Republicans Fight For Sacred Prerogative Of Rich To Commit Tax Fraud
Won't someone think of the poor millionaires? Those downtrodden one-percenters who rely on an IRS starved into submission, barely able to life a finger to collect hundreds of billions of dollars in unpaid taxes every year? But now Joe Biden wants to beef up enforcement and end the scofflaws' free ride so we can pay for social programs, and the GOP is NOT HAVING IT.
It takes some stones to come out in favor of tax fraud, but Republicans would support scabies if Democrats were against it. So naturally they're workshopping ways to persuade the public that allowing rich people to break America's tax laws is good, actually. And who better to contort himself into a pretzel than Mike Pence's former Chief of Staff Marc Short, who spent months defending the guy who dispatched a mob of goons shouting "hang Mike Pence" to sack the Capitol.
Politico reports that Short's astroturf group, the Coalition to Protect American Workers, has settled on an anti-labor message to sell its pro-tax-fraud policies. To wit, they're going to paint beefing up enforcement by hiring more revenue agents as a giveaway to labor unions.
"As we polled multiple districts on multiple different messages the one that polled best for us was the notion of opposition to $80 billion dollars in hiring more tax collectors,'' Short told Politico. He also appears to be running a catfish operation, airing the ads in the name of Building America's Future, an umbrella organization that shelters multiple outfits including Short's shop. Thing is, BAF actually supports Biden's proposal to empower the IRS to do its actual job.
[Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed] Rendell said Friday that his Building America's Future, which supports Biden's plans including the IRS proposal to crack down on tax cheats, is sending a cease and desist letter to demand Short's group drop the name from the ad. "Clearly they are worried about our effectiveness to stop the Biden tax increase," Short said.
Very integrity, much ethics.
No really, pause for a moment to realize how slimy this is. Short's group is fortunate enough to exist under the umbrella of a larger consortium of lobbying groups -- people in the nonprofit world may be familiar with how similar arrangements for 501(c)(3) organizations are just really helpful for little squeaky wheel nonprofits -- and Short's response is to use BAF's name to oppose policy BAF actually supports? Christ, that's slimy.
The Biden administration projects that putting $80 billion into enforcement would net the American taxpayer $780 billion in taxes currently being denied the government by fraudsters, which is known in the mathematical world as a hella good return on investment. So naturally Short's group is leading with lies about cronyism and ominous warnings about an army of IRS agents coming to seize the family farm.
Other groups will add spice to the bullshit sandwich by reviving the lie that Democrats target Tea Party groups for special scrutiny.
"If you look at our institution and our movement we have had a pretty bad experience with the IRS so we very much worry about a weaponized IRS in this world now," Adam Brandon, president of FreedomWorks, told Politico. "There is just this general worry in the post-Trump era that the bureaucracies are going to exact their revenge."
Here on Planet Earth, IRS enforcement actions have declined precipitously over the past decade as the agency was starved of resources and staff. Millionaires in 2018 were 80 percent less likely to be audited than their wealthy peers in 2011, according to ProPublica. And the top one percent of earners were audited at the same rate as those making less than $20,000, despite the fact that auditing a poor person is, quite literally, not worth the effort, since it's likely to generate less money than it costs to pay for an auditor's time.
As Larry Summers and his colleague Natasha Sarin, currently serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy with the Treasury Department, wrote in 2019, an hour spent auditing someone with an annual income of $1 million is likely to generate an 1,800 percent return on investment (i.e. the value of the agent's time). There is no earthly reason we should be auditing taxpayers who file a 1040-EZ at the same rate as ultra-high-income earners. But it's more expensive to audit a rich person who can hire a lawyer to fight back, so here we are.
And while it would be hard to top Short's chutzpah in cloaking himself in BAF's earned reputation to launder a message counter to BAF's position, the Heritage Foundation is giving him a run for his money.
"The best way to ensure compliance with the law would be to simplify the tax code, make compliance less complex, and reduce incentives for avoidance by reducing the tax burden," it explains on its website. "However, the President's plan would further complicate the tax code and make compliance more costly."
In other words, the best way to make sure people don't break the law is to get rid of the law!*
*This offer not available in abortion, drug interdiction, marriage policy, evolution, critical race theory ....
Follow Liz Dye on Twitter!
Click the widget to keep your Wonkette ad-free and feisty. And if you're ordering from Amazon, use this link, because reasons.
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.