Ross: The only way to avoid more taxes might be world peace

May 23, 2023, 8:22 AM | Updated: 9:28 am

IRS taxes...

A sign hangs outside the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

In Monday’s commentary, I observed that if you want to control the national debt, then the dumbest thing you could do would be to cut the new funding for the IRS.

I played a clip from Trump’s IRS commissioner, estimating that non-enforcement of the tax code was costing the treasury about $1 trillion every year!

More from Dave Ross: Trillions in taxes are being stolen by the wealthy

The reaction was one listener who wrote in saying ‘Bravo,’ and another listener who said, ‘Sorry, Dave, we have every right to keep our money from the government.’

So, I’m going to try again, but this time I’ll turn it over to a bona fide deficit hawk.

This is Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — a private organization which has been bird-dogging federal spending since 1981.

“We are borrowing too much there. It’s not even a close call; we’re on track to borrow another $22 trillion over the next 10 years if we do nothing,” MacGuineas said.

“Already we spend more on interest payments than we do on programs for children, and in the next five years, we will spend more on interest payments than we do on defense,” MacGuineas continued.

So she’s the real thing: she’s not running for office; she doesn’t have to pretend she cares about some phony culture war. She just wants to keep the country solvent.

And here’s what she said yesterday on C-SPAN about giving the IRS the money it needs to close the trillion-dollar tax gap.

“The additional money is actually going to be used to try to close that tax gap and ensure people that aren’t paying everything that they owe, that those taxes are collected,” MacGuineas said. “I don’t want to pretend that just collecting taxes that are owed is going to fix this entire problem, but absolutely, it will collect significant revenues. And it’s an important part of regaining the trust where people understand that they’re paying their taxes that are owed, and other corporations and individuals are also paying theirs because we all have to be part of keeping the system fair and working.”

So, there it is. Anybody who says the solution is to cut the IRS needs the C-SPAN app now!

Maya also has a solution to avoid this drama — raise the debt at the same time you’re passing the budget.

“Maybe if the debt ceiling actually had to be lifted at the same time that you are voting on legislation that would make the debt worse, it would be better in terms of tying accountability,” MacGuineas said. “Right now you have people who have voted for legislation that grew the debt, then going out and saying I don’t want to lift the debt ceiling, as though it wasn’t their policies that they voted for, that is making the debt worse.”

And one more thing — she says even if the Republicans got every cut they’re asking for, it would only be a start.

“The big drivers of our national debt are our growing healthcare costs and our retirement. Social Security and Medicare are both headed toward insolvency in a very short amount of time,” MacGuineas said. “The fact that we’re not making changes to those is an incredible disservice to people who depend on them. We are going to need more revenues and higher taxes.”

And as far as I can tell, the only way to avoid those higher taxes would be: we all start taking better care of ourselves so we don’t end up in hospitals, we stop aging so we don’t need Social Security, and we achieve world peace so we can cut the defense department.

I say we give it a try.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: The only way to avoid more taxes might be world peace