American Savage: Beware, the Taxman Cometh

Collin Reischman writes a regular column for The Journal, and is the Opinion editor.

It is with a heavy heart that I write this column. I hoped a few days ago I’d have the privilege of writing about a government shutdown. Though it has been 15 years since Gingrich and Clinton squared off and shut the government down over the budget, I was really hoping for a second chance at it.
You see, unlike the private business world, politicians are allowed to be unbending, principled idiots, despite the repercussions. In the real world of business and no voters, things don’t get done this way.
You think GE or Boeing ever stopped business for a few days while the Board of Directors squabbled over numbers? Never. That would block profits, my good man. And that is unacceptable.
With the shutdown officially less than an hour away, a last-minute deal was fostered in the White House to give Congress another week. Politcial leadership has five working days to sort out their differences and wave their genitals at each other in the most irresponsible display of idealistic nonsense we’ve seen in decades.
The GOP, in their newfound confidence, took the budget as an opportunity to make some “moral adjustments.” It’d be great to call it a sham and a hoax, but it isn’t. Voters have shown us time and time again that they like a GOP that favors romantic, principled crusading over pragmatic policy.
Our president, the poor softie that he is, can’t seem to muster enough rage to call Boehner and Co. on their bullshit. He even had the shame in taking part in the shifty deal to extend the drama for a week. One need only glance at the stated priorities of the negotiation process to smell the stench of democracy.
On Friday, both sides agreed on one of the few issues they could, the IRS. No new federal money would be used to hire new IRS agents, or increase enforcement. This seems like a no-brainer. Politicians do not want to be associated with tax collectors and the centuries-old hatred they conjure up deep in the souls of men.
But consider the Government Accountability Office’s study released on Monday. It said at the end of the 2010 fiscal year there was approximately $330 billion in unpaid federal taxes. This dollar amount is almost nine times larger than the amount congress is currently having a pissing contest over.
Yes, despite the glaring evidence that our embarrassing inability to properly enforce existing tax codes is costing us enough money to fund a small war, politicians are still greedy hustlers.
Real policy? Workable solutions to identifiable problems? Pish-posh, I say to you. Nobody in this budget argument is getting serious about money, because if they were, they’d be throwing buckets of money into tax-enforcement.
An article by the Associated Press in March cited a simple statistic: every dollar spent by the IRS on people evading or cheating on taxes garners nearly $10 in additional revenue. Audits cost the cheats money, not the house.
That’s right. Let the IRS do its job, and it’s a profit-making machine that could shame most private enterprises. Sick and twisted as it is, these tax men might just save our gullible masses.
The GOP won’t have a thing to do with it, on principal. Sure, let’s save the government some dough, get us out of this irresponsible debt, but not if it involves taxes.
Their cue-cards and PR people tell them it’s because they are defending the little guy from unfair taxation. But their wallets and campaign funds tell them it’s because most of those tax-dodgers are wealthy companies with plenty of money to spend on somebody, and it might as well be them.
So both parties once again rally the poor to defend the rights of the rich to cheat and evade the system. But beware, mighty mountains of monetary thievery. The White House is looking closely at these figures.
One day the taxman shall cometh, and he knows nothing of mercy.

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