The GOP has long prided itself as the party of fiscal responsibility, but it’s important to keep one thing in mind as conservative lawmakers continue to scold Democrats over the cost of Biden’s infrastructure plan: They’re completely full of shit.
There are countless glaring examples of the party’s hypocrisy on the money front, from the war in Iraq to Trump’s 2017 tax cut for the wealthy and corporations. The past week has provided another concise example of how Republicans only care about cutting back on spending so long as it’s in service of the rich staying rich and the poor staying poor.
Let’s go ahead and break it down into three acts:
I. President Biden says he wants to beef up the Internal Revenue Service
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The Biden administration last Thursday proposed doubling the size of the IRS by hiring close to 90,000 new workers over the next decade. More IRS agents to hound you for missing a line on your taxes may sound bad, but the idea here is to cut down on the number of predominantly wealthy Americans scamming the system.
This is a major problem. During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig estimated that the United States is losing around $1 trillion in unpaid taxes every year because of the service lacks the resources to keep up nab Americans trying to cheat on their taxes. “We do get outgunned,” Rettig said, according to The New York Times.
Biden’s plan to bolster the IRS would cost $80 billion over the next decade, with the new funding going largely toward oversight of high-income individuals and companies. The money recouped by the “tax compliance agenda” would theoretically help fund the administration’s $1.8 trillion infrastructure plan.
The plan shouldn’t really be too controversial considering the bipartisan appeal (one would think!) of cutting down on crime, as well as how rapidly the wealth gap is widening. “The fact is that nurses and firefighters have to pay with every paycheck and so many high-fliers can get off,” Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said during the hearing on Tuesday.
II. Republicans lose their minds
Republicans blew a gasket as soon as the plan was proposed. Politico reported on Tuesday that conservative groups have launched a slew of TV and social media campaigns bashing the plan, essentially arguing that it would empower the agency to come take your hard-earned money. “If Joe Biden gets his way, they are coming: IRS agents,” the narrator says in one released by a new group founded by Marc Short, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. “Biden’s massive tax increase plan includes a staggering $80 billion to help recruit an army of IRS agents,” it continues.
Republicans have also argued Biden’s plan would run back what they say was unnecessary oversight of conservative groups during the Obama era. The same day the plan was released, Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced a bill aimed at preventing the IRS from “being used as a political weapon.” The bill was co-sponsored by 43 Republican senators, and endorsed by prominent conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity and Club for Growth.
“Philosophically they don’t want the federal government being shored up by augmented revenue,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said of the conservative opposition to Biden’s plan to double the size of the IRS, according to Politico. “They want smaller government. They want less government. They want no government. They want a dysfunctional IRS.”
III. Republicans continue to complain about government spending
Republicans may oppose a plan to take on the wealthy tax cheats scamming America out of an estimated $1 trillion per year, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to stop complaining about the cost of Biden’s infrastructure plan.
Biden initially proposed spending $2.25 trillion over the next 10 years to create millions of jobs while modernizing the nation’s infrastructure. Republicans only wanted to spend half a trillion, though, so Biden, magnanimous bipartisan that is he, came down to $1.8 trillion. Republicans still aren’t budging, of course, arguing that the spending is frivolous — or, as McConnell put it on Wednesday, a “hodgepodge of stuff.”
If McConnell and his fellow Republicans are so concerned about how much money Democrats want to spend, why aren’t they concerned about the estimated $1 trillion the nation is losing to tax evaders? Well, because that’s money that’s staying the pockets of the wealthiest Americans and corporations the Republicans are in Congress to protect. The money Biden wants to spend would go toward jobs and those hodgepodge “welfare programs” that would benefit the working class.
Speaking of spending, a report published Monday by the Congressional Budget Office found that the United States is expected to spend $634 billion on nuclear weapons alone over the next 10 years. The CBO notes that “the Biden Administration is widely expected to undertake a nuclear posture review to determine the nuclear policies and forces it will pursue.” We have a feeling that Republicans might object should Biden opt to decrease funding on the WMD front. Just a hunch.
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