Politico: Biden's big bipartisan-unity hope was ... expanding the IRS?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Rally ’round the IRS? Joe Biden could hardly have picked a worse strategy for bipartisanship than a massive expansion of the same agency that targeted Republicans and grassroots organization less than a decade ago while Biden served as VP. Politico casts this as a “conservatives pounce” piece, but the real story here is political cluelessness so vast that it’s almost impossible to fathom entirely:

Add another obstacle to the growing list President Joe Biden faces in his negotiations over his massive spending plans: mounting opposition to one of the ways to pay for his proposal — growing the IRS.

Conservative groups have launched a campaign of TV ads, social media messages and emails to supporters criticizing the proposal to hire nearly 87,000 new IRS workers over the next decade to collect money from tax cheats.

They accuse the Biden administration of pushing for the IRS expansion as a way to raise taxes, increase dues paid to left-leaning unions, and increase oversight on political organizations, as happened with the rise of Tea Party groups during the Obama presidency.

The campaign further dampens already remote prospects for bipartisan negotiations. Biden and fellow Democrats have held out hope that the $80 billion proposal to crack down on tax evasion by high-earners and large corporations could be an area of agreement between the two parties, even if the GOP is skeptical about the amount it could raise.

To quote Joe himself … come on, man. The IRS targeting scandal erupted only eight years ago, when the agency admitted that it had improperly denied tax-exempt status to a number of political organizations on the basis of viewpoint — almost all of them conservative. The term “Tea Party” was one of the explicit triggers for this enforcement, at a time when the Tea Party was opposed to Barack Obama, Biden, and the administration. Even when John Koskinen took over as IRS commissioner, the agency stonewalled Congress repeatedly as evidence kept mysteriously disappearing, reappearing, and disappearing again.

You’d have to be deluded to think Republicans would be fans of heightened intrusiveness by IRS agents in the first place. That’s even more true after the Lois Lerner Follies, especially when Biden himself was among the potential beneficiaries. Perhaps it’s better to collect underpaid taxes than apply new levies, but Republicans and conservatives have very good reason to be suspicious of any attempt by Biden to expand the agency for more rigorous “enforcement” after the IRS targeting scandal in Obama’s second term.

Even apart from Republicans and conservatives, though, why go big on the IRS? Does anyone really like the IRS? Other than the politicians that exploit it for their social engineering? Have fun running on the “let’s expand the IRS” platform in the midterms, Democrats.

If Biden really wanted to do something about taxes to generate bipartisan unity, he’d push for a flat tax on both businesses and individuals. That would allow the IRS to get scaled back considerably, make it much more difficult to cheat or shelter income. That would also take a very large regulatory burden off of ordinary Americans and the people who employ them, especially small businesses who have trouble competing on compliance costs. However, since Biden and his allies are the biggest proponents of social engineering through tax codes, we can expect more cluelessness instead of real insight over the next three years.