Our country is being governed by thrill-seeking adolescents

ed3b133342e3cd15350f6a706700216fI continue to be amazed at the modern Republican Party’s adolescent, “if-it-feels-good,-do-it” approach to the serious business of governance.

Last year, for example, the inspector general for the IRS warned that consistent funding cuts in the agency’s budget — reductions of $1.2 billion over a five-year period in which its workload had grown significantly — had made the agency increasingly vulnerable to cyberattack. Those budget cuts were also harming its ability to detect fraudulent returns from prisoners, illegal immigrants, etc., and well as its capacity to prevent billions of dollars in fraud in child-care and earned-income tax credits.

How did House Republicans respond to such warnings? They decided that the fun thing to do would be to cut the IRS budget for 2015 by another $354 million. It just felt so good doing it.

And you know how such things go. If something feels good, you just want to do it again, only this time bigger and better!

This week — two weeks after news broke that Russian hackers had stolen personal information on more than 100,000 taxpayers from IRS computers, then used that data to steal $50 million in fraudulent refunds — the House Appropriations Committee voted to cut the IRS budget for 2016 by an additional $838 million, more than twice the budget reduction of a year earlier.

It’s downright amazing. In 2013 alone, the IRS paid out $5.8 billion in false refunds that it lacked the manpower and technology to detect. In 2012 alone, it estimated taxes that were owed but unpaid at $450 billion, which increases the financial burden on those taxpayers honest enough to pay what they owe. Every dollar that the IRS spends on enforcement produces an additional six to seven dollars in revenue, thus reducing the federal deficit.

Congress knows all that, or ought to know. As IRS director John Koskinen told Congress recently, “In regard to software, we’re still have applications we were running when John F. Kennedy was president.”

“And we continue to use COBOL programming language,” Koskinen warned. “COBOL was considered outdated back when I served as chairman of the President’s Council on Year 2000 Conversion, and it is extremely difficult to find IT experts who are versed in this language.”

And while the agency does have some more up-to-date computers, they run on Windows XP, an 20th century operating system so archaic that Microsoft announced last year that it no longer supports it, which also means that it no longer provides security updates for the software.

But we’re getting to the best part here:

The IRS inspector general has warned repeatedly about the impact of continued budget cuts. The IRS taxpayer advocate has warned repeatedly that the only people hurt by such reductions are the taxpayers. The IRS oversight board, an independent panel of experts created by Congress, has also warned repeatedly about the impact of continued cuts and last year recommended a $2.3 billion INCREASE in its budget.

However, the oversight board did not make such recommendations for 2016. As its website helpfully explains:

“The IRS Oversight Board does not currently have enough members confirmed by the U.S. Senate to make up a quorum and as a result has suspended operations.”

After all those warnings, and after all the cutbacks that were imposed despite those warnings, here’s how Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, responded to the news that the warnings had come true and taxpayers’ data had been accessed by hackers:

“That the IRS — home to highly sensitive information on every single American and every single company doing business here at home — was vulnerable to this attack is simply unacceptable. What’s more, this agency has been repeatedly warned by top government watchdogs that its data security systems are inadequate against the growing threat of international hackers and data thieves.”

I mean, the mind just boggles.

Reader Comments 0

597 comments
lvg
lvg

It is all because of  Benghazi!

NorthAtlanta
NorthAtlanta

Haven't read this whole thread, but has anyone pointed out to Jay that he omitted a very important fact:  the IRS has been paying out large bonuses to its employees despite having all its many problems?  Seems to me there's absolutely no right for them to complain about their budget if they're doing this stuff.


http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/irs-diverted-millions-from-taxpayer-assistance-to-pay-for-employee-bonuses/article/2563430


http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/report-irs-deliberately-cut-its-own-customer-service-budget_927141.html

Bulls_3y3
Bulls_3y3

@Visual_Cortex   wholesale-defunding   ha ha ha 

What part of cut spending do you not understand???    The whole government needs budget cutting: ie State Department budge which quadrupled under Obama/Hillary.   How did that work out for America???

honested
honested

@Bulls_3y3 @Visual_Cortex 

Then cut MIC spending in half and raise the necessary taxes to make up the rest.

You republiklan clowns have been whining about 'running government like a business' for decades (even though that is a childish idea). Well, when you starve a business of the capital it needs, what happens to that business?

Buzz words may work at teaklan meetings, but a functioning Government needs clear thinking, moderate Adults.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@NorthAtlanta

anyone pointed out to Jay 
Lots of people have brought up itsy bits of anecdotal annoyances, none of which make a compelling case for wholesale-defunding a critically important agency of any government.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

anyhow, hawt Jay-on-Kyle action video SHEETZ.

fedup52
fedup52

 If you can't change the system change the budget, that 'll work.

++++

That is the best line of the day Froggy.

bu2
bu2

Well if they weren't spending money going after conservative non-profits, they might have been able to do the things they are supposed to do.

Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

@bu2 And have you got proof that's what is causing their funding shortfall?

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

Here's the fix, charge the military deal with tax collection and transportation. Funding problems solved - they'll get even more than they request and no conservative will complain.

gotalife
gotalife

Now, the black community are a different story.


They gave up on the dem party too.


I don't expect them to  vote like the last election.

This is great news for the gop.



Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

a bloated agency that has grown out of control


Seriously, does anyone here have an apples:apples comparison of what the US spends on collection and enforcement, vs. otther countries, as a percentage of their respective GDPs?

Anyone at all?

If not, how do you know it is "bloated" and "out of control", beside little cherry picked anecdotes of Money Spent On Stuff You Don't Like?

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

@Visual_Cortex @barkingfrog 

Revenue collection is supporting the current defense budget or do

you think lack of collection of taxes due is a cause of budget deficit ?

Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

@Visual_Cortex It's taking "their money".  As long as it does that it's "bloated and out of control"

/snarc

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Doggone_GA @Visual_Cortex

It's taking "their money"

no no no, not taking. Confiscating

(One can add "at gunpoint" for dramatic effect, although they shore don't like it when I do that when talkin' about criminalizing 'Borshuns.)

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@barkingfrog @Visual_Cortex

At least when we compare our defense budget, people can actually agree that yeah, it's taking a big honkin' share of the pie. And we can compare it to that of other countries, and sure, argue about our role as the world's policeman or whatnot.

But revenue collection? everyone has to do it. And if there's any take-away for Americans from the recent economic experiences in Greece, it ought to be that it's really not a very good idea, not to take tax collection rather seriously.

gotalife
gotalife

If you need a laugh, read the con comments on the trade deal but remember they will go right back to partisan bs in a few days. I don't expect garbage to suddenly care about their party.


I expect them to vote gop no matter what the gop does to get them.


It is how they roll.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

I haven't actually managed to figure out what other countries spend on the collection of revenue and enforcement of their tax code as a percentage of GDP yet.

But I have had a look at what kind of tax burden the US has vs. that of other countries, and once again I wonder--what on earth are Conservatives griping about?


It's really quite comical, how not-heavily-taxed we are, relative to others, no matter how it's counted/reported. See also:

http://stats.oecd.org/index.aspx?DataSetCode=REV

or

https://www.quandl.com/collections/economics/net-tax-revenue-as-share-of-gdp-by-country

orhttp://ctj.org/ctjreports/2013/04/the_us_continues_to_be_one_of_the_least_taxed_of_the_developed_countries.php#.VXnGCPlVhBc

orhttp://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/background/numbers/international.cfm


you get the idea.

Cupofjoe
Cupofjoe

and...... Jay can't make it go away as it keeps his numbers up.  Kind of embarrassing.

I think most get it cons.


You are ignorant racists that destroy America.


There is no point on arguing with garbage.

gotalife
gotalife

Chin up Americans.


Huge corruption scandals are coming for the reckoning and we will finally fight corruption like Great Britain.


I have no doubt, we will fight back like the rest of the world.

Recon2/3
Recon2/3

What's mind boggling is a bloated agency that has grown out of control to a level of incompetence that money can't fix. It's beyond time to overhaul the tax code and simplify it then dismantle the IRS.

Recon2/3
Recon2/3

@Wena Mow Masipa How @Recon2/3 

 "Actually, they are quite competent.  And your government actually functions quite efficiently."


Having read some of your posts I think you're too intelligent to believe your above comment.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Recon2/3

agency that has grown out of control

If that's really true, I assume you can provide examples of other countries that spend a significantly smaller portion of their GDP on revenue collection and enforcement, yes?

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Recon2/3 @Visual_Cortex

Proof? Well for starters, we aren't especially "overtaxed", compared to many other industrialized countries. I've posted a bunch of links about that, just above.

That's something, isn't it?

Recon2/3
Recon2/3

@Visual_Cortex @Recon2/3 

My comment dealt with the out of control growth of the IRS not with comparative taxation rates to other countries. That's another subject entirely.

bu2
bu2

@Wena Mow Masipa How @Recon2/3 

The IRS has fallen apart under Obama.  Probably because he has put political appointees in there.  If you disliked it before, it has become a total mess.

Recon2/3
Recon2/3

@Visual_Cortex @Recon2/3 

Visual, I'm not particularly concerned about revenue collections in other countries. And yes the IRS has grown out of control. You don't need to research the subject very far to understand it.

Wena Mow Masipa How
Wena Mow Masipa How

@Recon2/3 Actually, they are quite competent.  And your government actually functions quite efficiently.  As I said below, instead of chasing unicorns and wishing for the impossible, focus instead on making what we have better.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Recon2/3 @Visual_Cortex

You don't need to research the subject very far to understand it.

I'm afraid you do. If you're going to accuse something of being "out control" the assertion is worthless without something to compare it to.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

No tax is fair.

No tax is flat.

 No tax is best.


See why I like no tax.

Brosephus
Brosephus

"Yes, when the agencies budget is still twice the amount it should be. The largest expense in an organization, be it private or public, is human capital. It is time to begin cutting wages and benefits to get these employees in line with what is paid in the private sector."

You don't really mean that, do you?  Depending on the position within the IRS, you have to have bachelor's degree at a minimum with some accounting.  Private sector salaries for specialized jobs like theirs is usually higher than the government salary.  That's why people leave the IRS and go work in tax departments for these major corporations.

So, be careful of what you wish for.  You may end up wishing for government workers to get a big pay increase.

http://jobs.irs.gov/midcareer/cisa-qualifications.html

http://jobs.irs.gov/student/internal-revenue-agentbr.html

Both require a bachelor's degree at the GS-5 level.  Starting pay in Atlanta for a GS-5 is $33,380 a year.  If you can get in as a GS-7, then your starting pay is $41,348.  That would require you to have graduate level education or superior academic achievement to qualify.  That, or have the work experience necessary to do the job.

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/salary-tables/15Tables/html/ATL.aspx


Fly-On-The-Wall
Fly-On-The-Wall

@Brosephus  I guess they want H&R Block running the IRS.  Wow, graduate level education at only $41k per year to start.  My guess is someone with a Master's could double that in private industry.

The conservatives seem to keep coming back to the idea that anyone working for the government should make minimum wage.

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Fly-On-The-Wall 

"The conservatives seem to keep coming back to the idea that anyone working for the government should make minimum wage."

My guess as well...  They look at the averages and make that claim.  They neglect to remember that the wages paid to Congress, President, VP, Cabinet members, and other SES (Senior Executive Services) are added in to that average.  When you separate the NASA engineers and other high paid people, the average government worker isn't as highly paid as people think.

https://www.federalpay.org/ses/2015