Thursday, May 07, 2015

One More Twist of the Knife: A Short Addendum to This Morning's Post

by Neil H. Buchanan

In my post this morning, "The Republicans' Never-Ending Supply of Baseless Attacks on the IRS," I created the following hypothetical:
Imagine that you are looking at someone who has a $1000 rent bill, a $300 utility bill, and a $1500 food bill, but that person's income is reduced to only $1900.  That person reluctantly tries to figure out how to do less with less, reducing food purchases and so on.  Then the Republican staff comes in and says, "Hey, you have $1900 in income, and only $1500 in food bills.  Why are you deliberately choosing to starve your family?"
Actually, it's even worse than that.  As I pointed out in my second Verdict column in this recent series, even taking the Republican staff's report completely seriously on its own terms, they still could not manage to blame all of the unanswered phone calls on the IRS's "deliberate" choice to screw over taxpayers.  To put it in the terms of the hypothetical above, the report's argument ends up going like this:
Imagine that you are looking at someone who has a $1000 rent bill, a $300 utility bill, and a $1500 food bill, but that person's income is reduced to only $1300.  That person reluctantly tries to figure out how to do less with less, reducing food purchases and so on.  Then the Republican staff comes in and says, "Hey, you have $1300 in income, but you're spending less than $1500 on food.  Why are you deliberately choosing to starve your family?  We're going to cut your budget further until you learn your lesson."
I wish I were exaggerating the craziness.