Mike Johnson is sending a clear message with his first proposed legislation, and that message is “our top priority is helping rich tax cheats”:
House Republicans on Monday unveiled a proposal to pay for emergency aid for Israel’s war against Hamas by cutting IRS funds aimed at cracking down on rich tax cheats and improving taxpayer service.
The legislation, released by the House Rules Committee, calls for approving roughly $14 billion primarily in military aid to Israel and cutting about the same amount from the IRS budget. President Biden has proposed giving Israel roughly the same amount in aid but did not call for offsetting cuts to other parts of the budget. The new House speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), has said the new expenditure must be covered by other spending reductions to avoid adding to the debt. Biden also called for the Israel aid to be packaged with roughly $60 billion for Ukraine, an approach the GOP bill rejected.
And needless to say, it is inaccurate to describe slashing funding to the IRS as an “offset,” since the effect would be a net decrease in revenue:
Using the IRS funding to offset the Israel aid might not actually save money: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had estimated in 2022 that the $80 billion IRS expansion would cut the deficit by more than $100 billion by improving collections and enforcement.
“This is the reverse of the right way to think about this,” said Mark Mazur, the Biden administration’s former assistant treasury secretary for tax policy. “This is like if you take a dollar from the IRS and throw a $5 bill out the window.”
I wonder when Republicans will finally unveil Paul Ryan’s anti-poverty agenda!