Thursday, August 12, 2004

Bush Talks Tough About "Tax Cheaters," but His Policies are Laughable

Watch President Bush on the campaign trail, before the hand-picked crowds at county fairs and town halls and so on, and you see two personas.

There's the tough-talking persona, demanding that the U.S. is safer and that its economy is "turning the corner" -- pleasing statements that are simplistic in nature, and thus can get a round of applause in spite of their inaccuracies.

And then there's the sometimes smirking, sometimes joking persona, the one that can make sarcastic -- and simplistic -- comments at Senator Kerry's expense, and get those happy Republicans in the crowd to slap their knees and go, "Dang, that there feller is one of us."

Which leads us to comments the president made Monday in Virginia. Speaking before 600 supporters at Northern Virginia Community College, Bush talked tough -- or was he smirking? -- when he said of Kerry's plan to roll back taxes for the wealthiest 2% of Americans, "the really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway."

Dang, that feller is ... huh?

Using that kind of logic, I can't wait for some Bush spokesman to say that Bush was being consistent with earlier statements, such as an April 15 speech in Des Moines, where he said: "the tax code has got to be fair. And in my budget, I proposed a 10.7% increase to make sure that tax cheaters are found, make sure the IRS gets after those who don't pay taxes."

But like many things with this administration, what Bush says and what Bush does are different things.

Sure, it's great to talk tough about tax cheaters, but an independent analysis of the Internal Revenue Service showed that under President Bush, there were fewer audits, penalties and prosecutions, and virtually no prosecution of corporate tax crimes. The Washington Post reported that among corporations with at least $250 million of assets, just 29% were audited last year, compared with nearly 34% in 2002, and more than 50% in 1995.

CFO Magazine reports that "tax prosecutions resulting from IRS investigations are about half of what they were 10 years ago."

Dang, that feller is ... huh?

Why are less audits and prosecutions occurring? Perhaps because the IRS is underfunded. According to Center for American Progress: "At the beginning of this year, the IRS indicated its desire to do more audits to reduce tax cheating. But the president's 2005 budget severely underfunds tax enforcement."

That budget submission was made after the Des Moines speech, of course.

The IRS Oversight Board reported the White House's proposal "does not back up its goals on enforcement with the necessary resources to do the job." The IRS reported last week that it does not have the funds necessary to collect an estimated $311 billion a year in unpaid taxes."

Dang, that feller is ... huh?

So if the IRS isn't auditing or prosecuting corporations at a sufficient level, who is it auditing and prosecuting?

You guessed it -- those same hand-picked county fair and town hall crowds.

The Bush administration is increasing audits of the working poor. According to Gannett News Service, the administration has unveiled a plan "to conduct pre-certification audits for families claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the proposed documentation for school lunches." The EITC goes to the working poor, meaning more families will have to produce "pay stubs, rent receipts and school transcripts" in order to qualify for the tax credit.

Dang, that feller is ... huh?

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that Bush is once again talking tough in public, but privately having a good chuckle with his true hand-picked audience -- corporate America. The working poor? Some will vote against their economic interests for Bush, others will figure it out and go with Kerry. But the working poor aren't filling up the GOP campaign coffers the way corporate America can.

It's the final piece of the puzzle, as Bush tries to create a tax system that supports an aristocracy. So watch Bush talk tough about "tax cheaters," then have a good chuckle with his corporate friends, as they enjoy life without all those pesky IRS agents.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was one of BUsh's stupider comments and that is truly amazing in and of itself. However, I again wonder who is pretty obvious that this is a true difference between the candidates and it should be played up. Bush believes that giving the rich more back ends up helping the economy and Kerry does not. This has been a central debate between the parties for the past 25 years (and before although the parties had much different positions). Point is that it is good to actually debate an issue instead of a conspiracy theory. Although I also should point out that the 2% cut in taxes that Kerry proposes for the rich does not come close to paying for all the projects he has "promised" ( i just love election year promises) to fund. He needs to cut far more than that. It also presumes that people with incomes over 200k are lumped together as wealthy. Not for nothing, but the 200k family in downtown idaho is far more wealthy than the 400k family in downtown NY or San Fran. And i wont even go into the state tax issues....the basic point is that politicians do not understand taxes anyway and it is all election year "promises" at this point.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David's point, I think, was that Bush is a flip-flopper on IRS enforcement.

1:15 AM  

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