Counter-productive IRS cuts contradict deficit goals

COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE IRS CUTS CONTRADICT DEFICIT GOALS…. For a party that claims to be obsessed with deficit reduction, and tackling a debt they perceive as threatening the fabric of civilization, congressional Republicans don’t seem to care for credible ideas that actually reduce the deficit.

This comes up all the time. Democrats have presented a wide variety of policy ideas — health care reform, cap and trade, the DREAM Act, Clinton-era tax rates for the wealthy, an end to pointless subsidies to the oil industry — each of which would reduce the deficit. And in each case, Republicans balk.

But each of those proposals involves some kind of shift in the status quo. With that in mind, This GOP move is simply ridiculous.

Every dollar that the Internal Revenue Service spends on audits, liens and property seizures from tax cheats brings in more than $10, a rate of return so good that the Obama administration wants to boost the agency’s budget.

But House Republicans, wary of the too-heavy hand of government, differ. They voted to cut the IRS budget by $600 million this year and want bigger cuts in 2012.

The IRS has dramatically increased its pursuit of tax cheats in the past decade. Audits are up, property liens are up, and asset seizures are way up. President Obama and Democrats in Congress see stepped-up enforcement as a good way to narrow the nation’s budget deficit without raising taxes or cutting popular programs.

“It makes little sense to cut the agency that collects revenue,” said Rep. Jose E. Serrano (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees the IRS budget.

Sure, the IRS is unpopular. And sure, Republicans have horror stories of IRS abuse, some of which may even have happened in reality.

But if GOP officials believe there have been abuses, they should identify those responsible, and approve rules to prevent these mistakes from happening again. Slashing the IRS budget, though, only does one thing: make it harder to collect revenue.

In other words, the Republican plan to reduce the deficit is almost certain to increase the deficit.

This happens all the time, and it’s precisely why Republican claims about fiscal irresponsibility are such a weak joke. If the GOP were sincere about deficit reduction, they’d jump at any measure that would help bring the budget closer to balance. Instead, the party’s response is effectively, “If it doesn’t hurt working families, we’re not interested.”