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There were testy exchanges between Steven Miller, the acting head of the IRS, and lawmakers in both parties at today's House hearing. Miller refuses to agree with the inspector general's finding that IRS officials targeted conservative groups. He says the actions were merely obnoxious, and contends the agency is overwhelmed.
"As I mentioned, we have a limited number of people — 140 to 200 — that work on the 70,000 applications that come in for tax exempt status," he says, noting the inefficiencies in the process.
Democrats agree that a part of the problem is resources. Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer says instead of furloughing IRS employees, it's time to beef up the agency.
"I also hope that we look at the task they've been given, the budget they've been given, and think a little bit about maybe a rate of return that would more than pay for itself if we invested in training, in management, and having more than 150 people to deal with the avalanche of these applications," says Blumenauer.
Due to sequestration, the entire IRS is scheduled to shutter next Friday, which is just the first of five scheduled furlough days for its nearly 100,000 employees.