Ross: There’s a way to reduce the deficit, and it’s actually collecting taxes

Oct 25, 2023, 8:08 AM | Updated: 7:16 pm

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., leaves the House floor after being ousted as Speaker of the House at...

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., leaves the House floor after being ousted as Speaker of the House at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

As many of you know, this idea of defunding the IRS fascinates me, mainly because it’s coming from conservatives. I realize the distaste for tax collectors is universal (heck, it’s even in the Bible,) and I realize the IRS has its excesses (just like the police do.) But when a country can’t enforce its laws, whether it’s in our cities or at our borders or the tax code, it’s an invitation to chaos.

I bring this up because yesterday, House Republicans called in the IRS commissioner to criticize him for late tax refunds, not answering the phones, and, of course, for not sufficiently punishing Hunter Biden.

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But strangely, it was a Democrat who raised the idea of using the IRS to help balance the budget, which is usually a Republican talking point.

Democrat Gerry Connolly asked the IRS commissioner Danny Werfel how much legally owed tax money has gone uncollected because of the defunding of the IRS.

“What is the number you operate with in terms of money owed to the federal government but not collected every year?” Connolly asked.

“The latest information we have is the gap that you’re describing. It’s about $540 billion,” Werfel said.

“Okay, $540 billion a year. Let’s take that out, as we often do times 10, in 10 years, what’s that number?” Connolly asked.

“$5.4 trillion,” Werfel responded.

“Could that reduce the deficit significantly?” Connolly asked.

“Yes,” Werfel responded.

Yes, it could! The current annual deficit, even with Hunter Biden paying all his back taxes, stands at just over $2 trillion.

“So you think people who are deficit hawks, before they before we talk about raising taxes, maybe just make sure everyone who owes money to the IRS pays it,” Connolly said.

But he didn’t stop there. I don’t know if he went rogue or was just trying to spice up CSPAN’s programming, but he then made what I thought was an extraordinary promise for a Democrat.

“And I’m a Democrat willing to even say every one of those $540 billion ought to be first used for deficit reduction,” Connolly proclaimed.

What he’s saying is, if you guys give the IRS the money it needs to enforce the tax code, we will agree to use that money not to start new liberal giveaways like forgiving student loans, subsidizing daycare or whatever. They’d use it to do what Republicans say they want, which is to lower the deficit.

Now, he may walk that back, but he hasn’t yet! So wouldn’t it be great if one of the candidates for Speaker took that deal: to stop this unproductive government shutdown charade in exchange for a promise from Democrats to use unpaid taxes recovered by the IRS to reduce the deficit.

Followed by a group hug and fresh donuts.

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: There’s a way to reduce the deficit, and it’s actually collecting taxes