Bush v. DeLay on IRS Funding

Tom DeLay’s idea of fiscal responsibility is to put the IRS out of business. From a Tax Analyst report:

While the White House on September 14 expressed concern over weak IRS funding in the House’s Treasury/Transportation spending bill, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said he was dissatisfied with the IRS…A statement of administration policy from the White House said the House funding level “would eliminate increases in tax enforcement, leading to reduced revenue and poorer tax compliance.”…While some congressional Democrats will probably fight for increased IRS funding on the floor, their arguments will fall on deaf ears if DeLay’s comments on the agency are any indication. “I don’t shed any tears for the IRS,” DeLay said. “Our priority as far as the IRS is concerned is to put them out of business.” DeLay has been the leader of a Republican movement this year to campaign on a complete overhaul of the tax code. But DeLay’s efforts may have just been further hampered by revelations of thwarted GOP tax reform musings in a 2002 internal Treasury memo. Ron Suskind, a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, told Tax Analysts that Treasury aides have been debating the tax reform question for several years but have kept quiet for fear of political retribution. As evidence of that struggle, Suskind posted on his Web site September 10 an unpublished report from Pamela Olson, then Treasury assistant secretary for tax policy, to then-Treasury Secretary Paul H. O’Neill on the many reform options contemplated in late 2002.

We learned from the Enron-Worldcom debacles that underfunding of the SEC is penny wise and pound foolish. If Congress wants the IRS to do a better job of enforcing the tax laws, pinching pennies on the IRS budget is foolish policy.