May 1, 2013

That's Steny Hoyer letting the House have it during the short debate about whether or not the FAA should receive an exemption from the sequester. You go, Steny. I may not agree with you about everything, but I do agree on this.

Just repeal the damn thing already. It's doing more harm than good across the entire country, from Meals on Wheels to unemployment benefits to government contractors holding onto their jobs by their fingernails across the entire nation and for WHAT? To satisfy the phantom austerity leprechaun hiding between the cells in the Reinhart-Rogoff travesty study?

Today's sequester news comes from David Cay Johnston, writing about cuts at the IRS, where employees will now be furloughed since tax season is behind them.

Last week, we pointed to a piece of news that we have yet to read or hear from most major news organizations: The federal budget deficit is going to take a hit, because Congress included the government’s fundraising arm, the Internal Revenue Service, in the sequester.

Put in proper context, meanwhile, that story is a bigger deal than just a sequester tale. Adjusted for inflation and population growth, Congress has cut the IRS budget 17% since 2002, context that no major news organization has reported, as far as I can tell. Such cuts have real impact, as we shall see.

Moreover, news hooks to this are all over the place. Last Thursday, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told House members (the Committee On Appropriations Subcommittee On Financial Services And General Government) that the president wants “a $1 billion increase” for the IRS budget, “of which $412 million is to maintain the integrity of tax law enforcement” through “initiatives that provide a high return on investment.” In plain English, that refers to the budget for tax detectives to ferret out cheats.

Before you all cheer about the odds of being audited dropping, rest assured that if they're stretched for resources, the audits they'll drop will be the ones for large corporations and billionaires. They'll keep the ones for the little guys because they don't take much in the way of resources and can be handled without an army of government lawyers and accountants. YOUR audit could still happen tomorrow, but the Kochs' audit? Not gonna happen.

Just to show you how stupid this whole sequestration is, look at what the furlough will cost in terms of revenues:

  • IRS revenue officers, otherwise known as tax collectors, earn an average salary of $50,485, while bringing in $2.5 million each per year.
  • IRS auditors who examine individual tax returns, earn on average $75,577, and on average annually find more than $1 million of taxes due.
  • IRS auditors working on the biggest corporations, who make nearly $150,000, identify on average $19 million in extra taxes per year. That’s $126 for each dollar of pay, an extraordinary return for the cost.

We've seen how easy it is for these Congresscritters to "come together" when they want something, like a fully-funded FAA. So let's make them repeal this whole thing, restore Meals on Wheels, Head Start, unemployment benefits and yes, even the IRS.

You can sign the Campaign for America's Future petition for repeal here.

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