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Mon Jan 20, 2014, 08:46 AM

Another case of deregulation by starvation: the IRS


Another case of deregulation by starvation: the IRS
By Michael Hiltzik
January 17, 2014, 3:05 p.m.

Extending and expanding upon our recent observations about deregulation by budgetary starvation--"defund to defang" is how we put it the other day--economist Bruce Bartlett examines the sad case of the IRS.

"Republicans have been playing this trick with the Internal Revenue Service for years," Bartlett writes in the Fiscal Times. "The agency has become the all-purpose whipping boy to excite Tea Party members and divert attention from the performance problems resulting directly from Congress's failure to fund it properly." And not just Republicans: "The Obama administration has stood by passively, doing nothing whatsoever to counter Republican attacks."

Bartlett speaks as a GOP insider, with credentials that date back to service as an economist on the staffs of Reps. Ron Paul and Jack F. Kemp in the 1970s, and later in the George H.W. Bush White House. He later became a leading critics of the economic policies of George W. Bush.

He points us to the latest report of the IRS Oversight Board, which has been fighting budget strangulation for years. Since 2009, the agency's congressional appropriation has fallen from more than $12.2 billion to $11.3 billion, the sum it will receive from the just-passed appropriations bill.

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