House Republicans Use Bogus Scandal As an Excuse To Slash The IRS Budget

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Every member of the House of Representatives is required to take an oath of office before they begin serving their term, and although it has changed slightly since the nation’s founding, its basic premise is that regardless of party affiliation, they swear they will “support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” and that they “will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.” For the past two sessions of Congress, Republicans in the House of Representatives have not “well and faithfully” discharged the duties of their office and it is a mystery whether it is because they believe they are tasked with obstructing governance or are grossly unaware of their duties. It is likely they know one of their primary duties according to the Constitution they swore to support is to “lay and collect taxes… to pay the debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States,” but it is fairly common knowledge Republicans oppose the concept of laying or collecting taxes regardless the intended use of the revenue.

As part of their aversion to taxation, and the Internal Revenue Service, House Republicans are planning on slashing $3 billion from the IRS’s already pathetically underfunded budget, and besides just hating the concept of taxation, there are several likely reasons for starving one of the most critical departments in government. For one thing, Republicans have made no secret underfunding the IRS is punitive for what they cite as “inappropriate actions” over the phony scandal when IRS employees performed their due diligence in scrutinizing political groups filing applications for 501(C)(3) “social welfare” tax exempt status to conceal dark money donors in political campaigns. In fact, slashing the IRS funding is part of a series of GOP bills to punish the IRS  that includes withholding 10% of the agency’s enforcement budget until they stop investigating conservative political groups’ applications according to a so-called “taxpayer watchdog” group.

The bad news for government revenue is part of a spending bill for fiscal 2014 released by Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Hal Rogers (R-KY), that allocates $4 billion less than President Obama’s budget called for and over $3 billion less than House Republicans allotted last year. However, there is more at stake than just crippling the IRS from collecting revenue to keep the government operating and providing for the general welfare. Republicans have panted for a means of blocking execution of the Affordable Care Act, and underfunding the agency effectively denies their request for 16,500 new IRS agents over the next decade to oversee implementation of the health law.

Cutting the IRS budget, especially enforcement and collections, is starving the government of much needed revenue, especially when Republicans are in a debt and deficit cutting frenzy. In 2006 alone, the IRS was so pathetically underfunded, and understaffed, they left $385 billion in owed and uncollected taxes primarily from corporations and the rich. The Republicans’ deliberate underfunding serves more than just punishing the agency for doing its job policing phony “social welfare” applications and thwarting the Affordable Care Act’s implementation, they are letting their wealthy contributors off the hook for taxes they owe. Plus, as a value-added benefit, starving the government of funds is part and parcel of their oath to lobbyist Grover Norquist to assist him in cutting “government down to  size where he can drown it in a bathtub.” What better way to underfund the government than neutering the agency responsible for executing House Republicans’ oath to “lay and collect taxes… to pay the debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States?

For the past four-and-a-half years Republicans have openly campaigned, and worked diligently, to “limit the size of government” they claim is their mandate from their masters the Koch brothers, ALEC, and various belief-tanks, but they swore an oath to the Constitution to “faithfully discharge the duties of the office” and according to the Constitution their primary duty is to “lay and collect taxes;” not underfund the agency tasked with collecting revenue so necessary to “pay the debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” But that is the real issue; Republicans have shown a predilection for not providing anything for the general welfare of the United States that historically has been a number of national interests ranging from federal courts, policing, imprisonment, and national security to social programs, environmental protection, and education.

According to Eric Cantor, slashing the IRS budget serves what he calls “a growing sense of distrust of what this administration and what Washington is doing, and that’s why we in the House this month will be taking up a package of bills to stop this government abuse and put the American people first.” For the record, the public’s distrust is for Republicans in Congress as evidenced by their pitiful 10% confidence rating just a month ago, and who could blame them as they have spent no small amount of time and energy obstructing any and all legislation to provide for “the general welfare” of the United States or the people. They did, however, enact severe sequestration cuts, attempt to repeal the ACA, and block a variety of bipartisan Senate bills that did, in fact, provide for the people’s general welfare.

Slashing the IRS budget is more than just vindictive retribution for IRS employees scrutinizing perjury-laden applications for social welfare status, or obstructing implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or preventing the wealthy from paying taxes, or even fulfilling their pledge to Grover Norquist; it is dereliction of duty. Republicans, like every member of Congress, swore an oath to “faithfully discharge the duties of the office” that includes “laying and collecting taxes” they are effectively thwarting by underfunding the Internal Revenue Service. Their actions are particularly egregious for withholding 10% of the funding specifically for enforcement of IRS codes to prevent Republicans’ campaign donors from paying their taxes or concealing their dark money donors.

Americans should be outraged their representatives are deliberately undermining this government’s operation by starving it of funding while protecting the wealthy and their corporations from paying their fair share. There is no telling how many hundreds of billions of dollars go uncollected, and if in 2006 the figure was $385 billion, it is likely closer to $1 trillion in 2012 and if Republicans were as frantic to reduce the debt and deficit as they claim, they would double the IRS budget. However, that would reduce the deficit, fund the Affordable Care Act, provide for the general welfare and foil Grover Norquist’s plan to drown the government in a bathtub that may be the real reason they are cutting the IRS budget.

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