Robert Reich: Why Trump’s Plan to Strip the IRS is Incredibly Dumb (Video)

Anyone looking for idiotic ideas from the Donald Trump administration wouldn’t have to dig very deep before hitting the mother lode. Some of the more obvious examples include a health care plan so reviled they didn’t even bring it up for a vote. Cutting taxes for the rich. Building a wall on the southern border. Banning all Muslims from entering the country. And denying the catastrophic effects of climate change. But wait, there’s more.

Robert Reich Trump IRS

Robert Reich addressed a new Republican folly in a short but poignant video (posted below). He details how the GOP, in a committed effort to advance the cause of stupidity, put forward a proposal to cut the budget of the IRS by 14 percent. Apparently, having nothing else to do, they’ve had plenty of time to come up with ever more asinine initiatives.

In this case they found one that is a win-win for Republicans who hate government in general and the IRS in particular. This proposal would make it harder for the IRS to carry out its responsibilities. Thus, it would open up the agency to criticism for inefficiency that was created by this very cut. It would also create inefficiencies in every other branch of government that is starved for revenue by the reduced tax receipts. Which in turn would make those branches subject to criticism as well. By leaving untold billions of legitimately owed taxes uncollected, the federal deficit would skyrocket. Then, of course, the GOP’s pseudo-deficit hawks would whine about that and use it as a phony justification to cut more programs for the poor and middle-class.

What’s more, efforts by a crippled IRS to audit greedy corporations and millionaires would be severely curtailed. Consequently, they would have free rein to continue robbing the American people. Billions of dollars necessary to run critical federal programs like Social Security, the military, public safety (food, water, consumer products, etc.), transportation and infrastructure, medical research, criminal prosecution and prevention, and so much more, would be lost to fraud. These proposed cuts would come on top of previous cuts that have already hamstrung the IRS. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in a detailed and enlightening analysis

“[P]olicymakers should not ignore the damaging effects of the significant cuts that have occurred in IRS funding, which remains well below its 2010 level even before adjusting for inflation. The cuts have led the IRS to reduce its workforce, severely scale back employee training, and delay much-needed upgrades to information technology systems. These steps, in turn, have weakened the IRS’s ability to enforce the nation’s tax laws and serve taxpayers efficiently” […]

“[F]rom a fiscal perspective, starving the IRS makes no sense, as the return on the investment is high. Each additional $1 spent on IRS enforcement yields $6 of additional revenue from collecting taxes owed.”

Nowhere else in the federal government can spending generate that kind of return on investment. It’s just plain nuts to eliminate such a productive method of raising funds. Especially when it doesn’t rely on new taxes or gutting useful programs. These cuts would have the triple purpose of weakening vital services upon which every American relies, granting amnesty to tax cheats everywhere, and artificially creating excuses to lash out at Big Government.

In the end, it is law abiding Americans who will have to shoulder the burden for these deadbeats. And let’s not forget that Trump himself is among those who would benefit from a broken IRS. Although we may never know how much since he refuses to releases his taxes. So the question is: Are the GOP really that stupid, or are they shrewdly executing their mission to starve the government, crush the middle-class, and enrich their benefactors?

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Fox Nation vs. Reality: You Have To Read This (Irrelevant) Email

For most of the past week the news cycle has been decidedly unfavorable to conservatives. Bill O’Reilly’s reputation is in tatters after several examples of his lying to stroke his own ego were revealed. The congressional failure to pass a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security has exposed the GOP as inept at governing. And the annual CPAC circus has given right-wing Republicans more airtime than usual to embarrass themselves.

Consequently, Fox News is fishing for a scandal to get frantic over to fill the void, and they think they found one.

Fox Nation

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Actually, they are just warming over an old scandal that they hope has enough pus left in it to ooze out some more wingnut bile. Featured on the Fox News community website Fox Nation is an item with the tantalizing title “You Have To Read This Recovered Email From Lois Lerner” Lerner, you may recall, is the whipping gal of the GOP’s House Committee on Heckling Obama. The budding scandalette revolves around the Treasury Department’s disclosure that 32,000 emails were found on backup tapes. Not mentioned by Republicans on the committee is that the emails may all be duplicates that the committee already has.

What the Fox Nationalists chose to highlight was a tweet by the committee, that is filled with gleeful anticipation. It said “If you can believe it, here’s an actual email sent by Lois Lerner:” The content of the “unbelievable” email reads “No one will ever believe that both your hard drive and mine crashed within a week of each other. Life is strange.”

The implication is that Lerner was communicating with a colleague about their covert conspiracy to conceal an alleged plot to subject conservative organizations seeking non-profit status to greater scrutiny. After endless hearings and hyperbolic exclamations of unveiled “bombshells,” they never found any evidence of wrongdoing. Nevertheless, the Republican smear machine rattled on. And now, once again, they are crowing about some investigative victory. The problem is that they haven’t got the brains to put together a coherent case of misconduct.

The new email that they are so excited about is not a confession of any sort. If anything it exonerates Lerner and her ePenPals. With language like “life is strange” she is plainly expressing genuine surprise that the hard drives failed at around the same time. That proves that it wasn’t a planned scheme to destroy evidence. Lerner certainly would not write something incriminating in an email right after supposedly trashing hard drives to eliminate incriminating emails. And if further proof is needed, the email in question is dated June 29, 2011, two years before there was any investigation of the department’s activities. So there wouldn’t be any reason for Lerner to be tampering with correspondence that no one was looking for, and wasn’t considered to be evidence of anything.

That’s how lame this new “discovery” that “you have to read” is. It’s pathetic that the Oversight Committee would furiously tweet this utterly pointless message. And it is similarly ludicrous that Fox News would regurgitate it as if it had some significance other than to manufacture suspicion. But that’s really all they have, so they’re going with it.

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Scandal Roulette On Fox News: This Week’s Winner: IRS Emails

With the midterm election now relegated to a past too distant for Teabaggers to recall, Fox News is struggling to advance their scandal mongering. They have dropped Ebola entirely. Benghazi was just debunked by the Republican-run House Intelligence Committee. There haven’t been any terrorist attacks or gun confiscations or Christmas tree burnings that they could blame on President Obama. So that pretty much leaves his birth certificate or IRS emails.

Fox News Scandal Roulette

On Yesterday’s episode of the ong-running soap opera “America’s News Headquarters,” co-host Julie Banderas launched into a frightening alert that some secret documents that were being cloistered in the dark crevices of the White House basement were miraculously discovered.

“Topping the news this hour: First they were lost, seemingly forever, 30,000 of Lois Lerner’s emails at the center of a massive IRS scandal. But today…get this. They have been found. We begin today with the government’s version of lost and found. Federal investigators have recovered as many as 30,000 emails of Lois Lerner. Remember, they had gone missing?”

Get this, people! There were 30,000 of these suckers that were scattered to depths of Hades, but now they have been captured and returned the land of the living conspiracy nuts.

What needs to be known about this revelation is that it is not really much of a revelation at all. The data that is being reported as “recovered” comes from Treasury Department computer back ups that had previously been identified as part of an ongoing investigation. Nobody at Fox News has seen the contents of these allegedly scandalous documents, but that doesn’t stop them from describing the scale of the scandal as “massive.”

Furthermore, there is a possibility that the recovered documents are duplicates of data already delivered to the committees in Congress investigating the matter. Since they have already received over 67,000 such documents, it may be more a probability than a possibility.

There has been no evidence of any effort to conceal information. Indeed, this new crop of data was found by analysts with the Treasury Department, demonstrating their good intentions and thoroughness. And after two years there has been no evidence of any wrongdoing by the administration. It is very likely that any information culled from this data dump will be just as benign as everything else that has been revealed so far.

In the meantime, however, Fox News can squeal with glee as they falsely characterize data that they have never seen and have no idea whether it reveals any misbehavior. Just planting the notion in the minds of their dimwitted viewers is enough, because they will retain it even after it has been debunked. After all, Fox has already labeled this a massive scandal despite not having any proof.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Scandal Roulette. Will Fox find Obama’s Muslim prayer rug? Will they uncover secret videos with his gay lover? Will they find the ashes of the Constitution baked into a gluten-free muffin in Michele’s Che Guevara gym bag? Only time will tell.

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Scandal Monger Darrell Issa Returns To Fox News To Pitch New IRS E-Mail Lies

Since there is nothing else going on in the world, like terrorist armies marching through Syria and Iraq, or Russian convoys crossing into Ukraine, and since domestically the nation isn’t embroiled in controversies over unarmed black teenagers murdered by the police, or thousands of immigrant children suffering harsh conditions along the southern border, Fox News has found the free time time to entertain yet another fable about non-existent IRS emails that allegedly expose massive government corruption.

Darrell Issa Witch Hunter

Darrell Issa, chairman of the Laughing Stock Committee (aka the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform), ventured into dangerously friendly territory last night when he was interviewed by Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. Van Susteren introduced Issa and before she could even ask a question he said:

“Good evening, Greta, and thank you for covering what’s emerging to be just an amazing sequence of cover-up, delay, denial, even what now appears to be a false statement from the new IRS commissioner in which he said he moved ‘heaven and Earth’ to get us Lois Lerner’s lost emails. And now we find out from the Judicial Watch that in fact they exist, but they simply haven’t been asked for. They’re too burdensome. They do exist. And we look forward to finding how the commissioner can say they don’t exist, when, in fact, they do.”

That was Issa’s opening remarks after Van Susteren said nothing more than “Good evening, sir.” Clearly Issa feels comfortable commandeering the program and delivering unchallenged monologues. Just as clearly he isn’t reticent about deliberately lying in order to advance a phony scandal that he has been hustling for years without producing any scrap of evidence. And as for his insistence that the emails do, in fact, exist – no Darrell, in fact they do not.

The “amazing sequence of cover-up” to which Issa is referring was fed to him by the right-wing Judicial Watch, who claimed to have received a “jaw-dropping” revelation in a conversation with an administration official. Judicial Watch president, Tom Fitton, alleged that “The Obama administration had been lying to the American people about Lois Lerner’s missing emails.” However, when contacted for a response the administration flatly denied the charge saying that Judicial Watch’s statement was “off-base” and that Judicial Watch was “mischaracterizing what the government had said.” They continued…

“There is no newly divulged back-up system that was not previously known about,” the official said. “Government lawyers were simply referring to the back-up system at the IRS that Commissioner Koskinen had already disclosed.”

In other words, Judicial Watch failed to understand, or purposefully misconstrued, what they were told by the government official. Never mind that the White House had previously spoken to this issue and laid to rest any discrepancies. But that didn’t stop Judicial Watch from funneling their falsehoods to Issa, a willing participant in the Wingnut Deceit Brigade. Issa then hightails it to Fox News to insure that this lie gets the broadest distribution possible. And to make certain that it is widely dispersed, Fox also aired similar segments on at least two other programs, including their signature nightly news show with Bret Baier.

This is how the Conservative Media Circus whips up manufactured hysteria over phony scandals. The fake story is then blasted across the right-wing mediasphere with help from their partisan partners like Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, Newsmax, National Review, Breitbart News, Townhall, NewsBusters, and the Koch brothers affiliated Washington Free Beacon. Before long a nation of gullible Tea Party waifs are refueled with high octane bullshit, destroying any hopes for intelligent, fact-based debate. Welcome to Rupert Murdoch’s America.

So F**king What? Former IRS Official Says That GOP Crazies Are…CRAZY!

Republicans and their friends at Fox News have mastered the art of building mountains of bullshit from the lowliest troll-hills. It’s one of their favorite tactics to malign Democrats. Just grab a sentence fragment from a long speech and pretend that it is the whole of the comment from which it was extracted. Then feign outrage that such an awful remark could have been uttered.

GOP Crazy

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The latest example of this rhetorical deceit was demonstrated when the GOP chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dave Camp, unscrupulously and selectively released some emails purported to be from Lois Lerner, the former IRS official who has been hounded by malevolent cretins like Rep. Darrell Issa in an attempt to fabricate ammunition to use against President Obama. Despite hundreds of wasted hours (costing millions of taxpayer dollars) engaged in hyper-partisan investigations, the Republican Inquisition has produced nothing implicating the President in any untoward activity.

The emails that Camp is now crowing about are just as meaningless as all of the other bogus “smoking guns” that these wingnuts have claimed would topple the administration. The headline that Camp has wrenched from the documents is that Lerner may have referred to certain individuals as “crazies” or “a-holes.” And, of course, this would only be an atrocity if those individuals were Republicans. Suffice to say that Camp wouldn’t give a Fig Newton if they were Democrats.

As Camp characterized this affair, Lerner was allegedly caught red-handed expressing her disgust for Republicans. And as the person at the center of the controversy over whether the IRS improperly subjected Tea Party groups to extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status, Camp believes that these emails prove that she was biased. Consequently, Camp regards the emails as justification for appointing a special prosecutor and escalating the legal assault on Lerner and, ultimately, the White House.

There’s just one problem. The emails don’t don’t say what Camp alleges they say. And even if they did it wouldn’t mean anything. Most people in government have personal opinions and allegiances. There isn’t anything wrong with that, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the fair execution of their duties. And the evidence shows that Lerner’s department scrutinized applications of all political persuasions. The only organization that was denied tax-exempt status during the time in question was a liberal group.

As for the emails, Camp’s assertion that Lerner had expressed a general bias against Republicans is false. And by focusing narrowly on the use of specific pejorative language he is being deliberately dishonest. She did say that there are crazies and a-holes, but she was clearly referring to a far-right fringe, not the rank and file GOP. The person with whom she was corresponding was not identified. [Update: The person has now been identified as Lerner’s husband. This makes the whole thing even less controversial] Here is a transcript (complete with typos) of the email exchange beginning with Lerner describing a conversation she overheard of women in England where she was visiting.

Lerner: Overheard some ladies talking about American today. According to them we’ve bankrupted ourselves and at through. We’ll never be able to pay off our debt and are going down the tubes. They don’t seem to see that they can’t afford to keep up their welfare state either.
Unknown: Well, you should hear the whacko wing of the GOP. The US is through; too many foreigners sucking the teat; time to hunker down, buy ammo and food, and prepare for the end. The right wing radio shows are scary to listen to.
Lerner: Great. Maybe we are through if there are that many a-holes.
Unknown: And I’m talking about the hosts of the shows. The callers are rabid.
Lerner: So we don’t need to worry about alien teRrorists. It’s our own crazies that will take us down.

So we start off with Lerner actually defending America and taking a rather conservative view of the national debt, while noting the hypocrisy of the English women who were criticizing the U.S., but ignoring similar issues with their own economy. Then the other person brought up the matter of the “whacko wing of the GOP,” who hold apocalyptic views of America’s imminent demise. It is those nut cases that Lerner referred to as a-holes and crazies. And that is, quite clearly, what they are.

In the end, Camp and his …er… camp, are really complaining that Lerner called crazy people crazy. But when put in context, she absolutely did not direct those remarks to Republicans at large. It is Camp who is extrapolating the whackoness to include all Republicans. And if that’s his view of his party, well, that’s his problem.