TaxProf has been running a daily roundup on the IRS “scandal,” now in the middle-to-late stages of fading into oblivion with not one soul there being fired, much less jailed. He’s up to Day 61; his faith is touching, and he’s certainly fighting the good fight trying to keep interest up and all. But I wonder how high he’ll go before he finally gives it up as a lost cause. I look forward with decidedly mixed emotions to seeing the Day 524 update.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp has embarked on a “Tax Reform Tour,” on which he says, “we’re going to be travelling across the country in the coming weeks, meeting with Americans — individuals, families, workers and business owners, big and small. We want to hear how we can make the system fairer and easier to deal with for families across America.” Nothing wrong with the Michigan Republican trying to make the tax system “fairer and easier to deal with,” except for the fact that reforming the IRS isn’t the real issue.
Making the IRS more customer-friendly, making its tax collection more efficient and reducing the red tape generated by its daily operation are like giving aspirin to a dying cancer patient. It may ease the pain ever so slightly for a little while, but the terminal disease keeps eating away at the patient’s body. As former Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes has said, “We can’t tinker with this tax-code monstrosity or try to reform it around the edges. The only thing we can do with this hideous beast is kill it, drive a stake through its heart, bury it and hope that it never rises again to terrorize the American people.”
It’s time to repeal the 16th Amendment, which gave Congress the power to levy income taxes, and abolish the IRS. Then, a genuinely equitable tax system can be created that funds the essential operations of the government and encourages economic growth rather than retards it. There was a time when Camp agreed with this approach, too. He introduced in Congress in 1999 a proposal to repeal the 16th Amendment but apparently concluded since then that there was little or no hope of ever succeeding in the effort.
And so things still stand, now probably even more than then. The WashEx op-ed guys are fighting the good fight here too, but it’s hopeless. The evil homunculi running things know that waiting us out and stonewalling is all they really need to do; seeing time pass without a whisper of meaningful change is demoralizing all in itself, and reinforces the idea that you really can’t fight city hall pretty nicely. And the GOP, not to leave them out of our considerations here, know that the quickest way to get people tuned out is to blather on and on about how Section 42, Paragraph 387 of their new Nibbling Around The Edges And Shuffling Things Around Act is going to fix things for good this time, yessireebob. MORE