Joe Biden set to double the size of the IRS
At a time of soaring inflation, falling earnings, and shriveling 401(k)s, what should Joe Biden and his Senate Democrats come up with for the beleaguered public in their "Inflation Reduction Act" besides this:
Start with the spending explosion for the Internal Revenue Service that Biden demanded from the start. That is $80 billion to deploy 87,000 new IRS agents. Enough to fill every seat in Nationals Park twice. Enough to fill the Roman Colosseum 1.7 times.
That's more new IRS agents than the entire combined personnel of all U.S. aircraft carriers.
The bill also gives taxpayer money to the IRS to buy new cars, and more money for IRS "office rent."
The official IRS watchdog — the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration — reports that the IRS already has more cars than it needs. And that the IRS cannot show that its employees are limiting their use of those cars to official business.
That's from a Daily Caller op-ed written by tax maven Grover Norquist, and the details of it are appalling — an incompetent agency that cannot manage its affairs, has a history of political activity and union cash thrown at Democrats, and now gets more, way more, billions, in a shrinking economy with fewer than 1,000 billionaires for those 87,000 agents to supposedly target as tax cheats.
Anyone believe them when they say they just want billionaires to pay their "fair share"? We all know what they really have in mind: going after small business, the actual engine of economic growth, to ensure that everyone has nothing, and everyone will enjoy it.
Here's the Heritage Foundation's takeaways from such a horrible proposal:
- The bill would give the Internal Revenue Service a lump-sum payment of $79 billion — in effect, a slush fund six times the IRS's entire annual budget.
- There simply is no plausible way for the scandal–ridden and union-dominated agency to absorb so much extra funding and power while avoiding waste, fraud, and abuse.
- This slush fund raises the risk of a return to a politicized IRS.
- To be clear, everyone should pay the taxes that he or she legally owes, but the best way to encourage compliance is to simplify the tax code and reduce the tax burden.
Heritage is right on every front. The awfulness of swiftly expanding the IRS cannot be understated. Time after time, the swift expansion of any enforcement agency, be it the FBI, the DEA, or assorted police departments, has been a recipe for disaster. The quality of candidates hired goes down, the lack of experience and low quality of leadership ensure subpar performance, and the corruption and collaboration with criminals go up.
Worse still, with so little to do, and so little knowledge of what to do that is constructive, agencies such as this rapidly fall into politicization. The politicization of the FBI into the KGB arm of the Democrat party is Exhibit A, given the agency's rapid expansion shortly before the scandals. The IRS itself is far from immune to this kind of politicization, too — just as the still-unpunished Lois Lerner, who used her office as chief of the tax-exempt foundations to harass and silence Tea Party groups, with her emails showing her nakedly political motivations. Anyone think that won't go on now that the IRS is set to double in size?
Sure, the Democrats claim they will keep the size expansion manageable over nine years, with a 15% surge in new agents in each of those years.
A surge like that might be justifiable if the economy were growing at a 15% clip. Anybody want to bet on that with Joe Biden in the saddle?
It's frankly shocking, and a singularly damaging thing to do in a time of economic slowdown. Targeting countless Americans for tax audits and enforcement means big money to tax attorneys and other elements of the legal and NGO lobby — and less money for investment, expansion, jobs, and other positive things start-up and small business do for the economy. If there were a plan to shut small businesses down, doubling the size of the IRS to invade the privacy of every business and every American, and inflict costs on them as they are forced to lawyer up, hire more tax accountants, and shield themselves, probably would be the best way to do it.
Worse still, more tax takings won't halt inflation, given that business will simply take their operations abroad or else Go Galt.
According to the New York Post:
The $739 billion Democratic spending plan dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act will barely affect prices over the next decade, experts say — and even the White House admitted it Monday.
According to Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, the 725-page bill hammered out by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) would only lower the Consumer Price Index – a closely watched gauge that measures what consumers paid for goods and services –0.33% by 2031.
"Through the middle of this decade the impact of the legislation on inflation is marginal, but it becomes more meaningful later in the decade," Zandi wrote.
Jesse Lee, a senior communications adviser to the National Economic Council, was quick to tout Zandi's findings, tweeting, "This is actually the overwhelming consensus."
Bigger government, in fact, means cost overruns and more money-printing from the Fed, which is at the root of why we have inflation in the first place. Like some more gasoline on that fire? Joe Biden is there — as President Obama used to say — "to f--- things up."
And expanding the IRS is probably the worst way to do it. This idea that everyone has a big money pot for the government to take more of never works out the way the left says it will work out — businesses, like illegal aliens, like everyone, respond to incentives and always take their perceived best options. If the government were actually serious about unpaid taxes and bringing down inflation, they'd work with the IRS they have, if not pare it down, and simplify the tax code, preferably to a no-exceptions flat tax rate, payable by the little guy and payable by the loophole-addicted big guys.
Once upon a time, the Republican punch line for Democrats aiming to hike taxes was "tax collector for the welfare state."
Democrats hated that, and, for years, studiously avoided allowing themselves to be called that, by claiming that their tax hikes were not tax hikes, but "investments."
Only Joe Biden actually likes and embraces the idea of being the tax collector for the welfare state, with this act as his proposed legacy.
It's still not completely signed off on yet, and former House speaker Newt Gingrich points out that for Republicans, it is a potent issue:
It will be a complete failure of senate republican leadership if the Manchin monstrosity gets voted on before the august break. 87,000 additional IRS agents ( more than the 77,000 currently working) by itself should kill the bill if people know about it— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) August 2, 2022
They need get on it before there's no economic engine left.
Image: Government logo, public domain.