The Party of Working People Wants to Open the Door to Rich Shoplifters and Make Life Difficult for Hardworking People

The Republican Party, which now likes to call itself the party of working people, is demanding that President Biden agree to give the rich a license to steal and make life more difficult for ordinary workers. That may sound like a caricature, but unfortunately it isn’t.

Now that the Republicans finally have a Speaker, and the House of Representatives can go back to work, they immediately set about carrying through with their priorities. Tops on this list is cutting funding for the I.R.S. so that it will not have the resources needed to go after rich tax cheats.

The Republicans apparently believe that rich people should not have to pay taxes if they don’t want to. And, many of them don’t. The government loses hundreds of billions of dollars a year in revenue because rich people get away with not paying the taxes they owe.

The Biden administration included a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act that increased funding for the I.R.S. so that it would be better able to catch people who are cheating on their taxes. The Republicans decided to make rescinding this funding a top priority by attaching it to a supplemental aid bill for Israel that has wide support in Congress.

The Republicans are claiming that reducing the I.R.S. funding will cover the cost of the funding for Israel. But this is beyond absurd. It would be like a store reducing its security against shoplifting in order to increase its profits.

Even a Republican politician understands that stores will not have higher profits if they don’t have any security against shoplifting. And, they know that we will collect less tax revenue if we don’t have anyone at the I.R.S. to ensure that rich people pay their taxes.

And, we have to be clear that this is about rich people paying their taxes. Most of us have the bulk of our taxes deducted directly from our paychecks. Not paying taxes is not an option for ordinary workers. It is only rich people, who have large amounts of income from selling stock, dividends, and business income that are able to evade paying the taxes they owe.

That may sound bad, but it gets worse. The Biden administration has instructed the I.R.S. to develop a system that would allow people to file their taxes for free using simple software available directly from I.R.S. This would save ordinary taxpayers billions of dollars a year that they now spend on tax filing services like H&R Block and Quicken.

That is exactly why the Republicans have made eliminating the Biden administration’s direct file option a top target. They included this provision in a House bill for funding a wide range of government functions. They apparently want to make sure that the money keeps going into the pockets of the tax filing services rather than stays in the pockets of ordinary workers.

It’s good that the Republicans keep telling us that they are the party of working people. Since their main priorities seem to be giving ever more money to the rich, and making life more difficult for ordinary workers, the rest of us would probably never know that they are the party of working people if they didn’t tell us.

This first appeared on Dean Baker’s Beat the Press blog. 


Dean Baker is the senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC.