minutes said

The minutes contained very little new information about Fed policy. The main takeaway is most Fed members think the central bank should continue buying $85 billion a month in assets a month, at least through midyear.

But some members argued in favor of tapering down the purchases gradually while others didn’t see a need to decrease the purchases until the third quarter. Two said some purchases would probably continue into 2014.

The Federal Reserve’s current policy includes buying $45 billion in Treasuries and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities each month. The main intent is to lower long-term interest rates. But this program, known as quantitative easing, is cited by some as a main reason the Dow and S&P 500 are now at record highs.

The central bank has also kept short-term interest rates near zero since 2008, with an aim to boost economic activity.

The Fed has said it plans to keep that rate near zero until the unemployment rate falls below 6.5% or inflation exceeds 2.5% a year. Most Fed officials don’t expect that to happen until 2015.

Related: When will the Federal Reserve be led by a woman?

The minutes capture general themes from the Fed’s internal policy meetings, the last of which took place March 19-20. When Fed officials met at that point, it looked like the job market was gaining momentum.

Data released since then, however, has shown that job growth slowed in March.

Many economists still expect the Fed to start gradually decreasing its asset purchases later this year and end them completely in early 2014. But if the March jobs report marks the start to a weaker trend in hiring, that timetable could change.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said in March that he will be watching for signs of a “spring slump” in hiring, and other Fed officials have reiterated that sentiment since then. Speaking Wednesday morning on CNBC, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said he wants to get beyond a mid-year “swoon.”

“I think we need a few more months of really solid data and solid evidence that the recovery is moving ahead,” he said.

The Fed’s next meeting is a two-day meeting that concludes on May 1.