IRS Says Audit Will Take Years

Surely I am not the only one who sees a rich irony in this:

Years will pass before congressional investigators can review all of the documents pertaining to the inappropriate targeting of Tea Party groups, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen told a House panel Wednesday.

“What they want is something that’s going to take years to produce,” Koskinen told Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, in reference to Republican requests for IRS documents.

When the IRS comes to one of us (or a group of us, in the case of a corporate audit) we don’t have years to assemble our documents–we have days or weeks. Anything beyond that, in most cases, will result in claims of obstruction, fines, etc.

Now, this organization is being audited and claims that it will take years to get the documents together. Forgive my cynicism if you can, but that would seem to indicate one or more of the following:

  1. The IRS is so poorly organized that it cannot easily lay hands on any particular information.
  2. There is so much information which is included in the request that the bureaucrats are simply overwhelmed by the task at hand.
  3. The organization has never considered releasing the easy stuff first (what requires minimal redaction, etc).
  4. Delaying the discovery of this information will benefit the the current administration.

In theory, the IRS works for us. In practice, it does not. If employees no longer work for the employer, one would think that it’s time they were fired.

The sooner we gut the federal tax code, the better.

Confused by Wants and Needs

I’ve got a cold (or rather, a cold has me within its grasp). As a result, I’ll make this short and sweet. P&R on the farm bill:

We don’t need a farm bill.  Our farmers don’t need it – they like it, as it’s chock full of bennies for them, but they don’t need it.  We don’t need it as consumers – the cost in taxes and national debt far outweighs any savings in lower food prices.

Amen.

We Are the Lack of Change

Welcome to South Dakota, land of the conservative politician who loves him/her some free money for the farmers:

Noem and Thune and other Republicans like to talk fiscal discipline and their voters like to hear it.  But there’s nothing fiscally disciplined about the farm bill.  It is from first to last a form of welfare transfer payments and guarantees.  But how many “fiscal discipline” Republican votes would there be for Noem and Thune if they joined those wanting to eliminate Big Ag subsidies?  I know Democrats have tried to call them on their hypocrisy, but if doing so makes it sound like they won’t vote for those same subsidies or make them larger, they won’t get the votes, either.

Principled conservatives would step forward and say that despite the benefits that the many farm bills have brought to the state’s ag producers, it is wrong to have one sector of the economy be subsidized by another sector–no matter how many years my family or your family has spent on the land that great-grandpa homesteaded.

But, as P&R goes on to say in the latter part of the article which I quote above, we (the voters) are the ones who have elected politicians who are as unprincipled (or hypocritical) as we are. In simpler terms, we got exactly the government we deserve.

I hope it’s not to late to somehow deserve a better government.

Undoing the Knots

As I work my way through the disassembly and packaging of 5 units of fall bounty, I’ve had time for plenty of thinking. Unfortunately, more than thinking will be required to change the status quo:

Conservatives typically complain about too much regulation, but liberals should be concerned, too, because pruning away rules we don’t need should help usher in an economy with more job creation and stronger economic growth.

The total number of federal regulatory restrictions is now more than one million. And they’re not all necessarily good ideas. For instance, the Food and Drug Administration has banned some useful asthma treatments because they have a slight negative impact on the ozone layer. The nation has medical-device regulations that take longer to satisfy than those of the European Union.

More than 1 million restrictions. Oh, and these are the regulations (not the laws which were passed by Congress). Although, to be fair, Congress established the basis for most of these rules.

I still believe that the best way help this would be to do a couple of things: 1) Repeal two old laws at the federal level for every new law passed; and 2) require that every new law be less than 20 pages or 5,000 words (whichever comes first).

An artist once told me that constraints forced him to do better work. I’m sure that works in other areas also.

New York Times Nails It On Taxation . . . 100 Years Ago

Happy belated birthday to the US income tax. It turned 100 last week, didn’t you know? As noted by by the National Review, the then young and foolish NY Times got directly to the truth of the matter:

It will tax the honest and allow the dishonest to escape. The administrative features which the Chamber [of Commerce] is to investigate are so complicated that those who understand them will make their taxes light at the cost of those less well informed about the law. The income tax law may be considered good nevertheless by some, but even those who approve the tax despite its faults cannot contend that the same sums could not have been raised more certainly, more equitably, and with less trouble to both payers and collectors by a stamp [sales] tax.

The experience with the tariff shows how hard it is to reduce or to remove a tax once laid. It always seems easier and better to devise ways to spend the money than to repeal the tax. This fact will be better appreciated as the years pass, and particularly when the time shall come when this extraordinary tax–as it ought to be–shall be needed for an emergency. Then it will appear that this resource has been utilized and that the tax must be doubled instead of imposed initially. The tax was most popular before it was laid. Its unpopularity will grow with its life.

That’s pretty powerful, and remarkably prescient. The fact is that even back then, people understood that government’s capacity to consume (based as it is in a human lust for wealth and power) would never be sated.

In light of the current events with regard to the partial government shutdown, I must add that that the only guaranteed way to ensure that Yogi doesn’t steal anymore pic-i-nic baskets may well be to shut down the park.

Even If We Win, We Lose (on Congressional Participation in ObamaCare)

Drew brings the bad news:

So even if the Vitter amendment passes and congressional staffers are forced onto the ObamaCare exchanges, the self-dealing bastards in DC will find away to protect themselves while costing taxpayers more money. Swell.

Now that might not happen. The political risks might be too high for some, if not most, members but I don’t think I’d bet on that.

If you read the details, it comes down to the fact that salaries will simply be increased to offset additional costs–and those salary increases will translate into much more money paid out in the future under government pension plans.

Anything besides repealing this cancerous beast of a law will only lead to more carve-outs and craziness and the multiplication of poor laws based on it in the future.

The End of the World

While I am by no means claiming that I know when the end of the world will come, I am reasonably certain that it will not be in just under 1 and 1/2 hours. We are being reminded that the last government shutdown was 17 years ago. Based on what government has gotten into since then, it would appear that we may not have shut things down for long enough.

Reality is not something we create with wishful thinking. No matter how many times we are told that raising the debt ceiling does not raise the debt, it simply will not be true. No matter how many times we are told ObamaCare will bend the cost curve down, it simply will not be true.

The laws of economics are about as mutable as the laws of gravity. Either set of laws may be different on planet other than this one, but ignoring them here on earth only leads to bumps, bruises and breaks.

Evenhanded Former Speaker Decries Those Who Hate Apolitical President

The whole article is worth reading, but here’s just a little bit for your Friday evening enjoyment:

Then [Nancy Pelosi] added a line that she has used before, that drives Republicans batty: “He has been … open, practically apolitical, certainly nonpartisan, in terms of welcoming every idea and solution. I think that’s one of the reasons the Republicans want to take him down politically, because they know he is a nonpartisan president, and that’s something very hard for them to cope with.”

There is a reason that line drives any sane person batty (not necessarily inclusive of Republicans). The straightforward statement that Barack Obama is a nonpartisan president is such an absolute howler that if one didn’t know better one would think it came from an SNL scriptwriter.

Then again, maybe it did.

Thune Against Subsidies (Well, the Bad Ones)

From a list of recent amendments offered by Senator Thune (brought to my attention by the SDWC):

1. (Amendment #1887) An amendment to eliminate a wasteful Department of Energy (DOE) loan program. Secretary Moniz recently suggested that he will revive the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program, which has already cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Of the five ATVM loan recipients, one has gone bankrupt and the fledgling luxury carmaker, Fisker Automotive, is struggling to repay its $192 million ATVM loan. Thune’s amendment would permanently end the ATVM program and save taxpayers from paying for more of President Obama’s bad green energy bets.

“From Fisker and Vehicle Production Group, to the Chinese-owned A123, this administration should not be making questionable investments with the American public’s hard-earned money.” said Thune. “My amendment would protect taxpayers from the Obama administration’s risky investments by eliminating the ATVM program.”

“[T]his administration should not be making questionable investments with the American public’s hard-earned money.” Absolutely. (Of course, I believe that the Federal government should not be making any investments with taxpayer funds to the end that the government picks the winners and losers in the economic system. But, that’s another, bigger issue.)

Senator Thune, does this mean we should stop sending American’s hard-earned money to ethanol producers?

Update

From the Argus:

Congress created Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN), a serial number given to batches of biofuels before they are sold to refiners and gasoline importers looking to comply with a federal mandate to use a certain amount of ethanol. The refiner can choose to purchase RINs in exchange for not blending ethanol.

[…]

Chad Hart, an associate professor of economics at Iowa State University, said the RIN credits were viewed by Congress as a way for refiners and others tied to ethanol to comply with the mandate. Theydid[sic] not intend speculators from Wall Street firms to get involved in the market.

Ha. Haha. Congress passes a law which gives an advantage to a particular sector of the market–and people are surprised when investors take that advantage into consideration when making investment decisions? You’ve got to be kidding me.

Update Encore

People get in trouble for apparently lying about biofuels:

Prosecutors allege that E-biofuels actually wasn’t producing biofuel. Instead, it was purchasing fuel and selling it to customers as its own product for a profit.

E-biofuels also fraudulently collected on about $35 million in federal tax breaks reserved for biofuel producers, according to charging documents.

Easy money, like the referenced tax breaks (aka subsidies) does tend to attract those with a rather loose adherence to the rules, doesn’t it?

Ours Is to Reason Why

Syria. Even people who don’t know much about history understand that most of the world (at least the Western and Middle-Eastern world) are talking about Syria and whether President Obama will or will not send US forces or force projection into the current fray there.

Our President, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is doing his best to convince everyone from Bo to Putin that, since Assad would appear to have called his bluff, we need to spend treasure and perhaps even spill blood to end human rights abuses by the government in Syria. His right hand man for this argument is one John Kerry, a man scarred by his unique recollection of war crimes he witnessed during Vietnam, shortly before he decided that war was evil and terrible and should never be engaged in — unless it was a war where he was one of the people in charge.

Here’s my thought. Let’s leave aside arguments of whether this war is just or not, whether the rebels or Assad’s forces are more evil, and whether our broke nation can even afford to engage in yet another location with that that entails. Instead, let us consider just one thing. If President Obama was unwilling to go the distance to ensure that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were ended on our terms (that is, surrender or complete destruction of those against whom we fought), why in the world would this war be any different?

There are wars which are unfortunate necessities. We could argue for some time which wars in our history would fit that criterion. But to fight a war where the stated goal is not to win, is this not foolishness?