Sunday, July 14, 2013
Talk Is Cheap
Congress is talking about reducing the funding to the budget of the Internal Revenue Service. They're also talking about continuing the investigative hearings into their spending practices and their method of granting (or lack thereof) 501C3 tax exemptions on a fair and impartial basis. As you would expect however, our weak-willed, self-absorbed elected representatives are actually doing little more than talking where the tax cops are concerned.
Now I don't suppose that you can blame them for attempting to get a good soundbite, the IRS is a rather easy target of opportunity under the best of circumstances and the 2014 mid-term election is already in full swing. Besides, nobody like taxes, so why should anybody like the people who collect them. Even if they did like the people who collected taxes (there's no accounting for taste after all, I hear there are some people who even like White Sox fans), they might have earned your ire through through their rather un-American procedural philosophy that taxpayers are guilty unless and until they can prove themselves innocent. If you hadn't already experienced this particularly egregious perversion of American jurisprudence, you might them find them worse than the run-of-the-mill government weasels for recent revelations of their wasteful spending at internal 'training sessions'. (After all, there's nothing like a government agency committing sins that it wouldn't let you get away with to infuriate you.) If you could get past their waste and abuse, you might dislike them instead for attacking Conservative groups attempting to get tax-exempt status. If you didn't care whether they attacked Conservative groups or not, you might still want to work up a little preemptive antagonism as this government agency gets a boost in size and authority in order to take on its new role in the increasingly onerous Affordable Health Care Act. (Maybe we can all be considered dead until able to prove that we're worth keeping alive.)
Certainly if you are a member of the majority in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, there are more than enough reasons in the above list for you to want to take a very public (and politically motivated) shot at this particular example of a bureaucratic nightmare when the other party controls the Senate and sits in the White House; especially at a time when it's particularly vulnerable (like when its popularity is one of the few things lower than your own).
Of course while your attacks are vitriolic, vocal and very public (a 'V is for Vendetta' moment), none of them are anything more than symbolic. You say you want to very publicly cut this agency's budget, but not its power or responsibilities; and for no better reason than recent revelations make you mad ... but you still have to find a way to collect taxes. On the other hand, you refuse to punish yourself for creating the monstrosity of a tax code that requires this tainted bureaucracy of this scope and scale in the first place. You refuse to admit that you've created a nightmare of a Biblical proportions that even the agency in charge of it doesn't understand, that you've spent decades filling it with special interest regulations that serve no one but the lobbyists that have cow-towed to you for decades, and that most much of it purposely (or out of plain dumb luck) a morass of self-contradictory bullshit that means whatever the government chooses it to mean. You could certainly pull the teeth (and the budget) of the IRS all but entirely by going to a flat or fair tax, but of course that would mean admitting your previous errors of omission and commission; not to mention alienating constituency groups of Certified Public Accountants, software companies, tax preparers, and of course unionized federal employees at the IRS, all of whom contribute to political campaigns.
You're perfectly willing to stand on the floor in Congress with a microphone in your hand and call for punishment of IRS employees who are doing little more than emulating in their own bureaucratic abuses what they see in legislative branches that created them (at least, as long as the cameras are rolling). In fact, in your ginned up indignation, you insist upon it. If Legislators are upset with conference hotel rates however... where do they stand on those for members and their staffs while on Congressional junkets? Are they unhappy with the travel budgets to get these bureaucratic drones to places where they can be educated in the latest special interest rule changes that Congress created ... perhaps we can deduct them from the the cost of flying members of Congress and their six-figure assistants on military aircraft to places around the world. Are you one of those legislators now weary from standing on principle against the targeting of certain groups attempting to get 'tax-free status', ... perhaps it never occurred to you to solve the problem by doing away with the concept of tax-free politics in the first place. Perhaps both parties should be reminded that its taxpayers pick up the tabs for primary elections used for no other purpose than as beauty contests for members of two rather exclusive political clubs in the first place.
Quite frankly, you in Congress can stick your phoney-baloney righteous indignation in the same dark hole where you've buried any attempts to make the tax code easy enough for anyone without a degree in economics to understand. While you're at it, save your camera posing for the mug shots that deserve to be the only photo ops you deserve. Why even when you've finally gained enough national animus to launch a truly bi-partisan effort to once and for all clean up the broken system that you created; you waste it by spending your time ignoring your own culpability and using the opportunity instead for the purposes of political grandstanding.
Sorry people, but where this situation is concerned, the emperor has not a stitch of clothing on and it's about time somebody mentioned it. The the sum total of current Congressional outrage amounts to little more than a stinking pile of natural fertilizer that doesn't even deserve a farm bill subsidy (and that's going some). If you want to pull the teeth, reduce the budget, and fix the IRS once and for all, by all means go ahead; but do it by fixing the mess you made of the tax code in the first place. Everything else is talk, and talk is cheap ....