Tag Archives: Internal Revenue Code

Final Thoughts (Maybe) About the Republican “Performance” in the SOTU

The New York Times published an interesting piece about the Republicans’ unprecedented outbursts during President Biden’s State of the Union address: Heckling of Biden Reflects a New, Coarser Normal for House G.O.P., https://nyti.ms/3Xq479c While it bore similarities to my own comments in The Barbarians Are Inside the Gate, it was a bit too abstract for my taste and replete with “both sides” implications, a now all-too-common trait of main stream media.

But what struck me most were the comments that gleefully recalled the moment when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped up Trump’s speech following one of his SOU addresses to Congress. In essence, those comments claimed that the obscene heckling of President Biden was justified by Pelosi’s previous conduct. What’s good for the goose, and all that. Hypocrisy, they say. You can’t have it both ways, they say.

I confess I didn’t read all the 666 comments the Times allowed before closing comments (a curious number, I note in passing – assess as you will), but of those I did read, not one noted the obvious difference between Pelosi’s demonstration of hostility to the then pretend president and the yelling and disruption that occurred during Biden’s speech.

I refer to the obvious fact that when Pelosi tore up Trump’s speech, Trump’s speech was over. He was finished talking. Should Pelosi have waited until Trump departed or until she was in the hall outside or called a press conference later to show her contempt? Maybe. But there is a fundamental difference between her post-speech demonstration and the multiple interruptions and crass behavior during the speech by members of the Republican Party. Her action did not disrupt Trump’s remarks, no matter how distasteful they were to her. The Republicans, on the other hand, did everything they could to disrupt and disorient the President. And they failed.

My final (maybe) observation: the writers at the New York Times, Washington Post and other newspapers that still claim to some degree of objectivity in matters political should stop calling these Republican Party louts “conservatives.” There is nothing “conservative” about most of them. They don’t just want less government; they want no government.

Just two days ago, Ted Cruz, officially the U.S. Senator from Texas, tweeted: “Abolish the IRS.” https://bit.ly/3Ih6PtCCruz is not the only Republican to advocate that. You may also recall that many other leading Republicans have advocated abolishing the Department of Education and other federal agencies, including Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Secretary of Education. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) introduced a bill in early 2021 with co-sponsors including (unsurprisingly) Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), to do that very thing.

To be clear, I for one believe the United States Tax Code is a monstrosity. One fine day, I plan to write about it in some detail. But the idea that we can in one swoop “simplify the Code” and then eliminate the IRS while still effectively collecting enough revenue to pay for the U.S. Miliary, among many other federal services that help assure this country’s safety and prosperity, is blatantly stupid.

The National Taxpayer Advocate did a Microsoft Word count of the tax statutes and implementing IRS regulations in 2012 and came up with roughly 4 million words. At roughly 450 words per page, that works out to around 9,000 pages. The National Taxpayer Advocate also noted that the tax code changed 4,680 times from 2001 to 2012, an average of once per day.  https://bit.ly/3DYxWa8

That was ten years ago. Most likely the Code is substantially larger today. Much of it is designed, by Republican and Democratic administrations alike, to foster or discourage various forms of economic and other behavior. Changing it to a simpler system whose focus is mainly, if not solely, to fund the government is highly desirable in my view but it’s not something that can be done overnight in a sudden “simplification.” Advocates for that approach are not “conservatives. They are either anarchists or … well, this is a family blog, so I won’t go further.

Suffice to say, the complexities of the Code and its pervasive influence on the conduct of American businesses is such as only a prolonged and careful reexamination has any chance of success. But the Code’s very complexity and influence has spawned entire industries of tax lawyers, tax-specialist accountants, software companies and tax preparers, all of whom have a vested interest in keeping the complexity. And then there are the giant corporations that benefit from manipulating their operations and accounting to pay less tax than the might in another system.

To return to the main point, the Republican Party has become the Party of Grievance. Their appeal to the good old days, when white people ran everything and most things were thought to be cheaper and readily available at all times, those days are gone. Permanently. The Republican Party is the Party of the Past, a past that never really was and that was unsustainable. You may be able to turn back the clock, but you cannot undo time. It moves forward whether your clock, or your mind, keeps up or not. To believe in the past that the Republican Party is selling is to believe in a mirage, a false idol that leads you to your destruction.

The Republicans can yell and scream until the dogs come home. They have nothing constructive to offer the American people or the country. Joe Biden was too gracious, too composed and, in boxing them in on Medicare and Social Security, too clever for the screamers. They won’t learn anything from it. They’re out there every day justifying what they did because Nancy Pelosi hurt their feelings. Grievance and more grievance – the Republican Party’s true platform.