Protecting Rich Tax Cheats And Putting Abortion Doctors In Prison
Trumpism rules in the 118th Congress. No one can deny it— although Paul Ryan sort of tried, insisting that Trump “is a proven loser. He cost us the House in ’18, he cost us the White House in ’20, he cost us the Senate again and again… I can’t imagine him getting the nomination, frankly. He’s fading fast.” Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger got to the problem from a slightly different perspective when he told Charlie Sykes that “Kevin’s a piece of shit. And let’s just be honest about this, because he will say whatever he needs to say to stay in power. I’m not even saying that gratuitously to be mean to him. It’s just a fact.”
As for the House, let’s start with their very first bill, HR 23, which is just performative since it will never pass the Senate let alone get to Biden’s desk. Nebraska closet case Adrian Smith introduced it with the intent of making sure the IRS wouldn’t have the capacity to audit wealthy tax cheats (i.e.- traditional Republicans). It passed 221 to 210, all the Republicans for it and all the Dems against it.
Yesterday, Jonathan Chait presented an interesting take on the GOP arguments— deceitful arguments— in favor of the bill. He set the table like this: “Over the past generation, rich people’s taxes have been audited at a dramatically lower rate because the Internal Revenue Service has been slowly losing the resources to conduct the audits. Last year, in an attempt to increase tax compliance among the rich, Democrats passed a law to give the IRS more funding with the explicit direction of using the money to audit the wealthy. Republicans propose to strip the IRS of its funding. But Republicans don’t admit their goal is to leave the agency unable to audit the rich. What they say instead is that the Democratic plans would actually target the non-rich. The basis of these claims is nonsensical.”
“Nonsensical” is the perfect way to describe it but if you hit the link to his column you can read him go to great lengths in explaining their bullshit. I’ll skip over that to note that one of the wing nuts making the arguments vomitted out by the Republicans is Nate Hochman, who insists that “the audits will ‘tilt toward the self-employed and those who run small businesses’ while ‘the rich’ will be insulated by accountants and lawyers. This is doubly confused. Many rich people own their own businesses. To say they run ‘small businesses’ is not to say they are poor or middle class. And it is definitely true that rich people have lawyers and accountants. There is a mismatch between the resources available to wealthy tax cheats and those available to the officials dedicated to catching them. This is exactly why the IRS needs to hire its own accountants to audit them. Hochman is defending a plan to continue reducing the IRS’s resources, giving the rich an even bigger advantage.”
Chait also wrote that “the Crapo amendment formally restricting audits to people making more than $400,000 is even sillier. The problem the Democrats are trying to solve, once again, is rich tax cheats. The whole thing about tax cheats is that they lie about their income. You can’t catch the tax cheats unless you check and make sure they actually are making what they say. If you refuse to audit people who report less than $400,000 a year in income, you’re inviting even more cheating.”
Then there is the Tax Foundation finding that “most of the additional audits will be executed on those making between $75,000 and $200,000 annually.” Hochman is quoting Fund. Fund’s column does not include a link to this study.
The Tax Foundation is a conservative group, but it does not make things up. I could not find anything like this claim on the Tax Foundation’s website.
I reached out to Fund to ask where he got this information. He told me he was traveling in Japan this week and didn’t have the information.
But the Tax Foundation itself tells me the number seems to have been invented… The low quality of conservative commentary on this issue reflects the mismatch between the demand for ‘facts’ that would support the narrative that Republicans are actually defending the middle class and the available supply.
Since the 1990s, Republicans have consistently pushed to increase tax-compliance requirements for low-income earners while decreasing funding for the IRS. Over that time, the poor have been audited at an increasing rate while the rich have been audited at a decreasing rate. They are now insisting with a straight face that the Democrats are the ones who want to protect rich tax cheats.
The irony of all this is that there is an incipient movement of conservative intellectuals and office-seekers who claim, in some cases earnestly, to push the party away from its plutocratic agenda and toward a more economically populist one. Hochman is one of them, And yet when confronted with a concrete case, their response is to help the party protect the rich and stick it to the poor while obfuscating on its behalf. If you want to know why the Republican agenda of upward redistribution of income is in no danger of being displaced, here is a perfect case study.
Having sent their donors a big wet kiss, they next turned to fellate their evangelical voting base with another performative vote that will never get through the Senate, let along see Biden’s veto pen. Ann Wagner (R-MO) introduced H.R. 26, which she deceptively called the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. It passed 220-210 every Republican + conservative Democrat Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX) voting for it (with another Texas Blue Dog, Vicente Gonzalez, voting “present”) and all the normal Dems opposing it. Wednesday, Annie Karni explained it for NY Times readers: “Republicans used their new power in the House on Wednesday to push through legislation that could subject doctors who perform abortions to criminal penalties, underscoring their opposition to abortion rights even as they stopped short of trying to ban the procedure. The measure, the second policy bill Republicans have brought to the floor since taking control, has no chance of passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Its consideration was an early effort by the GOP to appeal to its conservative base, which has made opposition to abortion rights a litmus test, without alienating a broader group of more moderate voters that recoiled last year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.”
The bill would require that infants born alive after an attempted abortion receive the same protection under the law and degree of care as any newborn, and threaten medical providers with up to five years in prison for failing to resuscitate babies born alive during abortions.
Live births during an abortion procedure are exceedingly rare, experts said, and federal law already requires that a baby who survives an attempted abortion receive emergency medical care. The new bill would clarify the standard of care to which doctors are held and lay out penalties for violators. Policy organizations supporting abortion rights said the measure was an effort to discourage women from seeking abortions and doctors from performing them.
But Republicans framed the legislation as a way to protect the unborn, and sought to use it as a cudgel to portray Democratic opponents as unwilling to provide basic rights to newborns.
“A child who survives an abortion attempt, who is outside the womb, breathing and struggling for life, doesn’t deserve equal protection under the law?” said Representative Kat Cammack, Republican of Florida. “That shouldn’t be a controversial position.”
That was in many ways the point of the bill. Another piece of legislation Republicans have proposed in the past, which would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, is far more controversial and, based on the results of the midterm elections, could expose them to a political backlash.
On Wednesday, Democrats, many dressed in white, the color of the suffragist movement, described the abortion bill as part of a concerted effort by Republicans to end women’s access to the procedure.
[Hakeem Jeffries] said Republicans in their first days in power had done “nothing on inflation, nothing on quality of life issues for the American people, nothing even on public safety.”
Instead, Jeffries said, “you come to the floor as part of your march to criminalize abortion care. To impose a nationwide ban. To set into motion government-mandated pregnancies.”
…The point for Republicans, said Mary Ziegler, a professor at the University of California Davis School of Law who specializes in the politics of reproductive health, was to make abortion seem universally unacceptable.
She also said the measure was little more than a messaging exercise, since the surgical method typically used to perform an abortion after the first trimester, known as dilation and evacuation, makes the odds of a live birth negligible. The vast majority of abortions in the United States occur in the first trimester, before the point of fetal viability, which is currently at about 23 weeks.
…They know that a 20-week ban, as any other ban, is untenable,” said Angela Vasquez-Giroux, vice president of communications and research for NARAL Pro-Choice America. “They’re hoping to get some small win here. It really is about restoring some faith in the party from the extremist anti-choice organizations who have been demanding more regulations. It shows who is pulling the strings.”
Late last night, Carl Hulse and Adam Goldman noted that, in terms of McCarthy’s new Weaponization committee— which might as well be chaired by George Santos— historians (and Democrats) see some very dark parallels and “liken the Republican zeal to pursue nebulous allegations of deep-state conspiracies to the ‘red scare’ days of a McCarthy from an earlier era: Senator Joseph McCarthy, Republican of Wisconsin. Both the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s and investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1930s and 1940s have come to be seen as sordid, painful chapters in the congressional past, a series of communist witch hunts that needlessly destroyed lives. Lawmakers unleashed unfounded allegations in pursuit of sensational headlines and nonexistent infiltrators and traitors, and Democrats warn that the same could happen again. ‘The Republicans are the party of law and order, and now they are out to destroy law and order as long as they think the agencies of law and order are conspiring against them and not working for them,’ said Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. Democratic skepticism has been fueled by the fact that the new panel— and granting it authority to look into continuing criminal investigations— was among a host of demands that far-right Republicans made of McCarthy in exchange for their eventual votes for him in a historically drawn-out election for the speakership. Language in the resolution setting up the committee gave it the open-ended mission of investigating ‘how executive branch agencies work with, obtain information from and provide information to the private sector, nonprofit entities or other government agencies to facilitate action against American citizens.’… [T]he Republican push smacks of the tactics of Joseph McCarthy, who used his position as the chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to open a wide-ranging investigation into charges made with little evidence but much innuendo.”
It’s going to be a very long two years— with lots of stuff like this in between the crazy votes: Jeremy Taylor’s wife voted for him at least 23 times in his Iowa congressional race. She’s currently, as of last night, out on bail and although Jeremy lost the congressional bid, he’s now the vice-chairman of the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors.