Internal Revenue Service

Sinking Fast

The U.S. ship in the successor flotilla aiming to break the Israeli embargo of the Gaza Strip has been named The Audacity of Hope. It is a bad joke that Barack Obama deserves. His proven coldness toward Israel has emboldened these foolish and meretricious people (including the uproariously silly Alice Walker) to open yet another front against the Jewish state. Of course, their campaign is not really about the embargo. It is about the very existence of Israel. It is not genocide, but it is politicide, and this is also a crime against humanity.

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A recent Wall Street Journal editorial, echoing Paul Ryan, asserts that you can't eliminate the deficit just by taxing the rich because the rich don't have enough money. The editorial winds up proving the opposite point. Follow the bouncing ball: Let's stipulate that this is a thought experiment, because Democrats don't need any more ideas. But it's still a useful experiment because it exposes the fiscal futility of raising rates on the top 2%, or even the top 5% or 10%, of taxpayers to close the deficit.

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This weekend, millions of Americans will hunker down with their IRS forms for the not-so-cherished tradition of filing tax returns. For its part, the IRS uses this last week to warn taxpayers against submitting fraudulent returns: for the ninth year in a row, the IRS has issued a  "dirty dozen list," which, unfortunately, is not a sequel to the 1967 classic war film, but a list of the dozen most common tax scams. But what if the "dirty dozen" list isn't enough to deter a potential tax fraud?

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The final details of Friday's eleventh-hour agreement on 2011 federal spending are still emerging. But Speaker Boehner is bragging about one concession he won. President Obama's original budget request would have given the Treasury Department money to hire additional agents for the Internal Revenue Service. The Republicans killed that provision. "The Obama administration has sought increased federal funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)--money that could be used to hire additional agents to enforce the administration’s agenda on a variety of issues," the Speaker's office announced.

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As you might have heard, Representative Michele Bachmann on Tuesday attacked First Lady Michelle Obama for trying to impose a “Nanny State.” It seems that Mrs. Obama, as part of her campaign for better nutrition, has been crusading to make it easier for new mothers to breastfeed. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service just decided to classify breast-milk pumps a tax-deductible medical expense. To Bachmann, these two developments are proof of liberalism run amok.

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Richman, Poor Man

Commentary's Dickensian-named Rick Richman says opponents of tax cuts for the affluent have had an "intellectual collapse: [I]t is not too soon to note the intellectual collapse of one of Obama’s principal arguments. For the past two years, he castigated the Bush tax cuts as breaks for “millionaires and billionaires,” even though the across-the-board cuts primarily benefited people in the lower brackets (the proportion of millionaires and billionaires among taxpayers is one-third of 1 percent, according to the latest IRS statistics).

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&c

-- Meet eight Tea Party Democrats. -- Howard Gleckman explains what the IRS can do about political 501c4s, and why the IRS won't act. -- Rand Paul moves ahead in Kentucky, thanks to backlash towards Jack Conway's inappropriate ad.

Waterworld

This fall, construction is set to begin on a $4 million pop-up floodwall near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It’s designed to be assembled quickly in the event that torrential rains cause the nearby Potomac River to spill into the city. (Four years ago, heavy storms led to the flooding of buildings like the National Archives and the offices of the IRS.) The ten-foot wall is high enough that it should be able to stop even monster floods like the one in 1942 that caused millions of dollars in damage. But the new barrier will have one glaring flaw.

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Megan McArdle is unhappy with my recent piece about the Johanns Amendment.

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It's been an almost a week since House Minority Leader John Boehner came forward with his economic plan, such that it is, but I wanted to make one observation about it. Boehner's plan would mean a fairly drastic cut in discretionary spending: According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Boehner is seeking to reduce it by 22 percent, or more than $100 billion. Of course, Boehner sees this as a virtue: The whole point is to assure voters he wants to reduce "spending." And when you put it that way, in such abstract terms, it sounds pretty appealing to most people.

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