Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 2, 2011

COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE IRS CUTS CONTRADICT DEFICIT GOALS.... For a party that claims to be obsessed with deficit reduction, and tackling a debt they perceive as threatening the fabric of civilization, congressional Republicans don't seem to care for credible ideas that actually reduce the deficit.

This comes up all the time. Democrats have presented a wide variety of policy ideas -- health care reform, cap and trade, the DREAM Act, Clinton-era tax rates for the wealthy, an end to pointless subsidies to the oil industry -- each of which would reduce the deficit. And in each case, Republicans balk.

But each of those proposals involves some kind of shift in the status quo. With that in mind, This GOP move is simply ridiculous.

Every dollar that the Internal Revenue Service spends on audits, liens and property seizures from tax cheats brings in more than $10, a rate of return so good that the Obama administration wants to boost the agency's budget.

But House Republicans, wary of the too-heavy hand of government, differ. They voted to cut the IRS budget by $600 million this year and want bigger cuts in 2012.

The IRS has dramatically increased its pursuit of tax cheats in the past decade. Audits are up, property liens are up, and asset seizures are way up. President Obama and Democrats in Congress see stepped-up enforcement as a good way to narrow the nation's budget deficit without raising taxes or cutting popular programs.

"It makes little sense to cut the agency that collects revenue," said Rep. Jose E. Serrano (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees the IRS budget.

Sure, the IRS is unpopular. And sure, Republicans have horror stories of IRS abuse, some of which may even have happened in reality.

But if GOP officials believe there have been abuses, they should identify those responsible, and approve rules to prevent these mistakes from happening again. Slashing the IRS budget, though, only does one thing: make it harder to collect revenue.

In other words, the Republican plan to reduce the deficit is almost certain to increase the deficit.

This happens all the time, and it's precisely why Republican claims about fiscal irresponsibility are such a weak joke. If the GOP were sincere about deficit reduction, they'd jump at any measure that would help bring the budget closer to balance. Instead, the party's response is effectively, "If it doesn't hurt working families, we're not interested."

Steve Benen 3:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (12)

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Comments

Please don't forget that under Little Boots Bush, the focus in the IRS was not to audit wealthy people who are illegally squirreling away money, but the poor and middle class people.

Let the rich person go, and penalized the schlub making $30,000 who over itemized, or made some other mistake.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 2, 2011 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans only believe in obeying good laws. Good laws are those that require others to give up their civil liberties, not marry someone of an unapproved gender, or pray in school.

Bad laws, on the other hand, require rich people to pay their taxes.

Posted by: Frank on March 2, 2011 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

There has long been a GOP mantra: Abolish the IRS!

Posted by: DAY on March 2, 2011 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

health care reform, cap and trade, the DREAM Act, Clinton-era tax rates for the wealthy, an end to pointless subsidies to the oil industry -- each of which would reduce the deficit. And in each case, Republicans balk.

And the Republicans present just one - Cut Spending, and the Democrats cave.

Posted by: martin on March 2, 2011 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

How much do you want to bet that they've actually increased the HHS budget for catching "welfare cheats", though?

Posted by: jonas on March 2, 2011 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

If you were a crook, wouldn't you want fewer policemen around to catch you? Exactly the same situation here. Fewer enforcement people, more tax cheats. Especially in the upper one percent. Yep, the Retropublicans are more than willing to work on that there deficit.

Posted by: Darsan54 on March 2, 2011 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are all nuts.

Posted by: June on March 2, 2011 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Please don't forget that under Little Boots Bush, the focus in the IRS was not to audit wealthy people who are illegally squirreling away money, but the poor and middle class people.

A big part of the Bush audits were also on 501(c)3 organizations, early attempts to neutralize ACORN and others.

Posted by: chi res on March 2, 2011 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Any one have the number of this bill so I can look up the vote? I must be stuped cause I spent 15 minates on Thomas to no avial...

Seriously, I couldn't find it so what number is it?

Posted by: Bigsky on March 2, 2011 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

edit:

change
This happens all the time, and it's precisely why Republican claims about fiscal irresponsibility are such a weak joke.

to
This happens all the time, and it's precisely why Republican claims about fiscal responsibility are such a weak joke.

Posted by: Chas Smith on March 3, 2011 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

Given that most tax cheats are Republicans, why is this surprising?

Posted by: TCinLA on March 3, 2011 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

There is so much uncollected tax out there that it represents the lowest-hanging fruit for people sincere about deficits.

Posted by: bob h on March 3, 2011 at 5:15 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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