Wednesday, April 26, 2017
When you ignore the warning signs
The Big Lie Promises Big Corporate Tax Cuts
The Tangerine Shitgibbon, desperate for something to pass and impress the rubes, has announced a yuge, beautiful tax cut, if you are a corporation. With US corporations already yugely profitable and sitting on yuge hoards of cash like Smaug, don't imagine that these cuts are needed to stimulate the economy.
The Trump administration on Wednesday declared that President Trump would press for the largest tax cut and broadest revamp of the tax system in history, as officials said they would seek huge reductions to 15 percent in the rate paid by businesses large and small.The increased standard deduction is hardly likely to survive in Congress because the purpose of the bill is to transfer more of the tax burden from the poor abused corporation to the backs of the consumers who aren't good for much else. And the key to what actually comes out depends on the haste with which Tangerine with the help of Lyin' Ryan and The Turtle, can push it through Congress, if at all. The faster it moves, the more unpleasant shit will be crammed into it. The Democrats need to bring the disaster that is Kansas front and center in this fight.
“We want to move as fast as we can,” Steven T. Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said at an event in Washington as the White House planned an afternoon rollout of its principles for what it bills as the first overhaul of the tax code in three decades. “This bill is about creating economic growth and jobs.”
He vowed it would be “the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country,” in line with Mr. Trump’s grandiose portrayal. But there was no expectation that the White House would elucidate how the deep cuts would be financed, and administration officials are cognizant of the challenges of pushing through a proposal that could dramatically add to the national debt.
If, in fact, the proposal cuts taxes but fails to close loopholes or raise some other taxes, it would not be a true reform of the tax code. It would be a tax cut along the lines of President George W. Bush’s tax measure in 2001 and 2003. Nor is it clear that it would be the largest in history. Tax cutters from Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge to John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan vie for that title.
Mr. Mnuchin offered few specifics about the blueprint, other than confirming that its centerpiece will be a 15 percent business tax rate, which would apply not only to corporations, but also to small businesses and other large owner-operated conglomerates, such as Mr. Trump’s real estate empire. He also said the White House is not on board with the border-adjustment tax that is central to House Republicans’ tax plan “in its current form,” setting up an intraparty struggle over the elements of the plan and how to offset the deep reductions envisioned.
Mr. Trump also wants to increase the standard deduction for individuals, according to people briefed on the plan, an attempt to fulfill his promises to provide tax cuts for middle-income people and simplify the process of filing returns. That proposal is likely to engender strong resistance from home builders and real estate agents, who fear it would diminish the importance of the mortgage interest deduction, as well as other sectors that could see the tax benefits associated with their businesses curbed or eliminated.
And Democrats are gearing up for a fight. “Trump’s latest proposal is another gift to corporations and billionaires like himself,” said Tom Perez, the Democratic Party chairman. “Trump must release his tax returns, as millions of Americans are demanding, before Congress can consider any Trump tax plan. We must know how much Trump would personally financially benefit from his own proposal.”
Trump's 100 Days
Colbert is intelligible.
The Best Way
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Jack Be Nimble
Trump's politics as golf
Typical Toddler Trump
Despite his desperate craving for the approval which comes with a positive "100 Days Report Card", Donald Trump is rejecting the whole idea because he knows he has failed in almost every area of government.
In case anyone was wondering, President Trump wants it known that he does not care about the false judgment of his administration after just 100 days. “It’s an artificial barrier,” he sniffed the other day. “Not very meaningful,” he scoffed. A “ridiculous standard,” he added on Twitter.I can't have it so it means nothing, pay no attention to it. And don't believe anybody who says anything bad about me, what do they know anyway! We all knew someone like this in school.
So how is Mr. Trump spending his final week before the artificial and ridiculous 100-day point of his presidency? With a flurry of action on health care, taxes and the border wall to show just how much he has done in the first 100 days — amplified by a White House program of first-100-days briefings, first-100-days receptions, a first-100-days website and a first-100-days rally.
It may not be meaningful, but Mr. Trump has invested quite a lot of meaning in the 100-day grading period, deeply anxious that he be judged a success at this early stage. And not just a success, but one with plenty of superlatives: the most successful president with the most executive orders and bills signed and the best relationships with foreign leaders and the most action taken by any president ever in the first 100 days. Even though it’s an artificial barrier.
“As with so much else, Trump is a study in inconsistency,” said Robert Dallek, the presidential historian. “One minute he says his 100 days have been the best of any president, and the next minute he decries the idea of measuring a president by the 100 days.”
And lest anyone say otherwise, Mr. Trump has already told supporters not to believe contrary assessments, anticipating more critical evaluations by journalists, not to mention partisan attacks by Democrats. “No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days,” Mr. Trump boasted in Wisconsin last week, not waiting for the final 10 days to grade himself.
Hoping to pad the report card, he announced suddenly late last week that he would unveil a sweeping tax plan on Wednesday and pressed House Republicans to hold a vote by the end of this week on a revised plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s health care program, even as lawmakers were trying to avert a government shutdown.
100 Days of Nothing
Seth Meyers takes a 'Closer Look' at the beginning of our national disaster.
Let him build it "on spec"
Monday, April 24, 2017
Singing with an overbite
In that wonderful precise way the British do, Bella Hardy sings "The Herring Girl"
Updating your high school civics lesson
Tom Tomorrow takes the times to bring us up to speed on how a 21st Century government runs itself.
When you need money for maintenance
That is when Republicans will cut your funding, pushing you to a state where they can gleefully crow about how bad you are and should be put to sleep. And when you are Amtrak, it is just one more arrow shot by Republicans in their years long quest to destroy rail transport in America.
The Northeast Corridor, the nation’s busiest rail region, faces a $28 billion backlog of repairs needed to modernize equipment that 750,000 riders rely on every day, both on Amtrak and on the commuter rail lines that share the same tracks.There is much work that needs to be done. Sadly Republicans only see a public asset they can not drain so they seek to destroy it.
Without major investments, the kinds of recent upheavals that have upended the lives of hundreds of thousands of travelers will be difficult to avoid, said Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at Harvard Business School.
“If a bridge collapses, would people say, ‘Oh, sorry, that just proves we shouldn’t invest in bridges’?” she said. “No, they’d fix it.”
But Amtrak, a favorite punching bag for Republicans, could face major cuts under President Trump. His budget proposed eliminating federal funding for Amtrak’s long-distance routes and would slash a grant program that Amtrak was counting on to build a new Hudson River rail tunnel. Yet many long-distance routes traverse parts of the country that voted for Mr. Trump, including the City of New Orleans line, which runs between Chicago and New Orleans.
At the same time, Amtrak has been under increased scrutiny after two fatal train crashes in the last two years. A derailment in Philadelphia in 2015 killed eight people. Federal officials blamed the engineer, who lost track of his location on the route, for the crash and said safety technology not yet installed on the tracks could have prevented the accident. A crash last year killed two workers when a train hit construction equipment on tracks near Philadelphia.
Then there is the fragile infrastructure at Penn Station, North America’s busiest train station. The recent derailments closed several tracks, leading to cancellations and delays across the three railroads that share the station: Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road.
On April 14, a New Jersey Transit train became stuck in the Hudson River tunnel for hours, setting off another round of delays and harsh words between Amtrak and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who had already threatened to halt his state’s payments to the railroad as a result of the earlier derailments.
Now that they are running the show
The Republican Congress has not exactly gotten off to a grand start and the thought of a government shutdown that would lie entirely upon their shoulders has them very nervous.
After their already shaky start, it is hard to imagine Republicans would want to top off a chaotic first 100 days of unified government control with a disruptive federal government shutdown.In addition to the usual difficulties agreeing in money, Congress has to deal with The Tangerine Shitgibbon demanding money for his beautiful fence.
But that astounding scenario remains a live possibility this week as lawmakers and the Trump White House have so far been unable to agree on a plan to fund the government beyond Friday despite months of staring at the hard April 28 deadline. It is an unsettling but not unfamiliar position for congressional Republicans who have forced government closures in the past and know well that they will be assigned the brunt of the blame if federal agencies are shuttered yet again.
Should a shutdown occur, this one would have a defining new wrinkle. The politically charged spending fights that closed the government during the Clinton and Obama administrations were the product of clashes between congressional Republicans and a Democratic White House in a sharply divided Washington. Today, Republicans control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and allowing the federal government to go dark on their watch might be hard to explain.
“Our Republican colleagues know that since they control, you know, the House, the Senate and the White House, that a shutdown would fall on their shoulders, and they don’t want it,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.
Republican leaders from President Trump on down insist they are determined to avoid a shutdown and will be successful in doing so. Failure would put a bizarre exclamation point on the symbolic 100-day marker that the administration coincidentally will reach Saturday.
“No one wants a shutdown,” Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, told reporters on Friday. “We want to keep it going.”
Republicans have good reason for doing so considering that history shows the party image takes a beating with the public when government agencies lock their doors, national parks refuse visitors and federal workers are told not to report to work. Democrats, while not victorious in special House elections held so far, have shown renewed strength, and a shutdown in the early days of Republican stewardship of Washington would only fuel their energy.
“Elections have consequences,” Mick Mulvaney, the former House conservative who is now the head of the Office of Management and Budget, told The Associated Press in an interview. He offered Democrats a deal: The administration would support continued subsidies for millions of people receiving health insurance through the Affordable Care Act in exchange for Democrats agreeing to the initial wall funding.So Republicans have every reason to keep the government running except for their reasons for holding out. Or to put it another way, there aren't enoughRepublicans who like what is being done and not enough Democrats willing to go along.
Mr. Schumer called that proposal a nonstarter. Other Democrats suggested they saw no reason to accept that offer because Republicans are separately but simultaneously trying to unravel the health care program. They also believe that if White House refusal to fund the subsidies caused a collapse of the health insurance market, Republicans would get the political blame for that upheaval, as well.
The apple doesn't fall far from the orange
Mr Oliver Johnsplains Ivanka and Jared.
Few things ever really change
Sunday, April 23, 2017
Continuing Her Re-Creation
Imelda May presents her new look and sound with "Should've Been You" from her new album Life. Love. Flesh. Blood. produced by T-Bone Burnett
A history lesson
Nobody wants to pay for the damn thing
Not the Mexicans and not the Texicans, not even the Americans who want to keep the Mexicans out. Paying for Trump's Beautiful Yuge Wall doesn't seem likely to come from anywhere, not even "Billionaire" Trump himself. But Trump is so desperate to fund his "signature" project, he is demanding that it be included in a 'must pass' government funding bill despite threats of a shutdown if it is.
President Trump and his top aides applied new pressure Sunday on lawmakers to include money for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in a must-pass government funding bill, raising the possibility of a federal government shutdown this week.The government needs funding but the fence doesn't and there are lots of Republicans who agree with the Democrats on this. The question is how much effort will Trump put into it before he gives up.
In a pair of tweets, Trump attacked Democrats for opposing the wall and insisted that Mexico would pay for it “at a later date,” despite his repeated campaign promises not including that qualifier. And top administration officials appeared on Sunday shows to press for money for the wall, including White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who said Trump might refuse to sign a spending bill that does not include money for the wall.
Democrats said they vigorously oppose any money for the border wall in a new spending bill, setting the stage for a last-minute showdown as the White House and lawmakers scramble to pass a stopgap bill before funding expires at the end of Friday.
Trump’s position could also put him at odds with Republican congressional leaders, some of whom have voiced skepticism about including wall funding in the most immediate spending bill. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) made clear to rank-and-file GOP lawmakers on Saturday that his top priority was to pass a bill to keep government open.
“The Democrats don’t want money from budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members,” Trump tweeted Sunday morning. In a subsequent tweet, he wrote: “Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall.”
On “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace asked Mulvaney, “Will he [Trump] sign a government funding bill that does not include funding for the border wall?”
“Yeah, and I think you saw his answer just in your little lead-in, which is: We don’t know yet,” Mulvaney said in the interview. He was referring to comments Trump recently made to the Associated Press.
Democrats took a hard stance against the wall.
“The wall is, in my view, immoral, expensive, unwise, and when the president says, ‘Well, I promised a wall during my campaign,’ I don’t think he said he was going to pass billions of dollars of cost of the wall on to the taxpayer,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on “Meet the Press.”
Meet the Slow and the Furious
You can't pick 'n choose reality
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Not often you see her play a guitar
But with Chris Thile running the PHC show he gets first dibs on the mandolin and Sarah Jarosz gets the guitar on "Jacqueline"
The Path Not Taken
He really wants a bigly win
And despite the pissing and moaning about how 100 Days means nothing, Donald Trump really, really wants a bigly win at the beginning of his reign. So with that in mind, he has promised something yuge about taxes for Wednesday.
President Trump promised on Friday that he would unveil a “massive” tax cut for Americans next week, vowing a “big announcement on Wednesday,” but he revealed no details about what is certain to be an enormously complicated effort to overhaul the nation’s tax code.He has dumped an impossible task on his Treasury minions made even worse by his failure to work with the members of Congress who will do any actual enaction upon taxes.
Mr. Trump offered his tax tease in an interview and again during remarks at the Treasury Department on Friday afternoon as he raced to stack up legislative accomplishments before his 100th day in office at the end of next week.
His announcement surprised Capitol Hill and left Mr. Trump’s own Treasury officials speechless as he arrived at the Treasury offices to sign directives to roll back Obama-era tax rules and financial regulations. Earlier in the day, when reporters asked Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, how far away a tax overhaul proposal was, he said he could not give an answer. “Tax reform is way too complicated,” he said.
Mr. Trump told The Associated Press in the interview that his tax reductions would be “bigger, I believe, than any tax cut ever.” But he faces an enormous fight among clashing vested interests as Congress tries to rewrite the tax code.
Starting that fight next week is further complicated by Mr. Trump’s hopes to revive the Republican health care plan that collapsed last month. And it would mean trying a tax overhaul as his White House faces the prospect of a government shutdown if lawmakers cannot agree on a funding bill by April 28.And his crack staff immediately performed damage control to clarify what would be done but the damage has already been done. They can only hope he doesn't go off script when he reveals his beautiful massive tax cut plan.
The details of Mr. Trump’s tax plans remain the subject of intense speculation, with stock markets regularly gyrating when White House officials discuss the subject. Since taking office, the president has suggested that he wants to enact the deepest cuts to individual and corporate tax rates in history.
But despite Mr. Trump’s statement on Friday that his tax overhaul “really formally begins on Wednesday,” White House officials quickly cautioned against high expectations that Mr. Trump would provide the legislative text of a detailed tax plan next week.
Instead, a senior administration official said the president would release only the “parameters” that Mr. Trump expected a tax plan to follow in the long congressional debate that would surely follow. Another official said the information released next week would be more like a “broad” outline. Wall Street, which tends to celebrate tax cuts, barely reacted; the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was down 0.3 percent Friday.
The administration has maintained that middle-income tax cuts, a simplification of personal income taxes, and making business taxes more competitive with other countries are the top priorities. Mr. Trump insisted that his plans were on track and that his strategy to remake the economy would change history.
Put Earth First
Forget the escape, fix where we are.
The Man with Antique Ideas
Friday, April 21, 2017
She started as a drummer
And fortunately for us she picked up a guitar, wrote some songs and stepped out front. Sera Cahoone performs "Up To Me" from her new album.
No secrets in DC
Arkansas Gov Hutchinson gets his first scalp
In a triumph of political depravity, Arkansas has executed the first of 8 death row inmates they want to of in a chemically induced mortality extravaganza before their killer drugs expire.
The State of Arkansas, dismissing criticism that it intended to rush too many prisoners to their deaths too quickly, on Thursday night carried out its first execution in more than a decade. Using a lethal injection drug that has been the subject of sharp constitutional debate, the state plans to execute three more men by the end of the month, before its supply of the chemical expires.Fortunately for Arkansas, Neil Gorsuch was able to help them use up one dose of the soon to be unusable midazolam. Better to kill them than waste money letting it expire.
Ledell Lee, who was condemned to death for the murder of Debra Reese more than 20 years ago in a Little Rock suburb, died at 11:56 p.m. Central time at the Cummins Unit, a prison in southeast Arkansas, after the reprieves he had won in federal and state courts were overturned. He received injections of three drugs: midazolam, to render him unconscious; vecuronium bromide, to halt his breathing; and potassium chloride, to stop his heart.
State officials administered the lethal injection at 11:44 p.m., after Mr. Lee, who requested holy communion as his last meal, wordlessly declined to make a final statement. Sean Murphy, a reporter for The Associated Press who witnessed the execution, said Mr. Lee was not visibly uncomfortable as he was put to death. The prisoner, Mr. Murphy said, was not responsive when the authorities performed consciousness checks.
An evening of appeals kept Mr. Lee, 51, alive as his death warrant neared its midnight expiration. The United States Supreme Court, as well as a federal appeals court in St. Louis, issued temporary stays of execution while they considered his legal arguments. In Little Rock, the Arkansas capital, Gov. Asa Hutchinson monitored developments at the State Capitol.
At one point on Thursday night, the Supreme Court nearly halted Mr. Lee’s execution, but decided, 5 to 4, to allow the state to proceed with its plan, which had called for eight prisoners to be put to death over less than two weeks. The court’s majority — which included the newest justice, Neil M. Gorsuch — did not explain its decision, but in a dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer complained about how the state had established its execution schedule because of the approaching expiration date of Arkansas’s stock of midazolam.
Whither goest the Geryymander
Nobody seems to like the poor gerrymander, but nobody seems to stop doing them when they get the chance. At present the Republican Party is in the ascendent, having mercilessly gerrymandered all the states they won in the 2010 off year election while Barack Obama and his crew ignored the non-DC electoral landscape. So thorough was the job done that one might even think Obama and Karl Rove were working together for the result. And now a case goes before the Supreme Court to decide how one defines a political gerrymander.
The hand-to-hand political combat in House elections on Tuesday in Georgia and last week in Kansas had the feel of the first rounds of an epic battle next year for control of the House of Representatives and the direction of national politics as the Trump presidency unfolds.And now the legality of these situations will be determined by a court with the likes of Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, jurists notorious for placing their political agenda ahead of the law at all times. WASF.
But for all the zeal on the ground, none of it may matter as much as a case heading to the Supreme Court, one that could transform political maps from City Hall to Congress — often to Democrats’ benefit.
A bipartisan group of voting rights advocates says the lower house of the Wisconsin Legislature, the State Assembly, was gerrymandered by its Republican majority before the 2012 election — so artfully, in fact, that Democrats won a third fewer Assembly seats than Republicans despite prevailing in the popular vote. In November, in a 2-to-1 ruling, a panel of federal judges agreed.
Now the Wisconsin case is headed to a Supreme Court that has repeatedly said that extreme partisan gerrymanders are unconstitutional, but has never found a way to decide which ones cross the line.
Some legal scholars believe this could be the year that changes that. If that happens, they say, an emphatic ruling against partisan gerrymanders would rank with another redistricting decision: Baker v. Carr, the historic 1962 case that led to the principle of one person, one vote.
“My feeling is that there is increasing concern within the court about the extent of partisan gerrymandering over the last 10 or 15 years,” said Richard H. Pildes, a constitutional law professor at the New York University School of Law. “I do think this is a pivotal moment — a big, big moment.”
Gerrymandering has always been contentious. But the extraordinary success of a Republican strategy to control redistricting by capturing majorities in state legislatures in the 2010 elections has lent urgency to the debate.
Today, at a time of hyperpartisan politics and computer technology that can measure political leanings almost house by house, Republicans control legislatures in 33 states, 25 with Republican governors. They have unfettered command over the boundaries of at least 204 congressional districts — amounting to nearly half the 435-seat House.
In contrast, Democrats’ share of state legislature seats has shrunk to a level not seen since Warren G. Harding was president, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And in recent years, their numbers in the House of Representatives have hovered near levels last seen during the Truman administration.
Partly because of the Voting Rights Act, gerrymanders based on race are flatly illegal, but ones based on partisan intent remain in limbo.
The Wisconsin case heads four legal actions on partisan gerrymanders that the Supreme Court could consider and, perhaps, consolidate. In Maryland, another three-judge panel will hear arguments over whether a Democratic legislature gerrymandered House districts in 2011 to oust a 10-term Republican congressman.
In North Carolina, a June hearing is scheduled in a suit over the unabashedly partisan carving of the state into 10 Republican and three Democratic House seats — this in a state with more registered Democrats than Republicans.
The state representative who drew that map said he had engineered 10 safely Republican seats only “because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”
Experts disagree over how much gerrymandering has hurt Democrats. One prominent 2013 study mostly blamed geography, not partisanship, because Democrats tend to cluster in cities. But the most recent study, by a Princeton professor, Samuel S. H. Wang, concluded that gerrymanders had cost Democrats as many as 22 House seats in the 2012 election — nearly enough to flip the chamber’s control.
One very powerful angry little man
Trevor Noah looks at the marijuana policy of the little shitweasel from Alabama and maybe why The Tangerine Shitgibbon does what he does.
Know anyone in Montana?
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Why rush this relationship
Terra Lightfoot is in "No Hurry" from her album Every Time My Mind Runs Wild.
Major economic factor
It's a winnable race
Montana may appear to be Republican territory, but Rob Quist, Democratic candidate for Montana's sole House seat intends to appeal to his fellow Montanans independent streak, the same one that elected a Democratic governor and senator.
Rob Quist surveyed his audience last week at an annual powwow of Montana’s Native American tribes, a kaleidoscope of feathers, moccasins and beads, before turning his thoughts to a very different audience, far to the east: the national Democratic Party.Mr Gianforte, a transplanted tech billionaire from California, may be spending a Montana shit ton of money on TV but he has not been doing public events among the people who didn't vote for him once already. Rob Quist, Montana born, has been traveling the state meeting the people he is asking to vote for him, something people in Montana enjoy and appreciate. The national party should be giving him whatever help he wants.
“They’ve been on the sidelines a little too long, and it’s time for them to get in the game,” said Mr. Quist, the banjo-playing Democratic nominee in a special May election to fill Montana’s at-large House seat.
But, he predicted, “they’re coming in.”
“I don’t know that it makes a lot of sense to spend resources where you don’t have a shot at winning,” Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking House Democrat, said. “People tend to get disappointed.”
Mr. Clyburn noted that few leading Kansas Democrats said they “thought they were headed to a victory” rather than just a “closer than expected” finish.
But that is not the case in Montana, where a preference for Republican presidential candidates belies the state’s enduring Democratic tradition. Its governor, Steve Bullock, is a Democrat. One of its senators, Jon Tester, is a Democrat. And now its one House seat is vacant.
“National folks should be coming in here,” Governor Bullock said. “It is a winnable race.”
Mr. Bullock should know. His re-election last year, by four percentage points against the Republican Greg Gianforte, was the fourth consecutive gubernatorial race that Democrats have won in Big Sky country. The state has also not sent two Republican senators to Washington at the same time since the Constitution was amended to require the popular election of senators.
Yet to the frustration of Democrats here, Mr. Quist has received no defense from national third-party groups — and he’s running against Mr. Gianforte, who was just beaten statewide. Mr. Gianforte and three Washington-based conservative organizations have spent more than $1.4 million on television and radio since February, much of it attacking Mr. Quist.
In adoration of all things private
The IRS has begun using private debt collection agencies to corral unpaid taxes. This is in lieu of the far more cost effective and law abiding in house collection which over the years has been a problem to far too many big money Republicans.
The Internal Revenue Service is about to start using four private debt-collection companies to chase down overdue payments from hundreds of thousands of people who owe money to the federal government, a job it has handled in house for years.Dear Chuck Schumer, I hope he doesn't really think 300 debt collectors will help any economy with less than 100% unemployment. And if Congress really wanted that money collected, they could have funded the effective IRS debt collection instead of giving up 25% of the take to a bunch of hustlers one of which has already been fired from a government debt collection gig for lying to the customers. Most likely the only result will be further GOP attacks on the IRS.
Unlike I.R.S. agents, who are not usually allowed to call delinquent taxpayers by telephone, the outside debt-collection agencies will have free rein to do so. Consumer watchdogs are fearful that some of the nation’s most vulnerable taxpayers will be harassed and that criminals will take advantage of the system by phoning people and impersonating I.R.S. collectors.
Additionally, one of the four companies that the I.R.S. has hired, Pioneer Credit Recovery, a subsidiary of Navient, was effectively fired two years ago by the Education Department from its contract to collect delinquent debt for misleading borrowers about their loans at what the department called “unacceptably high rates.”
Proponents of the plan, who include Democrats and Republicans, point out that the debtors are shirking their tax obligations and that collecting from them will add to the Treasury’s coffers. The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the new debt-collection program had the potential to gain a net $2.4 billion over the next 10 years.
“Collecting tax debt that’s due and not in dispute is a matter of fairness to the many taxpayers who pay what they owe,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa. “It’s been clear for a long time that the I.R.S. isn’t collecting the debt that these contractors will focus on.”
Twice before, in 1996 and 2006, the I.R.S. has tried to farm out some of its collection duties. Both times, the programs were shut down and deemed failures. The most recent attempt cost millions more than it took in. It also generated thousands of complaints, including one oft-repeated horror story about an older couple who received more than 150 phone calls in less than a month.
Even so, Congress passed a law in 2015 ordering the I.R.S. to once again outsource some of its delinquent debt. The provision was buried in a $305 billion highway funding bill. The agency hired four companies — CBE Group, ConServe, Performant and Pioneer Credit Recovery — and started giving them cases this month.
The companies will work on commission, earning up to 25 percent of the delinquent debt they collect.
The I.R.S. is owed some $138 billion in severely overdue payments on 14 million accounts, according to agency data, and that huge sum drives lawmakers crazy. Enlisting the private sector’s expertise to solve the problem is an idea that comes up again and again.
High-profile lawmakers on both sides of the aisle backed the latest debt-collection plan. In addition to Mr. Grassley, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, has been a proponent of using private collectors for years. Three of the four companies that won the latest I.R.S. contracts are based in the two senators’ states.
Mr. Schumer held a news conference in October to announce the 300 new jobs Pioneer planned to add in upstate New York as a result of the I.R.S. contract. The jobs “will help inject new life into the regional economy,” he said.
A self righteous landfill of angry garbage
A Farewell To Bill O'Reilly From Stephen Colbert And 'Stephen Colbert'
Happy 420 Day
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