Really stupid (Republican) policy, IRS version

Pro Publica has a great feature on the Republicans gutting the IRS.  This is bad on so many levels.  What you are doing with this, more than anything, is literally incentivizing tax fraud.  But, I guess Republicans think that’s okay as long as the cheats are the rich people.  Here’s a key summary set of graphs:

Not quite a TLDR, but a nice take from Drum:

On the left, you can see that the IRS enforcement budget has been slashed since 2010. But it’s the chart on the right that shows exactly what effect that’s had. Poor folks have seen a small decline in audits of their little annual EITC payments, but that was always peanuts anyway. The real revenue-loser is in the green line, showing that audits of rich people have plummeted from 8 percent to 2.5 percent. If you’re rich, the odds of being audited has gone down by two-thirds over the past decade or so.

This GOP war against the IRS has been going on since the mid-90s, when Republicans first started describing IRS agents as jackbooted thugs knocking down doors at midnight and scaring the women and children. But in 2010 Republicans won control of the House. Finally they could really do something to help their donors. And they did. They trashed the IRS enforcement staff and cut the revenue from audits by more than a third, from $23 billion to $14 billion. [emphasis mine] Mission accomplished.

This is stupid, stupid, stupid.  By spending more money going after rich tax cheats, you actually raise revenue for the government.  And, you encourage a more fair tax system.    Both good things.  Instead, we get the opposite.  The more people are allowed to cheat, the more all of us honest people pay unfairly.  And no, poor people shouldn’t cheat on their taxes, either, but like bank robbers, the IRS should be going where the money is.  And that’s the rich people.

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Asymmetric polarization in chart form

Everybody (smart journalists and political scientists aside) so want to just see the Democrats and Republicans as the mirror opposite of each other.  In some ways, sure, e.g., we are all of us quite susceptible to motivated reasoning.  I’m not entirely the biggest fan of this question from Gallup, but I think it nonetheless illustrative:

Circle graph. U.S. Republicans generally prefer a more conservative party; Democrats, a more moderate one.

Whow! Quite a notable difference there.  Personally, I think I’d go with “more liberal” but pretty tentatively so.  It depends, as us liberals like to say.  But, damn, the last thing the Republican party needs to be is more conservative.  What’s that, going door-to-door to take food from poor people?  Certainly, giving rich people even larger tax cuts.

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